Questions of Cash: January 2015

Q.  Skype has blocked my account, which means that I can no longer use its PC-to-landline calling facility, despite having approximately $45 credit.on the account.  This is a nuisance as I call the USA on a frequent basis.  I first realised the account was blocked on 7 December and since then Skype has played cat-and-mouse with me, advising that it has to go through strict security procedures in order to validate my personal profile. In doing so, I had to complete the same lengthy verification form three  times! After receiving this from me so many times, I thought that would have all the details necessary to revalidate my account, but it seems not.  I have requested a refund of the credit in the account, but this was ignored, as also is my request asking for the reason as to why the account  was closed in the first place.  Skype is  uncontactable by email.  RW, Poole.

A.  For a communications company, Skype is oddly difficult to communicate with.  We tried twice by email, without any reply.  As Skype was acquired by Microsoft in 2011, we decided to try the parent company – and success.  Soon after we contacted Microsoft you emailed us to say that, without explanation, your service block had been removed.  We eventually obtained a response from Skype – which seemed to us to completely ignore the substance of the complaint.  Its largely irrelevant comment was: “Our customer service team responds to all queries within 24 hours.  In order to resolve an issue, customers will be asked to verify their account information so that our customer service team can resolve account enquiries with the account holder.  Doing so as soon as our customer service team provides a verification form ensures any account queries can be addressed without delay.”  So we are all left in the dark about what happened – but at least you can Skype again.

Q.  I have had at least one mobile phone on the Orange network continuously since 1999 and an email account since 2004.  After Orange merged with T-Mobile to become EE, it announced that the new company would be ‘upgrading’ its online services.  Logging-in to either my phone account or my email accounts is a two-stage process.  The Orange/EE website requires me to enter my account name, or my mobile phone number, and my password.  Once this combination has been accepted by the underlying database, I am asked to re-enter my mobile phone number and my online password.  Since EE’s ‘upgrade’ I have been unable to access either my email account or to access my Orange mobile phone account online.  The EE website allows me to pass the first stage of the log-in process. i.e. it recognises that I do have an account and that I am entering the correct password.  But when I try to log-in I am greeted with the message: “The email address you have entered is an alias for a mobile number. Please enter your mobile number and password to continue.”  When I proceed with this, second, stage of the log-in process the EE database invariably refuses to recognise my details and I get the message: “Sorry, the details you entered weren’t recognised. Please try again.  Have you changed your password recently? Please note that it can take up to four hours for your password to be changed on our systems, so you may need to try again later.”  I have not changed my password.  I rang Orange’s Customer Services number to complain about this in January last year.  The lady in India to whom I spoke told me that this was a known problem for a lot of accounts, that EE were in the process of fixing all the affected accounts, and then asked me to “wait two weeks and try again”.  I did as she suggested and I even allowed extra time for EE to fix their problem.  After six weeks I got sick of waiting.  In March I rang again and was put through to ‘technical services’.  I was told there is no problem with my account and the problem is entirely with the website and that problems would persist until May.  In April I complained again about this and the fact that I was receiving spam texts from a company demanding £1.50 to opt out of receiving them – and wanted to know how much it was costing me to receive the texts.  EE responded with a letter that failed to address any of the issues raised and told me that I could check my account by ringing customer services.  Doing so would cost me money and would not tell me how much I had been charged for receiving a spam text. EE has still not fixed the fault on the website.  I also tried complaining through Twitter, but that got nowhere.  PR, Staffordshire.

A.  EE suggests that you use an alternative web address – – to retrieve your Orange emails.  It has also confirmed that you have not received any charges for the spam emails.  It did not provide an explanation for its continued service failures.

Q.  I have had difficulties in closing my Scottish Power account.  We eventually managed to do this, with your help, but Scottish Power owes us £353.05 credit on the account.  It keeps promising to refund this, but fails to do so.  KY, Yorkshire.

A.  This is quite a saga of delays and failures on the part of Scottish Power, involving repeated emails and phone calls to them by yourself and ourselves.  You asked to quit your account as of September, but the account was actually switched to another provider in December.  Scottish Power has finally repaid you the outstanding balance.  It calculates this as £237.47 – the £353.05 credit balance was of October, before the account was finally closed.  Scottish Power is also sending you a goodwill payment of £75.

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