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History of payment plans and automatic pre-approval

The outcome
Disconnected all of the disputed services and kept two remaining mobile services active.

The issue

Over the course of a few months, Barry* signed up for multiple high value post-paid mobile phone plans with Yellow Tel*. Barry’s only source of income was a disability pension. 

Barry could not afford these services and was constantly applying for new handsets to then sell them to pay off the bills he was receiving. At one stage, his Yellow Tel debts were over $10,000. When his representative logged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman, he had completely  lost track of the services he had with Yellow Tel*. 

The investigation

During the conciliation of the complaint, Yellow Tel told us Barry was signed up for seven post-paid and two pre-paid mobile accounts. It is unclear how many services were attached to these accounts, but there may have been as many as 14 phone plans and associated devices in total. Yellow Tel conceded  that although Barry had a history of requesting payment plans and sometimes not complying with them, its credit assessments permitted the provision of the additional services. This assessment process was automatic once he became an existing customer. No ‘credit risk flag’ was ever put on  his account. 

The outcome

The complaint was resolved when Yellow Tel agreed to disconnect all of the disputed services and kept two remaining mobile services active. Yellow Tel waived nearly all the outstanding debt except for some valid charges on one of the accounts.

*Name of individuals, organisations and companies have been changed

Here's how other cases were managed

Complaint
A consumer was transferring his service from one provider to another, and lost his number in the process.
Outcome
Both the new and the old service providers managed to solve the issue and the new service provider gave the consumer a credit on their account.
Complaint
Consumers signed a "no-lock in contract" and then were charged for the devices upon leaving the contract. They were not advised that payment for the device could not continue as separate from the service contract.
Outcome
Consumers were allowed to continue to pay off the devices, and marketing materials for the plans was amended.