Hearsense turns deaf ear to client’s plea

Jimmy Mckenzie, 87, and his wife were in Claremont and stopped at Hearsense SA (Pty) Ltd, as he was having a problem with his hearing aids.

Klaus Feyer, who denies that he is the owner/ director of the company, told the Fish Hoek resident that the devices were old and he should try the behind-the-ear technology which “was new on the market”.

Mr McKenzie thought it was a good idea. Mr Feyer said it would cost R30 000 which he required upfront.

“I paid Mr Feyer in full on January 30 2018 and he told me if I
was unhappy with the Oticon device I could return it and he would refund me in full and he gave me a letter to that effect. I couldn’t tolerate the new hearing aids and I returned them six days later. It is more than 15 months and Mr Feyer still has my
R30 000,” Mr McKenzie said in March (2019).

But Mr Feyer has turned a deaf ear to Mr McKenzie’s pleas to return the R30 000.

“He avoids my calls; does not respond to emails and sends stalling messages via an assistant. Mr Feyer also disregarded a complaint in June last year from the Consumer Protector and they closed the file.

“He also ignored three letters of demand from Dr Uys van Zyl, my legal consultant. Despite his promise, verbal and written, he still has my R30 000 and the hearing aids,” Mr McKenzie said.

“Oticon told me to deal with the practice directly.”

IBN Immigration Services interviewed Mr Feyer as part of their “We Made It” series, and though Mr Feyer said, “I’m NOT the director or owner of Hearsense”, he told IBN in February 2019, “I have my own business with headquarter (sic) in Claremont and branches in Edenvale and Fourways, Johannesburg. Basically, I am working as a retailer for hearing aids”.

Angie Feyer and Jean van der Merwe are listed as directors.

“Hearsense is committed to resolving the matter. Bankmed did reimburse Mr McKenzie for the full R30 000 but as he was not completely satisfied he returned the devices and did not want to understand that hearing aids need to be fine-tuned after the first use so they perform optimally,” said Mr Feyer, who told Mr McKenzie he would refund him less R1 500, that it cost to restock the hearing aids, “which is normal business practice”.

“Bankmed is claiming R30 000 from us. It is not clear to us whom the payment is owed and we have been in discussions with Bankmed but this has proven a longer process than initially envisaged.”

Mr Feyer said that on June 14 (2018) he received a statement from the “insurance company” confirming the refund of the
R30 000 to the customer. “Since then they have not sent me any detailed statement but have now claimed this amount back from me. I am trying to clarify what transpired but reiterate that the customer should not be out of pocket and I will see to that.

“If you can delay publication for 30 days, we will ensure that the matter is resolved to Mr McKenzie’s satisfaction. We agree that he should not have to wait until our matter with Bankmed is resolved,” Mr Feyer said.

I gave Mr Feyer 30 days grace which meant that Mr McKenzie would be repaid on April 30.

Mr McKenzie is still waiting and Mr Feyer is still promising.

As EFF boss Julius Malema would say, “Pay back the money”.

On the day Mr McKenzie returned the device, he repaid Bankmed and said he was waiting for Mr Feyer to refund the R30000 so he could consult another audiologist.

Discovery, the administrators
of Bankmed, did a forensic audit and their books balanced. Case closed. Not so. Mr Feyer still has the R30 000 that Mr McKenzie paid him upfront when he bought the “new technology”.

Discovery said they have no record of any correspondence between Mr Feyer and Bankmed. Mr Feyer was on leave until April 8, but, he said: “Hearsense will do the job proper but there are also rules for patients”.

Mr Feyer asked Bankmed and Mr McKenzie for the payment slip as proof. The scheme’s interaction with their client is confidential. However, Mr McKenzie gave me permission to send the slip to Mr Feyer, and on May 2, Mr Feyer said he will “process the refund immediately and send us proof of payment”, “if the accountant transferred”. But the R30 000 wasn’t transferred.

Discovery said it is “very clear the money is with Hearsense.
We hope they refund Mr McKenzie”.

When I asked Mr Feyer why, despite his promises, he hasn’t given back the R30 000, Hearsense staff said he was in an accident. “We will let you know
when he’s back in the practice, probably Monday (May 6).” But on May 8, Mr Feyer said, “You
can publish whatever you want,
my attorneys are involved already, your investigation isn’t correct, very bad job from your sideIf
my name will be published and/or the story, isn‘t correct (!!!!), trust me… You have a big problem, I think you will loose your job for this (sic).” On May 9, I sent Mr Feyer parts of the story that referred to him to correct any inaccuracies, if any. But he ignored my email.

Lezanie Tietze, country manager for Oticon, said they severed their business relationship with Mr Feyer and Hearsense in
2016. They would be happy
to assist Mr McKenzie to find another healthcare practitioner but could not demand a refund from Hearsense as all practices operate independently from the suppliers.

Kelly Nathan, chair of the ethics and standards committee of the South African Association of Audiologists (SAAA), said they could not intervene as Mr Feyer was not a member, although he is registered as an acoustician with the Health Professionals Council SA (HPCSA), which Mr Feyer confirmed.

SAAA was not a regulatory body and did not adjudicate in issues that may have legal implications.

Ms Nathan suggested that Mr McKenzie contact the HPCSA. He did but they couldn’t help. “However, SAAA is willing to intervene through Harry Rosen, our ombudsman,” Ms Nathan said.