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Tuesday, 5 November 1985
Page: 1596

(Question No. 265)

Senator Peter Rae asked the Minister representing the Minister for Communications, upon notice, on 7 May 1985:

(1) What official position is held by Mr D. Norris in the Accounts Section of Australian Telecommunications Commission (Telecom), at 233 Castlereagh Street, Sydney.

(2) How long has Mr Norris occupied his present post and what previous positions has he held at Telecom.

(3) How many complaints have been lodged in relation to the work of Mr Norris in recent years.

(4) Has Mr Norris recently acknowledged, to customers, cases of overcharging by Telecom in excess of $100 and has he then personally refused to arrange for the despatch of a letter of apology for the overcharging together with a new amended account.

(5) Has Mr Norris offered, in substitution for issue of an amended account, to deduct overcharged amounts from some future account; if so, when a customer requests the termination of a telephone service what happens to the ``credit'' which results from overcharging.

(6) Is it Telecom's policy, as Mr Norris has indicated, not to apologise in writing to customers where it acknowledges overcharging them, especially when significant amounts are involved, and not to issue amended accounts; if so, at which meeting of the Commission was this policy established and which Commissioners were in attendance at that meeting.

(7) If the policy referred to in (6) above was not established at a meeting of the Commissioners, which individual manager or officer set the policy and when.

(8) Will the Minister for Communications request Commissioners to establish a policy requiring Telecom to formally apologise in writing to customers where overcharging is acknowledged as well as speedily issuing them with an amended account; if not, why not.

Senator Walsh —The Minister for Communications has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question, based on advice provided by the Australian Telecommunications Commission:

(1) Senior Credit Officer, Clerk Class 4.

(2) Approximately two years. Previously held positions of Credit Officer and Assistant Credit Officer.

(3) Telecom Australia has no record of any formal complaints lodged by customers in relation to this Senior Credit Officer's work.

(4) The officer has stated that he cannot recall any such instance when such an overcharge has been confirmed by investigation.

(5) The officer has stated that such an offer may be made if the disputed charges had already been paid. If, however, the disputed amount was still outstanding, arrangements would be made for the amount to be withdrawn. In the situation where a customer has cancelled the service, the amount of overcharge would be credited to the closing or final bill, thereby offsetting the incorrect charge. If the credit exceeded the charges rendered on the final bill, a refund cheque would be issued.

(6) and (7) There is no such policy.

(8) It is general practice in Telecom that if a customer requests a formal acknowledgement of overcharging and/or an amended account, these are provided.