/ Money

Have you been cold called about ‘home appliance insurance’?

Ever received unexpected calls telling you that cover for your washing machine, oven, dishwasher or other home appliance cover is due for renewal?

Update 26/04/2021

Which? News: Combating the ‘appliance cover’ con

Home appliance insurance call warning

We’re looking to hear from anyone who’s been cold called and offered ‘home appliance insurance’.

Maybe you’ve given away your payment details over the phone, thinking the caller was from your existing insurance company, but later found out it was someone else?

Unfortunately this is a scam that seems to be plaguing lots of you at the moment, and is particularly targeting the elderly.

While there are legitimate insurers who will cover your household appliances if they breakdown, we’ve been investigating reports that some are fraudulently taking people’s money.

Our Scam Watch reporter Faye Lipson also looked into these calls a couple of years ago, but our inbox has recently received a huge surge in reports.

Misleading and aggressive sales tactics

We’ve been told about various ways these companies are pressuring and misleading people into handing over their bank details.

Most commonly, they’ll pretend you already have a policy with them and offer to renew it for a cheaper price. Some people who do have appliance warranties are often caught out by this.

They’ll then sign you up for pricey monthly direct debits for services that probably don’t even exist.

Others just go straight in for the hard sell, often calling dozens of times a day, offering increasingly ‘better’ deals.

Most people probably don’t even need appliance breakdown cover, as many common appliance issues are covered by home contents insurance.

Shockingly, some callers even claim you owe hundreds of pounds for a policy you apparently signed up for years ago, but never paid for.

And they’ve been known to call back several times a day, threatening legal action and visits from debt collectors if you refuse to pay up.

But the threats are hollow. These companies have absolutely no right to take money from you. The calls are best ignored and reported.

Tell us your story

We want more to be done to stop these scammers being able to freely contact vulnerable people.

What to do if you’re worried you’ve given your bank details to a scammer

We’re looking to gather as many stories together as possible from people who’ve been affected to support this.

Are you regularly pestered by cold callers from these companies? Have you been persuaded to hand over your payment details? Did you get your money back?

It would be really useful to hear about your experiences for our research – just tell us what happened to you in the comments section below.

If you’d rather contact us anonymously, you can can also get in touch at scamwatch@which.co.uk.

Comments
David Phillips says:
4 August 2021

I just received a call from a company calling itself Home Serve, offering to renew the insurance on my washing machine. I always treat these calls as a scam, especially cold calls in the middle of the day, but I do enjoy leading them on – my reasoning being If I’m wasting their time, I could be saving a pensioner from being ripped off.
The caller asked me to “confirm” some very basic details (just my postcode) and explained the wonderful benefits of a 3 year insurance policy discounted by 70% as I not made any claims previously (I’ve never had insurance on my washer!). They asked me to confirm the make of my appliance, and I told them “Hudson”, (the name of my cat!). They never flinched or even sounded remotely surprised or confused at an unfamiliar brand name, confirming my suspicion this was scam. The caller then asked me to make a note of the number to call in case of any callouts or claims on the new policy. The number they supplied was 01273977695. They even asked me to read it back, to make sure I had it correct – very convincing! The operator then said she’d transfer me to her supervisor to arrange payment and authorize the discount.
At this point I just hung up, but a few moments later a man calling himself Frank called back from 02045257872, asking If I’d just been cut off. I explained my cat had jumped on the ‘phone! Frank then asked me to confirm my postcode as he read it out, and said this was where the policy documents would be sent – at no point had they asked for my actual address.
I asked “Frank” to confirm the name of the company, and he said they were Home Serve, based in Brighton, but with engineers all over the country.
I could tell that he was building up to asking for my payment card details, so at this point I congratulated “Frank” and his team on a very realistic and convincing scam, and the only thing letting them down was the fact that they all seemed to have Eastern European accents (making a change from Indian). I said I hoped I’d managed to waste a little of their time, and hung up.
The “Who Called Me” service shows both of the numbers quoted above have a high probability of being scams, with several hundred checks between them.

David, delighted you recognised this as a scam and wasted much of their time.

