/ Money

Legal advice: unexpected exit fees

Ever felt like you’ve been misled by a company? Here’s how we helped a member get unexpected extra charges waived.

Which? Legal member Andrew bought an upgraded telephone and broadband package from BT in January 2019.

When Andrew called BT to sign up to the new contract, he told the representative there was a possibility he’d need to emigrate during the term of the agreement.

The sales representative told him there could be some ‘exit charges’, which Andrew understood to be up to a month of fees, but that in the circumstances BT might consider waiving them.

When Andrew did later decide to relocate and he contacted BT again, he was told that he needed to pay £436.05, amounting to the remainder of the contract.

This figure was far more than he had anticipated.

Influencing transactional decisions

We advised that Andrew may be able to argue that he was misled by the sales representative.

Under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008, a misleading action is defined as giving false information which is likely to influence the average consumer’s transactional decisions.

Andrew disputed the charges with BT, and it told us that its sales representative had accurately told Andrew that fees would apply if he moved, but that it would look into waiving the charges in a gesture of goodwill.

After Andrew made a complaint, the charges were indeed waived.

What does the law say?

If you’re misled by a company and suffer a financial loss as a result, you could be able to claim either a price discount or damages.

This allows you to effectively set off the loss you have suffered as a direct result of the misleading action.

It’s important to gather evidence to prove your assertion. With most major companies, you can request a transcript of any call recordings.

But make sure you’re clear on the small print of your contract. BT told us that its standard policy is to charge early disconnection fees during the minimum contract term.

Customers moving abroad would not normally qualify for an exemption to these fees, unless they are in the Armed Forces.

Have you ever felt like you’ve been misled by a company into making a decision? Did you know you ould claim a price discount or damages?

Comments

Thomas, thanks for sharing this. I think it shows how sales staff can make dubious promises, to entice new customers. I think it also shows how consumers should make their product or service needs known during the sales process, so that they have a sound basis from which to challenge any shortfalls.

Which ? isn’t the only public help organisation that accuses an ISP of misleading its customers –
Vodafone Australia (subsidiary of Vodafone UK ) was accused of misleading 1000,s of customers over 5 years by charging them for extra digital content they had not contracted for.
Vodafone has been misleading (and found guilty ) by Fiji-Malta-India-NZ etc .
AT&T has done the same .
Telstra Australia,s equivalent of BT the same .
Amazon (probed by the FTC ) .
Many more of a very long list , the bigger the company the more cases come forth.

Excuses can be made and are but when you think about it —its not the big companies that end up out of pocket —its YOU the customer.