An increasing number of customers are frustrated over erroneous telephone and internet bills generated by their system providers and worry over ‘warnings’ that unpaid bills will lead to the risk of slipping in credit rating.
Just like nations, individuals also have credit rating, which is made available to retailers and businesses when processing credit facilities and hire purchase deals.
Graham Doessel, Founder & Chief Executive of MyCra Credit Repairs (a firm specialising in servicing customers to sort out ‘erroneous defaults and entries in accounts,’) said that two types of errors commonly occur while disputing bills raised by telecommunication service providers.
“Phone companies make mistakes with billing all the time, and undoubtedly some of those mistakes are difficult to resolve. Customers go wrong in assuming that just because they have spoken to someone on the phone about the bill, they are no longer obliged to comply with its due date,” he said.
Mr Doessel said consumers should obtain written confirmation of dispute settlement to protect their interests.
The existing legislation allows a company providing a product or service to list the name of a customer under Creditors’ file for invoices unpaid for more than 60 days even if the customer believes that the amount is erroneous.
A Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) Survey of 500 disputing customers revealed that more than half of consumers reported that they had contacted their service providers five or more times before calling the TIO.
It also revealed most consumers reported spending three hours or more unsuccessfully trying to solve their complaint, with one in five saying that they spent more than nine hours pursuing their complaints.
Ombudsman spokesman Simon Cohen said consumers have complained that service providers transfer them from one department to another.
“Perhaps more frustratingly, they get no solution; some of them experience broken promise for their efforts. They are resilient consumers,” he said.
According to Mr Doessel, about a third of his company’s current clients have been listed as ‘defaults’ in their credit rating with telephone system providers.
“Many clients get nowhere trying to dispute the bill with the phone company, and end up copping a default on the chin if they refuse to pay the bill. Some also believe the matter has been resolved. It is not until they apply for credit in a different circumstance that they realise the telecommunication company has placed a default on their credit record,” he said.
He said defaults remained on a person’s credit file for five years. Under the existing legislation, defaults generally do not get removed from an individual’s credit file, but can be marked as paid if they have been paid.
“Currently, defaults – even those that are marked as ‘paid’, will prevent you from obtaining a home loan with most lenders. In fact, even having as little as four credit enquiries of any kind in the last six months can be enough for an automatic decline,” Mr Doessel said.*