Nasty telco brawl over aggressive sales methods and unpaid bills

A nasty brawl has broken out between Soul Telecommunications and some of its resellers over the aggressive marketing of mobile phones.

Some resellers are claiming that Soul is unfairly holding back payments worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, which Soul denies.

One reseller told SmartCompany that he was owed more than $200,000. He says he had dealt with Soul for 12 months and there had been no bad debts.

Then three weeks ago, he says he was told that 35% to 40% of customers that he had referred to Soul had not paid their bills.

His complaint, shared by other resellers, is that they were given no sign that their aggressive marketing campaigns were not working.

Another reseller, Michael Karikis from AMD Telecom, who claims to be owed $300,000, says he was urged to drive the sales harder. He heard nothing about defaulting customers until three weeks ago. “We work as a dealer for other telecommunications companies and they approve maybe four to six customers we send them while Soul would approve eight.

“But they never told us the quality of the customers were bad. If anything it was the opposite. The (Soul) sales manager rang me up and said drive the numbers harder so I got my team to crank it up because the more customers we get the more money we make.”

Karikis is owed $300,000 but has written it off. “The others won’t get their money either.”

Soul, a subsidiary of SP Telemedia, finalised a merger with Australian internet provider TPG in April this year.

One re-seller speculates that the new management has the broom out. “The reason for the slow disconnections of defaulting customers in the past could be that Soul has to pay telecommunciations providers a disconnection fee.

“I think under the previous management they didn’t disconnect people because they didn’t want to pay.”

Attempts by SmartCompany to contact the chief executive of Soul failed. “David Teoh does not usually speak to the media,” says a spokesperson.

However Soul says in a statement to the Australian Stock exchange that it has commercial agreements with many dealers in Australia but it has only recently withheld payment from five dealers who are call centre based operators.

“Soul has agreements in place with each of those five dealers which entitle Soul to withhold or claw back dealer payments in certain circumstances,” it says.

It adds that Soul will defend any suggestion that it has wrongly withheld money from these dealers.


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