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Ofcom blasts TalkTalk for billing ex-customers

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How angry would you be if a company you had left continued to send you bills? What if they threatened you with debt collection for not paying? Well Ofcom has finally slapped TalkTalk for this very issue.

Ofcom’s threat to fine TalkTalk and Tiscali UK up to 10% of their turnover unless they stop sending bills to ex-customers is certainly good news. And it’ll come as a relief to those people tearing their hair out over yet another bill landing on their doormats.

I think Robert Hammond, head of digital and telecoms at Consumer Focus, got it right when he said:

‘How hard can it be to stop billing someone when they have cancelled their service – this is the very basics of customer service? To threaten customers, who have done nothing wrong, with debt collection and legal action is beyond the pale.’

What gets me is TalkTalk’s blatant disregard for its ex-customers when it says the problems with the cancellation process were caused by ‘an error on a legacy billing system’. Sure, it’s the inherited Tiscali that’s been having these problems since 2006, but it shouldn’t take this long to fix a ‘technical glitch’.

TalkTalk then goes on to say:

‘[It] is resolving this by migrating all ex-Tiscali customers onto one network and billing system which will allow us to process cancellations much more effectively… TalkTalk Group has co-operated fully with Ofcom’s investigation and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to this limited group of former customers.’

It’s one thing to be in breach of the telecoms regulations, but it’s another to come out with what is essentially an empty statement. If TalkTalk is truly sorry for its actions, it would have issued a refund to all those affected the moment it realised it had been charging people for services they had cancelled.

It accepts that the technical issue has been going on for some time, yet it deals with refunds on a ‘case by case’ basis. Plus, it waits until it’s being investigated and finally threatened with enforcement action by the regulator before it comes up with a solution. I’m sorry, but I’m not impressed.

Comments

TalkTalk are still doing this. We cancelled in October 2014 and we have been getting bills and phone calls since demanding money.

We stopped the direct debit so at least they can’t take money out as they please. The “customer support” barely speak English and just don’t seem to understand anything you tell them.

Rachel B says:
9 February 2015

They are doing the same to me cancelled in October 2014 with them owing me money, have never received what they owe me but instead get a bill in January 2015 for over £70 phone talk talk get an apology then have a guess at what happens in February!!!!!!! But this time no apology just brainwashed staff have no idea what to do to get them to stop billing me and repay the money that they owe me ofcom really need to do something about this

English Bill says:
18 February 2015

I thought you should see the latest Talktalk bill received. Can anybody assist?

[This comment has been edited to align with our commenting guidelines. It’s important everyone can understand the content of the post. Thanks, mods.]

English Bill (or should that be Chinese Bill?). You seem to have ordered a takeaway for a very large number of people. 😀

I switched to BT from Talk Talk on 23rd Feb 2015. On the same day I was billed for services to be received between 23rd Feb and 22nd march 2015. Discussions with Talk Talk were very much as detailed by others. I should pay the bill and the money would be refunded at the end of March Really? I am tempted to cancel the Direct Debit with Talk Talk and see what they do.

daniel says:
27 March 2015

I left talk talk a year ago (april 2014) to go to virgin. I have just logged online to see about going back to talktalk and I have still been being charged for my phone and wifi services every month. I now have a bill for £380 off them. It still says I have their services but they can clearly see nothing is plugged in nor being used. What can I do about this, surely this isn’t allowed.

Dave Adams says:
30 June 2015

Hoping this will help you.I did exactly the same as you, found after a year or so of leaving this god forsaken company, I looked at my old talktalk email account to find that I was still being billed £10 a month. Strangely I did not receive anything through the post to confirm this progressing debt that was occurring. I then made the mistake to phone the New Delhi talktalk (0845 number) support line. Don’t bother as it will only escalate the debt, as remarkably after I phoned them I then started getting threatening letters in the post. To cut a long story short, you need to go to the talktalk web page and go to the help tab, right hand side of web page. You then need the talktalk community tab to click on. Right hand side is the popular Q&A Click on View more and go to Bills and payment. If you cannot remember your old log on details, just make a new account. Once your account is active, you need to put the details of your dispute with your bill on the community with the threat of escalating the dispute with ofcom within 28 days of the date of opening your dispute.For some reason it seems the only way the communication should solve the problem rather than phone calls. Sorry that this seems a long winded solution but the ofcom wording online seems to do the trick…Hope this helps

Sam Booth says:
5 April 2015

After over 3 years of hassle and bad service, and after giving TalkTalk numerous opportunities to sort out their bad service, I terminated my account 7 weeks ago. Since then I’ve been inundated with phone calls, emails etc stating that I have to pay them £214 for having cancelled the contract early…. A contract that I did not agree to and was not aware of!! Over the 3 years I’ve suffered at the hands of Talktalk I’ve had umpteen engineer visits, wasted hours and hours of my precious time, had dozens of phone calls and email exchanges and wasted over £1500 after being told the problems were due to my PC, Laptop or smart TV…. All three of which were replaced at my expense only to find that the broadband issues were STILL there!
Talktalk are now hassling me on a DAILY basis. I have told them not to ring me, and to email or send letters, but STILL they keep ringing and making threats! I am at the end of my tether. I will not be paying them £214 for terminating a contract that I was not aware I had entered into, and in my opinion, they have breached their own contract for not providing a service that I was paying for! I am furious!!

