Telco Eftel asks customers to pay $299 for their own mix up
Telco Eftel asks customers to pay $299 for their own mix up.
8 October 2013
A recent 'billing system melt down' by Eftel has seen new connections over the past 6 months being charged a fee of $299 - regardless of how much the connection actually cost them, due to a loophole in their terms and conditions.
Stated to be a "widespread problem affecting all customers who connected within the last 12 months", the billing hiccup in August meant Eftel was able to charge its new customers between $59 and $299 as outlined in their terms and conditions.
So Eftel opted to charge customers the maximum amount, and customers have been sent a letter advising them that if their connection was less than six months old, they would be charged the rate of $299.
The letter also advised that all charges more than 6 months old would be waived. Eftel customer John Maxwell, who also happens to work in credit repair, received a letter from Eftel in August on behalf of his partner's Mother, whose first language is not English, stating they were charging her $299, and he saw red.
"My first response was to question why they were charging her $299 for the connection and not $59 as it was their problem affecting their customers' accounts. They advised they would be charging the fee of $299 as this is what Telstra has charged them for all of the connections," Mr Maxwell, Agencies Manager at MyCRA recalls.
But Mr Maxwell says, he vehemently opposed the original fee range at the time of setting up the account for his partner's Mum, and had demanded a set connection fee be quoted before he would agree to their services.
"I requested the consultant access the recorded conversations from archives and verify what I authorised, and to call me back with an outcome," he says. He goes on to say, that it was several correspondences back and forth before Eftel conceded they had overcharged on the account as per his voice recording.
"I knew the facts of what went on, and that everything I had said was recorded. I advised them I was going to escalate the matter to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman for a resolution, and then I finally got someone to listen to all of the recordings," he says.
Mr Maxwell says he is happy with the outcome but is left wondering how many thousands of other customers are in this same situation.
"How many other customers will now be charged $299 without any idea of how to argue for a fair outcome?" he says. He worries many will be pushed into hardship upon receiving a bill they cannot afford, without receiving prior notice, or risk default.
CEO of MyCRA, Graham Doessel, says many people seeking credit repair have defaults originating from billing disputes that went unresolved.
"People can get angry and emotional over bills they think are unfair or don't agree with, and end up defaulting on their account by refusing to pay without resolving the matter. Or other times people think they have resolved a billing dispute, only to have been defaulted anyway," Mr Doessel says.
He has provided three of the
most important things people may need to know when disputing
1. Act quickly. Contact the Bill Provider as soon as you receive the bill and attempt to resolve the discrepancy. Ask them to note that you are disputing your bill and verify it in writing. It's best to try to resolve the complaint prior to your account going into arrears (within 60 days).
2. Get everything in writing. Document as much as you can and send a copy of your complaint in writing. Make a note of the name of each person you speak to on the telephone, and the nature of the discussion with each. Note any resolutions that were reached and request those be emailed or sent to you in writing.
3. See it through. If the credit provider fails to honour the discrepancy, advise them you will be contacting the appropriate Ombudsman.
For direction in how to dispute a telco bill, visit the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman website www.tio.com.au.