1. Dispute

The Telecommunication Dispute Resolution Service (TDR) has received a complaint filed by [The Customer] against [The Scheme Member].

The dispute relates to [The Customer]’s concerns about being referred to credit consultants because of non-payment of his bills. He stated that he withheld payment because of poor service from [The Scheme Member].

2. Dispute outcome

The dispute is not upheld.

3. Final determination

In making this determination I have considered the information provided by [The Customer] and [The Scheme Member] and considered:

  • Fairness in all the circumstances
  • Any relevant legal requirements
  • The Code and its service standards, including position statements; and
  • Any other relevant telecommunications code.

I spoke to [The Customer] and [The Scheme Member] in relation to the complaint. While there was an attempt to settle the matter, ultimately the parties could not agree on a resolution to the dispute, so I moved the matter through to the adjudication process.

I have been sent copies of e-mails, bills and usage figures etc which I have considered below.

I provided a proposed decision to the parties and invited them to provide a final comment by 5pm on Thursday 27 October 2022.

[The Scheme Member] had nothing to add.

[The Customer] responded to say “What a corrupt system we are in - I want to escalate this further even court what are the next steps?"

4. The Background

  1. [The Customer] has had broadband with [The Scheme Member] since November 2021. He signed up for a 12-month contract for unlimited broadband (fibre) for $89 per month. His contract included free access to Amazon Prime TV and Neon TV for six months. The contract had an early cancellation fee of $288.00.
  2. Shortly after signing up, he also requested a static IP address for an additional $10.00 per month.
  3. [The Customer] had difficulty initially connecting to the internet. He was using his own modem. On 30 November 2021 [The Scheme Member] sent [The Customer] one of their modems and he was able to connect to the internet. A static IP address was set up the same day.
  4. On 26 November 2021 [The Scheme Member] sent [The Customer] a bill for $15.00, which he paid. On 26 November 2021, he paid [The Scheme Member] $15.00, for the modem courier charge.
  5. On 30 November 2021, [The Scheme Member] sent [The Customer] an invoice for $89.00.
  6. On 2 December 2021, [The Customer] contacted [The Scheme Member] to ask for his Amazon Prime and Neon codes. They were provided by [The Scheme Member].
  7. On 25 December 2021, [The Customer]’s direct debit payment for $89.00 failed due to insufficient funds to process the payment.
  8. On 31 December 2021, [The Scheme Member] sent [The Customer] a bill for $221.33 including an overdue fee of $89.00.
  9. On 25 January 2022, [The Customer]’s direct debit payment of $221.33 failed due to insufficient funds to process the payment.
  10. On 28 January 2022, [The Scheme Member] suspended [The Customer]’s broadband services as a result of non-payment of its bills.
  11. On 31 January 2011, [The Scheme Member] sent [The Customer] a bill for $320.33 including an overdue amount of $221.33.
  12. On 16 February 2022, [The Scheme Member]’s collection team contacted [The Customer]. He advised that he was moving house and would consider taking [The Scheme Member] to the new house.  He advised he would make a manual payment towards the balance. This was not paid.
  13. On 21 February 2022, a 24-hour notice of disconnection was sent to [The Customer], advising that if his overdue amount was not paid his service would be disconnected.
  14. On 23 February 2022, his account was disconnected and [The Scheme Member] again asked [The Customer] to pay his overdue account of $392.33.
  15. [The Scheme Member] also asked [The Customer] to return its modem in a courier bag that they sent to him. He was advised by text message that if he failed to return the modem he would be charged $165.00.
  16. On 9 April 2022, the modem had not been received by [The Scheme Member] so it added $165.00 to the outstanding amount. The debt sent to the external collection agency was $557.33, plus collection costs.
  17. In terms of usage for the period [The Customer] had an account with [The Scheme Member], the records show that in December [The Customer] consumed 466GB of data. In January he consumed 390 GB of data.  In February 2022 this amount dropped to 42 GB of data and in March when [The Customer]’s cancellation was pending it reduced to 2.39 GB.

