Ex Partner Not Paying Mobile Phone Bill – What Are My Options?

by - Last Updated on March 22, 2019

Today's question comes from Jane who asks: Dear Brandon, I took out a phone contract for my ex-boyfriend as he had a bad credit rating. We have since split up and he has taken the phone but is refusing to pay the monthly bill. What are my options?

When it comes to ex-partners and bill paying it's certainly a thorny problem and one that unfortunately you might not like the answer to. There are of course cases where people share bill payment, whether that's because you're married, or because you live in shared housing, for example. The real question is who is responsible for the bills that are incurred.

The one and only answer to this is: the person who is responsible for the charges on a bill is the person whose name appears on the contract. End of story. Now, some companies will let more than one person sign the same contract, in which case you are both responsible for the charges. And what if you're married? The answer's the same. The bill is the responsibility of whichever partner is named on the contract.

If you're having problems getting cash out of someone to pay the bills you can try throwing yourself on the mercy of your provider's customer service department by ringing them up and explaining things. However, you're unlikely to get much help, and the provider is not required to help you get money from a non-paying partner who was not named in your original agreement. They can help you if you're having problems paying a bill (though this may not apply in your case since in the end, you'll still end up paying the whole amount, you'll just pay it in instalments rather than in a lump sum).

Sometimes mistakes do happen though. If you're not the person that's named on your bill/contract and the company is hounding you for payment, then give customer service a call and tell them this. A gentle reminder that you're not legally responsible for payment should suffice.

The bottom line is that if your name is on the contract you are responsible for paying the bill. The only exception to this is if you can prove that your mobile was stolen, in which case many providers (and some insurance companies) will pay some or all of the charges incurred.

If you're having problems then the only honest answer to your query is that you're going to need to cough up and pay the whole of the amount owed. And you might want to consider switching providers to a company that will allow contracts to be signed by more than one person, which will avoid this issue in the future. Failing that, should you need to share bills with someone (or a group of people, such as in shared housing), you can try to get a signed document where each of you promises to pay a share of the bill. This will provide some proof that there is an agreement, but your provider doesn't have to take it into account. You may end up taking your problem to small claims court, and even then you might not get the result that you want.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the solution to your problem is probably going to be that you'll have to pay the bill yourself.