My mobile phone was stolen in Ibiza in July and it was six hours before I realised and reported it to my service provider. In this short time, 320 hours-worth of conference calls were made leaving me with a bill of pounds 4,356.11.
Orange never alerted me to this blatantly suspicious activity, but it initially promised in writing that I would not have to pay because the charges were "obvious results of crime". Two weeks later it attempted to debit my account for the full amount and told me I was liable. I am 23 and have no savings, an entry-level job, a large student loan and I am suffering some serious health problems as a result of this.
Unsurprisingly, Orange backs down when its press office gets involved and it has now refunded the charges as "a gesture of goodwill".
The question remains why such frenetic, uncharacteristic activity was not flagged up by its security systems. According to Orange, unusual usage is monitored, but when calls are made abroad there can be a time lag before the foreign network operator reports it.
Currently mobile phone customers can be held liable for all charges fraudulently incurred before a phone is reported stolen unlike bank customers who are only liable for the first pounds 50 - although Orange was unforgivably heartless to insist on such a huge sum.
The government and its telecoms regulator, Ofcom, are working on a code of practice to bring greater protection to fraud victims, including the possibility of a maximum liability when large bills are run up by thieves. In the meantime, initiate pin protection on your handset.
Homebase has painted me into a corner with 3-for-2 response
Last month Homebase's website advertised a three-for-two offer and 15% discount on all Crown, Sandtex and Sadolin paints. But when I tried to buy three five-litre pots they were not included in the offer. I complained and sent a screen shot of the web advertisement, which clearly states all pots were included. Homebase responded that the offer applied only to 2.5-litre pots and "we would never honour a mistake made"!
Homebase tells me that an online error caused the five-litre pots to be incorrectly advertised as part of the three-for-two offer. It has now sent you a gift voucher to the value of one pot of Crown paint and declares it always tries to resolve disputes fairly.
Retailers have no obligation to honour erroneously advertised prices or offers. Legally, the price tag is not a contract; it is an invitation for the customer to make an offer to purchase and the retailer doesn't have to accept that offer. A contract is only formed when the shop accepts a payment. However, if you remain aggrieved you could report the issue to Trading Standards under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading regulations 2008.
The saga of our attempt to recover unused airport tax
As a result of illness we were unable to take a holiday to
Many insurers refuse in their small print to reimburse policyholders for the tax element of unused tickets, even though in the case of budget airlines this can make up the greater part of the ticket price. Instead they direct customers to apply to the airline.
Surprisingly, though, airlines are under no legal obligation to refund taxes, despite the fact that the money does not have to be passed on to the government if tickets are unused. Airlines that do return the tax often charge such high administration fees that the gain is cancelled out. The tour operator doesn't come into it as it is merely a broker.
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