Cen­tre­link re­fuses to take money back

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Nathan Paull nathan. paull@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

CEN­TRE­LINK has made it al­most im­pos­si­ble for an el­derly Ras­mussen woman to re­turn a $ 1000 disas­ter re­cov­ery pay­ment she did not think she was en­ti­tled to.

Kath­leen Bell, 74, ap­plied for the one-off pay­ment af­ter Cy­clone Yasi hit but when she checked her bank, found her hus­band Tony, 77, who lives in a nurs­ing home, also re­ceived the pay­ment.

Not want­ing to get into trou­ble for fraud, Ms Bell said she tried to re­turn the pay­ment sev­eral times but kept hit­ting brick walls.

The b l un­der c o mes a s Cen­tre­link this week an­nounced it would be chas­ing up dodgy or in­cor­rect claims for disas­ter as­sis­tance that to­tal about $ 1.2 mil­lion.

Mrs Bell said her hus­band of 56 years had been in a nurs­ing home f or about three years, so when his pay­ment came t hrough, she knew she had to do the hon­est thing and re­turn it.

‘‘ Even­tu­ally af­ter a num­ber of phone calls, they said I had to take the cash into Cen­tre­link and give it in, which I did,’’ she said.

‘‘ What a she­moz­zle. I saw three sep­a­rate de­part­ments. They had no idea what to do. They had never been asked to take money back, so they didn’t know what to do.’’

Mrs Bell said af­ter an hour at the of­fice, she even­tu­ally asked them to count the money and then is­sue her with a re­ceipt.

But she said the fi­nal straw came yes­ter­day morn­ing when she re­ceived a letter from Cen­tre­link say­ing they had re­ceived $ 1000 from her, but did not know what it was for.

Mrs Bell said she had re­ceived plenty of help from her pen­te­costal church and the tell­ers at her bank to re­solve the is­sue, but was now fed up with not be­ing able to do the right thing.

‘‘ It doesn’t pay to be hon­est, does it?’’ she said.

‘‘ I don’t know how much more I can tell them about why I have given it back and what else I can do?’’

Cen­tre­link gen­eral man­ager Hank Jon­gen said staff were field­ing sim­i­lar re­quests across the state.

‘ ‘ Cen­tre­link can ac­cept these pay­ments from cus­tomers at our cus­tomer ser­vice cen­tres and is­sue them with a re­ceipt. We’ll also up­date their cus­tomer record to re­flect the fact they’ve re­turned the money.

‘‘ Cen­tre­link will re­mind staff in the re­gion about the process in­volved in re­ceiv­ing re­turned pay­ments.’’

RED TAPE: Kath­leen Bell seems to have baf­fled Cen­tre­link

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