Inovocom, Office Active introduced the Rev-Up Incentive to the South African Industry in 2016.

Now in Rev-UP’s third year, we have seen another independent stationer being moved forward in their business with the Grand Prize being awarded to Vans Office Supplies. They walked away with, or should we say drove away in, a fully branded, new Nissan NP 200 Delivery Vehicle.

The runners up were Vuma Office Supplies in 2nd Place with a travel voucher from Flight Centre to the value of R50 000. And finally, the Garden Route branch of Park Avenue Stationers won a travel voucher from Flight Centre to the value of R25 000.

This year’s sponsors were Bantex, Paperlink (Mondi Rotatrim) Pilot, Rexel and Tarsus Distribution.

Tickets were awarded for meeting certain sales criteria and participating in specific supplier promotions during the course of 2019.

The Rev-Up Incentive has been revving engines locally, and now abroad. Office Friendly in the United Kingdom, a business partner to Inovocom, introduced the initiative to their local UK market. Called Van-Tastic, the principals of the campaign remained the same and Office Friendly have given away their first Electric Delivery Vehicle in October this year, and already relaunched the Van-Tastic campaign for 2020.

Inovocom continues to add benefits and advantages to its Independent Dealer Community.

Black Friday did not disappoint

Source and infographic: BankServAfrica

Black Friday and Cyber Monday continues to be a hit in South Africa with both days exceeding expectations.

“Black Friday did not disappoint. Despite the tougher economy, it seems South Africans took advantage of the day’s special deals with in-store and online transaction volumes reflecting strong year-on-year growth. Both days have certainly made their mark amongst local retailers and shoppers,” says Solly Bellingan, head of customer relations at BankservAfrica.

South Africans shopped up a storm with the total number of Black Friday transactions processed by BankservAfrica (in-store and online) at 7 077 117 in 2019 – 36% up from 2018’s 5 204 594. This translates into a total spend of R6 billion, an impressive 106% increase on 2018’s R2.9 billion.

When compared to 2018, it seems bargain hunters decided to get the best deals early with a 33% year-on-year increase in sales at midnight. The 12-hour period between 06:00 and 18:00 proved to be busiest with similar volumes being processed each hour. The the highest number of transactions processed in a 60-minute period was between 10:00 and 11:00 at a volume of 595 792.

How did Cyber Monday compare?

“3D-Secure, our online card authentication service (i.e. transactions that require a one-time pin)[2], showed steady growth this year with a 32% year-on-year increase on Black Friday and transaction volumes reaching a total of 534 828,” says Bellingan. The busiest shopping times were between 09:00 – 10:00 in 2019 compared to the earlier start in 2018 at 08:00 – 09:00.

The most expensive online transaction recorded on Black Friday was for a hospitality purchase of R 10 067 400 by an international company. The most uses by one card was 83. During peak, we processed 717 transactions while the average was 371 per minute for the day.

Cyber Monday was less active than Black Friday with a 42% growth in online transactions that reached a volume of 249 908 in 2019 (up from 176 595 in 2018). However, in both years, most of the transactions took place between 10:00 – 11:00 with the most expensive being R1 997 800 and 151 uses by one card. The highest average transactions per minute was 322 at peak and 173 per minute for the day.

“This year’s Black Friday and Cyber Monday data mirrors the global data of record-breaking sales – and the BankservAfrica featured figures are only a portion of the entire sales figures for both days. It will be interesting to see if these manage to outpace festive season spend this year,” ends Bellingan.

Source: Associated Press

New York City lawmakers are considering a ban on paper receipts coated with the chemical BPA and a requirement that retailers offer emailed receipts instead of paper ones.

The City Council announced last week that it will hold hearings on a package of bills aimed at cracking down on paper receipts.

“Nobody needs foot-long receipts,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson, a Democrat. “We will work with businesses and consumers to cut out paper receipt waste and protect the planet. Let’s not print receipts when they aren’t wanted, especially when we have technology to issue environmentally friendly alternatives.”

Most cash register receipts are coated with bisphenol A, known as BPA, or the related chemical BPS. Some studies have determined the chemicals could harm the female reproductive system at high levels.

The City Council will consider bills in the next few months to restrict the use of BPA-coated paper, to require stores to offer e-receipts, to require that receipts be printed on recyclable paper and to require businesses to recycle receipts.

