Mrs J recently became aware that she had been credit default listed by her energy company for $1,780, and contacted EWOV. She told us she had been, and continued to experience financial hardship, but was never offered hardship assistance by the energy company. She also said she had not been told she was at risk of being credit default listed.
Requesting to have the credit default listing removed, we raised an Assisted Referral. However, in response Ms J’s energy company said it had followed the correct process when default listing the debt, so would not be removing the listing. Dissatisfied, Ms J contacted EWOV again and we raised an Investigation.
In launching our Investigation, EWOV asked the energy company to show that it had correctly listed the credit default by providing us with:
- copies of bills that refer to the debt and due dates
- copies of reminder and disconnection notices
- evidence of attempts at contacting Ms J
- evidence of hardship assistance and/or payment arrangements.
The energy company provided the requested items. It told us that Ms J was aware of the outstanding balance, as she had raised a complaint about a high bill with EWOV in 2012, which was resolved on the basis that the energy company would provide a $200 goodwill gesture on the outstanding balance, and that Ms J would enter a payment plan of $25 per fortnight until the balance was cleared. It said Ms J only paid $75 towards the payment plan, and made no further contributions.
It detailed four payment plans offered to Ms J, going back to 2011 —for $85 per fortnight, $58 per fortnight, $80 per fortnight, and the final payment plan of $25 per fortnight on the back of Ms J’s complaint to EWOV.
The company said it would not remove the default listing, but would mark the listing as paid if Ms J paid the entire balance of $1,823 ($40 more than what was default listed). If she could not afford a lump-sum payment, the company would accept a payment plan of $70 per fortnight to pay the debt off in 12 months.
Based on EWOV’s review of the documents and evidence supplied by the company, we noted:
- The amount default listed was about $40 less than the outstanding balance.
- When the $25 per fortnight payment plan failed, no action seemed to have been taken by the company, nor any attempts to contact Ms J — and there was no discussion of her capacity to pay.
- The credit default was listed more than a year after it could have been listed, potentially prolonging the negative effects of the debt on Ms J.
We also consulted EWOV’s legal advisor about the $25 payment plan. He said that once the payment plan was agreed to, unless otherwise specified, the missed fortnightly payments rather than the full amount would be overdue.
We asked the company to provide clarification on our notes, as well as further information on the terms of the $25 per fortnight payment plan.
Following EWOV’s request for clarification during our investigation, the company offered to remove the credit default listing against Ms J. It confirmed that the balance of the debt was $1,823 rather than $1,780, and offered Ms J a 12-month payment plan of $70 per fortnight. Ms J was satisfied with the resolution and the case was closed.