If you have not already done so, you should report this to both the ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if you are in fact registered with the TPS), which you can do online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/complaint

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and tackle rogue companies.

If the caller was suggesting they were calling to renew an appliance service plan, insurance or warranty that you already have with them, when in fact you do not, this would be misrepresentation and an act of fraud.

This being the case, I would strongly advise you report this to both Action Fraud and Trading Standards.

My parents are elderly and I recently took over partial management of their bank accounts. Some interesting stuff in there:
– Household Appliances 247 (www.hha247.co.uk) took two payments of £190 on consecutive days.
– householdapplianceservices.co.uk had a spurious DD set up
– Aftercare universal (admin@aftercarerepairs.com) had the same spurious DD set up
– cover appliance (coverappliance.co.uk) took a payment of £190
– global compliance took a payment of £225

All have been reported to TPS. All have been instructed to remove my parents’ details from their systems now in accordance with the DPA.

I cannot believe that they spontaneously called the same person – without there being sharing of data.

J Young, that’s quite a list of outgoing payments from your parents accounts.

Have you cancelled any further payment authority with your parents bank or with the companies in question? I would be inclined to ensure the bank cancels any Direct Debits or future payment authorities, rather than relying on the companies not to take any further payments.

You mentioned having reported the callers to the Telephone Preference Service, but have you also reported these companies to the ICO? If not, you can do this online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and tackle rogue companies.

If you have further concerns about the companies in question, you may also want to report this to both Action Fraud and Trading Standards.

J Young – sorry to hear about your father. You mention that the companies may have all liaised to take payments multiple times, however it is more likely that your father has found his way onto a ‘suckers list’ which will be sold by data companies to many different companies. It is a pain in the backside but it may be a better bet to change his phone number. Registering with the TPS will do nothing to stop the calls sadly.

You say these are Direct Debits. Speak to your bank. They are covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee if payments have been taken “in error”, were not authorised or without advance notification.

I have recently had a repair to my dishwasher and opted to pay via 6 monthly amounts of £20 to D&G, a reasonable amount. I have had paperwork from Whirlpool conforming this.
Then, on Friday i took a call from “Domestic and General” wanting to talk about my “policy”. The guy asked me to confirm my address and I asked him to read it out to me and i would confirm whether they had it right. He declined, saying I had to confirm it for “data protection reasons”. Once again I asked him to say it and I would confirm. He then said “This isn’t going to work” and put the phone down. It was an 0121 number, bit I didn’t note it. If they are genuine, they will ring back, surely?

This is likely to be a scam, Ray. It’s common that people have appliance cover with D&G, so it may not take long before people less cautious than yourself are taken in. A common opportunistic scam is the Amazon Prime renewal.

Unless you are unlucky you will pay more for appliance cover rather than paying for repairs when they are needed.

You did the right thing asking the caller to confirm they were in fact D&G. If it was D&G and a customer wanted to validate the call, I would imagine D&G would ask the customer to call back on the telephone number shown on their policy documents. However, you should wait 30 minutes before making any further calls because some scammers are able to keep phone lines open and while you think you are making a new call, the line can remain open to the scammer who pretends to be the company you are calling. If possible, use a different phone such as a mobile or call someone you know first to ensure the call does not connect to the scammer.

I’m not aware of D&G call centres using numbers with 0121 area codes and would therefore treat the call as suspicious.

Hi Wingman – It used to be necessary to take these precautions when calling from landlines (rather than mobiles) but this is no longer necessary: https://conversation.which.co.uk/scams/national-insurance-number-compromised-phone-scam/#comment-1628014

Hi Wavechange, that’s interesting, thanks for that. I have seen content both online and on TV recently suggesting this was still an issue, but perhaps those making the reports were mis-informed. For my own peace of mind I will check, but if it’s no longer an issue that’s brilliant and thanks for highlighting it.

Wavechange, double checked, BT made changes to its network in 2014 that were completed in 2015 to resolve this problem, with other network providers following suit thereafter.

I was unaware of these changes, so it’s good to know. Thanks again for flagging it, always grateful to learn something new.

Thanks Wingman. It would be useful if information about disconnection time was easy to find on the Ofcom website, but all I can find is reference to disconnection if bills are not paid. 🙁

The very fact it has been highlighted here will at least inform a few.

We still see reports of scammers staying on the line, so did they occur before the changes were made or have scammers found a way around this?

So you have to ask the question – does it always work?

I have tried it on our phones and the line is always cut, but do some networks still pause too long or can buttons be pressed to maintain a link? I have tried pressing buttons to try and maintain the call but the link has still been cut. If tech exists to beat this, scammers will find it.

Maybe it is still worth telling people they can ensure the line is clear by phoning a friend. They might just tell the friend about their previous call, get some clarity on a situation or save themselves from being scammed.

I am concerned about continuing to spread unjustified concerns, Alfa. If someone can provide evidence that a problem exists in 2021 I would put in effort to make others aware.

The use of traditional phone lines are to be phased out in the UK in favour of VOIP (voice over internet protocol), which has been used for years for non-domestic phones. Our ‘landline’ phones will make use of broadband connections. I believe that this is scheduled for 2025 but could be delayed.

Alfa, Wavechange, I would like to think the changes made by BT and the other Service Providers in 2015 were also designed to prevent anyone from overriding the update and prevent any ‘hacking’. Based on the information Wavechange provided, I am relatively confident it is not possible for a rogue caller to keep a line open.

The only minor concern was a note in the BT SIN 351 – issue 5.0 document, section 7.2 Note 2, whereby it states, ‘There are certain interfaces supported by non-copper access systems that cannot provide the ‘end-of-call’ signal’.

Having no expertise in this field it’s difficult to determine what is meant exactly by a ‘non-copper access system’ and whether this affects a typical landline (I suspect not), but I imagine it refers to lines or equipment which are scarce and would not impact a typical landline. But given BT and the other service providers implemented the changes specifically to prevent lines from being kept open, I would agree with Wavechange we should remain confident the system remains effective for the average consumer.

If there are any telecom engineers who could clarify BT SIN 351 section 7.2 note, it would be useful.

For reference, here is a pdf version of the document we are discussing: https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=&ved=2ahUKEwj3nLLBtqbyAhVTu3EKHbBPDycQFnoECAIQAQ&url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.openreach.co.uk%2Fcpportal%2Fcontent%2Fdam%2Fcpportal%2Fpublic%2Fimages-and-documents%2Fhome%2Fhelp-and-support%2Fsins%2Fdocuments%2FSIN_351.pdf

I presume that a ‘non-copper access system’ would be relevant when home phones are connected to a broadband router using the VOIP system. I have a fibre-optic cable into my home but at present the phone is still connected via a copper cable.

It certainly would be helpful to have input from someone with expertise that is up to date.

Thanks Wavechange. It’s really difficult to determine exactly what is meant by this note, but I cannot possibly imagine any of the service providers would allow the problem to emerge again regardless of how a telephone is configured. That would be a backwards step and would seem absurd.

Hoping someone knows a telecom engineer who can clarify this.

If you do find out any more, please share the links. As far as I know the delay in clearing the line related only to the analogue (PTSN) system, rather than digital phones including mobiles and the forthcoming VOIP system.

Yes, that’s my understanding too Wavechange, so I am sure there is nothing of any concern. If I do obtain any further clarification I will post accordingly.

Another company that has been taking payments aggressively and then appears to have gone to ground. Appliance Protection Group. Judging from their recent Trustpilot reviews.

Thanks for the heads up ReginaldClunes. The usual MO, short trading history, offering service plans rather than appliance insurance and therefore no requirement to be FCA regulated. Consumers should inform Trading Standards if the company files to dissolve.

If the company does file to dissolve, consumers who have paid in full for a 2 or 3 year service plan can contact Companies House and object to the dissolution on the basis they have paid for a service the company does not intend to provide. Companies House would suspend the dissolution, allowing consumers to request a refund or file a court claim if necessary.

Geri Parlby says:
10 August 2021

Over the past two weeks I have had about 8 calls on my home and mobile from this number 02045 268954 all trying to get me to renew my extended warranty insurance for a variety of home appliances.