MTN, Vodacom urged to lower data prices

By Sihle Mavuso for IOL

In the wake of the Competition Commission ordering Vodacom and MTN to lower their exorbitant data prices, the ruling party says the two must voluntarily do so now than later.

MTN and Vodacom lost R22-billion of their combined value on Monday after the competition watchdog gave the two dominant mobile phone operators two months to slash internet connectivity prices or face prosecution.

The ANC, in response to the two mobile giants’ reasoning that data was so expensive because of the lack of spectrum, said that would be sorted in the near future and that should not be an excuse.

Joining the chorus of those welcoming the news that on the side battered the values of the companies, the ruling party said the current steep prices of data have a negative impact not only on the growth of the information and communication technology (ICT) sector.

“We reiterate our call that operators must demonstrate goodwill by voluntarily lowering data prices and allow government to resolve the allocation of new spectrum. The release of spectrum, which the ANC supports, will resolve the network capacity constraints experienced by Mobile Network Operators and accelerate the roll-out of broadband networks in rural areas,” the party said in a statement issued on Tuesday.

On the high data costs, the party said the working class poor, youth, students and women are robbed of their income as they spend more than 25% on the telecommunications services including data services.

It said the majority of the country’s people, due to the widening digital divide, are unable to enjoy the benefits of a digital economy, which deprive the poor of full participation in the democracy of our country. It added that this further stifles development and growth of small businesses.

“The ANC further urges government to activate all regulatory mechanisms, i.e. Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (ICASA) to ensure the implementation of the findings and recommendations of the Competition Commission, with the necessary speed. Access to data in the 21st century is important because it facilitates the realisation of many rights enshrined in our Bill of Rights, as well as, enhancing economic participation and the strengthening of our democracy.”

Among its findings, the Competition Commission said while conducting its inquiry it started in 2017, it found that current comparisons of the prices charged by Vodacom and MTN in other African markets in which they operate also reveal that South African prices are higher than most countries by some distance.

Five DStv scams to avoid this Christmas

By Tom Head for The South African

If you’re a subscriber to the network, take note. At least five major DStv scams have been identified this year: here’s how to play it safe.

‘Tis the season to be cautious, folks. There are a myriad of DStv scams waiting to trip-up some unsuspecting victims this Christmas. The network have confirmed that a number of schemes have already been detected, and bosses have raced to warn South Africans about the dangers they face.

It isn’t just the technophobes and boomers that are getting duped by the sophisticated rouses, either. These DStv scams have caught-out people across the board. But what do we need to look out for?

The gift card phishing scam
Customers receive an email informing them that they’ve won a cash gift card or huge sums of prize money from a MultiChoice competition. However, targets are then asked to provide personal details in order to claim the prize. It’ll be for a competition you definitely didn’t enter, so please, don’t hand any of your information out.

The “final notice” SMS scam
Some DStv customers have received an SMS claiming to be from DStv demanding payment for a DStv Explora account. It threatens action if payment is not made today and includes banking details. However, the network do not send such crudely-worded communications. You can contact them to find out the status of your account if you feel unsure.

Recruiting for social media jobs
There are dangerous scams disguised as recruitment ads for MultiChoice. One of the most popular ones offers applicants the chance to be driven to an interview. MultiChoice does not offer such a service, under any circumstances. Use the Afrizan website to verify any offers.

The DStv Premiem upgrade scam
Opportunists are contacting customers – via email or telephone- and offering them DStv Premium for a fixed once-off fee per yea, where the customer pays the fee directly to the scammer. Customers are asked to disregard such offers, and they are asked to refrain from letting a third-party upgrade an account for them.

Say no to installation offers
Don’t let your desire for a festive bargain cloud your common sense. If someone offers you a discounted DStv subscription at a once off payment, treat this with suspicion and check it with the network. Anyone offering “free package upgrades” or “free DStv for life” in a cut-price deal will be trying to rip you off.

How to avoid these DStv scams
The network have issued the following statement, advising consumers on how they can stay safe this year:

“There are usually tell-tale signs that can help you spot if something is a scam. Like receiving an email or SMS from us claiming that you’ve won a huge prize for a DStv competition you never entered, and for which you must either pay a fee or verify yourself by sending personal details – sounds too good to be true? It probably is.”

