Flaws in the South African debt review awards program


The Debt Review Awards is an industry awards program, specific to the Debt Counselling and Debt Review Industry. According to the organisers, the main aim of the event is to recognise NCR Registered Debt Review Industry Parties who really stand out in the industry and go above and beyond what is expected of them.

Over 2500 registered debt counsellors, 5000 registered credit providers and three payment distribution agencies (PDAs) are reviewed through an online peer review system. This should result in a fair awards ceremony; however, there are a few flaws in the Debt Review Awards system when it comes to measuring the success of credit providers, PDAs and debt counsellors.

The first issue we are wary about is the fact that in the 2017 Debt Review Rewards, the banks’ weighting made up about 60% and the rest of the industry made up about 40%. Furthermore, 23 banks voted in the Debt Review Awards yet only six of them make up almost 80% of the industry; the weighting on all 23 of these banks was the same. In light of this, we have the following questions for the Debt Review Awards panel:

  • How can the banks weighting on the outcome of the awards only be 60%?
  • How do the banks substantiate the nominations? Is it based on opinion or factual data?
  • How can 23 banks participate yet only six make up almost 80% of the Industry?
  • How can the weighting of the 23 banks all be the same if some hardly have any accounts under Debt Review, yet others have thousands of accounts under Debt Review?
  • Why is the list of the 23 banks not made available to Debt Counsellors?
  • Are the retailers voting themselves or do you use one collection company for most of the retailers to vote?

The second issue is that a debt counsellor is only eligible to win one award, yet there are more than 2500 debt counsellors registered. Each PDA, however, is eligible to win four awards, yet there are only three registered PDAs. How can this be fair?

Thirdly, the significance of the Debt Counselling Awards is that it creates a perception to the public of who the best debt counsellor is, resulting in an ultimate financial impact on debt counsellors themselves. In light hereof, should the voting process and criteria not be audited by an independent, well known auditing firm and should the NCR not formally endorse these awards?


Fourthly, who are the people sitting on the panel of these awards and why is there not a blog where people can comment on the awards and openly view other comments.

The reality is that the results of the awards can be manipulated and this can have a very negative financial impact on the businesses of debt counsellors. We hope that the organisers will change the way they conduct these awards so that it will be done in a fair manner. Hopefully, in the future award ceremony, there will be at least 20 awards for debt counsellors, as there are a lot of debt counsellors who invest a lot of time into their businesses and who have contributed a lot to the industry. It is not fair for only one debt counsellor to receive recognition.

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    • Well lets look at the current runners for this years awards, then you can judge what they’ll have to say for themselves:
      DCASA NEC’s:
      *Russel Dickerson (NEC President) – RD Debt Counsellors – Currently in the running for: Medium top 10
      *Paul Slot (NEC member) – Octogen – Currently in the running for: National top 5
      *Gerhard Stoltz (NEC member) – Gerhard Stoltz Debt Counsellors – Currently in the running for: Medium top 10
      *Eugene Cilliers (NEC member) – Payplan Solutions – Currently in the running for: Medium top 5
      *Wendy Masegane (NEC member) – Debt Mend – Currently in the running for: Medium top 10

      *So that’s 5 NEC members out of 6*

      DCASA Branches:
      *Saun Zeelie (Eastern Cape branch) – Master Your Money – Currently in the running for: Small top 5
      *Reinhard Pettenburger (Western Cape Branch) – Debt Therapy – Currently in the running for: Large top 5
      *Drisha Pillay (Kwazulu Natal branch) – Octogen – Currently in the running for: National top 5

      *So that’s 3 branches out of 4*

      So how do think they will respond?

  • DCASA is the biggest Debt Counselling Association in South Africa. They should protect their members by insisting that the awards are stopped or properly investigated, in order to make sure that the methods used by the organizers truly reflect who the best Debt Counsellors are. Their members might be prejudiced by these awards and what is being done by them to prevent or stop this?

    An industry can have an awards program, but then surely the way the winners are determined must be disclosed in detail to the stakeholders in that industry.

    Why does Debtfree digi, as the organizer, not disclose in detail to the industry how they determine who the winners are? Apparently certain questions are posed to Credit Providers to determine the winners. What are these questions and who are the Credit Providers? The problem is that these questions can be tailored to suit certain debt counsellors. Somebody pointed out in an earlier post that one of these questions that determines the best debt counsellor is around the usage of DCRS. DCRS is optional and has many flaws that everybody knows about. Why should a debt counsellor be penalized for not using this rule system,if they believe that it is not in the best interest of their client!

    Apparently the vote of one of the four big banks counts exactly the same as the vote of a Credit Provider with almost no clients under debt review. How on earth can this be fair?

    DC’s should put pressure on their associations to investigate this.

  • Many in this industry have worked hard, since its inception, to give credibility to it. Consumers need this remedy. Having a ceremony that continues to create the perception that only a handful are qualified to do so, is damaging to the industry as a whole. It has been a joint effort by many to get debt counselling working properly, realistically and sustainably, over a long period of time.