pat stapleton says:
8 May 2015

i left talktalk in october 2012 in 2014 got debt collectors letter saying i owed 40 pound after months of phone calls and i also printed of bills saying that there was nothing oweing on my on line account for nearly 2 years i sent them to debt collector still no joy so i payed the 40 pound just to end it all as i was getting realy fed up with it all but today i came in from work may 2015 2 1/2 year after i left this company i have a debt collectors letter saying i owe 120.00 pound there is no way i am paying this one i have filled in a online form to the ombusmas so i hope they will help

Aidan says:
24 June 2015

TalkTalk are still doing this today. They have billed me for all of this year since renewal even though I did not renew and I told them to cancel after the last year was up. My TalkTalk line has been taken offline and not been used at all so its not like ive pulled a fast one on them.

I heard stories about this so I informed my bank about the situation, (that I had cancelled a renewal with them and got Sky installed instead). But TalkTalk still tried to access my account and take money and then started sending me letters asking for ridiculous amounts of money.

Dave Matthews says:
30 June 2015

Talk Talk is almost impossible to cancel once you sign up. Prices go up and they make it difficult to cancel, and when you do, they still take money from your direct debit account. Advise: Write to them and say that you are closing your account and therefore no longer have a direct debit account. They are downright thieves that hold onto your money until you scream hard and long enough!

i am the same advised talk talk that I was moving and could they supply a new line, they said yes.
waited in no show, spoke to someone on the phone who said ‘you cancelled the service’ I asked how when they said that openreach tried to ring, difficult because they had cut the service the previous Monday.
I asked if they were going to fit my new line told no.
a envelope arrived at previos address asking for the tv box back which I sent and have a receipt.
I have now been charged £235.00 for breaking contract, and not sending box and this money after serveral phone calls was taken from my account.
I am at a loss of what to do because this is a lot of money can some help thanks

This sounds like its happening again. Friday the 18thDec I received a letter from a law firm telling me that I owe talk talk £184 from Jan 2013. We paid our bill and have since been with BT and sky. Wtf is going on, I now have to dig out statements and prove that talktalk were paid or I’m going to be made to pay more money on top and my credit rating is going to be affected. It’s about time this company had a damn good kick up the a**e and stopped scaming people.

Add another to the list. Switched to BT in Jan, but TalkTalk continued billing. Don’t assume that they will stop and refund at any point!

Their defence is that nobody told them, and they will bill until someone calls (BT confirmed that they have to tell them for the switch over to physically take place). And they keep saying that, even though they are patently not providing a service.

Currently following their complaints procedure – their first and second level refuse to make any refund (and claim that the cannot anyway), so it’s with the “CEO’s Office” after two days of wrangling.

It is dire. Surely it isn’t worth their time? Seems like this could run and run. Advice – don’t trust them to do anything. Get in there first – and probably in writing.

Sean says:
5 May 2016

This is an old topic now but none the less over five years later from first post this issue with talk talk remains and I think it’s time they was dealt with, I left talk talk over a year ago, today I received a email informing me that my bill was ready and showed £95 on it, their customer service is atrocious.

So I was a talktalk customer 4 years ago. At first all was fine, after 6 months my phone line and internet started having faults. I rang them over and over again. Very poor customer service, past from person to person. Eventually I was told there was nothing wrong with my line. But there clearly was. After a year I had enough and left talktalk. To my surpise I have a bill a month later of £370 so I rang to be told 220 was for my phone line and internet. And a 150 for my £5 a month rolling SIM. I refused to pay because there was no way this was right. I asked them to look into it the lady on the phone got very heated and when I asked for a manager she put the phone down. So I tried again and again no one would put me onto manager. I then received a letter refunding the £220. So I assumed the debt has been written off until this week 4 years later I recieve a letter for a debt collector for £220. I rang them and explained everything above and they are now looking into it.

Hello so has it been resolved?

