Ms B moved to her current property in April 2017. She decided to keep her energy account with the retailer she had at the previous property. In February 2018, she received contacts from two different collection agencies regarding a $1,600 debt. She later found out it was for her energy account at her old property. Ms B said she could not understand why the debt was referred to collection agencies, as she asked her retailer to transfer the account balance from the old address to the new address. Ms B claimed she was not notified by her retailer before the debt was referred to the collection agencies. The retailer declined to discuss the matter with Ms B, and referred her back to one of the collection agencies.
Ms B was dissatisfied with this response and contacted EWOV in February 2018. During the Assisted Referral process, the retailer agreed to withdraw the account from the collection agencies, but told Ms B that it would not remove the debt. Ms B was dissatisfied with this response and asked EWOV to investigate the case further.
During the Investigation, EWOV requested more information from the retailer. The focus of EWOV’s investigation was to confirm if the retailer had complied with the correct credit reporting rules. The retailer provided evidence to EWOV showing that it sent the final bill for Ms B’s account at her previous property to the email address registered in her account. The retailer also supplied a call recording from April 2017, indicating that Ms B was advised that she would be issued a final bill after she vacated the property. During the call, she was also reminded that the account would be referred to a debt collection agency if the bill was not paid in full by the due date. As Ms B failed to make full payment of the amount by the due date in May 2017, the account was referred to a collection agency in June 2017. The retailer produced contact notes reflecting numerous interactions - both written and verbal - between Ms B and the first collection agency between July 2017 and January 2018. The records also showed that Ms B acknowledged the contacts and made some payments towards the debt, which reduced the amount owing from $1,600 to $900 during this period. The debt was sold to another debt collection agency in January 2018, which contacted Ms B prior to her first contact with EWOV in February 2018. To resolve the case, the retailer offered to recall Ms B’s account from the debt collection agencies and negotiate a new payment plan with her directly. Upon assessment of the evidence, EWOV considered that the retailer’s offer was fair and reasonable.
The retailer confirmed that the debt had been recalled from the collection agencies. The retailer advised Ms B that it was prepared to consolidate the balance in her accounts for the previous and current properties. As the account at her current property was in credit, the retailer transferred the credit to her previous account to reduce the debt. It proposed a payment arrangement of 12 fortnightly payments of $40 and a final payment of $50 to clear the outstanding account. The retailer reminded Ms B that it would recommence a credit management process if the payment arrangement was not fulfilled. Ms B accepted the outcome and EWOV closed the case.