If you have not already done so, you should report this to both the ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if you are in fact registered with the TPS), which you can do online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/complaint

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and tackle rogue companies.

If the caller was suggesting they were calling to renew an appliance service plan, insurance or warranty that you already have with them, when in fact you do not, this would be misrepresentation and an act of fraud.

This being the case, I would strongly you report this to both Action Fraud and Trading Standards.

Glenys Johnston says:
19 August 2021

Hi, I have just received a call from National home cover, they seem to know what appliances i had, i did say yes and gave my bank details, after the call i rang the company who i deal with and they said they were not part of that group and it was a scam. i then rang my bank and they know that if a direct debit goes through it is not to be taken. The Guy from national home cover then rang back to verify the direct debit and i told him i would not be dealing with him to get lost and asked him how he knew my details and the appliances that i had, he could not answer and said someone would ring me HAH. The bank and company i deal with now know about this. I am only pleased that i checked and sorted it straight away, i am normally quick to see a scam, caught on the hop.

Hi Glenys. These rogue companies can be very crafty, often leading you to believe they are your current provider, so I am pleased you became suspicious and decided to follow this up.

If the company either suggested or made you believe they were your current provider and were calling to renew a policy you had with them, when you do not, this would be misrepresentation and an act of fraud. This being the case, I would strongly suggest you report this to both Action Fraud and Trading Standards. This you can do online relatively quickly.

Furthermore, if you have not already done so, you should report this to both the ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if you are in fact registered with the TPS), which again you can do online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/complaint

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies.

Woman with foreign accent called claiming to be from “Domestic Appliances” to inform me that my insurance cover would be renewed automatically, and that (“good news”) I was being offered a discount as I hadn’t made any claims. I have appliance insurance with Domestic & General, so let her carry on for a bit (they might have changed their brand name for that portion of their business). But she then quoted an address we haven’t lived in since 2004 – I told her this, and that I was insured with D&G. She then said they’d “remove me from their database”. I then hung up.

Hi David, do you have a record of the calling number?

01273 004409

Excellent, thank you.

If you have not already done so, you should report this to both the ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if you are in fact registered with the TPS), which again you can do online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/complaint

I have received 3 calls of this nature recently. First time I told them my job was a washing machine repairmen, 2nd time I asked them to tell me the machine I used, they just hung up. They are determined though the last time they called I lead them on a little bit. To find out they were going to try and charge me nearly £300 for cover. It’s disgusting targeting elderly and vulnerable people in this way. The number is 020 3093 0377. EJ appliance support on the checks I did.

Hi Francis. Thanks for sharing your experience and for posting the callers number and company name.

It would be interesting to know how the caller reacted when you told them your profession was a washing machine engineer?

I understand the fine of £180,000 issued to Repair & Assure Limited earlier this year has been paid in full.

Hi Wingman – I was encouraged to read your post and although it was easy to find the announcement of the fine on the ICO website ( https://ico.org.uk/media/action-weve-taken/mpns/2619138/repair-assure-limited-mpn.pdf) I have yet to find evidence that it has been paid. Can you please enlighten us?

My concern is that fines issued for nuisance calls have not always been paid.

Dialadeal Scotland Ltd also fined recently but when checking companies house they’re declaring no assets and wrapping up.

Although I can’t find any evidence either about Repair & Assure my information is that they are a cash rich company with many customers and repeat revenue even without the need to cold call, so it would make sense for them to have paid the fine. Its a drop in the ocean for them.

Two directors of Dialadeal Scotland are now directors of another company according to Companies House. I’m very glad that I receive very few nuisance calls these days, Reginald.

I see that the government is looking into tougher penalties for nuisance calls and texts: https://www.ispreview.co.uk/index.php/2021/09/gov-proposes-tougher-uk-penalties-for-nuisance-calls-and-texts.html

Hi Wavechange, I trust you are well. The ICO publish a document on their website detailing fines issued and their current status. If you visit the ‘Action we’ve taken’ page, scroll down and you should find the ‘fines paid/unpaid’ document.

