Transfer of service
Transfer of service gone wrong
Barbara* currently had home phone and internet services, but enquired about service options and fibre installation with a new provider. Barbara had been hearing a lot about fibre speed, and as she worked from home, was keen to give it a go. The new provider she called had advertised fibre connection and a bundled service that would be less than she was paying currently.
Barbara spoke with a customer service representative and asked lots of questions, writing it all down to consider later. She did not intend to transfer her service at that time; however, the new provider interpreted Barbara’s call and her questions as a transfer request. The new provider then notified Barbara’s existing provider of the transfer.
The existing provider did not contact Barbara to confirm whether she intended to transfer her service. This is because under the Transfer Code, Barbara’s existing provider was limited in how, and under what circumstances, it could contact Barbara. For example, if Barbara would have incurred an early termination fee or had an amount outstanding that would have to be paid before the switch. The restriction on contacting transferring customers is to ensure that consumers may freely switch providers. In this case, the restrictions applied.
It was only when a fibre installer arrived at Barbara’s home several weeks later that she realised a transfer had occurred. Barbara halted the installation and contacted the new service provider to state that she had never authorised a transfer.
This resulted in several weeks of disconnection which led to losses that Barbara was entitled to recover. Not getting anywhere in trying to resolve the issue on her own, Barbara contacted TDR for help.
Barbara’s complaint was resolved through mediation, with the new provider formally apologising to her and making a significant monetary contribution in excess of $7,000 towards her losses.
This case highlights how important it is for new service providers to ensure that customers sincerely wish to switch, given that existing service providers are limited in their contact with customers after receiving a transfer request.
*Names have been changed to protect our customers’ identities