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QLD Home Security Alarm System Monitoring Contract - Charged $1200 Termination Fee

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Viky, 26 April 2014.

  1. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Home security alarm system company charged $28.60 on 1/8/13 inspite the contract terminated on 16/07/2013. They have been sending be monthly bill since then.

    One morning in the end of June after moving into the current property I called phone number 55788711 listed on my alarm pad regarding a peeb sound coming from the alarm number pad inside the house .

    I was told by the company owner that it was due to battery needing replacing and If I subscribed to their back to base service he would do if for no cost . He gave me Brendon's (his son in law) phone number . Brendon helped me get rid of the alarm and told me that beeping was due to phone line been dropped as a result ownership change. He told me every thing was fine and asked me sign a contract a contract regarding back to base subscription ( he did not inform me that it was 3 years contract and that it could not be terminated - these terms were printed on the back side of paper which I signed and I was unaware of these terms prior to signing the contract form).

    After few days the pad beeper went off again and I was able to stop it beeping myself . I got 2-3 messages form the base station regarding the need to change my battery . I called Brendon a few times , he told me every thing was ok. After few more messages from the base I called Brendon again and he told me that I need to talk to Sonia (Brendons wife) regarding scheduling appointment. I called Sonia and was told I will be charged $130 for Brendon to come to my house . I informed her that I had spoken to her father earlier and come to an agreement with him . She called me back and told me that's fine but I will be charged around $40 for the new battery . I told her that was not the agreement. I phoned Brendon again and I was asked by Brendon to change the battery (these are large special batteries which are hard to find) myself ( I had no idea how to do it - I did manage to learn and do it later on myself). When even after 10 - 14 days the batteries was not changed.

    I decided to terminate the contract and I learnt then that It was a 3 years fixed contract which was not breakable . After having to change the security system batteries myself I Spoke to Sonia regarding terminating my contract and then was put through to the Accountant of the company probably around 16/07/2013 . After explaining myself to accountant the decision was made that contract will be terminated but I should pay in total $88 for the home visit , which I was happy to do and was charged the balance of $59.40 on the 16/07/2013 . I had no problem to pay for the service I received . Unfortunately nothing was given to me in writing by the accountant. I thought that problem was settled then.

    My recent credit card statement showed I was charged again $ 28.60 after that on 01/08/2013, I cancelled my credit card, but they keep sending me monthly invoice. When I tried to call the security company manager Brendon or his Wife Sonia 4-5 times since then. They would not speak to me and always put me through her secretary who keeps sending me the pay out figure for the full 3 yrs contract which is about $1200.

    What should I do? I'm in QLD. Thank you.
     
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  2. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Viki,
    As a starting point, the ACCC has a good article named "Entering into a Contract".
    Where any applicable cooling off period has passed, contract termination options are generally limited to:
    1. Paying out any early termination fees - either the fee set out in the contract or another fee that you negotiate with the business; or
    2. Terminating the contract where the business has misrepresented the goods, services, terms or conditions.
    As an example, misrepresentation may include situations where a sales representative of the business advises that there is no contract term for a service but the contractual terms and conditions state that the service is for a two (2) year contract.

    If you believe that the business did misrepresent service and/or terms or conditions, you may consider writing to the business to resolve your complaint.
    Your letter should set out the factual summary of the events to date (similar to what you have written above but with clear headings, checked for spelling, etc.) and a request for the business to terminate the contract without penalty because of any alleged misrepresentation/s. The Queensland Office of Fair Trading's "Resolving a Complaint" page has sample letters and further information that may assist.

    If you do not receive a satisfactory resolution to your complaint from the business within a reasonable timeframe (and assuming that you're based in Queensland), you can submit your complaint online to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading for investigation.
     
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  3. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Thank you very much for your reply.
    After I knew that the contract was not breakable I went through the contract terms. There is no cooling period in the contract.
    As the sales person ( manager and chief technician of the company owned by his father in law Brandon neither informed me about the contract term nor did he honour his father in laws verbal agreement of replacing the battery).
    I would be inclined to make a complain to QLD office of fair trading for misrepresentation of facts about contract and harrasment . Thank you once again.
     
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  4. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Viky,
    Please remember to complain to the business before submitting your complaint to the Queensland Office of Fair Trading for investigation. The Office of Fair Trading generally won't investigate a complaint until this is done.
    Good luck and please keep us updated with your progress! :)
     
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  5. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Thank you. I will call the security company again on monday and see what they say first. I shall keep you up dated. Thank you.
     
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  6. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Sorry John I was just thinking what must I tell Brendon. I have ( 8 mths ago) already emailed the initial long email I posted on this forum to the security company explaining my point, and I was told they have seen the email and thinks I need to pay the pay out amount.
    I was thinking to tell Brandon that I shall complain to the office of fair trading if the problem is not resolved. Or should I say I will take help of a lawyer to help me.
    Would it be financially, emotionally and time wise sensible to see a lawyer for this matter? I am a practicing medical practitioner and am very time poor. Thank you.
     
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  7. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Viky,
    Despite previously sending an email 8 months ago and before engaging a lawyer which is unlikely to be financially sensible for a $1200 consumer dispute unless you are unable to spare an hour to draft and send a letter/email, please consider the Office of Fair Trading's recommendations from my first reply (re-quoted below).

     
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  8. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Thank you John, I shall contact the office of fair trading first for their view point and suggestion.

    I shall keep you posted . Thank you.
     
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  9. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Hi John I was drafting a new letter of complaint to send to the manager of the security company as advised by yourself.

