But sometimes I just shake my head and wonder.
Today was one of those days.
At lunchtime, I received the following email from Exetel billing (firstname.lastname@example.org), presumably as authorised representative for our company account:
In other circumstances, I would have treated this as scam phishing junk mail, fraudulently attempting to extract money or private details from me to take advantage of me in another way.Payment for invoice dated 01/04/2013 was dishonoured by your financial institution today. Your service will be temporarily suspended and directed to portal page where you can make payment. Alternatively, please go to our secure members facility https://www.exetel.com.au/members/home.php to make payment. Exetel Billing If you have further concerns, please contact us with your reference number 229489. Financial hardship policy : http://help.exetel.com.au/pdf_files/Exe ... 8-2012.pdf
However, this email purported to be from Exetel and was theatening to suspend my account, an account my work colleagues and I rely on for our business
I checked the member's account facility. There was no invoice for April 1, and my "Payment status" was listed as "ÖK". Nor had my access been directed to a portal page ... at least, it hasn't yet.
Was this Exetel's idea of an April Fool's Day joke?
Further, on checking our bank acount, there was no payment dishonored. The monthly deduction was shown as being processed and there was more than enough funds to cover it.
The email had no attached invoice, no link to the invoice itself and as you can see provided no details of the invoice within the body of the email. Apart from my name in the recipient field, it did not state who it was for. Its subject was only: "Payment was dishonoured". What account was it referring to? How much did I owe? What was the payment for?
I made the mistake of emailing Exetel to ask what it was about ("... contact us with your reference number 229489 ...") and got the following response:
Thank you for your e-mail.
Please resend your request/inquiry via the nominated email address with ten digit phone/service number. We will only reveal or discuss with the owner of the service once we are satisfied we have identified the person who is seeking information.
If you are unable to send the inquiry via nominated email address, please refer below.
To verify that you are the owner of account, please reply this email and answer below questions:
1. full name of account holder.
2. address of service.
3. monthly charge of service.
4. payment method used to pay your Exetel bill (direct debit/credit card)
5. last four digits of the bank account number/credit card.
Awaiting your reply.
Exetel Pty Ltd
I am not sure whether this was meant as another joke or whether the irony of the situation was just lost on billing staff.
How am I meant to be able to verify that I am "the öwner of the account" or "service", when I don't know (and Exetel refuses to tell me) which account or service they are referring to? I don't even know if the email is meant for me.
In most other businesses, it would be pretty simple to check who you have sent a letter of demand to and why, particularly if the reference number was at hand.
You could pretty easily tell whether the person who is responding is the person, or can speak on behalf of.the person, to whom the letter was addressed. Do the names match? Is the person the äuthorised representative"? Do the phone numbers and other details in the respondent's email footer match the details that are on file?
You could easily confirm whether or not the letter was a hoax.
You would be able to apologise to the enquirer if the demand letter went to the wrong person by mistake. Or you could confirm that an issue existed and provide details so that it could be sorted out with a minimum of fuss and, as a bonus, you would get your money more quickly!
Exetel seems to have forgotten that it was not me who initiated this conversation. It is they who should be substantiating their claim, not the other way around.
Apart from it being standard business practice in Australia to accompany a letter of demand threatening withdrawal of service with details of the alleged liability, I would have thought a little bit of common sense would have prevailed.
So, is this a hoax? Does a problem actually exist? .Am I the person they should be talking to?
... Or are they just not telling?
All the best