There is an e-mail that arrives in my inbox at the beginning of every month, which I dread opening. And when I do, I take a quick a look, close it and take a walk away from my desk either in relief or in a bid to get my blood pressure to return to normal. It's the Johannesburg city council account. And just when I have resolved an issue and the account is coming in each month in line with my expectations, the amount owing inexplicably escalates. What ensues is countless e-mails to resolve the bill and anxiety over the risk of having services terminated if the inflated amount is not paid at month-end. I am not alone. There are endless complaints on social media. But it is more than the inconvenience and frustration council customers regularly experience when faced with incorrect accounts - there is an economic impact. Spending is a key driver of economic growth, accounting for a substantial portion of GDP. It's not news that consumers increasingly are squeezed, and with that has come...

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