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Capitec's Controversial Advert

A Bad Start

The advert begins with two friends watching TV. On the screen is a line that says ‘Too Good To Be True’.

The implication being that what they are about to hear about or watch is not true.

What then follows is mention of debt review.

Already this gets Debt Counsellors’ backs up.

The implication seems to be that debt review (in general) may be too good to be true or at worst a pack of lies.

Some Good Stuff

There are a number of good things mentioned in the advert.

For example it encourages people to do their research and only deal with legitimate debt counselling practices. It even shows people where they can double check the Debt Counsellor’s registration. 

These are similar messages to what Debt Counsellors’ themselves always share.

They Say (and other issues)

There is also some double talk and possibly misleading statements made which is what is upsetting Debt Counsellors and their attorneys.

The one friend (the educated friend) tells the other friend to “Wake up!“. Once again implying that he is being mislead by promises of debt review. He then says if it sounds too good to be true then his friend is falling for something that by implication probably is not true. The educated friend is worried that the uneducated friend is not being told all the details. It implies that Debt Counsellors (in general) may be hiding the facts because they are bad facts. It therefore implies that the process is…bad or shameful or needs to be hidden or else people would not use it.

For example, the advert uses the term “they say” quite a lot. This may refer to some research that Capitec has done into the practices of unregistered mediation scams or practices at a specific practice (Debtfree is asking for a copy/summary of this research for clarity).

‘This is where things get dodgy’

This is where things get dodgy as the viewer may be given the impression that the things mentioned are universal or common among actual NCR registered Debt Counsellors. Some Debt Counsellors complain that the purpose of the phrasing in the advert is misleading on purpose to give this impression. This is why they feel upset about this advert (and the associated campaign that has been underway since December 2022)


The advert lists several things that are correct but offsets them with “they say“.  For Example:…that it is free. 

Fact Check: Debt Counsellors are required by the NCR, Debt Counselling Associations and Consumer Protection Act to disclose fees in advance. Debt Counsellors mostly include these fees as a section in their contracts with consumers or in the Form 16 that consumers use to apply for debt review. 

Problem: No clarity is given as to who “they” are that say it is free (or what it is that is free). The implication is that all say it. 

A huge problem is also that few consumers ever pay the maximum fees unless they have a LOT of money each month and begin debt review as a couple (where fees cover work for both individuals). Many pay around R2500 once off for the professional fees of a Debt Counsellor (initially and then a small after care retainer).

The fee structure for debt review as suggested by the NCR is complex and unclear. This is a problem in the industry and confuses consumers. Capitec do focus on a maximum fee but then also mention that it could even be more. It creates an impression that debt review is somehow expensive and does not provide any other points of data for consumers to consider (especially about how fees work).

‘the fee structure for debt review as suggested by the NCR is complex and unclear’

The advert also says that some undefined person or people “say” (They Say) that consumers can continue to use their credit while in debt review.

Once again this is clearly set out by most Debt Counsellors in writing right at the start of the process since the idea is to stop using credit, stop digging a deeper hole for oneself and to rather pay off debt. Not increase it.

Problem: Once again who “they” are is unclear. It certainly is not all Debt Counsellors since this is fundamental to getting rid of debt through debt review. It implies that consumers are lied to by (possibly) all Debt Counsellors or that Debt Counsellors are hiding the truth somehow.

One of the confusing parts of the advert which few can understand is the mention of being locked out of credit for 10 years. It is unclear how this could happen.

The use of the word “could” is pretty broad and leaves a lot of NCR registered Debt Counsellors and their attorneys confused. Maybe it is an oblique reference to sequestration somehow?



A bad taste in the mouth

When the educated friend tells his gullible friend that he has fallen for things before like that Forex [scam?] thing. It makes the link that the debt review process (not the advert on tv that is being shown) is probably a scam too. It seems to lump all legitimate debt review – which is done via the courts with a magistrate overseeing the whole process- into a big pot with scammers, like those doing something bad with Forex.

It implies that only a gullible and uneducated person would fall for an offer relating to debt review.  

All in all, many Debt Counsellors are not too fond of this advert with its mixed and somewhat unclear messaging.

What do you think about it? 

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