Friday, February 7, 2014

ANZ late fee ruling puts pressure on telcos, utilities


If a rise in the cost of living has become known as ''bill shock'', then perhaps this fee is best described as ''after shock''.

Late fees are under scrutiny after a court ruled on Wednesday that ANZ Bank's $35 late payment fee was ''extravagant, exorbitant and unconscionable'', deeming it illegal.

The ruling has left the bank facing the need to repay millions of dollars to tens of thousands of customers. There are six other banks in danger of similar action, but that's not all.

Gerard Brody, chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre, urged penalised customers to immediately contact their energy and mobile phone providers and ask for a similar refund or reduction, if they viewed their fee as unfair. ''We're encouraging any company that imposes this fee to make sure it isn't out of proportion of the cost they're charging,'' he said. ''If they are, they might be targeted by perhaps a class action.''

A Fairfax Media survey of other Australian banks, telcos and energy companies finds late fees ranging from $4.75 to $20.

Australia's major energy companies, including EnergyAustralia, AGL and Origin, hit customers with penalties of about $11.

The average late payment fee on credit cards was $14 in both 2011 and 2012, figures from the Reserve Bank of Australia show.

The largest mobile phone providers, including Optus and Telstra, charge $12.50 on average for late payments.

''We'll be looking carefully to see if there's an opportunity to take another class action - perhaps some of the telcos and utilities,'' said Alan Kirkland, chief executive of Choice. ''The legal people in those companies will be looking at this decision and hopefully we'll see these fees come down.'' 7 Jan 2014

The telco's and other 'service providers' have been getting 'away' with ripping the customers off for way too long, with the so called 'late fees'.

Class action should literally follow the next working day after the judgment on the ANZ matters.

No comments: