Monday, 6 September 2010

Ripped off again!

The O2 website says "Never pay more than £1 per day for data use in the UK (100MB limit)". They confirmed this to me over the phone. First months bill was £105 plus VAT for a total of 72MB for the whole month. One day I used 17MB (still well below the 100MB limit) but was charged £44.

I asked O2 to check my bill, they offered me a refund of £1.26 but confirmed my bill was correct. The reason for not honouring their £1 for 100MB deal?

1, Downloading is not covered by the £1 for 100MB deal, only surfing the internet is. THIS IS A LIE.

2, I used my phone to download data in Scotland, where data is more expensive. "Never pay more than £1 per day for data use in the UK (100MB limit)" Scotland is part of the UK. THIS TOO WAS A LIE

6 months wasting my time with the ADR scheme, then small claims court action.

Its a shame, I thought O2 were the most honest of the providers.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Zen Internet

Zen are the best telecoms company I have dealt with in the last few years. Admittedly I have cancelled twice and gone elsewhere for a better deal. Both times they continued to take money out of my account after the account was closed and settled, but they refunded this when asked two in writing. All in all a the best telecom comapny i have dealt with.

Friday, 5 September 2008


There is a proper blog avalible on Ofcom, one that looks at both sides of the arguement.
No doubt something on here will end up being ripped off Ofcom Watch so credit to them, however the one-sided rants about Ofcom are all my own work

Orange Broadband

I signed up for this in July 06. It was free with the phone, I phoned, checked the T&Cs, confirmed delievery wasnt by parcelfarce as they cant find my house, or my work, and ordered it.

I had no signal in my house on the phone so I cancelled. They cancelled the phone but said the broadband was already live so could only be cancelled for £270. So wheres the router i asked? They said it had already been delievered.

It had, but they had sent it via parcelfarce and had been delievered to the wrong address.
I had written on the order form "as agreed delievery not via parcelforce".

Any contract I had with Orange was null and void, they had already broken the contract. Plus I signed up for 8meg broadband, but Orange hadnt paid BT to upgrade from 2meg to 8meg so only suppling 2meg was false advertising.

Orange said the upgrade to 8meg would be done within 2 weeks, it was actually 10 months.
I left orange, refused to pay the £270 cancellation charge, and refused to pay the £85 extra charge for not returning the router I didnt have.
Last month I got a refund from Orange, 2 years to get my money back, no compensation for weeks without broadband.

OFCOM, this wasnt a contensious issue, Orange advertised 8meg when they could only supply 2meg, straight forward mis-selling. Ofcom did act, they waited another 10 months so all the contracts being disputed had already ended or were about to, and said Orange should not hold people to these contracts. I was lucky and had cancelled, everyone else had to pay for 8meg and only get 2meg for almost a year.
If Ofcom cant regulate a simple issue like this, what hope do we have for the advertised broadband speeds?

Oh yeah, I forgot. They have sorted it, a voluntry code practice. In an industry not known for its honesty, a unenforcible voluntry code?

ADR scheme

Vodafone employ Otelo to run their ADR scheme (advance dispute resolution). This is an Ofcom requirement for dealing with complaints. After 2 years of writing letters, meetings, queing in the post office I get offered a £30 refund from vodafone. Thats £1.67 per month.

When I signed the contract I was allowed to send 166 MMS per month without charge, but by the end of the first month this had changed to only 9. To still send 166MMS would cost me an extra £56.52 per month, on top of my £35 per month contract.

Otelo say Vodafone havent broken the contract, this complies with the 10% increase they were allowed to make. To come to this conclusion they have looked at my MMS usage when I was previously a vodafone customer but this missed out two vital points.

1. I left vodafone and rejoined, therefore this was a new contract that VF sold me, knowing that the plan was ending in 11 days. As a new contract my past usage is not relavent.

2, I didnt have a camera phone. To compare MMS sent when I didnt have a camera phone to when I had a brand new sparkly phone with a 3.2megpixel camera and the ability to send 166 picture per month free of charge is hardly fair.

Final point they made was that I didnt send many MMS during the 18 months I was stuck in a contract with vodafone. At 36p per picture of course I didnt, I downloaded them to my PC and emailed them.