“MultiChoice will never request your personal details via email or SMS – please do not hand over your personal information to anyone claiming to be from DStv. Always check the email address and emails containing spelling and grammatical errors. MultiChoice only use one domain for emails (multichoice.co.za).”

WhatsApp to launch new self-destruct feature

By Jasper Hamill for Metro

We’re all now wearyingly familiar with the concept that messages sent in private can be published publically and used to ruin our lives. So we’re glad to say that WhatsApp is about to give us a vital survival tool to help us through this age of cancel culture and social media mob justice.

It’s reportedly on the verge of rolling out ‘deleting messages’ which disappear after a short space of time. This means you can make off-colour jokes without fearing they will get into the hands of bullies and be used to destroy your career or get you kicked out of university.

The concept of an auto-deleting post was made famous by Snapchat, which prompted a moral panic stoked by grown-ups who were concerned young people were using the app to send nudes. Then Facebook introduced the feature in Instagram and now it’s about to grant WhatsApp fans the same superpower.

The reliable website WABetaInfo has claimed the feature is on the way and is now very close to release.

You’ll be able to choose whether posts vanish in one hour, day, week, month or year. The feature was originally called ‘disappearing messages’ but has now been renamed ‘deleting messages’.

It will work in group chats and probably one-on-one conversations as well. When these new type of messages are introduced, a new option will be introduced in group settings and the contact info sections which will allow users to switch them on and off.

WhatsApp has launched a new privacy feature which will stop you being pulled into group chats you don’t want to be a part of. The feature was rolled out to a limited number of people earlier this year but has now been officially released to all users. You can now choose who can add you to groups, letting you block dodgy people or prevent annoying friends from adding you.

WhatsApp is beefing up its privacy protections (Image: Getty) This might sound like a frivolous feature, but in fact it’s a great privacy tool because people in groups can see each other’s phone numbers.

If you can take control of who adds you into these chats, then you have an extra tool to protect your identity and make sure strange or scammy people don’t contact you as well as protecting yourself from bullies.

When you’ve updated the app, just open up settings and scroll to ‘account’, followed by ‘privacy’ and then ‘groups’. You will be able to choose who’s allowed to add you to groups, with three options available.

Select ‘everyone’ and you’re wide open whilst choosing ‘my contacts’ means only friends will be able to add you. The early version of the update allowed you to also choose ‘nobody’, which locked your account down entirely. This has now been replaced by ‘My Contacts Except’, which will let you allow only certain contacts to add you to a group.

Google founders step back from top roles

Source: BBC

Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin have announced they are stepping down from top roles at the online giant’s parent company.

They will leave their respective roles as Alphabet’s chief executive officer and president but remain on the board.

Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai will become Alphabet’s CEO too, a statement said.

Alphabet was created in 2015 as part of a corporate restructuring of Google, which Mr Page and Mr Brin famously founded in a California garage in 1998.

The parent company was intended to make the tech giant’s activities “cleaner and more accountable” as it expanded from internet search into other areas such as self-driving cars.

The pair moved from Google to Alphabet when it was formed – saying they were making the jump to focus on starting new initiatives.

But in a blog post on Tuesday, the co-founders, both aged 46, announced they were stepping back from the day-to-day management of the company.

A joint letter said they would remain “actively involved as board members, shareholders and co-founders”, but said it was the “natural time to simplify our management structure”.

“We’ve never been ones to hold on to management roles when we think there’s a better way to run the company. And Alphabet and Google no longer need two CEOs and a President,” their letter said.

They also declared it was time to “assume the role of proud parents – offering advice and love, but not daily nagging” and insisted there was “no better person” to lead the company into the future than Mr Pichai.

The 47-year-old was born in India, where he studied engineering. He went on to study in the US at Stanford University and the University of Pennsylvania before joining Google in 2004.

In a statement, he said he was “excited” about the transition and paid tribute to Mr Page and Mr Brin.

“The founders have given all of us an incredible chance to have an impact on the world,” Mr Pichai said. “Thanks to them, we have a timeless mission, enduring values, and a culture of collaboration and exploration that makes it exciting to come to work every day.

“It’s a strong foundation on which we will continue to build. Can’t wait to see where we go next and look forward to continuing the journey with all of you.”