Reginald Clunes, these are still substantial fines and regardless of whether the company is financially sound, I imagine the Directors will have reluctantly paid the fine and it will have caused them a great deal of annoyance and irritation. Additionally, having received enforcement action, they now need to ensure future compliance. I think the ICO would take a dim view to any further complaints which could result in more severe action.

Wavechange, this is excellent news and I hope any changes to legislation happen sooner rather than later. But it’s encouraging to hear nuisance caller’s could suffer tougher penalties.

Reginald Clunes, my understanding is the ICO were given greater powers in 2018.

The new rules will give the ICO scope to fine the company, its directors, or both. And this means that whilst the ICO could fine the business up to £500,000, they can also now fine the directors up to £500,000 as well.

This means that the ICO could hold individual directors to account where the company fails to pay the fine or is placed into liquidation.

Hi Wingman – I’m fine, but I cannot find any information subsequent to what is on this page published in January: https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/enforcement/repair-assure-ltd-mpn/ I really hope they have paid even if they have obtained a discount for prompt payment. 🙁

Wavechange, according to the ICO document the fine has been paid in full. I’m viewing their website on Android presently rather than my PC and the site appears differently so I am struggling to find the link. When I next use my PC I will forward the link, but the document definitely confirms the fine has been paid.

Another south coast company offering ‘nuisance call blocking services’ was also fined by the ICO in recent years and following a Trading Standards investigation the Director was convicted of fraud and sentenced to 5 years in prison. The Director was also advised by the Court that if he failed to pay the fine, a further 2 years would be added to his prison sentence.

Wingman – very interesting to know that, thanks. Are there many examples particularly in the service plan industry of this? I knew they have increased powers over claims management and pension firms.

That kind of begs the question though, why on earth weren’t Repair & Assure and the director fined 500k each? That makes me feel like they got away with murder paying £180k. 18% of what it could’ve been. That’s some discounted sentence there. And they could’ve got a further 20% discount if they paid promptly.

Definitely agree with you that it will have hurt them to pay the fine though. Every cloud I guess.

Wavechange, the following link will direct you to the required information, https://ico.org.uk/action-weve-taken/the-icos-work-to-recover-fines/

Scroll down the page about halfway and you should see ‘Civil Monetary Penalties Paid & Unpaid’.

ReginaldClunes, there has been custodial sentences for Directors engaging in conduct of this type, but I am not aware of any in the Service Plan sector. However, with the co-ordinated approach by the Authorities, I sense we can expect to see some criminal convictions.

Although the fines issued are substantial, I am inclined to agree with you that greater fines should be issued and as you suggested, Directors should also be fined personally. Too many company Directors hide behind the ‘limited liability’ protection afforded to them, but when a Director has failed to meet their statutory duties in accordance with the Companies Act, then I believe both the Directors and the company should be prosecuted and/or fined.

ReginaldClunes, like you I am keen to see greater enforcement action issued against rogue companies, especially those offering home appliance service plans. As mentioned previously, the Authorities are taking a robust approach to these companies and I anticipate we will see more frequent fines issued, criminal convictions and Director disqualifications.

The Home Appliance Service Plan sector needs greater enforcement and the Authorities are taking significant steps to action this. Recent intelligence indicates that towards the end of last year, home appliance warranties/service plans were the No.1 scam call. In recent months, a combination of technology and reports by consumers has allowed the Authorities to identify over 100 individuals who have been targeting consumers with scams of this type. As this gathers momentum, I would like to see some severe enforcement action against both the companies and Directors.

Wendy Allen says:
2 September 2021

I was contacted today by Justine from Home Appliance Serve (02045772487). He informed me my washing machine guarantee was about to expire and I could get cover with them.
I told him I would call him back once I had checked the dates in my file.
From my file, I found that the guarantee was not due to expire until Feb 2022, so I called them back.
Another person answered, when I told them they had called earlier he said £ 6.99 was the correct price I was quoted. As we hadn’t discussed this I put the phone down, and researched them , finding the results here. Thank you

Hi Wendy. Thanks for sharing your experience and for posting the callers company name and telephone number.

