State Mercantile endeavours to act ethically and with integrity towards its customers. We are dedicated to working with our customers to ensure that the solution to their account is a balance between the best interest of their accounts and their financial situation. This is always compliant to all the rules and regulations that guide these conversations. Ultimately, we hope to build an integral relationship with our customers that will lead them to financial freedom.
Article 1: Effective and Efficient Customer Contact
- Collection activity is initiated by sending a Notice of Assignment, informing the customer that their account has been assigned to State Mercantile. This letter will state the details such as the creditor that initially held the account, the outstanding amount and the options available to resolve the account.
- All of our customer’s addresses are verified to the best of our abilities to ensure it is current before sending out Notices of Assignment.
- Any collection correspondences sent out will state the creditor that initially held the debt, the creditor’s account number, the outstanding amount and any other relevant account information.
Article 2: Ethical Account Resolution
- All State Mercantile staff members are inducted and trained continually to adhere to relevant legislations concerning privacy, hardship and all other policies regarding debt collection
- Our employees are trained to listen and come to an understanding of our customer’s financial circumstances.
- State Mercantile employees understand that each customer’s financial situation is different and so we ensure that payment methods and arrangements are tailor-made to suit the customer’s circumstances. These options are explained in plain and simple vocabulary.
- All payment arrangements organised between a customer and State Mercantile are either mailed or emailed out depending on the customer’s preference unless specifically requested that no contact is needed.
- If an error is made, we will work to the utmost of our ability towards resolving it and put in place measures to ensure that it doesn’t occur again.
Article 3: Hardship and Financial Difficulty Guidelines
- We understand that some accounts were created as result of identity theft. As a result, we will stop the collection process. If identity theft is then proven, we will remove any defaults listed with relevant credit reporting agencies.
- We understand that some of our customers may be experiencing financial difficulty or hardship due to a number of reasons for example: unemployment, medical issues, and victims of a natural disaster. Once documentation is received to reflect their situation, their account will be reviewed by a senior collector. This is then followed by a discussion with the customer to come to a mutual agreement that is suited to both the best interest of the account and the customer’s circumstances.
- All discount settlements offered are given an appropriate time period for it to be paid off. We understand that for reasons such as unemployment may hinder a customer’s ability to meet their settlement obligations. Therefore, we endeavour to give our customers an appropriate grace period to meet the settlement offer.
Article 4: Honourable and Dignified Collection Practices
- State Mercantile staff members are well trained to conduct calls in a manner that is respectful, constructive and dignified.
- We will ensure that all payment arrangements and offers of settlement are consistent with what is best for the account and what is affordable to our customers.
- Once we are notified of a customer’s bankruptcy, we check that against any security tied to the account. If there is no security attached to the account, we proceed with writing off the account.
Article 5: Protecting Customer Privacy
- Any disputes regarding a customer’s default listing are investigated thoroughly. Once it’s determined that the default was listed incorrectly, efforts will be made to remove the default.
- We take our privacy obligations very seriously. As a result, all actions and measures are taken to ensure that any information regarding the existence and the information contained within an account are safeguarded from third parties. This policy is only invalidated if the third party is authorised to speak on the customer’s behalf.
- We will proactively safeguard any confidential information our company is privy to such as credit card details. We will have measures in place to anticipate any threat of misuse against it.
- Any records containing collection activity done on our accounts will be documented appropriately and maintained for a reasonable amount of time.
- Our training program currently implemented requires our new collectors to read through and understand the policies and procedures that we have in place. They will then undergo extensive training with a senior collector or a supervisor before they are deemed ready to work on their own.
Article 6: Fair Litigation
- Legal action on an account is only considered if all other avenues of collection have been exhausted. Therefore, we take all measures to come to a mutual resolution with the customer before this process. This may include a reasonable grace period given to the customer to make an appropriate offer on the account.
- Before legal action is instigated on an account, attempts of contact will be made to notify the customer that legal action is now in process for their account.
- Any law firm we employ to carry out our litigation process will act ethically, fairly and in good faith.