Vodafone customers – ‘desperate and defaulted.’
5 March 2013
A Queensland family should have been relaxing in their newly purchased home after an interstate transfer, but instead they have been fighting Vodafone over a default which saw them lose their house contract – a default which they say, was ludicrous.
Up till now, Alastair and Nikki Taylor have not been able to join the 20,000-plus Vodafone customers who are mounting a class action against the telco, because doing so could have damaged their dispute case against their Vodafone default listing.
The default listing which has been proven to be unlawful and finally been removed by Vodafone today, saw them cop what they say, is an unfair and incorrect 5-year default on their credit file.
“This default was stopping us from getting a home, and it is grossly unfair the time and money we have lost, not to mention the stress it has caused our family,” Alastair says.
Alastair and Nikki purchased a wireless internet modem from a Vodafone store in Western Australia, but claim they were misled about the internet coverage it would provide.
“At the time we verified with the sales assistant many times if it would work in the address we intended to move to as we had recently bought a new house. She assured us we would have full coverage. Upon arriving at our new address we found we were absolutely without coverage,” Alastair says.
He says he contacted the store at least ten times, leaving messages and getting no response.
“When I did finally get to talk to someone they rudely hung up on me. The next time I spoke to somebody, was when a debt collector called chasing the outstanding money around two months later. I told them the situation but they wouldn’t listen and were only interested in getting the money out of me,” he says.
The couple begrudgingly paid the account late last year, when Alastair got an interstate transfer. They were told the outstanding account was affecting their credit rating and stalling their purchase of a home in Cairns.
“We had no idea we were defaulted anyway whether we had paid the account or not. We lost the house we were after, and have had a lengthy battle with Vodafone to remove it,” Alastair says.
Their advocate, MyCRA Credit Rating Repair’s Graham Doessel says they are certainly not alone in their experience.
“Many telcos have historically poor levels of customer service and many times customers don’t get what they think they are paying for. What’s worse is when those botched plans end up costing the customer their credit file,” Mr Doessel says.
The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman’s annual report, released in October last year shows a rise in complaints about credit default listings. Complaints about consumers being credit default listed while their debt was in dispute increased 18 per cent from 3,700 to 4,370.
“I am very concerned about the increase in the number of complaints where credit default listings are disputed,” Mr Cohen said “Credit listings can have very significant impacts on people – affecting applications for credit, including for housing and personal loans. Any credit default listing should only occur after the correct procedures have been followed.”
Mr Doessel says preventing and disputing a credit file default from a telco often comes down to awareness of legalities.
“Many people don’t know the rules well enough when dealing with these big companies, so it can be a little like David and Goliath and many times the big guy wins,” he says.
He says his clients encounter difficulties with telcos at many levels.
“In our experience it’s not just the initial sale of product which is in dispute, but the entire customer service process and often the process of default listing the client as well,” he says.
He is hoping the very public class action will be a force of change, especially following the introduction of tougher laws for telcos in September last year.
The ‘Telecommunications Consumer Protection Code’ was pushed through with the guidance of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) which have amongst other things aimed to facilitate faster, better complaints-handling, with urgent complaints resolved within two days.
ACMA Chairman Chris Chapman said at the time the ACMA would put the industry on notice, advising they would take a “far more robust approach” to ensure the industry’s compliance with the new Code.
You can find more information on disputing a default with your telco at the MyCRA website www.mycra.com.au.
Please contact: Graham Doessel – Founder and CEO 3124 7133
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations MyCRA email@example.com
MyCRA Credit Rating Repairs is Australia’s number one in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files. CEO of MyCRA Graham Doessel is a frequent consumer spokesperson for credit reporting issues and is a founding member of the Credit Repair Industry Association of Australasia.