Gauteng – E-tolls are driving consumers further into debt, say debt management firm Debt Rescue:
“In the majority of cases it was mounting toll fees and the aggressive attitude of SANRAL’s collections department that scared consumers into seeking help” said Debt Rescue CEO Neil Roets on Tuesday.
According to Roets the last two weeks had seen nearly double the number of clients seeking help in the form of debt review compared to the same period last year.
“Many of the new clients we signed up were already stretched to the limit because of the rapid increase in prices of everything from food to fuel and the toll fees were the straw that broke the camel’s back,” said Roets.
Roets has also disputed claims that neglecting to pay e-toll fees as soon as Sanral requests payment is a criminal offence.
“SANRAL has also gone out of its way to try and create the impression that not paying tolls the moment they snap their fingers is a criminal offence. This is absolutely not the case and consumers should treat a toll fine in exactly the same way that they handle any other traffic offence,” Roets said.
According to Roets many of his clients are small businesses with vans and trucks who get charged much higher rates than normal passenger vehicles. In his opinion, Sanral has underestimated the effect tolling has on consumers.
“If they are sufficiently intimidated by SANRAL’s bully-boy tactics and pay outstanding fees that we now know may be incorrect because of the many vehicles using fraudulent number plates or overstated because of mismanagement and they miss a single payment to their creditors, they automatically lose the protection afforded to them by debt review” he added.