The monthly charge that Sheila Smith was expecting almost doubled
The shock change really worried the pensioner but she was left hanging on in vain for the refund she says that she was promised by Carefree Communications.
And that wasn’t the only thing Sheila was unhappy about when it came to the way the Kent-based operator handled her switch.
Sheila was a BT customer when in 2015 she got a call suggesting there was a better deal available.
“I thought the caller was from Openreach, part of BT,” says Sheila.
“And that reassured me as it seemed part of the same company I was already with, so I was safe. I would never have considered switching on the basis of a call had I realised it was a totally different business.
But after I joined, almost from the outset more and more was taken from my account. Yet I was not making any more calls or adding an extra service
“I told them that I did not use the internet so didn’t need broadband or a mobile service. They asked for the cost of my current bill and quoted me less, about £29.99 a month.
“But after I joined, almost from the outset more and more was taken from my account. Yet I was not making any more calls or adding an extra service.”
Sheila says she called many times without success but “In February I finally managed to get through and was told I wouldn’t face any penalty now and could claim a refund.
“I didn’t want to leave until I had got my money back but nothing arrived. Now I’m regretting how I was persuaded.”
Sheila cancelled her direct debit and returned to BT
Fed up with waiting, Sheila cancelled her direct debit and returned to BT where her bills are a manageable £30 a month.
But unwilling to give up on what she had been told she would get, she asked Crusader to weigh in.
Sheila had no record of her conversation when the contract was “agreed” but verbal ones are binding.
And as she now realises, she should have checked and not given any account details until she had received the offer in writing and then scrutinised the terms.
But of course hindsight is a great thing and as she says, she was under the impression the caller was from another branch of the operator where she was already a customer.
However because of the circumstances it would be tough to prove, although it’s hard to believe she would have invented something so detailed.
As she explains: “I had never heard of this Openreach until they mentioned it.”
Like Sheila, if you do get a call out of the blue always make a note of their details so you can be clear afterwards who you’re dealing with.
Sheila had never heard of Openreach until they mentioned it
We advised Sheila to work out exactly how much she thought she was owed so she had a firm sum to back her challenge.
In the meantime we put her case to Carefree Communications, suggesting they should not string her along: either refund her as she claimed they agreed, or refuse which would leave her free to make a formal complaint to regulator Ofcom.
Last week Ofcom announced a new initiative to make it easier for communications customers to get better deals.
Last week Ofcom announced a new initiative to make it easier for customers to get better deals
The customers currently slowest to switch are ones with only a landline for calls such as Sheila.
Carefree Communications wasn’t too pleased to hear from Crusader, accusing us of being like all reporters, guilty of “bending the truth” and presenting “false allegations”.
It denied it had ever stated it was part of Openreach.
But then matters improved as it followed up with a statement saying: “We have apologised for the issues Mrs Smith found with our company… and we have made a payment of £188.10.”
When thanking Crusader Sheila said: “I really don’t know what I would have done without your help. At first Carefree offered me £98 but I said no and told them what I had calculated and they accepted it.”
Source : EXPRESS