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VIC Unauthorised Sensis Contract - Keep Paying for Unwanted Service?

Discussion in 'Australian Consumer Law Forum' started by Marti, 13 May 2016.

  1. Marti

    Marti Member

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    I am a small business owner (sole owner, after my spouse died just over two years ago).

    Sensis (a privately-owned American corporation), is shafting me by continuing to invoice me for local Yellow Pages advertising I have not agreed to, on the grounds that my late husband authorised ongoing renewal of advertising over four and a half years ago.

    When I rang their so-called 'Customer Care' Centre number, the call centre staff (in the Philipines), I was told they could not talk to me because I was not an "authorised" person they were able to deal with. When I asked who these allegedly authorised people were, they named two employees I hired about the time my husband died. They were not "authorised" by anyone here, were not aware that Sensis considered them authorised decision-makers, and have not exercised any such authority themselves.

    Sensis has been told (as of May, 2014), that my husband is dead. Sensis subsequently made changes to the advertising content a year and a half ago (that my husband couldn't have agreed to, being no longer alive). A sales representative who appeared in October last year (2015), inviting updates to our advertising was told that some obvious errors needed correcting, and she promised to return in December with proofs for checking.

    My receptionist advised her at the time that any proofs would need to be confirmed by me (the business owner). The representative never returned, so that our current 2016-17 YP Directory contains even more errors than before.

    Sensis is now talking to me, but only to demand that I continue paying them for allegedly "agreed to" (but erroneous, therefore, defective and ineffective), advertising.

    They are refusing to provide evidence of any signing-off to the changes made in the 2015-16 YP directory, or reasons why their sales representative did not return with proof showing the changes (invited and provided) for the 2016-17 YP Directory, as she had promised.

    They refuse to supply evidence as to who "authorised" my two staff members or the name of "my" sales representative. They have only given me a voice recording of my late husband agreeing - in late 2011, for the 2012-13 YP Directory - to some advertising undertaken by Sensis, which they say provides a sufficiently binding contract to continue billing me.

    Surely I cannot be required to continue - and keep paying for - this 'contract'? Sensis appears to be deliberately refusing me any recent and/or relevant information that relates to this matter.

    The Telecommunications Industry Ombudsman website says that it does not handle complaints about Sensis. (Is that because Sensis is owned by overseas interests?)

    Are other people experiencing the same sorts of problems with Sensis?

    If Sensis intends forcing me to continue paying them (as they are threatening), how can I fight them?
     
  2. Rod

    Rod Well-Known Member

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    Send them a cease and desist letter by registered post containing most of what you outlined above. Include that you will charge them costs for any follow-up letters if they continue to insist you owe money. You need to put them on notice they will incur costs if you are right about your situation.

    Recommend you do not pay them any more money. Then if they continue to insist, follow-up with one solicitor's letter and an invoice to them for your solicitor's fees.

    If that fails to deter them, depending on the amount they are claiming, go to VCAT or magistrates court.
     
    Marti likes this.
  3. Marti

    Marti Member

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    Thanks, Rod! I've stopped paying (now two months in arrears), and I'm now being threatened/bullied, so will follow your advice and send a registered letter to their Melbourne office. They've actually been told all of this, but in emails - presumably going to their Philipines centre, because they're just ignoring my requests for evidence of authorisation of recent changes they've made to advertising content, etc.
     

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