15 August 2011
Customers who are fed up with the process of disputing their phone or internet bills are warned they still need to follow the system to avoid finding themselves with a bad credit rating, according to a national credit file repairer.
Director of MyCRA Credit Repairs, Graham Doessel says when disputing bills with Telco providers, people make two common mistakes which can cost them their good credit rating unnecessarily.
“Phone companies make mistakes with billing all the time, and undoubtedly some of those mistakes are difficult to resolve. Where their customers go wrong, is assuming just because they have spoken to someone on the phone about the bill, they are no longer obliged to comply with its due date.”
“Consumers also need to ensure when they are disputing a bill, they obtain any resolution in writing before assuming the matter is fixed,” Mr Doessel says.
Under current legislation, an account which is more than 60 days in arrears can be listed by the creditor as being unpaid on the customer’s credit file. This is regardless of whether the customer believes there are errors in the details of the bill or with the payment amount.
This comes as the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman reveals unhappy customers experience repeated and time consuming contact with Telcos before referring their matter to the TIO.
The TIO released findings from its research paper, Resilient Consumers, on Friday, a survey of more than 500 consumers who lodged complaints between July and August 2010.
The survey revealed more than half of consumers reported contact with their service providers five or more times before ringing the TIO. It also revealed most consumers reported spending three hours or more unsuccessfully trying to solve their complaint, with one in 5 saying they spent more than nine hours.
“Consumers who come to the TIO report spending substantial time and effort solving their complaints,” said Ombudsman Simon Cohen. “They report being transferred from department to department, not being transferred to supervisors and, perhaps most frustratingly, getting no solution or a broken promise for their efforts. They are – by any measure – resilient consumers.”
Mr Doessel says unresolved bill disputes with Telcos, where people end up with defaults on their credit rating would make up about one-third of his clients.
“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 Telco has placed a default on their credit record,” he says.
Defaults remain on a person’s credit file for 5 years. Under current 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 a few too many credit enquiries can be enough for an automatic decline” he says.
Mr Doessel says many people are unfairly penalised with a bad credit rating when the matter could have been dealt with better by the Telco in the first place.
“It is astounding the number of Telco credit file listings which contain errors, or have been put there unjustly or unfairly. Under current legislation, people do have the right to have credit file discrepancies resolved. But unfortunately it can be difficult for customers if they are not aware of the appropriate legislation and don’t have time to negotiate with creditors,” he says.
MyCRA Credit Repairs outlines the process they recommend people should take when disputing a bill in Australia:
- Contact the bill provider as soon as you receive the bill and attempt to resolve the discrepancy.
- Make a note of the name of each person you speak to. Note any resolutions that were reached and request those be sent to you in writing.
- If the credit provider fails to honour the discrepancy, advise them you will be contacting the appropriate ombudsman.
- If the due date for the bill approaches and the issue has not been resolved, pay the bill by the due date. You can seek reimbursement at a later date, but this will prevent a default for that bill being listed on your credit file.
- Hang in there, play by the rules of the game and you should find your matter sorted out eventually. But at least once the matter is sorted out you aren’t left attempting to remove a default on your credit file as well.
Lisa Brewster – Media Relations Mob: 0450 554 007 firstname.lastname@example.org
Graham Doessel – Director Ph: 3124 7133 http://www.mycra.com.au/
MyCRA Credit Repairs is Australia’s leader in credit rating repairs. We permanently remove defaults from credit files.