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Friday Aug 23, 2013

Joburg billing address confusion continues

Joburg property owners who have fallen victim to the City of Joburg unilaterally changing their billing addresses have been advised to go to specific walk-in centres where trained staff will assist.

However, the city still has not provided Metrowatch with answers on how the correct addresses have been changed without a request from the owner.

Following an article in Metrowatch 'Wrong numbering adds to billing chaos' (July 19), The Star has been inundated with mails by residents who are experiencing similar problems.

Residents claim they have been living on the same property for years and suddenly their physical addresses have been changed.

Kgamanyane Stan Maphologela , City of Joburg revenue spokesman, said there had not been any 'wholesale changes' as alleged, and the only large number of changes related to the Albertina Sisulu Street name change, where the normal process was followed with delivery of letters to inform owners.

He said the deeds office had nothing to do with physical addresses on the bills. The city's geographical information system (GIS) was the sole custodian of street addresses.

'A distinction needs to be made between physical street address on the right-hand side of the invoice, and the postal address on left-hand side. The physical address, which is provided by the GIS, cannot be changed by anyone in the city other than the department.'
The postal address was provided by customers and the city could not change it without an official written request or form of verification from the customer, he said.

No explanation was given to Metrowatch about why people's addresses had changed without a request.

Maphologela said the customer service centre's processes were geared to deal with queries.

'We request customers to log such matters with the city so that individual cases can be fully investigated and rectified. We have a trained team that has been established solely to deal with queries on addresses,' he said.

The dedicated team deals with the following:

  • Ensuring the customers' postal and physical addresses are correct.

  • Verifying the correct stand numbers and owner status.

  • Confirming the services received by the customer. Categorising properties. Verifying meter numbers and correspondence with those registered in the city's billing system.

  • Ensuring affected customers are correctly charged according to classification of the debtor type and owner status.

  • Other key related customer information.

    Maphologela said the errors did not come from subdivision of properties.

    A procedure was followed in cases of sub-divisions and a property owner would always be the one who 'triggers' this process.

  • The procedure in the case of sub-division

  • The city officially notifies the property owner by way of a hand-delivered letter to the property owner on receipt of a subdivision application.

  • The customer is given the option of keeping the old address over the property that he/she occupies. For example, the property could be the remainder of the subdivided portion or a new portion arising from the subdivision.

  • The city will then update the desired street address as per the request of the property owner on the Land Information System (LIS).

  • The street information captured on the LIS is then automatically imported into the billing system, allowing it to update the latest street information on the rates and taxes invoice.

  • If the property owner who has applied for the subdivision wants to keep the old address, an arrangement is made only where it is feasible. This is because subdivisions or consolidations may cause a change on the street numbering sequence.

    Metrowatch
    The Star

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