I have joined talk talk in jan 2014 and in august 2015 i called as i was moving home to move my services to my new adress. They said yeah no problem and it all went well. The servicw in the new place was really bad, called them and complained a few times and they said there is nothing they can do about it. Waited till next january and i called them saying i want out as my contract ended and guess what? I was told i cant get oit as worh the house move, i signed in for another year in august! 8 months after i originaly signed first contract with them . I told them i was not advised such thing when i moved house and they said i should have been and that i cant get out! After a few months they sold ‘my debt’ to lowel financial! I am so frustrated! They want me to pay 380 pounds for something i didnt agree and i havent even used their services from the moment i called and moved to sky! Now been on hold with them sonce i started writting this as all they do is trow me from one customer service advisor to another one. This is outrageous as I know i did not sign anything in august or agreed any new contract to happen

I had been a Talk Talk customer for a while with relatively few problems. At end of my contract the monthly charge increased significantly so I phoned them to query why. They talked me into taking a new package, I clearly asked the man if I could leave anytime and he said yes, never stating I was enterting another contract.l, his poor language skills he signed me up to another contract which increased in price after 6 weeks for no reason! Disgusted, I changed to another provider and I’ve been sent threatening letters demanding £98.40 for early cancellation of a contract I didn’t know of or agree to

L Young says:
8 June 2017

I phoned to cancel my account with TalkTalk in early April 2015. I was out of contract so only had to give 30 days notice. I was told that was all I needed to do and to pay my next bill and that would be me. However, they didn’t close my account but continued to bill me as normal. I had cancelled my Direct Debit after paying the last bill so they started chasing me for unpaid bills I didn’t owe. Phoning had got me nowhere so I submitted online queries but they just kept ringing and I wasn’t getting anywhere. They finally closed my account in July 2015 but were still trying to charge me £84.69 for services provided when the account was supposed to have been closed. I submitted a final request online asking them to clear the charges as it was their error in not closing the account and not mine but didn’t get a reply.

Fastforward 2 years and I am applying for a mortgage. The bank won’t give me one because there’s a default on my account from TalkTalk for £84.69. I phoned TalkTalk and asked to speak to someone who could help me with this but they said they couldn’t discuss my account as it was with debt collectors. I said I wanted to dispute the information given to the debt collectors and had to speak to a manager but the person I was speaking to, after putting me on hold twice to check, said she couldn’t put me through to a manager or take my details for someone to contact me. Equifax are now contacting TalkTalk for me to ask them to remove the default and I’m waiting for further news. I have an offer on a flat that I might lose because of this.

Kheselden says:
22 March 2018

Im devastated to be put through the mill by TALKTALK because I decided to leave them November 2017 after years of issues. They then said I had renewed my Contact oct 2016, which I hadn’t. I wrote a complaint and received a telephone call from an English gentleman who told me that there was significant ‘strange’ activities or rather last of activity on my account during the Oct 2016 date in question. He explained that when the account is accessed with by yourself on line or an employee accesses it, it leaves a ‘footprint’ of activity. In some case there can be ream and reams of information when you switch between screens and click different things. This gentleman told me that the ‘front screen’ stated i had renewed but the footprint behind it DID NOT exist. He went on to say i was right and that I didnt need to worry about the payment. March this year, I received an email from CLEARSCORE to say I had “changes to my account”. I logged in and I had activity by talktalk. They had issued a penalty notice for NON PAYMENT OF ACCOUNT. No notes were made on my records for this phone call and i cant get anyone to check the lack of FOOTPRINT. As my original complains were unresolved, talktalk wrote to say the next stage was CEDR (Arbitrators). I didnt know how to fight this or prove what I was saying as it seemed that we actually dont have that much documentation as talktalk customers. I had 3x engineers in the space of 2 months. I dont receive a copy of the report as a customer and talktalk said they no longer have it….all three of them. Im so fed up but from doing searches online, it seems there are a lot of us. Im with a new supplier, and the service is perfect. It just shows you that it was down to the talktalk equipment….. although saying this wasnt proof.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

Melanie Kehaya says:
28 March 2018

Noticed my mum has been charged by one tel which has been bought out by Talktalk since November 2007! Found out they were somehow going through her careline she had installed!
Am now trying to find out how to get all this money back. It must run into thousands! Not only that it must be breaking some rule with data protection!

I had talk talk in my parents house, I cancelled it a month prior to leaving. They kept sending me letters, I paid about 4 payments. Before each payment I call them, asked why should i pay them since i have already cancelled my account a month before leaving. Every time talk talk staff apologied and redirected me to a manager and the manager reasure me that this is the last payment and the cacellation didint go through was a communication error. two years later i have the same problem, now they are sending a debt collector. Im so stressed out, they owe me at least 4 payment of £32 but threatening me to pay them more money. it just doesnt stop, i dont know what to do. today on 16/04/18 i just got off the phone with one of the managers, he tells me that there is no eveidnec of me ever callling them or making any payments, they want me to prove to them that i called and asked for my talk talk to be cancelled and show evidence of the over payment as they have no evidence.

I suggest that you call Citizens Advice immediately. It will be helpful if you have can provide evidence of having cancelled the contract, email correspondence, dates of phone calls and who you spoke to. It might be useful to draw the attention of Citizens Advice to the fact that Ofcom has criticised TalkTalk for billing ex-customers. Best of luck and please report back on what happens.

This comment was removed at the request of the user

I’m certainly not standing up for the company, but there may be other factors that we don’t know about in individual cases. There is a useful link in the introduction to this Convo:
https://www.which.co.uk/consumer-rights/advice/when-to-take-a-complaint-to-the-ombudsman