STATE-OWNED telecommunications firm TelOne has engaged a private debt collector Flaintop Business Consultancy (Pvt) Ltd to recover part of its $150 million debt owed by both individuals and corporate customers who have been defaulting paying bills since dollarisation in 2009.
Flaintop has started sending demand letters from debts.
However, the recover exercise has met with vehement opposition from some customers who are disputing the outstanding bills. For instance in a letter dated June 3 2014 to Christen Matomba of Mahatshula, Flaintop sent summons demanding payment of $2 726,12 within seven days, failure of which the firm said legal proceedings would be instituted.
“We have been retained by TelOne to collect from you, payment of the sum shown above ($2 726,12), which is due and owing in respect of telecommunication services rendered to you. Please take note that the balance shown above is inclusive of recovery costs and interest charged to date,” part of the letter from Flaintop reads.
“We are giving you seven days from receipt of this letter, within which to either settle the full balance or agree on payment plan, failure of which legal proceedings will be instituted, at your cost for recovery of the amount.”
However, Matomba refuted the allegations that he owed TelOne the said amount.
“This is totally untrue especially for me a domestic tenant. From 2009, since the dollarisation we didn’t use the landline phone, but TelOne is giving us such a shocking bill. What rate did they use? We need to know because we cannot be robbed in broad daylight. We appeal to the government to intervene because we cannot be held hostage by TelOne,” he added.
Official comment could not be obtained from TelOne yesterday, but an official asked what rate TelOne used to convert the bills from the Zimbabwean to US dollar said: “They were not converted. It started off at zero balance.”
TelOne has placed statements in the press denying allegations that it inflated Zimbabwe dollar phone bills and converted the amounts to United States dollars hence the current outstanding bills that have accrued on client’s accounts.