Like most ladies, my wife is addicted to shopping and her face always lights up when she buys new clothing and shoes. But then like most Zimbos we have limited (if any) disposable income so she often buys her wardrobe on credit from cross-border traders who frequent her office with car boots full of recently smuggled imports. Lately she has been shunning these self styled entrepreneurs as they would have more than one piece of each design, and if a fellow co-worker bought the same piece of clothing, she wouldn’t wear it to work in case vanopfeka matwins (simultaneously wear the same type and colour of clothes). On top of that some colleagues married to “chefs” in town would gossip about the bhero (second hand) girls in the office which made my wife stop buying from the car boot entrepreneurs. This is despite these car boot clothes being brand new from the respective countries of origin.

This love for shopping led her to open an Edgars credit account so that she could shop whenever she felt like to take the Zim stresses away. She liked Edgars because all her friends and workmates would know the item of clothing was bought from Edgars as they all frequently window shop there. That way, the Mrs Buckets (pronounced Bouquet, mind you!) of the office would be off her back and she would be sure to some extend that no one else has the same clothing in the office as Edgars is known to be a bit pricey. Things were well until we ran into a small financial storm and she fell behind on her Edgars account by one month; that is when the hell for us started.

I got a call one day from a landline number that I did not recognise, I usually don’t pick up numbers that I don’t know just in case it’s a forgotten chipande (problem) which has caught up with me. So I ignored it the first, second, third and the fourth time I was struck with the persistence that the caller had and I just thought it could be someone I know who is trying to reach me through their office line…so I answered. On the other hand was a credit control officer from Edgars who was asking about my wife’s whereabouts, which shocked me and I responded that she was well and fine and probably at work be it that it was about lunch time. He went on to explain to me that she was $20.32 behind and if she didn’t pay within the next three days Edgars would sue her and attach our home property. The arrogance in his tone and his continued use of the phrase “you should pay me my money” referring to the account balance bamboozled me. Being taken to court over a 30 day delay to pay $20.32! I couldn’t believe it, is this what we have come to as Zimbos. I calmly responded to him that we will settle the account as soon as we can but could not promise on a date and cut the call in disbelief.

A phew moments later my madam (wife) rang me and again to my shock, the same Edgars debt collector had called my ambuya (mother in law) with regards to the same issue and also threatened her that if her daughter didn’t pay-up she would be in trouble with the law. Myself and my ambuya were put down on the account opening form as my wife’s references when she opened her Edgars account. My wife was fed up with the Edgars debt collection calls and was ignoring their calls. I could not believe the level that Edgars has stooped to bearing that we had paid our dues on time for about 6 months and our account was at $250 at one point and was now at only $60 and some cents. As you know with elder people, the moment they hear that the long arm of the ZRP (police) might be involved, they freak out and begin to fright. My wife however assured ambuya that we will pay the account soonest.

As you might know things don’t always go your way and after the 3 day ultimatum we had not managed to get our hands on any extra cash. Our hell resurrected and the calls started pouring in. That day I had ten missed calls from suspected Edgars call centre numbers and my wife made the mistake of answering the calls and was further threatened with “if you don’t pay my money by today, you will regret it”. Phew, when my wife told me this at home after work, I could see the worry in her eyes and I decided to cancel my early morning commitments. First thing the next day I headed to Edgars first street (cnr Jason Moyo) branch and asked to be taken to the call centre to confront this menacing foul mouthed call centre employee (name withheld). I was escorted by one of the Shop floor assistants who took me through several corridors and flights of steps and I ended up in this crowded call centre room reminiscence of the Chinese sweatshop pictures that we see on the internet. There must have been 40 or so employees in a room no bigger than 100 sqm. I was introduced to the call centre manager who had a small desk at the front of the room with the credit controllers busy fumbling away calling unfortunate Edgars Account holders who have fallen behind.

I sat down with the manager and showed him my wife’s Edgars statement and explained how unfair this harassing strategy to get debtors to pay up was; given that we all have good jobs and usually pay on time but we are unfortunate to be in a tight spot at the moment. We went on to have a casual chat about how the credit control employees are paid, which is on commission based on how much “bad debt” you have recovered thus they are also under pressure to get Edgars debtors to pay up so that they can in-turn earn a cheque to pay rent, schools fees, food etc. He admitted that some are trigger happy and use these harassment tactics to get account holders to pay especially the gentleman who has been harassing my wife. There had been several reports of customers complaining about his conduct but it seems little if any action had been taken against him. This just left me wondering what the Edgars HR department is up to? The gentleman was called up with the manager and I reminded him that his manner was in no way acceptable to which he apologised and quickly asked me “So when are you paying?” Unbelievable! We ended up agreeing that we would pay month end and he would stop calling my wife, myself and my ambuya until after the end of the month. Come month end, we paid all the $60 owing and closed the account! Enough of this Edgars nonsense…

Funny enough, someone from Edgars called three months later to say, we have noticed you haven’t bought anything lately, we have new stock please visit any of our branches to make a purchase, to which we rudely declined saying “kushop kwenyu kunodhura plus hembe dzenyu dzakashata” (your clothes are expensive and ugly). My ambuya who also had an Edgars account, closed it after experiencing the harassment first hand. Be wary about opening an Edgars credit account lest you do fall behind and experience this hell first hand.

Edgars Jason Moyo