The Energy and Water Ombudsman Queensland (EWOQ) is a free, fair and independent dispute resolution service for unresolved complaints with your electricity, gas or water supplier. Before you contact EWOQ with your complaint, you must first try to resolve the problem with your electricty, gas or water company.
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Debt & credit rating case studies

Further information:

Helping a vulnerable customer before Christmas

A customer had an outstanding electricity bill which had been sent to a debt collection agency as a ‘default listing’.

However, the customer told us that she’d been living in a women’s shelter for 6 months.

We investigated her complaint and confirmed with the shelter that she’d been living there.

Based on this, the electricity retailer agreed to backdate the customer’s account to the closest read date and issued an amended bill.

They also set up a suitable 6-month payment plan for the customer to pay it off.

Finally, they offered her a goodwill gesture of $100.31 and removed the ‘default listing’ so it wouldn’t affect her credit report.

The customer told us she was satisfied with this outcome and we were happy to help.

Incorrect listing with credit reporting agency

The customer vacated the incident address at the end of 2018 and had an outstanding account for her electricity, which she arranged to pay in monthly instalments to the retailer. The customer made her first payment and missed her second payment due to a banking error. The customer advised the debt was referred to a collection agency without any notice to her. The customer was in negotiations to pay the remaining amount in full to the debt collection agency when she found out that the retailer had listed the default on her credit report.

The customer contacted the retailer to request the removal of the default listing as she was not provided with sufficient notice however the retailer declined the customer’s request.

EWOQ approached the retailer and requested details of the credit listing to ensure that the retailer had acted in accordance with the Credit Reporting Code in listing the default on the customer’s credit report. The retailer reviewed their actions and advised they had failed to issue the appropriate notices to the customer’s last known address as required by the Credit Reporting Code. As a result, the retailer agreed to remove the default listing from the customer’s credit report within 10 business days. The customer was very appreciative of the outcome and assistance provided by EWOQ.

Payment plan reduces debt

The customer rang EWOQ stating she was being threatened with disconnection for non payment of two transferred accounts. She had a direct debit on her current account and was up to date with that account but had not been able to keep to the payment arrangement to clear the outstanding amounts. The energy supplier was now demanding she pay the outstanding amount or face disconnection.

The customer did not have the money to pay the amount that was outstanding. She had unsuccessfully tried to obtain a loan from Centrelink to clear the old debt but the energy supplier had refused to give the customer any further extensions. The customer said she could increase her direct debit to clear the back debt.

EWOQ contacted the energy supplier on her behalf and determined the customer had a number of arrangements previously that she had not kept. EWOQ pointed out that the customer's current account was now up to date and that she was willing to increase her direct debit to clear the back debt. The energy supplier agreed to allow the customer time to pay off the account by an increase in her direct debit to clear the outstanding debt.

Customer’s failure to respond leads to caveat over property

The customer leased a commercial property and received a letter from the DR for $5,000 in outstanding water rates. The customer was also advised that a caveat had been placed on the building for non- payment. The customer contacted the DR to advise that he leased the building and this was the first he knew of any outstanding debt on the property. He was advised that the DR had attempted to contact him by phone, email and post and that the caveat would not be removed until the customer agreed to pay the overdue fees and enter into a payment plan. The customer was not prepared to agree to this and contacted EWOQ.

Outcome: On investigation, it was confirmed that the bills were correct and every attempt had been made by the DR to make contact with the customer. It was also found that the customer had failed to honour a previous payment plan he had agreed to which led to the caveat being placed over the property. In the circumstances EWOQ agreed with the DR’s conduct. Nevertheless, the DR agreed to an extension of time in which to pay the outstanding sum, provided all future bills are paid on time.