LANDLINE telephony provider TelOne has given defaulting clients a three-day deadline to clear their arrears or risk being handed over to debt collectors.
Many debtors received letters from TelOne last week indicating that they should pay the money they owed, or at least a percentage of arrears by tomorrow, or face legal action.
One of the letters seen by Southern Eye reads: “This is the last and final reminder for your overdue account, make sure that you visit your nearest TelOne office.
“Please make arrangements to settle this between today and January 10 at TelOne accounts department, failure to which you will be handed over to debt collectors without further communication.”
A Bulawayo resident, who said she owed $3 000, said she was told to pay at least half of the money and that the company would not accept anything less.
“When I told them that I could not raise such an amount in a short space of time, they said debt collectors would soon be visiting my house to attach my property because I had been in arrears for a very long time,” she said on condition of anonymity.
TelOne, the resident said, warned they would be engaging debt collectors as early as next Monday.
Bulawayo Residents’ Association chairman Winos Dube said as an organisation, they did not condone sending debtors to debt collectors.
“As an organisation, we are against this and we will engage the parliamentary committee in charge of communications, because some of these bills that we are said to owe were based on estimates and if the government doesn’t consider the plight of ordinary citizens it means burdened citizen are going to be overburdened,” he said.
“Moreover, residents will lose the properties they own to TelOne and will become homeless and even the government’s vision of shelter for everyone by 2020 will be shattered.”
Rodrick Fayayo of Bulawayo Progressive Residents’ Association said it would be important for TelOne to engage in a dialogue with residents, because extreme measures always had repercussions.
“We are saying TelOne has always been friendly to residents and what wrong have these residents done for them to be handed over to debt collectors when there is no excess income in their livelihoods?” he said.
Efforts to get comments from TelOne were fruitless as the woman who answered the phone said staff allowed to comment were not in office.