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Joanne* moved house, kept the same energy company and made payments, but got a $1,600 bill.

In April 2017, Joanne moved to her current property. She decided to keep her energy account with the energy company she had at her previous property. In February 2018, two different debt collection agencies contacted her about a $1,600 debt. She later found out this debt was for her energy account at her old property.

Joanne said she asked her energy company to transfer the account balance from the old to the new address. She also said it did not tell her it was referring the debt to the collection agencies. The energy company wouldn’t discuss the matter with Joanne, and referred her back to one of the collection agencies.

Joanne was not happy with this and we raised a case for her. The energy company agreed to withdraw the account from the collection agencies. However, it would not remove the debt.

Joanne asked us to investigate the case further so we started an Investigation. This means we review all relevant information and work with the customer and the company to reach a fair and reasonable outcome. Our focus was on whether the energy company followed the credit reporting rules.

The energy company showed it sent Joanne’s final bill for her previous property to her registered email address. It also supplied a call recording where it reminded her that a debt collection agency would get involved if the final bill was not paid in full by the due date. Joanne didn’t pay the account in full by this date, so it referred the account to a collection agency in June 2017.

The energy company gave us contact notes. These showed that between July 2017 and January 2018, Joanne contacted the first collection agency a number of times. During this period, Joanne made payments and reduced what she owed from $1,600 to $900. In January 2018, the debt was sold to another debt collection agency.

To resolve the case, the energy company offered to recall Joanne’s account from the debt collection agencies and directly negotiate a new payment plan with her. After reviewing the evidence, we thought the energy company’s offer was fair and reasonable.

The energy company confirmed it had recalled the debt and told Joanne it could consolidate the two accounts. To reduce the debt, the energy company transferred the credit on the current property account to her previous account. To clear the outstanding account, it proposed a payment arrangement of twelve fortnightly payments of $40 and a final payment of $50. Joanne accepted the outcome and EWOV closed the case.

Case numbers: 2018/1312 & 2018/1315

*Names have been changed

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