17th Jan 2012

Telco billing complaints

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Paying bills is painful enough without the added cost of late payment fees, especially when you have done your best to ensure timely payment. But when your telco refuses to accept your explanation, where do you turn?

Q. Margaret

I was interested in the item on class action for banks having charged late payment fees.  Although this doesn’t affect me now, I’m wondering if someone will do anything similar about telcos charging late payment fees – ‘adjustments’ they call it.

I got stung a few months ago after I missed a payment due to my hard drive collapsing – containing my reminder system.  I explained what had happened and my provider, People Telecom reluctantly waived it, though with a very patronising lecture.  Still I should have had a paper system in place as well, which I now have.

Now I’ve been stung again for a payment made two days before the due date – via BPay.  I checked my bank statement and they list it as being made by me on 21 December and posted on 22 December – due date was 23 December. No notice of non-payment was ever received by me.  The invoice form People Telecom lists 3 January as date payment received – nearly two weeks later.  The public holidays are no excuse for that surely.

I queried it two days ago by email – but no response.  However, I don’t intend paying it and am wondering about effective action.  Certainly I intend to change providers.  Is there an ombudsman for this kind of thing?

A.

The difference with the bank class action is that it doesn’t centre around the right of banks to charge late payment fees, but the level at which they have been charged. All companies have the right to charge late payment fees as stipulated in the terms and conditions of the agreement you signed.

It’s disappointing when you have been so loyal to one particular company that you experience this type of service when things don’t go according to plan, through no fault of your own.

BPay state on its website that any payment made before your bank’s processing cut off time will be recorded as having been paid that day. This is the date the biller should acknowledge as the payment being made. However, it may take a few days for the biller to credit the payment to your account. For more details of payment processing times via BPay, click this link.

As you have received no response by email, we suggest you give People Telecom a call to follow up. If you do not receive a satisfactory response to your call, put your complaint in writing, sending it by registered mail. You should include copies of your bank statement, with any personal information blanked out.

If there is no satisfactory outcome, you should take your complaint to the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO). You can lodge your complaint via its website, by telephone or in person at its office in Melbourne.

You should note that non-payment of any late payment fee may lead to your telecomm provider employing a debt collection agency. Whilst this is unfair given you do not see yourself at fault, you should advise People Telecomm that you are seeking resolution via the TIO and ask the TIO about your legal standing.

For more information on the TIO, visit its website, www.tio.com.au or call 1800 062 058.

Have you had issues with your telco incorrectly billing late payment fees? Did you manage to get your issue resolved?





COMMENTS

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gerberry1
17th Jan 2012
3:22pm
I had a similar thing happen with GE, what had happened as St.George will only let you program your internet banking for 2 years I missed a payment with out realising it. Once I explained this, GE very nicely took off the late fee. As one's 'due date' is one date and then you get 2-3 weeks grace payment time, so program your internet banking to the actual due date not the 2-3 weeks afterwards or somewhere in between.
Gazza
17th Jan 2012
6:39pm
I went through enormous problems with Telstra because I was coming from a business plans and I was going to residential plans. They wanted to keep charging me the business plan rate. But after getting this all sorted out my broadband account doubled in price back up the business amount again. In the end I contacted the communications ombudsman and they sorted Telstra out. I recommend them their phone number is the phone directory because if you don't Telstra are rule to themselves and will keep at you


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