We’re being warned to think twice before signing up with a telco financing system, especially for a deal that seems too good to be true.
One man has spent $16,000 on a deal that included a free television. It seemed to be a good idea at the time, but has proven to be outrageously expensive.
Six years ago, when a Salesman knocked on 74-year-old Christmas tree farmer Alex Costa’s door, he couldn’t believe the deal he was being offered.
All Costa had to do was sign over his business phone line for five years, and in return the company, Axsiom, would give him a free 42 inch plasma TV.
The deal contract ends next week, and will end up costing Costa more than $16,500.
For five years a company called Quikfund has been debiting $275 from Costa’s account each month.
While it was more than what he was previously paying, having the TV thrown in, according to him, made it all worth it.
We take the money out of your bank, and we pay for your telephone, simple as that – and at the end of five years the TV is yours,” Costa said.
Even though Costa switched back to Telstra a year ago, the contract he signed has meant he has had to keep paying.
“That’s a pretty expensive TV. It turned out to be a gold TV, not a normal TV – it’s made out of gold,” he said.
Costa isn’t the only one to fall for this Telco financing scheme. A free laptop has ended up costing mechanic Kent Phillip’s business even more.
He signed up for a four year capped $550 a month phone plan, but when he checked his statements, he claims three companies – including Quikfund and Axsiom – were debiting $1800 in total.
After breaking the contract nine months in, because Phillip claims the phones weren’t working, Quikfund took him to court for $23,000 and won.
He vows to keep fighting.
“We’ve spent more fighting it, but I think it is worth it,” Phillip said.
Another one to fall for a similar deal was Greg Stevenson, who nearly lost $20,000 on a similar contract.
“We signed for the cheap telephone calls and the plasma TV, and after about eighteen months, the telephone company closed down. So we ended up without the phone calls, and we still had to pay the finance,” Stevenson said.
He fought the company, Enterprise Finance Solutions Directly and won, now he runs website Telco-Finance Scams.com to help others.
“Plasma televisions, photocopy machines, fax machines, phone systems – we’ve had everything – from boats and sheds to cash incentives,” lawyer Lauren Magasdi from Gold Coast law firm Attwood Marshall Lawyers said.
Magasdi knows this hard sell method better than most. She launched a class action to help thousands of victims stung by what she describes as unfair terms and conditions.
“There are multiple finance companies, Quikfund is just one in a very big sea,” Lauren Magasdi said.
“There are over 20,000 contracts Australia wide, of which we have been retained by over 300 claimants,” she added.
In a statement Quikfund claims they stand by their contracts, and are committed to sorting complaints out. They refer to Costa as a good client, who never missed a payment, and never made a complaint – like tens of thousands of other satisfied clients they have.
Lawyer Sarah Wilson from the Consumer Action Law Centre says there are plenty of groups out there signing up customers to contracts they don’t fully understand.
The devil, she says, is always in the fine print, so check it.
“If you do have a dispute about a contract, you need to contact your state consumer affairs department. If that term is unfair, then it may be removed,” she said.
Statement from Quikfund
Alex was a good client. He didn’t miss a payment and there was never a complaint. We’ve had tens of thousands of satisfied clients. If there is a complaint we sort it out – in all our interests. Sometimes it’s difficult, often when people’s circumstances change and they can no longer afford the payments.
Resource by: Jonathan Creek – Today Tonight Report – 31st January 2012
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