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Case study: financial hardship and disconnection

29 April 2016

John called his provider to request a payment extension because he experiencing financial hardship. His mother was in hospital and he worked a casual job that did not guarantee a steady income. His provider gave him two months to pay off a $400 bill. He paid the first instalment, but he knew he would be late paying the second instalment by one day because his pay would not have been deposited into his bank account. On the due date, he received a text message that said his service had been restricted to incoming calls. John contacted the provider asked to have his service restored until the following day when he could pay, but the customer service representative refused to do so. John asked to talk to a supervisor or to be redirected to someone who could cancel his service, and was put through to the cancellations department.

Because he needed his service to be able to accept work shifts, he did not go ahead with the cancellation and called the TIO. He told us that the provider tried to deduct the amount he owed from his bank account, but because he had insufficient funds, the bank charged him a dishonour fee. The telco then suspended John’s service altogether. He told us that he missed three days’ work due to not being able to receive calls from the agency that employed him, which he estimated had made him lose $450 in income. He purchased a prepaid mobile so he could get back to work while his complaint was being considered. He wanted the provider to waive the outstanding amount and compensate him for his loss.

During our conciliation of the complaint, the provider waived the debt and reconnected John’s service. It also told John that it may consider compensation if his employer could confirm he had missed out on shifts because his phone was disconnected. John was satisfied with this resolution and we closed the case.

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