A customer received a call from his mobile provider to inform him that he owed $133 on his account. He agreed to pay this by the end of the month and at this time, he wasn’t made aware of any other sums due on the account. His phone service then stopped working a week or so later, well before the agreed date at the end of the month.

He attempted to call his provider, but it did not go through, and he assumed this was due to his phone service being cancelled. The customer then visited a store, but they were unable to assist with account queries. He also attempted to get in touch online but required a working phone number for them to be able to call him.

Since then, his provider sent him three statements by email. The customer is visually impaired so prefers to talk with someone face to face or over the phone. He finds it difficult to read and understand the statements provided. He found it incredibly frustrating that he could not easily contact someone to go through his account and the statements with him, and to ensure his phone service was reinstated as quickly as possible. While he was initially willing to pay, he now disputed the charges. He raised a complaint with TDR about the charges and the customer service that he received.

TDR contacted his provider and made them aware of the customer's complaint. The provider explained that the customer had both personal and business accounts with three connections overall, and that his phone account had been suspended due to non-payment. They provided invoices for three months showing $401 owing.

Their records noted that the customer had agreed to pay the overdue amount by mid-month, not the end of the month, and as such they had suspended his account when the customer failed to make the overdue payment. They looked at the customer’s call logs. He did have the ability to contact their collections team using his phone while his service was suspended, however he had attempted to call them out of hours, which was why the call did not go through.

TDR appointed a Resolution Practitioner to help both the customer and his provider to try to find an agreed resolution through a collaborative process. A mediation was arranged, where the customer vented his frustrations about not being able to contact someone and finding his billing confusing. The provider took some time to chat through the various contact options available to the customer and apologised for the inconvenience caused.

The mediator supported them to talk through the invoices and accounts that the customer had, with the provider explaining how these charges had been incurred. The customer accepted the charges and agreed to pay once his phone service was reinstated. The provider agreed to reinstate his phone service and suggested a payment plan to assist the customer. They agreed that the customer would repay the owed amount in four monthly instalments.