Statistically, people who jump from evasive answers, to legal action, have something to hide. I am very polite by nature and I simply wanted real answers.
This morning I have been informed by Michael Arnold - employee at the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS) and the 'Tolling Customer 'Ombudsman' that he has engaged his solicitors, ultimately as a result of my investigation into toll roads and their seemingly too close relationship with the TCO. First story published. There will be more.
Mr Arnold has responded to my polite email from last night, informing him that I have more questions to ask.
Response - Partial Extract: "It is[sic] has become necessary, hoever[sic], because of your initial conduct that caused my contact staff stress with the publication of purported of[sic] extracts of his conversation and now a campaign of contacting colleagues and friends which they believe put their privacy and security at risk I have placed this matter in the control of my solicitors."
The interesting thing about this is, I have only ever called two people that were listed on a public document (application) by Mr Arnold, as contacts, should the clarification on the application be needed.
Both people named also work at the Financial Ombudsman Service with Mr Arnold. To be sure of all the facts, as part of my investigation I called the 2 people - who were named by Mr Arnold, with number supplied - on the public document.
It appeared that Mr Arnold was using FOS staff and resources to conduct his own personal business, so I thought it was important to get the facts - and to be clear, I am not suggesting he is/was, or that I have any evidence to substantiate such a claim. Both were very polite to me, and I was to them. One confirmed that Mr Arnold utilises his FOS employed assistant - which can be seen in the document - to conduct some of his personal business, however big or small, in his company, Lorimax Pty Ltd (trading as the Tolling Customer Ombudsman). The other informed me that he had a separate arrangement with Lorimax, and there appeared to be no conflict of interest.
I should note, that I had no intention of naming them, or writing about them, and the only reason I am referencing them now, is for clarification now that Mr Arnold has decided to get legal. If any corruption is uncovered in the future, I have no doubt the 2 people I spoke with are good, honest and polite people, and in no way have been willingly, or knowingly involved.
I would also like to note, that I have nothing against Mr Arnold, or his staff. There are some serious issues with Transurban, their toll roads and the excessive and unreasonable penalty fees many honest and undeserving motorists are subjected to.
Many have written to me and have raised concerns about Mr Michael Arnold (the 'TCO Ombudsman') and the true independence of the Tolling Customer 'Ombudsman' service. If you read the article I published several weeks back, you can make your own mind up.
The ultimate goal would be to have a peaceful, private and constructive meeting with both Mr Arnold and Transurban management to discuss a solution where customers don't become victims, and systems are improved where all parties benefit.
God only knows why Mr Arnold, who doesn't mind telling you he has "extensive experience in handling complaints" and "has a reputation for successful resolution of consumer concerns", is running straight to the lawyers when the questions hit a nerve? I thought lawyers were for people who lacked the very ability to solve problems, without fighting.
In 2006 News.com.au said
"Two years ago Transurban hired as its internal complaints ombudsman former Labor MP Michael Arnold -- who had twice been embroiled in jobs-for-the-boys scandals.
He was paid $206,000 by the Kirner government for consultancies after losing his seat, then appointed to a $125,000 position as a tribunal judge. That ended when Jeff Kennett axed the Accident Compensation Tribunal."
Perhaps he doesn't want me to dig and find anything more? I am only writing about information publicly available, and I can promise you that if Mr Arnold tries to use lawyers and the court to restrict my freedom of speech and stop me from compiling public information into an article that reveals the true nature of his business dealings - good or bad - then he is mistaken.
Not only would any claim be frivolous, he would also spark the interest of the main stream media, causing many many more to pay attention, and if he did win in an Australian court, I will always be polite, peaceful and respect Australian law, but it won't stop me from using lawful avenues to republish from other countries, where different laws apply.
In the interest of gathering further data on the tolling issues in Australia, I have launched a specific website. If enough people come forward with similar experiences surrounding penalty fees etc. there is a proposed 'potential' class action.
You can view the website here: www.fighttollfees.info
If you have any information on this topic, you can contact me confidentially on 0458 369 975.
by Michael Fraser from QLD, 4216
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