Be Vigilant When it Comes to Your Money

This may not sound like a normal Wisdom Wednesday quote and I agree, it may not be your nice words that make you think and dig a bit deeper. But if the saying goes a fool and his money will soon be parted, then I definitely try not to be a fool!

don't do business with chimps

Everybody knows how to deal with international transactions, don’t they?

Working with international clients and having clients on all continents, I’m used to dealing with international transactions. And with the world becoming a global village, one would think that international transactions are something that most people – and definitely all businesses – will be able to do. I was so wrong!

At the end of November my husband and I decided, in order to spend more time with our South African family (and our new grandson), that we were going to make the move to South Africa. Our daughters were excited to help us find a place to rent until we had our affairs in order and could buy a place. They found a small but neat unit for us in the northern suburbs of Cape Town.

After jumping through hoops and finally being approved to rent the unit, I tried paying the deposit (they charged us a triple deposit as we were from Australia) online. Nobody from the rental agency was able to give me the correct codes I needed in order to do an online transaction. But faint heart doesn’t give up, so two days before we were to fly out, we went to our bank and paid the deposit into the agency’s account. I was shocked to hear that the bank fees were more because I was doing the transaction in person at the bank but when you are ready to move to a new country, you do what you have to.

Money paid and we are on our way

Three days later we landed in Cape Town. We were so happy to see our family and the new bed our daughters arranged to have delivered, was a welcome relief after that long flight.

Barely a week went by before representatives from the estate agency started asking me about the deposit. Realizing they don’t know what they are doing, I told them to check for an email in which they had to confirm some information, then the money would be paid to them.

A few days later I received an email from them informing us that they would be closed for almost a month over the December holidays. Thinking that they had resolved the issue and the deposit was in their bank account, I enjoyed the holidays with my family. But 2015 had barely hit us before the barrage of emails and notices started, informing us that if the deposit wasn’t paid immediately, legal action would be taken. What?

When I see red, I go red and watch out!

If you know me, then you will know that you shouldn’t tell me something like that. When my neck starts going red, my husband usually removes himself from the room – that is exactly what happened.

I immediately wrote an email back, explaining in no uncertain terms that first of all, the deposit had been paid in full and secondly that if you want to threaten me with legal action, you better be willing to stand by your word.

After weeks of back and forth emails, it was finally established that the funds had been transferred to their bank in South Africa on the same day we boarded the plane in Australia. However, when, after a month of no-one from the company confirming with the bank that it was a legal transaction, the bank went ahead and put it in a trust account for unclaimed funds.

Their bank let them know about this but they still insisted is was my responsibility. What was I supposed to do? It was their bank!

Who pays the price for monkey business?

It has been more than two months now. I finally got my bank in Australia, at great cost to me with added bank charges, to reverse the transaction. However, the exchange rate between South Africa and Australia change on a daily basis and the transaction, with fees included, will now cost me about 15% more than the initial transaction – money that I can’t recoup from anyone.

Who is to blame? Me for thinking that everybody is able to function in a global society or the chimps who act like they can – until they have to?

About Elmarie

Elmarie Porthouse is a freelance writer who specializes in ghost-writing content for websites. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+.
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