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*.
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 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