‘Proud parents’ who aren’t giving up ultimate power
This move represents the most significant shake-up of leadership at Google since its inception – the first time the dynamic duo of Brin and Page, a legendary Silicon Valley partnership, won’t hold important management roles in the company they founded.

In reality, though, that’s been the case for some time – the public face of the firm has been Mr Pichai and, to a lesser extent, YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki. But Tuesday’s announcement makes it absolutely clear – Mr Page and Mr Brin aren’t running the company.

Yet while the pair are apparently relinquishing management duties, it won’t mean giving up ultimate power. Between them, they control 51% of voting rights on Alphabet’s board. This won’t change. They likened their new role to being “proud parents” to the company, looking on with close interest and care.

But should they feel the need, they can override any decision Mr Pichai makes – with little more than a parental “because we said so”.

Mr Page and Brin are ranked the 10th and 14th richest individuals in the world by Forbes, with each of them estimated to be worth about $50bn (£38bn).

The American business magazine ranks Alphabet as the 17th largest public company in the world, with an estimated market value of $863bn.

Source: Lowvelder

According to the ChatBack website, a few easy steps on WhatsApp are all it takes to renew your car licence.

Here is how to renew your car licence in five easy steps:

Step one
There are three options to get started:

  • Scan the QR code on the website
  • SMS “Renew” to 44155
  • Add ChatBack to your contacts and WhatsApp them on 066-202-6685 to begin

Step two
Submit your car registration number. You will need your ID book to complete your renewal.

Step three
Get a quote and pay via the PayFast system which is secure, fast and simple.

Step four
Tell them which address you would like your documents to be delivered to.
Attach a copy or photo of your ID document
Attach proof of residence

Step five
Check the status of your renewal by sending “status” to the ChatBack WhatsApp number and they will inform you on the status of your renewal.

By Khulekani Magubane for Fin24

Overdue debt owed to Eskom by municipalities increased by some R1.2bn in September to R26.4bn by the end of October, Parliament’s Standing Committee on Public Accounts heard from the inter-ministerial task team aimed at resolving the debt owed to the power utility.

The meeting took place on Tuesday morning in Parliament, along with the top 20 debtors who account for 79% of the total debt. Of these, the top 20 municipalities who owe Eskom money account for 67% of the overall council debt.

Since the inter-ministerial task team was established in 2017, it has met with Eskom at least 40 times, but the debt to Eskom has grown by R16bn.

Scopa, for its part, has decried the lack of progress in reducing the debt owed to the already troubled utility. The last time the committee met to discuss the matter, none of the ministers in the task team showed up. This prompted Scopa to admonish the ministers, especially Minister of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, who chairs the task team.

Executive manager at the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (Cogta) Kevin Naidoo told Scopa that out of a total of 48 valid payment arrangements that Eskom had with municipalities, only 11 were being fully honoured as of October.

Growing debt, fewer payments

“The top 20 payment levels have dropped from a peak of 91% in March 2016 to 31.3% in October 2019, with virtually no payment towards the current accounts over the last 7 months,” said Naidoo.

Among the top defaulting debtors, Maluti a Phofung Local Municipality in the Free State owes a total debt of R4.5bn, R4.4bn of which is overdue.

Emalahleni Local Municipality in Mpumalanga owes a total debt of R3.3bn, R3.1bn of which is overdue. Matjhabeng Local Municipality’s total debt stands a tR2.7bn, of which R2.6bn is overdue.

Eskom chair Jabu Mabuza said despite having over 40 meetings with the inter-ministerial task team, the debt has only grown, meaning that leadership “either misdiagnosed the problems or mis-prescribed the solution”.

“If one looks at this trend, by the end of the financial year, this debt will be at R30bn and this time next year, the debt would be at R35bn. That’s where the direction is heading,” said Mabuza.

Scopa chair Mkhuleko Hlengwa said he and the rest of the committee members were growing weary of meeting over the same issue, only to find with each meeting that the debt crisis had gotten worse than it was before.

SA festive spend predicted to hit over R250bn

Source: Supermarket & Retailer

Research by short-term lender, Wonga, has revealed that South Africans will each incur an average of R6 585 in festive expenses this summer, over and above their usual budgeted expenses.

