For three years Dave Johnson was caught in a Kafkaesque nightmare. Collection agencies working for Canada’s largest cell phone company Rogers claimed he owed more than $5,400 on his Rogers account, but he’d never had one.
When he tried to explain to Rogers its mistake, employees asked him for an account number. When he said he didn’t have one, they said they couldn’t help him. When he convinced one collection agency that they were going after the wrong Dave Johnson, another collection agency came after him.
Along the way, Johnson discovered another man with his name was also going through the same problems.
Because of his ruined credit rating his bank wouldn’t allow him to co-sign for his son’s mortgage. And he couldn’t use the equity in his home, which is paid for.
“They are just throwing darts. They are not chasing the person that was responsible for the debt,” Johnson said. “They’re chasing the person that they think maybe have a similar sounding name.”
Johnson’s fight and that of other customers became public after a report on Canada’s national public television broadcaster CBC.
Howard Maker, Commissioner of Telecommunications Complaints, said he hears too many stories like this. “There’s too many no-brainers that come all the way to us, the industry’s ombudsman, and that’s very unfortunate.”
In an email statement to CBC, Rogers said that “generally the system works” and suggested that the fault is with the collections agencies it hired.
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