Credit check failure an isolated incident - Edgars

By Staff Writer
A relative of a Justmoney staffer, Courtney Wood, was asked to lie about her employment in order to make the application and approvals process for an Edgars account go quicker at the Cresta Shopping Centre in Johannesburg.
Following this, Justmoney contacted Edgars to inform them about the incident and get a response about the employees’ conduct. It turned out that the sales clerk involved in this incident was hired by a third party service provider, and was therefore not directly employed by Edcon Financial Services, who is responsible for the accounts at Edgars (a subsidiary of the Edcon Group).
After bringing this to Edcon and Edgars’ attention on Monday 24 August, an investigation was conducted, and all parties involved were interviewed. Edcon Financial Services released a statement to Justmoney on Tuesday 1 September informing us that the company that the sales’ clerk works for is taking disciplinary action and he has been removed from the Edcon account. (See below for the full statement from Edcon Financial Services).
Furthermore, Edcon Financial Services noted: “We view this as an isolated incident and pride ourselves in giving our customers the ultimate customer service experience. We continuously look at ways and means of improving our service experience and will continuously review our processes to ensure that we treat our customers fairly and within the applicable legislation.”
Subsequent to this matter being resolved, the Wood went to the Sandton City Edgars branch and completed her application process there (following all legal routes) where it was approved.
Timeline on what happened
·         On Saturday 22 August, the Justmoney staffer’s relative applied for an Edgars account to build up her credit record.
·         While filling in the documents and answering the sales clerk’s questions, another member of the family (the mother) received a phone call confirming the relationship. But the caller went one step further to ask if the mother in fact employed her daughter. The mother refused to agree that this was the case as it was not true.
·         The sales clerk made assurances to our staffer’s relative that this was ‘done all the time’.
·         The relative stopped the application process at the Cresta store. After reporting the incident, Edcon Financial Services conducted an investigation into the incident.
Justmoney’s thoughts:
It is concerning that this is not the only reported incident where credit checks have not been carried out properly in recent months.
Recently, Lewis stores were the subject of an undercover investigation by Summit Financial Wellbeing and according to Summit it was found that Lewis’ clerks were also willing to alter information on applicants’ forms. Since Summit’s investigation the National Credit Regulator has stepped and asked National Consumer Tribunal to look into the allegations against Lewis Group. Lewis Group, meanwhile, has opposed the referral, see here.
While Edgars has referred to the incident experienced by Wood as an isolated occurrence it’s concerning that there appears to be a trend where clerks are offering to adapt information in order for consumers to get more credit.
Edgars’ response
After reporting the incident to Edgars, they requested a week to investigate the allegation and provide a response before going to press. Below is the response that they sent back to Justmoney:
“Thank you for raising Ms. Wood’s case with Edcon Financial Services and allowing us the opportunity to investigate and respond.
“Edcon’s independent Forensic Investigations Department conducted an in depth investigation into the matter, including an interview with your sister Ms. Wood. It was found that the individual who assisted Ms. Wood with the application process, is an employee of a third party service provider organisation. The individual did not follow Edcon’s standard procedures when attempting to confirm Ms Wood’s employment.  
“The individual’s employer was immediately notified of the misconduct and company has [been] advised that a disciplinary process is underway. The individual was taken off the Edcon account last week, as soon as the necessary evidence from our investigation was available.
“Edcon has stringent policies and procedures in place for the granting of credit, which are in line with the requirements of the National Credit Act and relevant Regulations.
“We view this as an isolated incident and pride ourselves in giving our customers the ultimate customer service experience. We continuously look at ways and means of improving our service experience and will continuously review our processes to ensure that we treat our customers fairly and within the applicable legislation,” highlighted Edcon Financial Services.
They added: “We are pleased to inform you that, subsequent to this matter being raised, Ms. Wood’s application for a new account was reprocessed and successfully approved.”

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