Case Studies - Billing (including roaming)

I’m the authority!

Barry’s new broadband plan backfires when his friend is added as an account authority

Barry* wanted to change his internet service so he went to see a provider in store. Barry brought his friend Pete along to help him pick which broadband plan he should change to.  Pete also assisted in the conversation with the provider’s representative. An agreement was reached between Barry and the provider, and they also agreed for Pete to pick up the modem as Barry was going overseas. When Barry returned from his trip, he received a very large and unexpected bill from his provider for a phone, broadband connection and mobile services which had been added to his account. Barry called his provider and was told that Pete, who they advised was added as an authority to the account when the account was set up in store, had made the purchases. Pete had also requested the invoices be sent to his own personal email.

Barry disputed both the charges and that Pete had been added as an authority on his account - saying he had not given Pete the authority to make purchases or changes to his account, only to pick up the modem. The provider advised that Barry must have added Pete as an authority as this was how Pete was able to pick up the modem and subsequently that Barry, being the account holder, was responsible for the charges.

Barry and his provider were unable to work out the differences themselves and the matter was deadlocked.** Barry brought his complaint to TDR who assigned the matter to a Resolution Practitioner.

Both parties requested the matter be adjudicated as they had been unable to resolve the matter and were steadfast in their positions. The Resolution practitioner agreed to adjudicate the matter and accepted further submissions from Barry and his provider. Based on the information provided, TDR’s Resolution Practitioner issued a determination.

The Resolution Practitioner summarised that the primary dispute in the case was whether Pete did in fact have Barry’s authority to act on the account. They agreed that while it is common practice among New Zealand telco providers to allow an account holder to nominate a person or persons to act on the account, it is up to the provider to prove that they have received that authority and provide that evidence when required. The telco did not provide any record of the communication between the Barry and the provider to note exactly what allocating authority to an account allows. On the basis of the information provided, there was insufficient evidence that supported the provider’s claim that Barry had given Pete full authority on the account.

Therefore, the complaint was upheld and the provider was ordered to reverse any charges raised against Barry for the products and services obtained by Pete.
 

* Names have been changed.

** Deadlock is where a complaint has been raised with a telecommunications company and has come to the end of the company's internal complaints procedure without being resolved, or when it's been six weeks or more since the customer contacted the company and the customer still doesn't have a resolution they are happy with, whichever comes first.