JOHANNESBURG – The newly-formed Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC) has conceded its website is experiencing "teething problems" frustrating business people across the country.
One particularly irate user has written to Moneyweb saying: "... to date we have not been able to lodge annual returns or do changes of directors on the system. When phoning the call centre they are totally clueless as well (this would be after holding on waiting for them to answer the phone for about 45 minutes)." An e-mail further reads: "Collection of queried documents from your (CIPC) office is a total nightmare. We cannot afford to go back to our clients and tell them we have to redo documents which have been queried."
Another frustrated user says the CIPC’s version that the system is working with only a few adjustments needed to the website is utter rubbish. The complaint states that trying to obtain company information on the website prompts messages like: "no records found". These are just some of the complaints received by Moneyweb.
CIPC spokesperson Elsabe Conradie has responded to the complaints by saying: "It has come to our attention that clients are experiencing challenges in finding certain information and functions on the website. The website is currently receiving urgent attention to simplify its navigation and to provide better guidance to clients." Conradie says problems related to filing annual returns and the changing of directors has been resolved.
She says the CIPC is aware of problems experienced by some clients with regard to filing annual returns. "The annual return team is aware of this and this will be solved once April payments have been processed," Conradie says. She says the commission is also aware of billing problems which are being addressed.
The new Companies Act was promulgated on May 1 2011 prompting the formation of the CIPC which replaced the former Companies Intellectual Property and Registration Office, CIPRO, which was fraught with problems. Clients had been assured that the new commission and its website would provide the customer with a hassle free experience.
With regard to claims of backlogs in processing applications for close corporations and company name registrations, Conradie states that the CIPC had been inundated with applications in the run-up to the implementation of the new Act. "As for the evaluation of applications for name reservations require a certain level experience, CIPC has to rely on its current staff to deal with the high volumes." She says CIPC staff are working overtime.
Conradie further states: "Another area presenting challenges for the institution resulted from the non-payment of annual returns by large numbers of firms."She says companies that had failed to comply had been deregistered. "Many companies have subsequently remedied the situation and applied for the restoration of their registration. The high volumes have placed the resources of the organisation under pressure, but every effort is being made to deal with the accumulation of applications for restoration." She urged companies to submit their payments for annual returns and close corporations timeously in future to prevent a reoccurrence of logjams.
Conradie concluded by saying: "As with the implementation of any function and system, teething problems can be expected. The CIPC is committed to addressing these problems and we invite customers to inform us of any problems transacting on our website by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org."