The Advocacy and Support Centre (TASC) client is a male market gardener from Ipswich. He presented with a Queensland Urban Utilities account for approximately $3,500 dating back to 2013. A debt collection company had approached him for payment. He had not been aware of an issue with the account until they contacted him.
In the floods of 2011 and 2013, TASCs client lost everything, twice. The strain associated with the loss resulted in a diagnosis of severe depression. The floods also caused back pressure on the water pipes into the client’s land causing slow leaks in two places that did not become evident until much later.
In 2014 his wife, who took care of all business accounts noticed a spike in the utility bill. After contacting Queensland Urban Utilities, it was determined the reasons were likely leaks in pipes somewhere on his land. He was asked to hire a plumber, take photos and send all accounts for repair to their office for an account adjustment. He found two leaks that he repaired himself and sent off the details for reimbursement.
Unknown to him the application for refund was denied and since this time the outstanding account accrued interest. Over this period, he was also diagnosed with testicular cancer and needed surgery. In May this year, his wife left their marriage. She had looked after all the business accounts and until the approach from the debt collection agency he was unaware of a problem. His language difficulties precluded him from fixing the problem himself. The Advocacy and Support Centre (TASC) was asked for help to find a solution.
During the meeting, TASC confirmed with the collection agency they had been hired to collect the debt. TASC called Queensland Urban Utilities and were advised the original application for the adjustment to his account had been rejected. The application hadn’t been lodged in time. TASC negotiated with the company who agreed to withdraw the collection agency instruction, revisit the adjustment application and in the interim approved a payment plan which removed the financial stress from the situation.
TASC’s client walked out of the office with a smile.