A new report by Financial Counselling Australia has criticised the selling practices, customer service and financial hardship programs offered by the telco industry in the wake of COVID-19, revealing telco hardship practices are significantly worse than those offered by other utilities and banks.
The report, Telcos and Financial Hardship: Feedback from the Frontline, received responses from 228 financial counsellors with every one saying they have clients struggling to pay their telco bills. A quarter of respondents said more than 50% of their clients are struggling to pay.
The new report echoes the findings of Consumer Action’s The Trouble with Telcos: Stories from 2020 report from November 2020, which featured many case studies of disheartened people who contacted us through the National Debt Helpline.
“We warmly welcome this report as every week our financial counsellors help people who are dealing with very poor customer service and little to no real assistance from telcos, even when clear examples of poor selling practices have contributed to their hardship,” said Gerard Brody, CEO Consumer Action.
“Upselling of expensive phone devices, providing services that are not relevant or helpful to the customer, and unaffordable add-on products shows that this is an industry that just cannot regulate itself and government needs to act,” he said.
The report shows more than a third of financial counsellors said at least 50% of their clients with telco debts had been mis-sold telco products. Affordability checks are inadequate. Financial counsellors also described telco debt as more difficult to assist with than other types of debt.
“What is clear from this report and our own analysis is that financial counsellors and community lawyers are the ones left to clean up the mess when the telco industry fails,” Mr Brody said.
MEDIA OPPORTUNITY: Financial counsellors are available to talk to media about recent callers experiencing trouble with telcos.
Call Mark Pearce 0413 299 567