Never Trust a CSR

It’s true, the company that I used to work for truly sux.

A phone account that I called to close well over a year ago apparently wasn’t closed by the CSR who took my call, nor was a note placed on the system. I’m pretty sure I never even used the SIM card… I only got the plan to get the cool phone back then.

Jump forward to now, I applied for a personal loan two weeks ago to refinance my car so I could trade it in and down-grade to a smaller car (cause the Jeep costs a fortune to run at today’s fuel prices). However, it came to light that Optus had not closed my account… and they had in fact continued charging me for the account until an amount of $175 had accrued and they defaulted me for that amount.

Attempts to try and convince Optus that I had called to close the account failed because there was no note on their system. Because I wanted to get this loan and was advised by the bank and Baycorp (the credit reporting company) that Optus could remove the default if I paid it, I did so rather than fight them which I thought would take a lot of time.

Turns out they don’t remove it, they just mark it as paid. And that is how it will stay, as a default, but paid, for five years! So essentially the bank has told me they wont even look at the loan again until at least three months has passed.

Looks like it is time to fight it and now obtain a refund of my $175.

Basic facts:

  • The account was opened on Sept 27 2003.
  • No calls were ever made from the SIM card.
  • No notes (other than the default) are on their system for this account.
  • I made the final payment to the account on Sept 16 2005.
  • The contract was a 24 month contract so this fulfilled my obligation.
  • It was at the time of payment that I called to cancel the account and made no further payments to the account.

I don’t think it’s a huge jump in logic for them to see (from these records) that I perhaps had called to have the account closed.

In my time I’ve opened and closed many accounts with mobile phone carriers, more often than not as a way of getting a handset… never to use the account directly. In fact in my whole life I think I have had a total of three mobile phone numbers, but I’ve probably had over 8 phones.

The collections person at Optus told me that I would have been aware that the account was still open and in arrears because they send automated SMSs to the SIM to advise customers of unpaid bills. She talked over the top of me when I tried many a time to explain that the SIM card never went into a phone in the first place and even if it had, I would have removed it at the time I closed the account.

Why would I keep a SIM card for a closed account in a charged handset? I feel it’s a little wrong that one CSRs missed actions can cause so much trouble. Perhaps Optus should record all phone conversations and place them with an account. It would be much more accurate than relying on a CSRs interpretation of events.

I asked to speak to the collections officers team leader and after a short time was transferred to another person Antonia who basically repeated the same thing as the other person verbatium. Having been a CSR at Optus I know it is a fairly common practice to pass a disgruntled customer to another CSR rather than a team leader, it is not something I ever did but something I saw many a time.

Questioning Antonia revealed that, as suspected, she was not in fact a team leader but declared herself an acting team leader. Her direct manager was unable to take the call.

So next step, official letter to Optus and contact with the Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman. Wish me luck.

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