The stress and anxiety (which I already suffered from) was extreme. My counselling sessions needed to be doubled. I was already skipping meals to pay rent and power.
I appealed TWICE. Twice they upped the debt.
The period when this occurred was during the MyGov rollout, which was VERY unstable. Their computer records show fortnights with zero hours and a reported salary from part time work, and some fortnights with 20 hours and zero salary. The ONLY way this can occur is through data corruption when they did database "rollbacks" during their mainframe crashes.
I feel ripped off. I have just finished paying it all back (2 meals a week to skip).
I was surprised to log into Centrelink via Mygov to do my fortnightly reporting to be blocked by a message telling me my income did not match my data intput from 7 YEARS AGO. I drove to the Centrelink office ($20 fuel) and asked about what was happening. I was told you have to answer the question YES (admit debt) or you will not be paid any money. I was told at the counter that no-one could assist me in this matter, and I could use the terminals available to do this. I HAD NO CHOICE! THERE WAS NO CONSULTATION OR DISCUSSION AVAILABLE. I went home and rang Centrelink (normal number) to discuss the problem 14/1/2017. Time spent 38 Minutes on the phone. I was told “you’ve been caught. Suck it up Princess and pay the money back. You have to keep pay slips for at least 7 years, and if you challenge this we can go back further”.
I was informed via eLetters that I was to have $86 taken from me per fortnight. This amount is my food bill for the fortnight. After several hours on the Centrelink website I found that I could modify this by contacting them on a debt recovery number 1800 076 072. So I did..well I tried, and tried and tried until I finally spoke to a human. No alternative method of contact was available.
10:18 rang 1800 076 072
11:25 – transferred and put on hold.
11:55 – phone dead – ran out of battery! Elapsed 98 minutes. Prepaid cost $98.00.
10:15 rang 1800 076 072.
11:00 time to go to work. Elasped 46:38 secs. On my prepaid phone $46.38 cost.
11:39 rang 1800 076 072
12:31 had to go to work. Elapsed 52:01 secs. Prepaid cost $52.00.
11:03 rang 1800 076 072
After 45 minutes or so – talked to a human. He agreed that the amount can be set to $60 per fortnight, but needed to cross check with another department. Put on hold ....and then the line was dropped.
12:15 – call drop. Elapsed 72 minutes. Prepaid cost $72.00
I logged into centrelink and saw the debt recovery amount was still set to $86 per fortnight. So I rang back....
24/2/2017 rang 1800 076 072 only 37 minutes to talk to someone, who set the recovery amount to $60 per fortnight. Prepaid cost $37.
TOTAL PHONE COST FOR THIS (I had to borrow money to do it) was $ 343.38. Add $20 for the fuel cost to drive to the Centrelink office. I would like to further state that THIS WAS MONEY I DID NOT HAVE, AND HAD TO BORROW FROM FRIENDS AND FAMILY.