Mobile phone companies called out for overcharging loyal customers

Press release

Mobile phone companies called out for overcharging loyal customers: The Complaining Cow shows how to take on your mobile phone provider
Mobile phone companies have been found to be overcharging customers whose fixed deal has ended. CAB and The Complaining Cow are campaigning for mobile companies to end this behaviour.

A mystery shopping exercise conducted by the Citizens Advice Bureau discovered that customers of Vodafone, EE and Three who choose to stay on the same phone plan after the fixed deal ends do not get their bills reduced. –This means that customers are paying on average an extra £22 a month for a phone they have already paid off. Loyal customers could find themselves still paying £46 a month extra for the iPhone 8, after it has been paid off.

Mobile phone companies typically incorporate the cost of the mobile phone handset into the price of the contract. This means that the cost is paid over the initial period of the contract, with part of each month’s charge paying for the phone and part paying for calls, texts and data. But, as CAB has found, some companies are continuing to charge for the phone, even after its cost has been paid off.

CAB found that 36% of people with a handset-inclusive mobile phone contract stayed on the same contract after the end of their fixed deal period, with 19% staying on the same contract for more than 6 months afterwards.

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! is unimpressed by the findings and joins CAB in calling for the providers to reduce the cost of the renewed contract, as the phone has been paid for.

She advises taking on the provider and asserting your rights if you have been affected!
1) If your provider renewed your contract after you had paid off the handset and you could have taken up a contract with another provider, you should write to the provider and state that it is in breach of The Consumer Rights Act 2015 because the contract is weighted in favour of the trader and…

2) that it is also a breach of the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2014 because the trader could be considered as committing a misleading practice and you can request one of 3 options:

i) Unwind a contract and get the money back and restore yourself to the position you were in before entering the contract

ii) Fixed discount on the price dependent on the severity of the misleading practice, 25% more than minor, 50% significant, 75% serious and 100% if very serious

iii) Damages for detriment caused can be secured when losses exceed the price paid and can be applied if you have incurred distress and inconvenience

and

3) under The Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations (2013) you must understand what goods and services are being provided and there should be no hidden costs.

4) Quote all these laws and regulations in your email or letter to the company. Make sure you write, as then you have the evidence trail should you need to take the matter further.

5) Give details of when the contract was taken out and the circumstances of the renewal and be clear about what you want them to do to resolve the matter.

6) Should you not be satisfied with the response you could contact the CEO (contact details for CEOs at http://CEOemail.com) You are unlikely to get a response from the CEO but the matter will be escalated to the Executive team.

7) You can take the matter to an alternative dispute resolution scheme. This will be CISAS or Ombudsman Services depending on which scheme your provider is signed up with. You can go to them after 8 weeks from when you submitted your complaint or request a deadlock letter from the trader before that time.

 

For more information about the naughty companies see Citizen’s Advice Bureau press release Mobile phone networks overcharging loyal customers by up to £38 a month

All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers advice, laws for almost every complaint about telecom providers!

EEnormous bills, Ofcom fine and how to complain about incorrect bills

Today, Ofcom, the telecommunications regulator, fined EE around £2,700,000 for overcharging its customers

The Ofcom investigation concluded that EE made fundamental billing mistakes. It cannot investigate individual complaints. However, you can inform them of problems and if a significant number of people do this regarding the issue then it can investigate and take action. So whilst Ofcom investigates large scale issues what should you do if your ‘phone bill is wrong?

Consumer expert Helen Dewdney, The Complaining Cow and author of How to Complain: The Essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results! provides us with her top tips:

  • Check your bill! It may seem obvious but most of us just pay by direct debit and forget all about it. This would have been the case for many of over 32,145 EE customers who were charged £1.20 a minute instead of 19p a minute when phoning 150 (customer services) in the EU. There are still 60,000 affected EE customers who have not been traced. Ofcom has instructed EE to continue attempts to trace them. So if you are an EE customer and you phoned 150 from within the EU between 1 July 2014 and 20 July 2015,check your bill and contact EE!
  • Act quickly in writing. You can call but you won’t have a record or evidence of what they have said they will do and laws on using this evidence in court are not clear. Likewise, unless they give their permission for you to do this you won’t be able to use it in court should you need to do this. You can use online chat if available. Don’t trust that this will be emailed to you even if they say it will be! Why you should write not ‘phone to complain effectively for more.
  • Don’t cancel direct debits. Tempting as it may be to do this, don’t! It will confuse the issue and may affect your credit rating.
  • Escalate! If contacting customer services doesn’t get a satisfactory response, write to the CEO (contact details on ceoemail.com. The CEO is unlikely to respond in person but you should get his/her team responding on their behalf. If still not satisfied ask for a deadlock letter (you don’t need to do this if more than 8 weeks has passed since your initial complaint) and take the matter to the Ombudsman. CISAS or Ombudsman Services, depending which the company is a member. It is free to the customer to do this.
  • Know your rights! Under the Consumer Rights Act 2015 you are entitled to receive services that are carried out with “reasonable skill and care” and therefore if the company messes up your bills this is not “reasonable skill and care”. The company must put you back into the position you were in before the mistakes arose. If mistakes are made by the company then you can assert that under the company is in breach of contract so therefore if you want you can terminate early without paying any penalty. If the company’s mistakes have caused you to incur overdraft charges, then these too must be refunded.

In 2016 Ombudsman Services investigated 42,963 complaints about communications providers. 39% were billing complaints (this does not exclusively mean ‘wrong bills’ – it encompasses all billing complaints).

All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers for links to various posts regarding all sorts of issues regarding your telecom provider.

Top 20 Tips for complaining effectively

GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Sign up to the newsletter to keep informed of latest developments and more free information!