    Why isn’t there rather an awareness campaign around this form of help? Focus rather on consumers and their need? Let people know about debt counselling and how it works. And the life changing impact it has.

    Rather turn it into recognition for the consumers who committed to the process and on the fact that debt counselling works, with living examples thereof, to show others that they can turn to debt counselling too.

  • I think the awards should be abolished completely. If the aim is to recognise institutions (creditors/PDA’s/debt counsellors), it should be done by an independent body or the NCR, who regulates them all. The opinions are just that…opinions. The criteria to vote on are subjective and not professional nor are they relevant. If you ask a question for example about support being given – this can vary from day to day, situation to situation, and person to person. What day does the voter pick to base it on, or which person’s support. One might prefer dealing with one individual for specifically that reason, so is a vote for a whole company based on that?

  • I wonder why the organizers of these “awards” refuse to comment on this open forum. There are obviously a lot of people who are concerned about the fairness of these awards, but that does not seem to worry them at all.

    I agree that these “awards” should be taken away completely. I am of the opinion that it does not show the best DC’s in the industry, but rather those with the right connections and who knows what else.

    Who is Debtfree Digi to decide who is the best Debt Counsellor in SA and how it is determined.

  • Here’s a point of interest that I don’t think anyone has picked up on as of yet, but DCASA’s NEC members and their chairman claim to raise concerns about the Debt Review awards…yet go and see the NEC’s and chairman’s websites, and take a look at who’s firms are up for selection this year. Now tell me the system is not broken ladies and gentleman.
    I believe the awards should be done away with entirely, even if the NCR was to hold these awards it still elevates one DC above the rest.
    It also puts DC”s in a bad light as far as I’m concerned as this industry is about helping people, not cornering the market to make the most money. As soon as these DC’s get their awards their websites and adverts are splashed with the acknowledgements of their award to entice consumers to only seek them. You don’t see doctors behaving in this manner or receiving such awards, There are days I’m ashamed to tell people my profession because of my brethren and their conduct, and these awards promote this conduct. So when I see DCASA’s NEC members and chairman having climbed onto the wagon, that’s when you realize why even the NCR and government doesn’t take us seriously and why there was talk of making us obsolete. All DC’s apposed to this should band together and united place on our social media and websites that we do not recognized and condone the Debt Review awards as they are not acknowledged by the NCR. I’d sooner quit my profession than become a sell out like the others.

  • Please pardon my language but its complete rubbish. Its bias and unfair. If you look at the industry in a whole the system is rigged and makes it hard for the honest hard working Debt Counsellors.

    Im in the opinion that Debt Counselling should never be done via call centers and agents. There is a lack of empathy, client counsellor relationship.

    There is a lot of corruption in the industry at the moment and this awards are part of it.

    simple question, why is it that the same people get the awards all the time and why is it that these companies are shedding bad light on the industry are still operating


    • I AGREE WHOLE HEARTILY WITH EVERY THING YOU SAY!!! I have had to deal with 10 transfer clients in the last two months alone due to the “best” DC’s screw ups and complete lack of aftercare service! These awards are a farce and should be stopped with immediate effect! The whole thing is rigged!

  • Same questions again!
    DCRS apparently has less than 25% usage, yet it’s a recurring question year on year. Why?
    Do the questions actually carry the same weight?
    Does the Credit Providers responses all carry the same weight?
    The process needs transparency to ensure credibility is restored.

  • Why is there not a well known audit firm making sure that the competition has the right criteria in in order to make sure the best companies receive the awards? The Cape Town DC’s will probably make a clean sweep again this year. You cannot help but to wonder about the relationship between the “organisers” of the awards and these DC’s. The NCR should stop this – they are allowing these people to take over as the regulators of the industry. The NCR should be hosting the awards, not some random Debt Counsellor who controls industry players with his “awards”.

  • There are various categories, according to the size of the debt counselling companies. How is this information obtained to categorise the company?

  • I agree with the questions raised above to the Debt Review Awards committee. Why should there only be one winner and why is the voting and the voting process and comments not made public? Is it the company with the most marketing budget promoting themselves in social and other platforms that is simply bound to win? Or is each company visited, tested and audited according to their own clients’ opinions?

  • I can’t say that the awards have been rigged but what I can say is what does not make sense:

    #1. The fact that 6 out of 23 banks make up 80% of Industry, so the rest only shares a 0.0117 % of the industry?

    #2. The fact that the awards can be manipulated is scary seeing that there are money and the stature of a business involved.

    I agree that the voting process and criteria should be done by a well-known auditing firm and not by the public.

  • I feel this is very unfair and hopefully, all the debt counselors will stand together in order for it to be corrected in future.

  • Wow, this cannot be true. I don’t think this is very fair on how winners are selected. I feel that a lot of debt companies work very hard to achieve their goals and to invest time and money into their businesses so they also deserve the same recognition!

  • I feel the awards are very unfair with the current criteria being used to elect the winners, this will hopefully be addressed in the future Debt Review Awards

  • I believe that the awards can and have been manipulated. I really hope that they change the awards process so that it’s fair.

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