Ellie is a young woman living in a family violence situation with Brock, a man who was very controlling of her and engaged in summary criminal behaviour. During the relationship, Ellie was pressured into signing a contract for a very expensive telecommunications plan. When the relationship ended, Brock and Ellie physically fought, with him pushing to keep the new devices. He took the devices and left Ellie with the monthly bill.
Ellie came to the office for help after she received a final bill after her plan had been cancelled. Ex-boyfriend had cancelled the plan from the device he had kept and was successful regardless of the fact that the Company knew the device had been stolen. Ellie was unable to pay the bill.
We acted for Ellie, asking the company to have the fee waived on grounds of family violence. Unfortunately, the company was not cooperative and the debt was referred to a debt collector in the middle of negotiations. Our application never received a response.
We subsequently lodged a complaint with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Our complaint was in two parts. The first part related to the fact that Ellie had declared the device stolen and had informed them of the situation. Despite that, Brock had been successful in cancelling the plan. The second part was in relation to the way they handled our application for a fee waiver.
Within two weeks, a senior customer service advisor was in contact with us. We were able to fully explain the situation and few days later, we received confirmation that the debt was waived.