Thursday, 12 September 2013

My complaint to CISAS about huge Virgin mobile phone bills


Dear Mr Law
Case No: 212133585 - Law v Virgin Mobile
Further to our recent correspondence we have received confirmation from the company that they are settling this claim in full.
The adjudicator has no power to award any more than what the customer claims on the application form. Accordingly, the Company has 28 days to comply with the settlement. Should the Company not comply with the settlement please contact CISAS.
However, please be advised that we will not be able to investigate against the Company before the 28 day period has passed, ie on or before 01/11/2013.
Should we not hear from you after this period, we will assume you are happy with the resolution and will close our files accordingly.

For anyone interested...

I wish to complain about my daughter’s Virgin mobile account: account number FAxxxxx

I am a longstanding Virgin media customer. Some time ago was called by Virgin and offered a £5pm sim card for use in the mobile of a family member. I accepted the offer telling them my daughter needed a sim. At no point during this sales call was I informed that more than £5 per month could be spent on this mobile account, not even when I asked them to confirm £5 was all I would pay.

My 13 yr daughter used the sim card and was indeed charged just £5 until March 2013 when I was charged

March        £15.35
April           £100.10
May            £150.15

These charges were due to large numbers of texts being sent (see April breakdown attached). I was not aware any these additional charges were made until I checked the account in May. I had received no alert that such ludicrously large bills were being run up and nether had my daughter.

While the possibility of such charges was perhaps included in the small print of something I signed subsequent to Virgin’s phone sales pitch, my view is that Virgin failed adequately to alert me – even when prompted - either to the £125 credit limit on that account or to the possibility of such vast bills being run up by my daughter. Had I been made clearly aware of the possibility of such bills when I agreed on the phone to take the sim, I would not have done so. Indeed I had believed – based on what I was told over the phone when I agreed to take the sim – that no more than £5per month could be spent (I assumed, based on what I was told, that once £5 limit was reached no more texts or calls could be made that month).

After discovering these huge bills, I subsequently switched my daughter to a new Virgin £15 unlimited mobile tariff. I made this arrangement over the phone with Virgin. I was assured by a Virgin employee that this tariff was unlimited and that no such additional charges could now be run up, as happened on the old £5 tariff. I was quite explicit that such charges were exactly what I wanted to avoid in taking the new account.

In fact, I discovered last week that I was then charged as follows:

May             £0.00 (due to credit from previous payment)
June           £19.80
July            £20.80
August         £38.60

Again, the additional charges were due to texts being sent from the phone (picture texts I believe).

The excess charges on old tariff = 265.60

The excess charges on the new tariff = £34.20

My complaint regarding the new tariff is, first, that I was mis-sold over the phone the new tariff, and was subsequently unexpectedly charged an additional £34.20. Moreover, around 6 weeks ago (I cannot provide an exact date, but July or possibly June) I phoned Virgin to double-check I could not be charged anything over £15pm and was, to my surprise, told that the new £15 tariff still had a £125 credit limit attached to it. However, I was told this was not a problem as the unlimited nature of the new tariff meant no additional charge could be made. I insisted that they nevertheless reduce the credit limit to £15 so that I was absolutely guaranteed no additional charge could be made. I was told by Virgin that the credit limit was henceforth reduced.

As I say, last week I discovered the credit limit on the new tariff account is still £125, and also that additional charges were made in June, July, and even in August after I was told the credit limit had been reduced to £15. The limit still stands £125 today, even after my subsequent complaint. I was then told it could notbe reduced.

In my view, (i) Virgin failed adequately to inform me of the charges that could be made on the old £5 tariff up to £125 (no mention whatsoever was made of this possibility when the sim was sold to me verbally), (ii) Virgin had a duty to at least alert me to the ridiculously large bills being run up on this £5 account by my daughter for texts (neither of us had any awareness that this was even possible), a duty they failed to discharge, (iii) Virgin mis-sold me the new tariff over the phone, informing me, incorrectly, that the unlimited nature of the new tariff meant that no such additional charges could be run up, which in fact they were, (iv) Virgin failed to reduce the credit limit on the new tariff, even after they said they had, allowing still further additional charges to be run up.

I have formally complained to Virgin about this matter and was told in a letter dated 30th August (Ref: COM100152869) that they would not reimburse me the additional charges made on the old tariff. I have since been told they will not reimburse additional charges on the new tariff (attached email).

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