Monday, 25 April 2011

The Joys of living in Africa/ Australia - follow up.

After my last entry here, about living in Africa, I realise that there are similar problems in the rest of the world.
The difference is people are held accountable and made to correct their mistakes.

And we think the Eskom billing system is bad?
In March 1999 a man living in Kandos (near Mudgee in NSW, Australia) received a bill
for his as yet un
used gas line stating that he owed $0.00. He ignored it and threw it away.
In A
pril he received another bill and threw that one away too.. The following month the
gas company sent h
im a very nasty note stating that they were going to cancel his gas line
if he didn't send them $0.00 by return mail. He called them, talked to them, and they said
it was a computer error and they would take care of it.
The following month he decided that it was about time that he tried out the troublesome
gas li
ne figuring that if there was usage on the account it would put an end to this ridicu-
ous predicament. However, when he went to use the gas, it had been cut off. He called
he gas company who apologised for the computer error once again and said that they
uld take care of it. The next day he got a bill for $0.00 stating that payment was now
due. Assuming that having spoken to them the previous day the latest bill was yet
her mistake, he ignored it, trusting that the company would be as good as their word
d sort the problem out.
The next month he got a bill for $0.00. This bill also stated that he had 10 days to pay his
count or the company would have to take steps to recover the debt. Finally, giving in,
he thought he would beat the gas company at their own game and mailed them a cheque
or $0.00. The computer duly processed his account and returned a statement to the effect
hat he now owed the gas company nothing at all.
A week later, the manager of the Mudgee branch of the Westpac Banking Corporation
alled our hapless friend and asked him what he was doing writing cheque for $0.00. Af-
ter a lengthy explanation the bank manager replied that the $0.00 cheque had caused their
heque processing software to fail. The bank could therefore not process ANY cheques
they had received from ANY of their customers that day because the cheque for $0.00 had
aused the computer to crash.
The following month the man received a letter from the gas company claiming that his
cheque had bounced and that he now owed them $0.00 and unless he sent a cheque by
n mail they would take immediate steps to recover the debt.
At this point, the man decided to file a debt harassment claim against the gas company. It
-took him nearly two hours to convince the clerks at the local courthouse that he was not
They subsequently helped him in the drafting of statements which were considered sub-
stantive evidence of the aggravation and difficulties he had been forced to endure during
The matter was heard in the Magistrate's Court in Mudgee and the outcome was this:
The gas company was ordered to:
[1] Imrnediately rectify their computerised accounts system or Show cause, within 10
, why the matter should not be referred to a higher court for consideration under
Company Law.
[2] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by the man.
[3] Pay the bank dishonour fees incurred by all the Westpac clients whose cheques had
bounced on the day our friend's had been processed.
[4] Pay the claimant's court costs; and
[5] Pay the claimant a total of $1500 per month for the 5 month period March to July inclusive as compensation for the aggravation they had caused their client to suffer.


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