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When a customer tells a service provider to stop, it means stop

The Small Claims Tribunal ruled that with the expiration of a TV contract, it should not be difficult for a customer to stop the service

Malcolm Mifsud
27 October 2017, 8:54am
This was held in GO plc v Margaret Camilleri, decided on 12th October, 2017, presided by Dr Anna Mallia.

In the application, GO plc asked the Court to order the defendant, Margaret Camilleri to pay €700.30 for services provided. Camilleri replied to this claim that she had on a number of occasions informed the company that the service was not required any longer and asked for it to be disconnected. 

The Tribunal analysed the evidence brought before it. A GO credit control officer testified by means of an affidavit and explained that Camilleri had returned the equipment in part in January 2015 and the last batch in June 2015. The termination took place in January 2015.

This was challenged in the testimony of the defendant, Margaret Camilleri, who explained to the Court that her contract with GO plc expired in June 2014, but she had received a letter in May informing her that the service would expire in a month. Ms Camilleri then rang customer care at GO plc informing them that the contract would be renewed. Later on she received other letters informing her of new offers. In July 2014 she rang GO plc to remind the company that the contract was not being renewed.

The reply was “all right”. In August she decided to visit one of the branches, and again the person who spoke to her said “all right”. However, the bills continued to arrive and every month she rang the company until an employee told her that the equipment had to be returned. She complained that she had been ringing for months and nobody informed her.

The Tribunal held that the point at issue was whether Camilleri should pay after the contract was terminated, June 2014. The contract states that if the company fails to hear from the customer after its expiration, the service would continue to be given. However, the Tribunal pointed out that this notice does not have to be in writing. The Tribunal commented that this case was one of many where GO plc claim payment after contracts expire and the customers are not informed that they would have to return the equipment for the service to be terminated. The Tribunal held that it believed Camilleri’s version of events. The Tribunal criticised the company’s practice of not informing customers how to terminate the service.

The Tribunal ordered Camilleri to pay for the service given up to 31 July, 2014 and ordered the judgement to be forwarded to the Malta Communications Authority and the Malta Competition and Consumer Affairs Authority.

Malcolm Mifsud is a partner at Mifsud & Associates.
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