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies.

If you have not already done so, you should report this to both ICO and Telephone Preference Service (if your number is registered with the TPS), which you can do online relatively quickly.

https://ico.org.uk/make-a-complaint/nuisance-calls-and-messages/spam-texts-and-nuisance-calls/

https://www.tpsonline.org.uk/complaint

Margrove says:
3 September 2021

I’ve just had a call from a “company” that calls itself Service Home based in Brighton, would you believe it!
They offer amazing cover of all appliances, paid for by direct debit. Too good to be true, but there were warning signs:
All had foreign accents, but English names.
Evasive glib answers to questions.
Company had no website or corporate phone number.
A Google search led to this page which clarified everything!
I’m pretty sure that this is a very big operation that does very well by the scam you guys are so familiar with. They can afford to run a call centre and change names as often as is necessary. They probably run several scams because that call centre sounded very busy!
I tried to trip up the salesman but succeeded only partly because he was very polished, doing it every day of his life.
Nevertheless I know that this is a scam and reported it to
https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
Hope you guys did the same!

David Clark says:
7 September 2021

Recieved a call today. Very pleasant caller informing me that ny washing machine insurance was about to expire.
As I responded with “your are talking B****X” the caller hung up.:)

Their number is now blocked and I have reported the call to ActionFraud.

David Clark, excellent reaction . A no nonsense approach normally has the desired effect on these rogue callers.

Mr Colin Dickson says:
9 September 2021

I have just been ripped off this morning, just exactly following your example! British Gas Homecare on kitchen appliances due to renew, they cold called and clearly new the details, they treated it like a renewal of the BG AGREEMENT AT A REDUCED MONTHLY FEE BUT WANTED 3 YEARS WORTH UPFRONT. ie £228.00 What a mug I feel. I was instantly suspicious of the call which said it would take the payment tomorrow. I checked my online banking only to see that the payment was already processing. Called bank who said a debit card payment could not be stopped, but cancelled my card to prevent any further issues ( totally meshing up other company purchases that were processing! The bank says that if I fail to recover any cash in 30 days they may pursue them! The Brit Gas contact put me at number 30 in their queuing system. I do wonder what BG Homecare are doing to tackle this , as clearly this is people with their data base of clients, an ex employee perhaps? The culprits call themselves “Home Protect Direct” and gave a contact tel. 02081911398. If this helps anyone else falling for the scam I would be pleased.

Hi Colin. I am sorry to hear this has occurred, but there are steps you can take to cancel and obtain a refund. If you have an email address for the company, contact them by email and advise you wish to cancel the agreement and require a full refund. It’s important you document this request by email, just in case you need to provide evidence to a Bank or Trading Standards etc that a refund was requested. If you have not received an acknowledgement to your cancellation and refund request within a couple of days, follow up with a telephone call or further email.

It is a requirement that refunds should be issued within 14 days, but there is absolutely no reason why the refund should not be issued sooner. If the company fails to provide the refund within 14 days or suggests refunds take longer, they would be in breach of legislation.

If the company either suggested or made you believe they were your current provider or acting on behalf of your current provider, this would be misrepresentation and an act of fraud. This being the case, I would strongly suggest you report this to both Action Fraud and Trading Standards.

Furthermore, if you have not already done so, you should also report this to the ICO. Additionally, if your number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service, you should also report the matter to the TPS. Reports can be made online relatively quickly and links to both the ICO and TPS can be seen on previous posts.

It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies. The ICO are taking a firm stance against rogue companies and will issue enforcement action following reports from consumers. In recent months the ICO have taken enforcement action against several companies making unsolicited calls to consumers which has resulted in some large fines being issued.

The law is on your side so be persistent. You are entitled to cancel by law and entitled to a full refund, so remain determined. The company are NOT entitled to charge a cancellation fee and MUST refund the FULL amount paid. Many rogue companies will simply ignore a customers request to cancel in the hope the customer loses faith and gives up. But by remaining persistent you are more likely to achieve the required outcome. Don’t be intimidated, you have rights and the law is on your side.