    After I sent the first letter of complaint on 4/9/13 regarding refund of the August months monitoring fee as I had already terminated the contract in July, I got a reply from the company on 23/9/14 to pay the contract termination fee in full within 6 days. After receiving that email, as I didnot what else to do, I sent them an email on 24/9/14 to coninue the contract. I thought that sooner or later they will have to terminate my service as i didnot intend to pay any more money to that company. Will that make much difference to my case? thank you.
     
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  10. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    I have drafted the letter to email it to the security company. Does it look ok for me to send it. Thanks.

    Dear Manager [Personal Information Redacted]

    This is [Personal Information Redacted] from [Personal Information Redacted].

    Reason for email - Request for the business to terminate the contract without penalty because of misrepresentation of contract.

    Case History -

    One morning in the end of June after moving into the current property I called 55788711 or 1300137836 (as I had few security company phone number) listed on my alarm pad regarding a peeb sound coming from the number pad . I was told by the company owner that it was due to battery needing replacing and If I subscribed to their back to base service he would do if for no cost . He gave me Brendon's phone number . Brendon helped me get rid of the alarm and told me that beeping was due to phone line been dropped as a result ownership change. He told me every thing was fine and made me sign a contract a contract regarding back to base subscription ( he did not mention that it was 3 years contract and that it was not breakable nor did he mention about any cooling of period). After few days the pad beeper went off again and I was able to stop it beeping myself . I got 2-3 messages form the base station regarding the need to change my battery . I called Brendon a few times , he told me every thing was ok. After few more messages from the base I called Brendon again and he told me that I need to talk to Sonia regarding scheduling appointment. I called Sonia and was told I will be charged around $130 for Brendon to come to my house . I informed her that I had spoken to her father earlier and come to an agreement with him . She called me back and told me that's fine but I will be charged around $40 for the new battery . I told her that was not the agreement. In one of the phone calls I was asked by Brendon to change the battery myself ( I had no idea how to do it - I did manage to learn and do it later on myself). When even after 10 - 14 days the batteries was not changed. I decided to terminate the contract and I learnt then that It was a 3 years contract without a cooling off period. I Spoke to Sonia and then was put through to the Accountant probably around 16/07/2013 . After explaining myself to accountant the decision was made that contract will be terminated but I should pay in total $88 for the home visit , which I was happy to do and was charged the balance of $59.40 on the 16/07/2013 . I had no problem to pay for the service I received .

    I am looking forward to resolve this issue as soon as possible .

    I look forward to hearing from you within 10 business days of receiving this letter. I would like this problem to be resolved between us. However, if we are unable to resolve the matter I will refer it to the Office of Fair Trading.
    Please contact me by email .


    Yours Sincerely,

    [Personal Information Redacted]
    27/04/2014

    Res Address: [Personal Information Redacted] , Mob Ph - [Personal Information Redacted] .
     
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  11. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Hi I have emailed the above letter to the security company today , I shall update you with their reply. thank you.
     
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  12. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Viky,
    Your letter appears to be a step in the right direction.
    For any future correspondence, you may consider using headings and bullet points for improved readability.
    Please keep us updated as to your progress!
     
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  13. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    I shall, thank you.
     
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  14. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    I have not received any reply from the security business as yet. I shall post the reply here once I receive it.
     
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  15. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Good luck Viky!
     
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  16. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Hi John, the fact that I have sent the security business a challenging email makes me feel better. I am not sure what the end result will be . But at least I am happy I am trying to do something about what I felt was deeply wrong on their part.

    The people I am dealing with are not very straight ( they have potential to twist and fabricate things), they are already in a legal battle with the person they sold their old security company business to with regards to cutting in and taking over their clients, in think this happened last year. This is their new business with a new name whose owner is still the same but now his young son in law and daughter are main person taking care of the business, therefore I have not been able to speak with the owner of the company whom I first spoke with. Any ways I will keep things posted.

    Is the worst outcome be that I have to pay up the contract amount, or could it be worse than that.

    Just to be prepared.

    Thank you.
     
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  17. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    I'm not sure about the business you are dealing with but some businesses (generally larger businesses) sell their debts to debt collectors.
    In the event that the debt is sold to a debt collector, they would generally require payment of the contract amount plus any interest that may be payable under the contract.
    The ACCC's website has further information in relation to debt collectors.

    Perhaps consider making a follow-up call to the business this week to confirm that they have received your letter/email to attempt to expedite resolution?
     
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  18. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    Hi I have posted the reply I have received , this is the same reply I received last year. Options are the same either continue the service or pay the termination fee which is now about $900. It sounds as if they have done this before and knows what to expect or say if any investigation occurs. I am weighing my options now.

    Hi ,
    I’m writing today in regards to the email dated 27/04/14. We note that there are a lot of discrepancies’ and have thoroughly looked through your file, for your knowledge your system was reporting perfectly up until the 24/04/14 where a courtesy call was made and you were notified. And you have a valid and current contract, to terminate this contract find the attached cancellation options. We also wish to resolve this issue as soon as possible.
    If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact me on the office phone.

    Account Manager
     
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  19. Viky

    Viky Active Member

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    I have obviously asked them to elaborate on and explain to me what they mean by lot of discrepancies’.
     
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  20. John R

    John R Well-Known Member

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    Hi Viky,
    Thanks for the update. Please let us know how the business responds in relation to discrepancies. In the interim, given that you are dissatisfied with the outcomes, you may consider filing a complaint with the Queensland Office of Fair Trading online (link posted previously in this thread) for their investigation.
     
    #20

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