Flashing Back with Teljoy!


Throughout 46 years of business, Teljoy, the sole rent to own company in South Africa, has had many ups and downs in the fight against “the man”. You’ve seen the amazing deals we have to keep you out of the debt trap, and we’d like you to learn a little more about the company that helps you stick it to the man!

Let's head back to the 1970s when a young man by the name of Theo Rutstein, being influenced by the TV rental trade in the UK, became convinced that it was only a matter of time before the television medium reached our sunny shores. With the use of his amazing and innovative thinking, he went on to found Teljoy, and subsequently signed on 10 000 people within 2 weeks!


Although there was an initial resistance from the government, the overwhelming demand for TVs forced them to allow the service in the country. Trial broadcasts were run and in 1976 a formal service was begun. Colour TV’s had at this time become available, so in true Teljoy fashion, we offered existing clients the opportunity to upgrade their black and white TVs.


Teljoy had gained around 100 000 TV rental contracts and clinched stock contracts with overseas suppliers. Teljoy became the #1 distributor of Telefunken, which was the most popular brand of TV sets in the country at the time. Additionally, in 1976, Rutstein was awarded the “Top Marketing Man of the Year” honour at the Institute of Marketing Management Awards for his innovative marketing strategies that always had people talking.

Following this, Teljoy’s main retail branch, Television City opened its doors in Claim Street, Johannesburg and was soon followed by four more branches in Pretoria, Durban, Cape Town and Bloemfontein.

Between 1976 and 1982 there were around 11 TV rental companies operating in the country. Once the competition had subsided, Rutstein used his business-savvy and worked his magic and acquired Thorn and subsequently merged with Visionhire (both of which were UK-based companies). By doing this, Teljoy became the third largest TV rental company in the world at that time! Talk about impressive!

However, it soon became apparent that in order to stay ahead of the game, Teljoy needed to offer its clients something that other TV rental companies were not. After six strong years in the TV rental game, Teljoy moved into the video industry by offering its clients VHS instead of the popular Beta format in South Africa. The VHS systems were rented out for R1 a day, with existing clients paying a little less when they opted to rent a VHS system. Teljoy also offered a late-night technical back-up service which meant that if a system broke down, the customer could call and have their regular appliance replaced while the old one was taken away for repairing. This was pretty ground-breaking for the time, a way of thinking that we continue with to this day!


Flash forward to London 1992 where Theo was almost run over by a bicycle messenger on a cellphone. Instead of ignoring this incident, he used it as inspiration for the expansion of the Teljoy business. He formed an alliance with Vodacom in order to be able rent out cellphones and he knew that he was not just selling a new gadget or toy, he was selling a more convenient lifestyle.


Even the high costs of the cellphones did nothing to dampen the public enthusiasm for this new technology. Teljoy initially planned to sign up 15 000 subscribers in the first year, however they ended up attracting a staggering 50 000 subscribers in the first 6 months!

Teljoy was eventually sold to Vodacom and continued intact however in 2000, they asked Theo to return to Teljoy and by 2001 he had led a management buy-out and reacquired his initial business with his loyal, long-standing employees quite thrilled to be back under the Teljoy banner.


Teljoy has since become a household name in the rental business, having widened our product range while still maintaining our core values, affordable prices, and amazing benefits. Our pristine history and the values netted along the Teljoy journey are visible today in the remarkable way in which the company operates. We always have been, and always will be ready to aid you in the fight against the man. Teljoy has indeed become the better way to get the things you want.