In the Office of the Credit Ombud, 2016 heralded a year of improvisation and adapting to changes in the environment. Speaking at the release of the Credit Ombud’s 2016 annual report, Credit Ombud Nicky Lala Mohan had the following comments:  “Having settled into my role as Credit Ombud, my focus for the 2016 year was largely on improvisation. I used improvisation to improve our productivity. We are able to do thing better, more efficiently and more effectively. This is one of the great advantages of a smaller organisation which is able to adapt quickly to changes in the environment and needs of consumers and members alike”, said the Credit Ombud.

“In line with my first year as Ombud, the achievement that we are most proud of, is the more than R10.7 million, an increase of 40.2%, that we put back into consumers’ pockets in these difficult financial times” Lala Mohan continued. “This amount is calculated by adding all the amounts where consumers overpaid or where we found some breach of the law which entitled the consumer to a refund or recalculation of their amounts owed. Most of the amounts are relatively small, which makes the total amount that much more remarkable” he explained.

Another achievement was the number of consumers who were assisted telephonically.  There was a huge increase in the calls fielded by the centre i.e. 32 095 calls, an increase of 32.35%. The Credit Ombud employees are trained to provide telephonic advice and assistance to callers. The total complaints and enquiries recorded   amounted to 14 343 for the period, also an increase of 16.5%. Disputes opened for investigation amounted to 4 123 for the year, a small decrease of 8.8% compared to 2015, and closed 4422 disputes, a decrease of 12.8%.  “The office has not found any particular factor responsible for the slight drop in complaints and can only speculate that some credit providers and the credit bureaux are resolving consumers’ disputes more effectively so that there is no need to escalate the matter to our office,” explained Lala Mohan.

The most common non-bank credit cases dealt range from disputes regarding consumers’ incorrect statements of account, emolument attachment orders, fraud cases, and alleged reckless lending cases. Many cases resulted in balances being written off, refunds being facilitated or assisting consumers to enter into payment arrangements. Some of the most common disputes relating to credit information cases include insufficient or incomplete credit information at the credit bureaux, outdated credit information as well as credit grantors not supplying accurate information. The office resolved 69.4% of the disputes in the consumers’ favour, signaling that the consumers’ complaint was fully or partially upheld. 

“The second portion of our mission statement, relates to consumer education. This is a part of the work of the Office where we also improvised and we are particularly proud of our achievements”, said Lala Mohan. “Our outreach activities and consumer education over the past year reached a whopping 17 492 consumers countrywide”, continued Lala Mohan. “We actively endeavor to create more awareness amongst all consumers of their consumer rights in relation to credit and to promote the work of our office. Over the past year the office conducted 48 Double Impact training sessions and in addition the office participated in 101 outreach activities and workshops. The office embarked on a mission to address some of the many financial and credit challenges our communities face, and we partnered with institutions like the Community Work Programme (CWP) under the auspices of COGTA (the Co-operative Governance Traditional Affairs’) , the Taxi Owners and Drivers Associations, the Office of the Premier, Gauteng and the Department of Economic Development and Tourism, KZN.

The introduction in 2015 of the SMS number, “44786” that consumers can contact, proved to be a particularly successful innovation. During 2016, the office received 4 866 SMSs.  In response, the call centre staff will call each consumer to discuss their complaint or enquiry. “One of the main reasons for the introduction of this project, is the realization that many of our consumers do not even have enough money to buy airtime to contact us. It often takes quite some time for a consumer to explain the background and facts of a credit dispute to us, and that could be costly.  If a consumer makes use of the SMS message service, the office will respond by phoning the consumer and we save the consumer the cost of the call”, explained Lala Mohan.  “We can see the impact of this project every time we appear on a television or radio show. We will find a couple of hundred SMSs in our inbox the next morning, which proves that many consumers prefer this method of making contact with us”, added Lala Mohan.

The  office is grateful for the support of the media and can  report coverage in online, print and broadcast media to the AEV (Advertising Equivalent Value) in excess of R26 million.  The office is also pleased to report that results from an independent customer satisfaction survey as well as a credit provider/credit bureau satisfaction survey indicated that consumers rate their level of satisfaction at 83% and we also scored 86% for referrals, i.e. consumers who said they would refer someone else to our office.

“We are thankful for the support of our stakeholders and in particular our member organisations who fund the office. In these tough economic times the vulnerable consumers need our assistance more than ever. We are privileged that so many trust us with their financial problems and thankful that we are able to resolve so many matters satisfactorily. We will continue to serve our constituencies and to perform our function in an impartial, fair and effective manner, always aiming for the best outcome for both parties to the dispute,” concluded Lala Mohan.



If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Salem Dyafta , Public Relations Manager at 0792243802 or email at