Good luck and I hope you achieve a satisfactory outcome.

Stephen Bill says:
10 September 2021

Stephen Folkestone.
I received a call from UK SERVICE PLAN Ltd. to renew my washing machine cover. I knew it was indeed due for renewal. They just wanted to check that it was the same credit card. I said I don’t give my details over the phone. She persisted, asked just for the sort code, I said well you must have that and I’m sure she told me it – suggesting that they already had my card details. Then she wanted my account number. I refused, getting angry, (a mistake! As you become less objective.) she persisted and said she’d hand me over to the line manager. I put the phone down. I had at least one more call that day from ‘line managers’) and continued to forcibly object to their requests. The next day, just as I was about to have a distracting HomeCOVID blood test, I had another call from a very well spoken chap apologising profusely for the problems and just wanting the final details – BIG MISTAKE – I gave him the number on the back. He said the bank would call me and if I was satisfied I just need to give the okay. The bank didn’t call so I rang them, realising this was not the firm our insurance was with, and tried to stop the payment of £99 . For some annoying reason although it was still only pending, the Nationwide said they couldn’t stop it. I cancelled my debit card there and then to stop any further fraud. I now have try and get the money back which I’m sure won’t be straightforward. Incidentally, they very nearly took 200 pounds for five appliances – which we don’t have. They were extremely clever only at the last moment saying as they were giving a discount it would be a new policy, and I suspect they had both my card details (minus security number) and knew my account was due for renewal. They have a glossy website, but customer care is an 033 number which I suspect makes them even more money. I called the number the ‘line managers’ had called from but got nowhere.

Hi Stephen. It’s unfortunate you became aware of this initially but were later fooled into providing your Card details.

You have certainly done the right thing by cancelling your Debit Card. The law is on your side so please don’t lose hope. You have a legal right to cancel and obtain a full refund.

As indicated in the previous post, send a cancellation request by email and request a full refund. Once you have cancelled, they are legally obliged to issue a full refund within 14 days. If you have not received an acknowledgement to your cancellation within a couple of days, follow up with a telephone call or further email. Quite often these companies will agree to issue a refund, but then avoid actually processing the refund. They will also often deny receiving any cancellation request. This is a further ploy to exhaust customers in the hope they will give up. If you don’t receive a response to your cancellation within 7 days, send a further email advising you intend to issue a Court Claim to recover the full amount paid.

If the company agrees to issue a refund during a telephone conversation, make sure this is documented and ask them to confirm this by email. If you don’t receive the refund within 14 days, advise them once again you will issue a Court Claim to recover your money.

The key is to act quickly and if the company does not respond within a reasonable time frame make them aware you will not accept any excuses for failing to issue the refund. Ignore any suggestions a cancellation fee applies or that the refund could take up to 30 days. These are used as delay tactics and to frustrate and exhaust customers..

The law is on your side, be firm, don’t be intimidated and be persistent.

I hope you manage to resolve this relatively quickly. Good luck.

I have just had a very aggressive call from Smart cover solutions first on 02039303221 then on 02036424671 saying Dad had 2 policies with them one in 2019 I can find no evidence of this and one last November he was being called then but no money went from his account to this company. This person today said that £296 would be taken from his account with or with out my approval and would be taking the matter further if he didn’t get the money, When I said how could Dad have taken a policy out in 2019 when the company has been trading from July 2020? he said they had become a limited company then. When I said I would be contacting Trading standards and action fraud he laughed. I hung up and blocked his number

Hi Anne. Sorry to hear what sounds like a truly awful and rather intimidating experience. Considering there is no evidence your Dad has any plans/policies with this company, it is quite outrageous for them to suggest they would ‘take the matter further’ if they don’t receive payment. I have encountered several rogue companies using these kind of tactics which are intended to intimidate and frighten consumers. Concerned that demand letters or legal action may follow, many consumers feel pressured or obliged to pay even though there is no evidence a service plan/policy exists. Hanging up and blocking the number was certainly the right thing to do.

