Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Collection practices to avoid

A blogger from India has posted an e-mail of complaint that he sent to his cellular phone company, complaining about its collection practices. It appears that they make liberal use your calling records to track you down and to tell your friends and colleagues that you should pay your bill. Not a good practice and it certainly wouldn't fly under PIPEDA. We have the benefit of a similar situation that was considered by George Radwanski last year. In PIPEDA Finding #225, the Commissioner admonished a collection agency for leaving a phone message with a debtor's aunt that disclosed the existence of the debt. They had implied consent to leave a message to have the debtor call them, but disclosing the debt went over the line. Similarly, Radwanski found that a telephone company had improperly used personal information in Finding #61 by using called numbers to track down a delinquent customer. Just don't do it.

Below is an extract of the original blog post, which came to my attention via Engadget and TechDirt:

Manish Jethani - Unethical practices by Hutch collection agents: "[snip]

Last month, one of your collection agents, [agent's name and phone number], called up a friend and prospective client of mine, [my friend's name and phone number], seeking information on my whereabouts and requesting payment of the bill.

The aforementioned unwarranted and unethical act of [agent's name], on behalf of your department, has caused damage to my reputation with my client, potentially costing me business of several thousand rupees. It is absolutely unacceptable for a collection agent to get in touch with a customer's relatives, friends, clients, and any other contacts, regarding the customer's bill payments. Since I am told that this is standard practice at Hutch India, I am out to fight against it.

Here is what I am looking for:

  • Written apology from Hutch India.
  • Assurance from Hutch India that any such unethical practices currently employed by the collection agents will be discontinued with immediate effect.
  • Compensation for damages.

[snip]"

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