The whole industry is corrupt, Ofcom - the whole ADR scheme was your idea, do you still think its impartial?

Monday, 1 September 2008

Lie and Sky

Sky TV, works great but another untrustworthy company.

I brought a new house, so I cancelled sky by phone. They had a great deal where they would keep my account open so I could come back if it didnt work out with Virgin Media. Knowing how bad VM are I thought this was a great idea. "what will it cost?" I asked, "nothing" the nice woman on the phone said. "what happens if I dont come back? what if I dont let you know I`m not coming back?", "nothing happens and you wont pay a penny" she said.

So they told me this then put me on a reduced package costing me £15 per month, not quite the same the cancellation I wanted. The nice woman made a £9 bonus from sky for convincing me not to leave, the fact she lied through her teeth is not sky`s problem as they wont let me record the phone call.

So sky sent me nasty letters saying I owed them money, I refused and threatened legal action and they relented and gave me a credit note - no refund but as VM were worse I knew I would have to go back to sky. Then sky continued to take money off the credit note until it ran out, then the threats started again. With nothing in writing and a useless regulator I bottled it, signed up with sky providing they cancelled "my debt".

Tuesday, 26 August 2008

Virgin Media

I signed up for Virgin Media`s "3 for £30" deal. I was somewhat surprised that is cost £54 per month. Now the ASA/Ofcom/FSA might all argue it is the others responcibility to enforce this but in my opinion the ASA and FSA have alot of other responcibilities. Ofcom made Virgin Media change its contract to suit Ofcoms current requirements then failed to ensure VM stuck to it.

Some examples:-
Direct Debit
I signed a direct debit agreement, or I would pay an extra £5 per month. I paid this £5 dispite them taking money out by direct debit month after month. I phone VM, they say it is because I am not paying via DD, I say I am and quote when they took money out of my account. VM customer services cannot access my account to confirm this, but neither can their accounts department. So I write a letter, knowing that as their code of practice they will respond within 48 hours. 6 letters in 8 months, still no reply.
It turns out that the "3 for £30" deal, that requires me to make one payement as the contract is actually with two seperate companies, i must pay both by DD. But I only get one bill, I only have one contract, I have queried it repeatedly and VM never admitted this to me before. The contract says I have to make one payment, not two. Maybe I am the only one to have messed this up? No. this is a standard stealth charge, one of many as below. VM only admitted this once they had disconnected me and were proceeding with legal action against me.

Itemised Bills
This was listed as a free service but I was charged £3.75 per month for this. BUT to VM`s credit they stated it was free in the code of practice - not the contract. I cannot enforce a code of practice, or take them to court for failing to follow it, only Ofcom can do this. Therefore I had to pay this additional charge.

Additional set top box
Before joining VM I phoned to get the cost of an additional set top box as I need two. I was quoted £9, but charged £15 per box. The cost is actually £15 with a £5.50 discount. To get the discount all you need to do is complain in writing. VM are aware they advertise £9.50 for the box, but charge £15 for as long as the customer lets them.

The Bill itself
I never managed to understand the bill from VM. Nothing has a simple price, it is all far more expensive than advertised and then discounted. No one within VM call centres could explain how my bill was made up, no one in accounts could either. A large percentage complain they are being overcharged. A huge website with everything on it, except an explaination of the bill. I believe this is delibrate. Ofcom say pricing is nothing to do with them, who can force VM to produce understandable bills?

Code Of Practice
VM ignored nearly their responcibilties under their own ofcom approved code of practice. This is unlikely to change until we get a new regulator.

Finally I had enough
In the end I wrote to VM, well I had written 6 letters previously and got no reply. I gave them the chance to either comply with the terms of my contract, or terminate my contract without penalty as clause 3c of the contract. This states I can cancel if VM change the terms of my contract. VM disconnected me without warning so I thought this was the end of it. Then the demands for £270 termination fee started, followed by threats of legal action and credit collection companies and threats that this would ruin my credit rating. In the end the ADR scheme CISAS got this £270 overturned and I got a £60 compensation. I would never go back to this brutally dishonest company. Ofcom should be ashamed for their failure to enforce the code, the contract, and the tariff.