Based on Statistics SA’s mid-year population size estimates, working aged South Africans are set to pump R254-billion into the economy, an increase of 24% from last year.

As part of Wonga’s Festive Spending Survey, almost 6 000 South Africans shared what they plan on doing these holidays, who they plan on doing it with and how much they intend to spend.

“Our research revealed that 60% of people think they’ll spend more this festive season than they did in 2018, despite the tough economic climate. However, rather than turning to debt, the majority have either saved throughout the year or plan on using their end of year bonuses to manage the extra expense,” explains James Williams, Head of Marketing at Wonga.

This is Wonga’s second annual Festive Spending Survey and, when compared to last year’s findings, reveals that South Africans intend on spending an average of R880 more than they did last year. This includes costs such as gifts, holidays, entertainment, transport, food and drink.

Festive budgets

The research revealed that 76% of South Africans spend more than usual over the festive season, with food and drink taking up 37% of most budgets at an average cost of R2 430 per person. This is followed by gifts which account for approximately 20% of festive budgets, with South Africans forking out over R1 200 to spoil their loved ones.

In total, respondents expect to spend an average of R6 585 each, which is almost half (46%) of the average South African’s ‘take home pay’. This is based on Bankserv Africa’s latest index, according to which South Africans take home an average of R14 385 each, after tax. This represents a significant increase from 2018, when festive budgets made up just a third of the average ‘take home pay’.

Half of the respondents indicated that they dislike the pressure to spend money over the festive season. To cope with the extra expense, the majority (45%) plan to draw from their end-of year-bonuses, or dip into their savings (42%) or stokvels (25%). Only a small portion plan on either taking out a loan (17%) or spending money on their credit cards (11%) to get them through the holidays.

Travel plans

Only one in three South Africans have festive season travel planned this year, a 5% drop from 2018, with most people (33%) citing the cost of travel as their main reason for staying home followed by work commitments (27%).

Of those leaving home for the holidays, Durban emerged as the most popular holiday destination for the second year running, followed by Cape Town. Most people (58%) will be travelling to visit family or friends, with only a small portion visiting places because they offer peace and quiet (17%) or natural beauty (12%). The bad news for those hoping to avoid traffic chaos this year is that the vast majority (60%) plan on travelling by car.

Festive gifting

Nine in ten South Africans plan on buying gifts this festive season and, while the majority (83%) plan on spoiling their family, 22% also plan on buying themselves a gift this Christmas. At the top of most people’s Christmas lists, money (34%) and vouchers (26%) emerged as the firm favourites again this year.

Although the popularity of traditional stores has declined by 6% since 2018, 75% of shoppers still prefer to visit brick and mortar stores in search of gifts, with only 13% planning to do their shopping online.

Festive celebrations

78% of South Africans’ favourite way to celebrate the festive season is by spending time with loved ones. Having a braai emerged as the most loved festive tradition for 47% of respondents, making it 10% more popular than a traditional Christmas roast.

Only 57% of South Africans have work parties or functions planned to mark the end of the year and the vast majority look forward to celebrating with their colleagues. However, for 18% this excitement is replaced with indifference either because they find their year-end functions boring (35%), don’t enjoy socialising with their work mates (20%) or resent having to spend money on gifts, clothing or food for the occasion (24%).

“It’s clear that most South Africans have a bumper festive season planned and, while it’s great to see so much holiday cheer, people should be careful not to get swept away in the excitement and wind up spending more than they can afford. Remember, the best gift that you can give to yourself and your loved ones is starting the new year on a strong financial footing,” concludes Williams.

Quick facts:

  • Festive spending to increase by 24% this year, with South Africans budgeting an average of R6 585 each over this period.
  • Just under half of working South Africans rely on a thirteenth cheque or bonus to tide them over the festive season.
  • Two thirds of South Africans won’t travel this festive season, with most claiming it is too expensive.
  • 50% of South Africans don’t like the pressure to spend money during the festive season.
  • Durban is still the most popular holiday destination amongst South Africans.
  • Despite the popularity of traditional shops dropping by 6% from 2018, 75% of South Africans still prefer brick and mortar stores to buying Christmas gifts online.
  • Money and vouchers remain the most popular gifts for 60% of South Africans.
  • South Africa’s favourite way to celebrate the festive season is with their family and friends.

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