These practical tips will help you cancel a contract or service in South Africa that are tied to a debit orders to ensure you don’t get charged after. I decided to write this post because of the number of times I’ve seen people on my feeds struggle with this.

I am going to put out a disclaimer to say that it is based on my personal experience and has helped me over the years, but at the same time I am confident it should work for everyone. Also, I pay with debit order if it’s the *only* method of payment; I prefer paying for services manually each month through the FNB app, or even Snapscan (my web hosting company accepts Snapscan). When you’re freelancing, you hardly get paid on time, so it’s not like I had much of a choice.

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1. When you are cancelling a contract/service over email, make sure you ask the person on the receiving end to acknowledge your email. This could help you down the line when you need to send some sort of proof that you did in fact cancel. If you don’t, then make sure you don’t delete it from your sent items. [Pulling an email up from my ‘sent items’ has helped me in the past].

2. If you cancel over the phone, make sure you get the person’s name and email address. Then mention on the same call that you will be sending a mail to confirm your cancellation took place telephonically. And yes, once again, get them to acknowledge this email.

3. Once the above is in order, assuming you’ve filled out the correct forms/called to cancel, go to your bank and tell them that you want to put a (three month) block on the debit order. There might be an admin fee for this, but remember, the admin fee is probably less than the amount that may get debited from you incorrectly, especially if it’s a cellphone contract.

4. I have had the exact thing happen to me, and it’s crazy how quickly the company then responds when they are hit with penalties from your bank due to them trying to debit you when they shouldn’t. I am going to stress this once more, make sure that you don’t owe them money before you put a block on the debit order. This incident will then ensure the accounts person has removed you from their system – trust me on this.

5. Make sure the amount you are putting the block for is within a wider bracket. I had an operator try to then take out twice the amount from my account incorrectly the following month after unsuccessfully trying the month before. So yes, they were successful because I put the block for example R500, and they were successful with R1000. Let the amount be the minimum they can expect with a maximum of up to x3 that amount (just to be safe).

6. Lastly, if you are with FNB, you have the power (literally in your hands) to reverse a debit order through the app, cellphone banking or via the web. I’ve made use of this service and I can’t tell you how victorious it made me feel. I also used it to set up the block on a debit order myself, instead of getting hold of my banker, like I used to do initially/before you could to it yourself.

If you follow the above steps once you did everything on your part to cancel a contract or service that you pay through a debit order, you shouldn’t have any issues.

PS there was a time when I cancelled my Telkom landline and I didn’t get an acknowledgement email even though I requested one, so I tweeted at Telkom to let them know that I won’t be paying any ‘penalties’ for their incompetence and they replied soon after. It pays to be proactive. 

If you have any tips of your own, please feel free to share it in the comments below.