Thursday, 21 August 2008


In Sept 2006 I took out an 18 month contract with vodafone. 11 days later they increased my cost plan by 60%. This was achieved by removing free MMS and long text messages from my package. The contract says they can increase costs by upto 10% within the 18 months, but they must give me 30 days notice and I have 15 days to complain.

The 30 days notice was given 19 days before I became a vodafone customer.
The 15 day comment period ended 4 days before I joined vodafone.
Therefore this change did not comply with the contract yet vodafone refuse to accept any blame.
Almost 2 years later I am still unable to get any sort of refund, or get vodafone to admit they were wrong. However vodafone and Othelo (the ADR scheme paid for by Vodafone) have almost run out of lies/excuses to avoid dealing with this issue. Finally I will have exhausted all other options and will be free to go to the small claims court.

The small claims court is like the ADR scheme, but it is not a private company whose success depends upon attracting more clients. The only way to impress a client, is to not find too many rulings against them. Vodafone are free to swap ADR schemes at any time, or set up their own.
When ADR schemes have to compete for bussiness it can never be truly impartial.

During this time vodafone have lied repeatedly. Orginally they blamed phones4U who provided my handset, not my contract. Following letters and finally a meeting with phones 4U I managed to prove in writing that Vodafone were misleading me. On the 8th Feb 2008 VF apologised for their staff "misleading me" in writing, but by the 2nd July 2008 they denied misleading me, and denied thier own apology. They have lied to me repeatedly, most of it in writing as I refuse to talk on the phone to this brutally dishonest firm, yet there is nothing I can do about it and VF will never be fined for their lies, no matter how big, or to how many people.

Ofcom`s failure to protect 3 million consumers from this contract change is inexcusible.
Due to Ofcom`s failure the first time round, Vodafone have done the dirty two more times, again without a reaction from Ofcom. The other communications companies have followed VFs example, and now the tariff`s we signed up to are as useless as the contract and the code of practice.

Ofcom`s responce on all this is that "we dont deal with individual complaints". Even when this affects all contract customers of our second largest provider Ofcom still refuse to carry out their core role as a "communications regulator".

Whilst Virgin Media are lying dishonest bastards, they arent very good at it. Vodafone have shown the whole industry how to do it properly.

Why Scrap Ofcom?

38 years on this planet, been ripped off 6 times in my life. 5 of these in the last few years all from companies regulated by Ofcom. After the first couple I learnt my lesson, reading contracts, putting everything in writing, all no use. They aren`t required to stick to their contracts, their code of practice, even supply what they advertised, why? Because they don`t have to.

I`m not knocking the companies for this, all companies are there to make a profit. My own boss feels he is restricted in his goal for more money. Child labour laws, health and safety, declaring tax, national insurance, contracts, actually paying tax, the FSA, the ASA etc. Its hard to ride in to town and fleece all the locals in this day and age. You cant even mis-sell pensions or timeshare holiday homes any more. How can you make a dishonest living in this day and age?

The only wild west left in the UK today is the communications industry. Regulated by a spineless lapdog called Ofcom you are still free to operate outside the law. Yeah one or two padantic nerds will take you to the small claims court, but from my experience it will take them a minium of 9 months, whilst over 2 years is more common. Given that less than 2% will really see this thru to the end the profits can be massive.

For example:-
Virgin Media stated in its code of practice that itemised phone bills are free. They then charged me £3.75 each month for the privilage. I argued that it was a free service, they stated no, it is only mentioned in our code of practice. They were right, I cannot enforce a code of practice, only the regulator Ofcom can enforce a code. I wrote to Ofcom, they replied "we do not deal with individual cases". If all of their 7 million customers were charged £3.75 for one month they would generate over £26 million in a month, £315 million in a year. Virgin Media aren`t stupid, do this for a year and people would get wise, they would get bad PR. But if people dont check their bill, cant understand the deliberately complicated bill, fail to complain, or complain but only over the phone without written corrospondance, then its easy money.

The downside? In other industries the regulator would kick their arse for such dishonest tactics, and make them repay the money wiping out any profit. By if your regulator is Ofcom, you have nothing to lose.