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HissyFitWatch: Cable Operator Shames Past Due Customers by Naming Them on Facebook

Phillip Dampier December 2, 2015 Canada, Consumer News, HissyFitWatch, Public Policy & Gov't 4 Comments

past dueA cable operator in Canada’s Northwest Territories doesn’t bother sending past due notices to customers in arrears anymore. It posts their names and amounts owed on Facebook instead.

Senga Services Cable TV is facing heat for posting its past due list publicly on several Facebook community pages, including the ‘Fort Simpson Town Cryer‘, naming and shaming customers including former Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) Kevin Menicoche (who quickly called to make payment arrangements).

Jennifer Simons, who works with Senga Services, told CBC News she’s fed up with sad stories about why people won’t pay their cable bill.

“We always got excuses from everybody,” Simons said. “Promissory notes and everything, and it never arrives. So we found the most effective way is to publicly post the names.”

Customer reaction varied from supportive to swift and harsh condemnation. With the story going viral, Senga has restricted access to its own Facebook page.

“What a shotty [sic] disrespectful way to try and get people to pay,” wrote one reader.

fort-simpson-town-crierMost of the amounts owed are between $100-300, but one customer had managed to avoid paying an apparent court judgment of $1,406.80.

Michelle Léger, a Fort Simpson resident told the CBC the post “just wasn’t right.” With a population of just 1,200 in Fort Simpson, the list was sure to generate a lot of buzz in the community.

“If I had been a person on that list, I would have been really embarrassed,” she said. “It’s publicly shaming people. That’s kind of abusive to your customer base. Everybody knows who owes money to a cable company. So we know who is irresponsible with money or who might be struggling. If I were struggling to pay bills, I wouldn’t want my community knowing.”

Simons had none of that, doubling down in a follow-up message that people “should not live outside their means,” adding “maybe their family can step up and help them out.”

“We run a business, not a charity,” Simons explained. “We have bills to pay and paying customers who deserve to have services. Not paying your bill is stealing.”

MLA Menicoche told the CBC he was not embarrassed after appearing on the list, but complained he should have been contacted privately first.

Whether customers agree or disagree, the public disclosure does not appear to violate Canadian law.

According to Canada’s Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act, organizations may disclose personal information of an individual without their consent if “the disclosure of the information is necessary in order to collect a debt owed to the organization.”

Currently there are 4 comments on this Article:

  1. Duffin says:

    Wow, that’s kind of crazy how Canada’s privacy laws are completely opposite ours. In the US, you may not give any personal information when trying to collect a debt other than to give the debtor’s name. You can’t discuss anything involving specifics of the debt or how much is owed. Just try doing here in the US what this horrible company has done. You’d get the pants sued off of you.

  2. Defender says:

    Correction : each customer was given ample notice that their accounts were delinquent if you actually speak to the company they will tell you that most of those accounts go back years and have exhausted all efforts to collect. ( court , Small claim, credit bureau)

    take in to account this is a community of 1200 people no one uses credit to purchase anything so that doesn’t work .

    And each customer receives a monthly statement showing their account .

    maybe people should talk to the horses mouth before listening to the ass blow air and get their facts straight .

  3. Kaz says:

    Fort Simpson is a small community, but if you get services, you pay for them. If you can’t afford to get something then don’t get it.

    Every effort was made to collect, people ignored it and thought that the company would go away and take a loss.

    Duffin, would you just forget a debt of thousands owed to you? I doubt you would.

    • Duffin says:

      Did I say I would forget a debt of thousands owed to me? I was stating the difference between the laws. Not sure where you got that I would forgive debt. I said nothing of the sort. Would I put people on blast on Facebook? Uh, no, not really. That’s why there are legal recourses.

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