5. Positions of the respective parties

The Customer position
    1. I spoke to [The Customer]. He advised that his main concern is the impact the matter is having on his credit. He advised that it means he is unable to buy a house.
    2. [The Customer] accepts that he has not paid his invoices to [The Scheme Member]. He stated that the reason his account was not paid was because of bad service from [The Scheme Member].
    3. He asked me to consider the customer satisfaction survey’s available online which show dissatisfaction with [The Scheme Member].  This he said, would show just how bad [The Scheme Member] are.
    4. He stated that [The Scheme Member] had lied about his situation and manipulated the facts.
    5. He added that he had real difficulty contacting [The Scheme Member] to discuss the matter, and that he had very poor internet service.
    6. My understanding of [The Customer] complaint is that:
  • [The Scheme Member]’s internet service was so poor that he decided not to pay the bill.
  • Evidence of [The Scheme Member] failings is clear by their customer satisfaction ratings.
  • [The Customer] wants [The Scheme Member] remove his bad credit.
The Scheme Member’s case
    1. I received e-mail correspondence from [The Scheme Member] and had the benefit of a fulsome members response which is included on the file.  I summarise [The Scheme Member] position as follows:
  • [The Customer] failed to pay his invoices.
  • He received good internet service which is evident by his usage.
  • [The Customer] did not mention any shortcomings with his internet usage until after debt collection were involved.
  • [The Scheme Member] sent [The Customer] a number of text and e-mail reminders about his invoices, but he raised no issue with the quality of the service at this time.
  • There is no evidence that [The Customer]’s internet service was poor.
  • [The Scheme Member] acted within its right to refer [The Customer] to their credit agency.

6. Reasons for the decision

  1. I asked [The Customer] to provide me with further information about his experience with [The Scheme Member]. I asked for specific details to his case rather than just referring to the public customer service ratings available.
  2. I provided [The Customer] with the opportunity to do so in writing or by phone but [The Customer] did not. He maintained that he has been badly treated by [The Scheme Member] but did not give specific details of the same.
  3. Nor has [The Customer] provided any evidence that there are any errors in [The Scheme Member] calculation of the amount owed.
  4. Without hearing further specific details from [The Customer] I must consider the evidence I have to hand which is that: 
  • [The Customer] used a reasonable amount of internet in the short time he had a contract with [The Scheme Member].  This shows that it was functioning, and [The Customer] was consuming internet from [The Scheme Member].
  • A number of attempts were made by [The Scheme Member] to engage with [The Customer] for him to pay his invoice, to no avail.
  • There is no evidence during these times that [The Customer] raised any concerns about the quality of his internet service.
  • [The Scheme Member] allowed [The Customer] account to remain unpaid for several months before warning [The Customer] that they would revert to a collection agency.
  • [The Customer] then did not disclose any concerns about [The Scheme Member] to the collection agency.
  • The invoices remain unpaid.
    1. The crux of [The Customer] claim as I understand it is that the customer service and internet quality was so bad that he decided not to pay his invoices with [The Scheme Member]. [The Customer] claim sits within the jurisdiction of the Customer Complaints Code (the Code).  This is largely about customer service, and communication.  It is about whether [The Scheme Member] has met its obligations in terms of the principles outlined in the Customer Complaints Code, in particular clause 5 which includes:
  • Scheme Members will treat Customers with respect and in a fair and courteous manner at all times.
  • All information given to the Customer will be accurate, up-to-date and in plain English, acknowledging telecommunications technology is fast moving and complex.
  • Scheme Members will be clear in their communications to Customers: deliver on promises.
    1. As above [The Customer] referred to the poor customer service reviews held by [The Scheme Member], but he did not provide specific details about his case. I am persuaded by [The Scheme Member] that they did not breach the code of conduct.
    2. I also note that comparatively all telecommunications companies have similarly poor customer service ratings. [Redacted]
    3. I find that [The Scheme Member] gave notice to [The Customer] that there would be consequences for his failure to pay their invoices and they also gave him opportunities to pay the invoices before taking the matter further to debt collection agency.
    4. There is no evidence before me that [The Scheme Member] progressed the matter to the debt collection arm of their service in error or without reason.
    5. I understand that [The Customer] is frustrated by the damage that this has caused to his credit rating, but I do not consider that [The Scheme Member] have breached the code.

7. Future actions

  1. The final decision of TDR is that the complaint is not upheld.