Woroni has been informed that UniLodge may have overcharged former resident Sharan Kaur almost $2,000, in part using bank details that were retained without her consent.
The international student, who graduated from the ANU last December, provided UniLodge with her credit card details so as to pay off an outstanding debt of around $1,400 late last year. Kaur explains that the reason she provided the company with her details was because she had already returned home to Singapore and was at her “wit’s end” after some six months of previous difficulties with the Warrumbul management, resulting in her just wanting the situation to be over.
However, despite Kaur’s clear request that they subsequently delete these details, UniLodge instead proceeded to ask her whether they could use her details again to charge her a further fee of $449 in January.
“This is even after I repeatedly warned them in an email during the first transaction in mid Jan to immediately delete my credit card details, and never take advantage of my situation by falsely charging me for anything else,” said Kaur. “How prophetic my warning was, and yet they paid no attention.”
In response to this, the General Manager of UniLodge@ANU Peter Warrington has stated: “UniLodge follows the National Privacy Principals and delete credit card details when they are provided for a 1 off payment. In this particular case, a regular direct debit cycle had been set up and approval/authorization had been given to use this card for ongoing payments.”
At this stage, Kaur claims that UniLodge has already demanded nearly $2000 from her since her departure from the residence. Furthermore, Kaur claims that the UniLodge Assistant General-Manager, Matt Wilkinson, had blocked her ANU account, preventing Kaur from reading her final semester’s results, as well as threatening to engage in legal conduct should she fail to resolve her debts as soon as possible.
Upon questioning, Warrington informed Woroni that UniLodge in fact “found a new resident to take over the contract, saving several weeks of rent and UniLodge waived the standard early termination fee (1 week rent). When the resident’s contract ended, a full statement showing all monies paid and remaining amounts owing was sent directly to her.”
Following this, Kaur contacted the International Student Services (ISS) and asked them to help intervene on her behalf. Kaur received an email soon afterwards from UniLodge stating that all debts with the Warrumbul lodge had been cleared, leaving her to assume that the ISS had successfully resolved the matter.
However, a few days later, Kaur then discovered that the aforementioned $449 had in fact been charged from her credit card. “I got no receipt, no acknowledgement and basically had no knowledge at all that it had even occurred. Or that that was how they decided to clear my ‘debt’, a figure that I firmly believe has been very falsely inflated.”
At the time of writing, Kaur has claimed that the issue remains unresolved, with her bank having frozen the funds sent from her to UniLodge. In contrast, Warrington assured Woroni that the funds had in fact been refunded and that this case was effectively an anomaly, given that “Not many of our residents choose to pay their rent on credit every fortnight and in most chases the charge is a one off and the details are destroyed.”