Nowadays there are more and more unethical mobile phone businesses in this country, their aim is solely to trick poor customers into either getting into rather nasty mobile contracts, to trick users into renewing contracts (forgoing their rights to any mobile phone upgrades, and to generally mis-lead the public.
I will first describe the situation I found myself in, mentioning no names of any companies (I can’t afford to get sued by anyone), this entry should hopefully illustrate the problem and offer some advice to anyone that finds themselves in a similar situation.
A brief overview of the situation I found myself in is this: I received a phone call from a mobile phone (which I’ll choose not to name) claiming to be acting on behalf of the mobile service provider that I already had an account with. I was informed that they would like to discuss the possibility of continuing with my mobile service provider (as my contract was almost up) and was told I was eligible for a £25 loyalty cheque. I was told I would receive some information in the post in the next few days and thought nothing of it. About three weeks later I decided I was going to go ahead and renew my contract with my service provider. I was told that my contract had already been renewed. I had no idea that this had been done and asked for information. Eventually I was put through to the company that had set up this up. I asked why this contract had been set up and if I could cancel. I was told that in the phone call I had received that i had received that the person on the phone had made it very clear that I was renewing my contract. Even better than this apparently when I accepted the “loyalty” cheque I had forgone the right to a mobile upgrade too. Although I should mention that I later found out from my mobile provider that a shiny phone had indeed been sent out somewhere. Just not to me, and I could not be told where this phone had gone. The company told me because I had gone beyond the 14-day “cooling off” period, I couldn’t cancel the contract, even though, as I explained I had no idea I was in a contract.
I phoned my mobile service provider who said they couldn’t help me and I would have to speak to Ofcom (the government watchdog for communication).
I phoned Ofcom and was told by them that they didn’t cover mobile communications, only broadcasting and wired telecommunications. I was directed to a company called Otelo who are an Ombudsman Service for public communication providers they can be found here: http://www.otelo.org.uk/ now by Otelo I was told that I was going to have to follow the mobile phone company’s complaint procedure which meant writing them a letter, then either waiting 3 months with no reply, or a letter saying that the company will not help you further with your grievance. Only once this had happened could they step in on my behalf.
Three months is a long time to wait, and in that interim period I was still going to have be paying the line rental on a contract I didn’t want. So I wanted to get this fixed quicker. So the next stage was to try Trading Standards. After a phone call to them I thought they wouldn’t be very helpful, they were “looking into it” however a day later I received a phone call from the lady I’d spoken to saying that they were going to allow me to cancel, obviously she had put the fear of God into them somehow, and we’ll find out how in Part 2…