If you’ve ever complained to a communications company you’ll know it’s a pretty frustrating business. At least, it was for me when my son’s mobile bills more than quadrupled overnight with no explanation…
The story I have to tell is all about complaining about a mobile phone company – but the story could probably be replicated in almost any sector.
Last week, Ofcom published their latest data about the most complained about communication firms. As it happens, the company I was complaining about (which will remain nameless, but you may be able to put two and two together) weren’t one of the worst offenders named.
When is unlimited not unlimited?
My complaint related to my teenage son’s mobile phone. On his behalf (because he’s under 16) I took out a rolling monthly mobile contract – £10.21 for what seemed like a very good contract. So imagine my surprise when my son’s bill suddenly rocketed from £10.21 per month to £50.
When I investigated, it turned out he had exceeded the supposedly “unlimited” number of texts. No warning was given to him or me, he was just charged for all the excess texts. Of course I rang to check and was told he’d exceeded their ‘fair usage’ policy – a policy I’d neither seen nor heard of until then.
Stop the “can’t do” attitude
To stop it happening again, I suggested they set a credit limit on his phone number of £15 per month. I also asked them to alert him (or me) to when he was close to exceeding the contract terms, a bit like the warning on roaming charges. The response was a “can’t do” attitude.
They said their minimum credit limit was £50 (which is why my son’s phone eventually cut off) and, despite EU roaming charge information, they said they couldn’t alert a customer when they were close to breaching their contract. In short, there was nothing they could do to stop any of their customers running up a big bill – well, what a surprise!
I felt I was getting the brush off so I wrote to the famous founder – and got a very nice (but pointless) letter back saying he didn’t interfere in the day-to-day management of the mobile phone company.
This prompted me to email the firm one more time to say that I, as a parent, (and the bill payer) wanted to be able to control my son’s mobile phone bills and the firm was doing nothing to help me. I said I would complain to Ofcom. No response.
Time to escalate the complaint
So I went to the Ofcom website to find out what to do next. It took me a while to figure out that they were members of CICAS as, confusingly, there are two telecom complaints handling bodies.
I submitted an online complaint to CICAS, which was very straightforward, and found them to be highly efficient. I got an immediate acknowledgement and it took the mobile phone firm just a few days to ring me up personally to say they’d refund me the money I’d asked for.
So, persistence and determination paid off. Still, my mobile phone operator is no closer to allowing its customers to set their own minimum credit limit or warn them about breaching their contract. Looks like we may have to rely on the regulator Ofcom to make them do that, when it should really just be part of good customer service.
What’s your experience of complaining? Do you take it to the bitter end, give up along the way or just don’t bother?
How far do you take a complaint?
I go to the bitter end (69%, 73 Votes)
I get half way and give up (23%, 24 Votes)
I don’t bother (8%, 9 Votes)
Total Voters: 106