Welcome cashback after ping-pong battle

Brian Joss

After Shana Beinart placed substantial orders with Pick n Pay online in early May she battled for over three months to get her healthy food refund from Discovery who told her “unequivocally I will get no money back”.

“Clearly PnP did not send my invoice to Discovery so I sent it to them in June,” the Milnerton resident said.

“After months of back and forth Discovery rejected it again because the invoice has a healthy food card listed and I had linked it to my SmartShopper card while the transaction was meant to have only the SmartShopper number.

I linked my healthy food card to my SmartShopper card in April on the Discovery website because there was no place on PnP online to put it. However, there is a Vitality number on my PnP invoice but it’s not my number,” said Ms Beinart who added that Discovery call centre agents did not want to believe her, no matter how many times she told them.

Ms Beinart said she would have gone to a police station for an affidavit if it wasn’t so risky because of Covid-19.

“Now here I am three months later with no refund because PnP online made some sort of mistake. I have argued with PnP and Discovery that I did not make a mistake.

Now they’re saying I linked a Discovery card in August 2016, which I didn’t do either. Discovery make the whole process so convoluted that customers cannot help but make mistakes. Knowing this, I have always been incredibly careful with Discovery’s labyrinthine system to ensure I do not make mistakes. Their data is somehow corrupted and I am being punished for their mistakes.

The customer service is shocking, where I have been very clear about the facts but they disbelieve me. I would not be fighting this three months later if the amount was nominal or if I had made a mistake,” Ms Beinart said.

Ms Beinart spent R3 234.25: she was refunded R216.87 for damaged items. So, of the entire purchase, less refunds, R2 329.60 was for qualifying healthy food items and “my healthy food refund was meant to be 65% (Discovery have dropped this rate because they said I have not purchased anything since before lockdown (which is untrue), the refund should be R1 514.24”.

“I have been a lifelong PnP shopper and a Discovery client for more than a decade. Clearly customer loyalty counts for nothing.

I hope you can help as I could use this refund to help feed myself and my elderly parents in these very, very difficult times.”

Discovery agreed to refund Ms Beinart’s healthy food refund in full.

“Our processes worked as designed, rewarding Ms Beinart for using her Vitality-linked SmartShopper card.

“However, our investigations showed that Ms Beinart’s PnP online profile had her old benefit card details and she hadn’t updated it. Hence the discrepancy, which we cannot resolve in isolation as Vitality is not allowed to receive these transaction details.

“We are working with Ms Beinart to update her card number on her PnP online profile, and pay her cashbacks accordingly. We also reviewed our call centre interactions, and can clarify that the agent and Ms Beinart were equally respectful of each other.

“There are several factors that determine a member’s Vitality’s HealthyFood discount percentage, including whether the member has Vitality Health or not, their Vitality Money status, their total qualifying spend on their Discovery Bank credit card for the previous calendar month, their Discovery account type, credit card colour, and whether their account is in good standing.

“Ms Beinart’s discount percentage for July was calculated correctly. For May and June, in sympathy with our members’ lower spend during Covid-19 hard lockdown, we gave the maximum back on healthy food based on their Vitality Money Status and their product type, giving clients up to 100% off their healthy food purchases during this period. Ms Beinart also benefited from this special offer. Ms Beinart’s HealthyFood purchase fell within the campaign period and qualifies for the higher percentage,” said Discovery, who added they are updating their app next month to make it more intuitive to members to calculate their discount is, what it’s based on, and what they can do to increase it.

PnP said the Vitality number on her online invoice is not a random number, it was the number that was assigned when she initially signed up for HealthyFoods.

“We are updating her details and have resent all her HealthyFood transactions to Vitality. We have been in touch with Ms Beinart to explain the steps we’ve taken to rectify this and will follow up to ensure she is satisfied her query has been resolved,” PnP said.

Ms Beinart said: “I am immensely relieved that the refund is being processed and the old healthy food number now removed from my PnP profile. I am also pleased to hear that Discovery are investigating these ‘old’ linkages as I did not recently link a six-year defunct number issued to me nine years ago. The whole situation is very strange since I didn’t even have a PnP online profile before 2018. Thank you for your intervention, without you I would still be fighting with Discovery and PnP.”

Anwar from PnP’s head office called Ms Beinart to check if she had received her refund and he promised to follow up with Monica from Discovery.

A day later Ms Beinart confirmed that Discovery had deposited R1 300 in to her account.

“Thank you so very much for your intervention in this case.

I know that I would not have received a cent without you and would have had no idea at all what had happened to create the disaster in the first place.”

In my view, the fly in the ointment is the call centre agent. When the plot goes off-script they get thrown. The agents should have referred it to their superior and it would have been resolved much more quickly. Many corporates use these call centres to hide from their customers.