Last month we talked about how SABC, just like our own doomed ZBC TV, is finding it hard to convince people to pay their licence fees. It seems this has not changed and now SABC seems to be trying a new strategy to induce people to pay. They are sending out SMS to all those who haven’t paid their licences forcefully asking them to pay their dues or risk having to deal with debt collectors instead.
Your Tv Lic(ence) Acc(ount) has been handed over to Anthony Richards & Associates (debt collectors) for priority collections/actions against you. Pay R344.00 now to stop adverse action via Live Link to https://pay.at
This is a desperate effort by SABC to make people pay for their licences. According to their Chief Financial Officer, Van Biljon while the state broadcaster has 9.5 million TV licence holders on its database less than a third of them, 2.5 million, have paid for their licences. They have only collected US$56.5 million against a potential US$200 million.
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Will it work though? It’s hard to tell, but such threats are likely to cajole those reluctant to pay to make the payment. In a normal economy like South Africa’s the threat of debt collectors carries more bite than in our teapot shaped country. Those who don’t pay might get blacklisted and have trouble accessing loans and credit facilities that abound in Mzansi. Here such a threat would be laughed off. It’s not like banks are dishing out loans even when you have good credit.
This leads me to believe that SABC’s strategy might actually work. It’s also nice that they seem to have provided a link to pay.at which means those who want to settle can do so online can quickly do so without jumping through the hoops. There is such as thing as too convenient, however.
Open to potential abuse
Convenience has to be always balanced with basic security and I worry this is too convenient. There is a chance that a scammer who has access to the same database can just start sending the same messages to those who haven’t paid. I mean look at that message. How can you prove it has come from SABC?
A scammer doesn’t even need access to the SABC database, they can just send bulk SMS to random South African numbers and hope someone pays. A portion of people will likely pay. It’s possible that SABC is using a verified Pay.at account but not everyone will know to look and check if the account they are paying to is verified.