Questions of Cash – January 2016

Q. I read your answers to the questions about Extra Energy (see Questions of Cash, 28 November) with interest.  In August I switched from Extra Energy to SSE and since then I have been owed £106 by Extra Energy, as my direct debit payments were greater than the cost of the electricity used.  I telephoned Extra Energy 15 times and on the five occasions I got through I was promised payment.  I have also written three times to the company’s managing director, who has not replied.  MH, Oxfordshire.

A. Extra Energy explained that “an internal issue” delayed your final bill.  It added that it advised you when you complained that it would take four to six weeks to issue a refund – a period which seems to us excessive.  The refund was apparently processed in November and approved in early December.  Extra Energy’s managing director Ben Jones said: “In this case, we’ve fallen below the high standards we expect of ourselves, and a senior member of my team has called [the reader] to personally apologise for the delay in issuing her refund.”  You tell us that you have received the £106, plus a £50 goodwill payment.  In addition, you received £125 to cover the costs of a small claims court action which you initiated at the same time you contacted us. Despite claiming to offer “high standards”, we have now had complaints from three Extra Energy customers who did not experience this.

Q. My house was fitted with a complete set of new windows and doors in August by Anglian Home Improvements.  I overpaid my account by £200 and despite phone calls and two letters, I have not recovered my money. I would like to avoid having to go to the small claims court.  IG, Kent.

A. A spokeswoman for Anglian Home Improvements responded: “Having investigated the situation we owe [the reader] an apology as he is absolutely correct and £200 refund is due.  Despite having sent us copies of the documentation, an administrative error at Anglian did not recognise this refund on our systems.   I can confirm a cheque has already been despatched.”

Q. We moved house in September.  We wanted to move our existing Virgin Media broadband service with us, but Virgin Media does not cover our new address.  Virgin Media wants to charge us £145.50 for cancelling its services, but this seems unfair to us when it is unable to provide a service to us.  JD, Hertfordshire.

A. A spokeswoman for Virgin Media said: “Our contracts are very clear that if a service is ended early a disconnection fee may be charged. We appreciate not everyone lives in a Virgin Media cabled area which is why we are investing £3bn to bring broadband to four million premises throughout the UK.”

Q. I was given a Blackberry in May by a relative after her contract with O2 expired.  The phone was no longer connected to a network, so I was unable to test it.  In June, my relative arranged to have the handset unlocked.  I signed-up with Vodafone for a SIM-only plan.  This offered unlimited minutes, unlimited texts and 1GB data. I found that while I could make and receive phone calls, and receive texts, I could not use internet facilities even with the advice from the Vodafone website, or using the online ‘chat’ facility.  I went to the Vodafone shop, which added a full Blackberry Services package.  Still the internet could not be accessed.  I went back to the shop, where the assistant was unable to help and we concluded the internet data allowance, a major part of the SIM-only package, could not be utilised.  I then tried, unsuccessfully, to cancel the deal and reinstate my pay as you go plan.  I now had a plan which offered no more that my previous pay as you go phone which I had bought for £30, including £10 credit.  I wrote to Vodafone seeking its agreement to cancel the contract.  I received two letters from Vodafone: one saying that I had the right to cancel my direct debit at any time; another assuring me that I had the right to cancel my contract within 14 days of the letter’s receipt. I e-mailed confirming my wish to do that.  But I then received a letter requesting payment of £15.30.  On the internet chat function, Vodafone agreed to waive the charge and told me to disregard the letter.  But in September I had a demand for £19.66 from a company called Debt and Revenue Services, which said that a default notice may be placed on my credit reference agency file.  I wrote back saying the matter had been resolved with Vodafone.  DRS wrote again, saying it had left messages for me to which I had not responded.  This was not correct.  I then received another letter from DRS, confirming the balance was payable.  I wrote back again saying it should discuss this with Vodafone, as there were records on the ‘chat’ function of what had been agreed.  I have now been contacted yet again by DRS with a demand for payment and also had another payment demand from Vodafone.  PL, Norfolk.

A. Vodafone apologises.  A spokeswoman said: “We’ve cleared the balance from the bill incorrectly issued to [the reader], removed any marks on his credit file and made sure he wasn’t listed with any debt collection agencies.”  Vodafone has offered to reconnect your handset on a pay as you go arrangement, together with a £30 credit on the account.  You refused the offer, saying you wish to have nothing further to do with Vodafone, and requested a payment of £30 instead be made to a charity of your choice.  Vodafone said it was unable to do this, but would be willing to make the payment direct to you, for you to pass the payment onto the charity.  You, in turn, rejected this offer, again saying you wanted nothing further to do with Vodafone.  There the matter is concluded.

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