I am pleased you advised the caller you would be contacting Trading Standards and Action Fraud. I would strongly advise you also report the calling numbers to the ICO and the Telephone Preference Service (if your number is registered with the TPS). It’s essential consumers report calls of this nature as it helps the authorities to identify and take action against rogue companies. (Links for both the ICO and TPS can be found in previous posts).

It sounds like the caller was a particularly unpleasant individual and I hope the call has not left you feeling anxious or unnerved.

Well I’ve calmed down now but was furious this morning. I have now reported this to the ICO and the TPS haven’t as yet got to Trading standards and Action Fraud.

Hi Anne. I think receiving a call from such a belligerent individual would leave most of us furious and its terribly annoying that these individuals think it’s acceptable to make such calls. I am pleased to hear you have made reports to the ICO and TPS. It only requires a few reports from consumers for the ICO to investigate, so lets hope others have made reports too.

I got called this afternoon telling me they could reduce the cost of cover on my washing machine. I don’t have any cover on my machine. Very rude when I told her where to go.

Hi Liz, do you have a record of the calling number or the company name?

@Lauren Merryweather

I think it would be helpful if the lead article explains the difference between an insured warranty scheme and a service contract. And why consumers should check the FCA register and terms and conditions of the product they are buying very carefully.

Insured warranty schemes are regulated by the FCA and must only be sold by authorised firms. Dealing with an authorised firm provides you with additional protections, including compensation if the insurance company providing the warranty scheme fails.

A number of smaller companies are now bypassing these regulations by selling a service contract direct to the consumer. In other words, you are entering into a contract for appliance repairs directly with the company concerned. Even if the company is genuine, you have no recourse to compensation if the company fails and you can’t get your appliance repaired.

Consumers can find out more about insurance schemes and check the firm is authorised here:

https://www.fca.org.uk/consumers/insurance-and-warranty-schemes#revisions

Good point Em, I completely agree. As you indicated, many rogue companies are offering ‘Service Plans’ rather than an insured warranty. I am of the opinion that these Service Plans are not in the best interest of the consumer and usually the Terms & Conditions are weighted in favour of the company.

Personally, I am not terribly keen on extended warranties, but I can understand how some consumers prefer to have a plan in place, for peace of mind and the convenience of being able to call someone and have their appliance fixed or replaced if it fails. But as you suggested, consumers should check whether the company offering the extended warranty are FCA registered and also check whether they are purchasing an insured warranty or just a service plan. I would encourage consumers to avoid service plans and choose an insurance backed warranty from an FCA authorised company.

What I find most concerning is companies who choose to dissolve after collecting advance payments from consumers for 2 or 3 year service plans. I see this as unlawful. No company should be allowed to collect funds from consumers and then dissolve before the end of the agreement term. This leaves consumers without a service plan and out of pocket. This occurs often with rogue companies, with consumers only finding out when they attempt to contact the company when their appliance needs repairing, only to find the telephone number is disconnected and the company has ceased trading.

I understand the FCA are reviewing this as it is not acceptable for companies offering service plans to collect full payment, cease trading before the end of the agreement term and leave consumers with no recourse. I am sure we can expect to see some further developments from the FCA in due course.

Mike Urmston says:
17 September 2021

My mother-in-law was cold called by National Home Care and was persuaded to set up a direct debit and they charged her a first payment of £795 in June 2021. She has dementia and has no recollection of what this was for and had no idea this money was being taken from her account. She is 78 years old and lives on her own. We have now cancelled the direct debit and are looking to see if we can recover this amount through the indemnity guarantee. Anything you can do to stop this scam and recover these monies will be much appreciated. It is quite shocking.

Hi Mike, did the company forward any documents by post or email? If so, could you provide their full contact details.

Hannah benhod says:
20 September 2021

No not all the time is scam , some of them are real and they do their job to cover your items and save your money, i got this call but no payment was taken through the phone , i really got covered last year for multi appliances for a discounted rate , they sent me the paperworks to my address i read it and agreed then they took the payment. In this year my washing machine got damaged and they replaced it with new one and i thank god for the cover cuz at that moment i had no money to buy a new one , and now im covering my items also , it’s a peace of mind