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Brief cases: phone contract didn’t fit the bill

mobile phone bill shock

When Vodafone asked Ivan Gorewal in July 2015 if he’d like to upgrade his three Sim-only mobile phone contracts, he was clear about what he wanted.

Ivan asked for a contract for a dongle to be cancelled, but to add two Sims to his existing price plan. Vodafone agreed and said the dongle would be cancelled without penalty.

Ivan asked for, but didn’t get, email confirmation.

Between August and October, Ivan was wrongly charged for five Sims on a more expensive price plan. He called Vodafone, which said all excess charges would be refunded and the correct plan applied within seven days.

He was overcharged again in November and complained in writing. Vodafone denied the July agreement and said the bills were correct.

Our advice on mobile phone contracts mess-up

Ivan came to Which? Legal for help. We advised that Vodafone had failed to show reasonable care and skill under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (or the Consumer Rights Act 2015 for contracts begun after 1 October 2015). And it failed to give confirmation of the contracts, as the Consumer Contracts Regulations 2013 demand.

We advised that the July agreement was binding, even though it was made verbally and even though Ivan didn’t have written confirmation.

Vodafone didn’t respond to Ivan’s complaint, breaching its code of conduct. We told him to ask it for a ‘letter of deadlock’ that lets you complain to the Ombudsman before the usual eight-week waiting period ends.

In reply, Vodafone offered a new contract with the two original Sims, with less data, and to refund two Sims it admitted had been overcharged. But it wanted two months’ more money for the dongle, even though Ivan had cancelled it in July.

We advised Ivan to complain to the Communications Ombudsman. It said Vodafone should refund all overcharges, honour the July agreement, and pay £100 compensation for the inconvenience.

The law

If you can’t resolve a complaint with a telecoms firm you can take the issue to the Communications Ombudsman, which can consider it and, in some cases, award compensation.

If you accept the decision it becomes binding. If you don’t, you can issue court proceedings but the decision can be taken into account by the court.

Has your mobile phone provider charged you for mobile phone contracts you didn’t ask for?

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