Missing out on pay on time discounts due to credit history (October 2016)

Trouble paying a bill, Debt collection and credit default listings, Billing mistakes
Case Number 2016/16049
Outcome Conciliation

The Issue

When Ms U and her five children moved into a new home, she signed up for an energy contract that offered a 40% pay on time discount for electricity and 28% for gas. However, when she received her first bills, the discounts were not applied. She called her energy company and it said that due to her credit rating she was not eligible for the discounts and was placed on a standard contract. The company said its customer service representative made it clear that the discounts were subject to a credit check during a phone conversation with Ms U while the account was being established. It also said it sent Ms U a letter informing her of the loss of the discounts after the credit check had been done. Ms U said she was not aware of the credit check condition and had not received the letter — adding that she would not have signed up with the company if she knew she was not eligible for the discounts, and that without them she would find it very difficult to pay her bills on time.

Ms U contacted EWOV with her concerns. We raised an Assisted Referral with the company, informing it of Ms U’s wish to have the discounts applied to her current bills, and all bills in the future. Ms U recontacted EWOV, telling us that she was not satisfied with the results of the Assisted Referral, as the company said it would not apply the discounts.

EWOV escalated the complaint to our Real Time Resolution process, during which, EWOV contacted the company and it offered a $70 credit for the electricity account, and $70 for the gas account in an attempt to resolve the compliant. EWOV explained that given Ms U’s electricity and gas accounts were each over $700, she did not consider the offer to be sufficient to resolve the issue. In light of this, the company requested the matter be investigated by EWOV.

The Investigation

While the Investigation was underway, Ms U agreed to pay $200 per fortnight toward the electricity and gas accounts. To assist the Investigation, EWOV asked the company to provide copies of Ms U’s bills and an account reconciliation, the energy contract, contact notes and all relevant communication between the two parties, such as call recordings and letters.

The company provided the call recording to EWOV, and we were able to verify that Ms U had been told that the discounts were conditional on her passing a credit check. Additionally, the company provided evidence that it sent out a second welcome pack, following the credit check, advising Ms U that she would be placed on a standard contract and would not receive the pay on time discounts.

The Outcome

EWOV explained the findings of the Investigation to Ms U. Ms U accepted that she had in fact been advised of the need for a credit check before the discount would apply – first over the phone and then in writing via the welcome pack. To acknowledge the issues that Ms U had raised, the energy company offered a $100 credit to each of her electricity and gas accounts, adding that Ms U was entitled to transfer to another energy company should she with to. Ms U was satisfied with the findings of the Investigation and the offer made by the company, and the case was closed. 

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