Two of our credit repair clients share their stories on how their good credit rating suffered at the hands of Telco mix-ups. Their stories demonstrate how bill and service disputes can be difficult for customers to resolve, and can ultimately lead to a bad credit rating.
By Graham Doessel CEO of MyCRA Credit Repairs and www.fixmybadcredit.com.au.
A NSW client, Daniel and his young family were shocked when they applied for a home loan last year to find they were refused due to a whopping $8,000 debt and five years of bad credit when a botched phone plan with Telstra in 2006 came back to haunt them.
Daniel was told by the lender there was no way he would be given a home loan with a black mark against his name – a mark Daniel says was a huge mistake.
“I was on a 10MB plan initially, but wanted to start using the internet from my phone. I contacted Telstra to get upgraded to 1GB, which the operator agreed to. It wasn’t until I got the bill for $4,000 that I saw the operator hadn’t changed the data allowance and I was still on 10MB,” he explains.
Daniel says he spent more than 3 months in contact with Telstra attempting to resolve the problem, and was passed on from one person to another.
“All the operators said they didn’t have the authority to remove this bill or change it. No one was willing to help they all just kept passing me around operators which lead to hours on end being caught up on the phone without getting answers,” he says.
“After a few months they disconnected my phone, but I had no idea they had referred the debt to a collection agency, and banned me from credit for 5 years.”
Thousands of Telco customers are living with negative listings on their credit file that just shouldn’t be there, and this should serve as a warning to all credit active individuals to check the accuracy of their own credit rating.
Consumers need to know that mistakes do happen for a variety of reasons, and often it is not until people apply for credit in a separate instance that they find out – by then it is too late.
An annual report released November last year by the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman (TIO) reporting on the number and nature of consumer complaints in the 2010-11 year, revealed a staggering 18 per cent increase in complaints from the previous year.
The TIO report attributes the rise in complaints to them to mobile phone service faults and increased smart phones use.
“The record number of complaints made to the TIO is disappointing. Customers who have complained to us have been frustrated not only by mobile telephone problems, but also by deficient customer service and complaint handling,” Ombudsman Simon Cohen said.
Daniel says trying to get the mistake fixed up and rebuild his credit file himself, was problematic.
“I tried to clear it with Baycorp, they told me if I paid the debt they would reduce it to $6,000 – which I did. Unfortunately that didn’t clear my credit file, it was only marked as ‘paid’ and was no use to me getting a home loan,” he says.
Many people have trouble resolving errors themselves, because they aren’t familiar with the legislation and find it difficult to negotiate with creditors.
Customers can often be given the run-around by creditors, and can find it difficult to apply the letter of the law to their own circumstances when they have no knowledge of what the rules are. Sometimes that can do their case more harm than good.
Daniel’s case has since been resolved, and MyCRA Credit Repairs have been successful in recovering the $6,000 he paid out to Baycorp.
“We’re relieved to be finally getting a home, but the whole thing has left us very disappointed in big corporations – you really don’t get looked after,” he says.
Another client, Brent from Western Australia had a contract with provider, ‘3’ in 2009 that went badly.
About 3 months into his phone contract, Brent experienced numerous problems with his phone, sending it to be repaired 3 times before requesting a replacement. He posted the phone back to Sydney and received a new phone.
A month later Brent’s phone was barred, and he received a phone call from 3 stating that he owed $1200 for the phone which 3 said was never returned.
Brent spent a few months dealing with 3 trying to track down the phone in their warehouse and the postal system, before they eventually located it.
It wasn’t until he applied for a loan and was turned away that he found out 3 had placed a default on his credit file anyway, despite an agreement to put a note on the account so that the outstanding amount for the missing phone did not get referred to a debt collector.
MyCRA Credit Repairs fought for Brent to have the default removed from his credit file.
It is so important for people to cover themselves when resolving bill and service disputes with Telcos or any creditor for that matter.
People should never assume mistakes are rectified until they have confirmation in writing from the company. If you have a problem with a bill or service, take extensive notes and names and request confirmation of all decisions and outcomes in writing.
If people are worried about what may have been reported about them on their credit report, they are entitled to obtain a copy of their credit file for free from the credit reporting agencies in Australia once every 12 months.
The report is mailed to the credit file holder within 10 working days. If consumers find errors, or listings which they believe are inaccurate or unjust they have the right to have them removed.
For help with rebuilding a credit history and repairing your bad credit rating contact MyCRA Credit Repairs tollfree on 1300 667 218 or visit the main website, www.mycra.com.au.