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!

Mis-sold a contract? How to get out of it

I think that the Communications sector is the worst for communication and is thoroughly appalling when it comes to customer service. I’ve taken Virgin to CISAS, the communications ombudsman twice (won both times) for starters. I also wonder if the fact that this is the only sector that has two Ombudsman services (CISAS and Ombudsman Services Communications) is because they have twice the amount of complaints than any other sector!

Ben bought a mobile ‘phone from Phones 4u and a contract with Vodafone. Ben bought a ‘phone with a Vodafone contract from Phones 4u. He was told that after one year the monthly fee would reduce by £5.00 a month but this did not happen.

Ben wrote to complain to Phones 4u and was offered £60 as a goodwill gesture (i.e. the difference). Ben’s letter stated that he actually wanted to terminate the contract but both Phones 4u and Vodafone refused to do this. We emailed CEO’s, heads of operations and we had to refuse to pay for transactions of ‘phone calls when Vodafone refused to deal with anything in writing! We quoted the Misrepresentation Act and the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 (a misleading practice because it would appear that the sales person led Ben to take a different transactional decision than he might have taken if given the full correct information.) As stated on the Advice Guide “If the statement made by the sales person is false and it influenced your decision to buy the service, this is called misrepresentation. If this is the case you can cancel the contract without charges and may be able to take legal action for compensation. A false statement which influenced your decision to enter into a contract is also an example of an unfair commercial practice This is a criminal offence” We got a further £90 from Vodafone.

For ensuring that you are not paying too much for your mobile ‘phone see this great post from SkintDad 4 Ways to Stop Overpaying For Your Mobile Phone.

See All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers for various posts about consumer laws, rights and contracts, how to complain etc.

How to Complain: The essential Consumer Guide to Getting Refunds, Redress and Results!

 

 

More advice, guidance, tips and template letters for the most common complaints against your telecom provider GET THE BOOK! How To Complain: The ESSENTIAL Consumer Guide to Getting REFUNDS, Redress and RESULTS!

Warning: How Not Complaining Drives up Fat Cat Profits!

Well, what happened in 2013? Just how much did I complain? Well, not a huge amount I would say. This doesn’t include public body complaints of course to which I do ask lots of Freedom of Information Act questions and complain! I felt of course that given my record with Tesco that they should have their own little section updated regularly so it is here.

March 2014 inset – I forgot Caffe Concerto last December. 10% off the bill I think, plus we managed to wangle free wine and extra chips but that’s because the waiter fancied one of our group we think!

2013f

I know what you are thinking. 40p really? Yes really. Wrongly charged. Principle! Now, how many people do YOU think didn’t notice that wrong charge going through the till or in this case on an online order? How many thousands of people buy bacon a day do you think? Same with all the other small amounts. For example, 40p Really? I complained about 40p? Yes I did, and here’s why. I completed an online shopping order. All seemed fine. When I received my order with receipt, I checked it against the items. Oddly there was an additional item. This item was called “Department Sale”. What sort of vegetable is that you ask as well you might and so did I. After asking what this item was and apparently I had had two of them! Two lots of 20ps totalling 40p. So I was curious and as you know if you read my blog regularly, it’s a matter of principle! After asking about these charges this is how the email exchange panned out:

Tesco: If you order an item that isn’t on the online product database, we’re unable to scan the item through the home shopping system at your local store. So, to make sure that we don’t overcharge you for the product, we charge it at a heavily reduced price. This will show on your delivery paperwork as a 10p charge for example. I hope this has explained why we do this and thank you for taking the time to ask us about this.
Me: But what is the item?!!
Tesco: I am sorry that there has been such confusion over this issue and for the inconvenience being caused. Could you advise me of where this charge is shown on your order, and how much it is. I may be able to trace the product for you.
Me: You have had this information in the initial complaint. See attached please
Tesco: I am sorry but I have been unable to trace the exact goods that the charge relates to. However I have refunded the 40p back to your account and this will appear in 3 to 5 days. Thank you for your patience in this matter.
Me: So what you are saying is that there was no reason for this charge? I wonder how many other orders you put this charge on?
Tesco: Not at all! There was a reason for the charge as has been explained in previous emails. The problem is that without seeing what goods were physically delivered and then going through the delivery document to deduce which goods the charge was used for, it is impossible to say exactly what the charge was applied to.
Me: How can you order something online for an online order that isn’t on the database?
Tesco: Very easily when you start to understand that the online business and the store are different. An example would be where you might order apples online, but the store offer a regional variety of that apple which is not stored on our database. So to enable us to pick apples for you, we would have to mark it as a Department Sale to add it onto the order.
Me: I didn’t order anything that I’ve not ordered before and I’ve never had that remark on a receipt. Very dubious.

To which I did not have a response. Now, maybe I’m being thick and there was a good reason for the charge. I can’t really see it can you? Have you ever had this charge? Have you queried it? I wonder how many people have and haven’t queried it. Wonder what the total of “Department Sales” is.

So of course I complain about the larger amounts and encourage others to do so, but how much profit is being made from people not complaining about those pennies?

 So, if you aren’t getting where with customer services you can always contact the CEO directly. Information about that here.