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GoPhone cut off Sarah’s mobile after agreeing a payment plan

The complaint
Consumer agreed to a payment plan, but the debt was then on-sold to a debt collector.
The outcome
A financial counsellor approached the TIO on the consumer's behalf, and the original payment plan was reinstalled.

The issue

mobile phone

Sarah*’s income decreased unexpectedly, and she could no longer afford her mobile service bills with GoPhone*.

She called GoPhone to explain her financial situation and change her plan so she could afford to pay the bills. She asked if she could pay $20 each fortnight until her situation improved. GoPhone agreed to this. Sarah’s mobile service stopped working. She called GoPhone and was told her mobile phone was disconnected because she owed money. A debt collection agency began contacting her for payment.

 

The investigation

In early 2019 Sarah authorised a financial counsellor to complain to us on her behalf.

The financial counsellor said the debt collection agency was asking Sarah to pay $1,200 of which around $400 was late payment fees. The counsellor said Sarah wanted the late payment fees removed given she had made an agreement with GoPhone to pay her bill.

The financial counsellor said once GoPhone confirmed if Sarah should make payments to GoPhone or the debt collection agency, she would start paying $20 a fortnight.

GoPhone proposed Sarah pay $122 each month because at $20 a fortnight, it would take more than three years to pay the charges. GoPhone said the late payment fees were correct, but it would consider waiving them if Sarah applied for help with financial hardship.

The outcome

The financial counsellor gave GoPhone information about Sarah’s income, along with its view that Sarah should pay $800 and could afford to make payments of $20 each fortnight until this was paid off. GoPhone accepted the financial counsellor’s view and reduced the charges.

With the help of a financial counsellor and our dispute resolution officer, Sarah was able to pay the charges she could afford.

*Names of individuals, organisations and companies have been changed.

Here's how other cases were managed

Complaint
A small business moved premises and their service provider didn't transfer their phone number to the new address.
Outcome
The service provider paid the small business $16,165 in compensation.
Complaint
Consumer had a debt to a provider for a service they never resulting in a default listing that affected their ability to secure a home loan.
Outcome
The consumer had the credit default removed and received compensation from the service provider.