PBS customers query fees

09/09/2008 15:57

Customers of the Pacific Broadcasting Services Ltd (PBS) are unhappy with the newly introduced fees they are required to come up with when paying for their monthly PBS subscription at the Post Office. According to the PBS CEO, Simon Fong, the $3 administration fee has been introduced to encourage its customers to switch to the direct debit method of paying their bill. The direct debit method is where customer’s bills are deducted directly from their bank accounts, which is then cleared by the PBS office before being transferred to the head office in Sydney. In addition, the direct debit option is said to be an effective cost cutting measure, as PBS staff are not required to prepare receipts manually. From the 6,000 PBS customers, some 4,000 have opted for this method of payment of their bills.

However, the Consumer Council is concerned that the 2,000 PBS customers who continue to opt for the traditional method of payment of their bills via the Post Office are unfairly being penalised by being required to pay an additional $3 in administration fees. PBS is disrespecting the choice of its customers who are wishing to make bill payments through the Post Office. The Council believes that the fee is unwarranted as customers approach their nearest post office at their own expense but are required to pay extra dollars to PBS in addition to their bill amount. Asking for such fees unfairly is therefore penalising and disrespecting of customers choice by PBS. Further, to be able to make payments through direct debit to PBS, the customers will need to have sufficient money in their bank accounts, which may not always be the case. Therefore, the method of direct debit payments only works in harmony with those customers who not only have a bank account but also have sufficient funds.

Moreover, PBS customers, including those making payments through their bank accounts complain about not receiving reception for days even after payment has been made. Hence, customers are losing the money they have paid for the days they have not received PBS TV reception.

The Council understands that many companies use Post Offices around the country as agents that enable them to make their services accessible to consumers. However, with the exception of PBS, no other company is known to charge administrative fees to consumers for accessing their services at post offices.

For a business that is providing a service to consumers, PBS should respect the decision of its customers who prefer to use the Post Office for bill payment and not force the switch to payment by bank account.