My mother’s lost £125 phone credit
Having already contacted Ofcom and the Communications Ombudsman without a resolution, I would be grateful for your intervention to resolve a complaint against Talkmobile.
I am pursuing this on behalf of my 84-year-old mother, for whom I hold power of attorney.
She has dementia and has recently moved to a care home. She is almost completely deaf and relies on her mobile phone to keep in touch with people via text message.
In early September, I realised that Mum was not sending or responding to any texts. I discovered that her Talkmobile payas-you-go service had been terminated on August 31.
Text messages had been sent to customers informing them but, as I have explained to the company, my mother would not have understood them and would have deleted them.
Now my mother has lost her £125 credit balance and 2,889 texts.
Talkmobile said it had complied with all its guidelines and regulations. I feel that my mother is being treated shabbily. SP, DEVON
You keep a high amount of credit on your mother’s payas-you-go phone because she gets anxious about not having enough.
Vodafone, of which Talkmobile is a part, said it had given customers more than three months’ notice that it was closing the Talkmobile pay-as-you-go service.
It said it sent five text messages to remind those affected to use up their credit or to swap it for the same amount on Vodafone.
Unlike a phone with a contract attached to it, Vodafone won’t know who owns a pay-as-you-go because such phones are bought from various outlets.
I did mention the desirability of a default option but Vodafone said it felt it would have been wrong to make an assumption about what the phone owner wanted.
To change to a Vodafone pay-as-you-go phone would not involve having a new phone but some administration would be required.
I spoke to Ofcom, which said all Talkmobile payas-you-go customers were given an extended period of time – 120 days – to weigh up their options and perhaps run down their credit, and then switch.
Vodafone said that for a few customers with a significant amount of credit, and who were unlikely to be able to use it up in time, it arranged refunds on a caseby-case basis.
I understand from Ofcom that this usually happened where previous usage showed that this would not typically be used during the notice period.
Often this involved transferring the credit to a prepay Sim. Other customers were offered an amount that took into account their typical usage during the notice period. Any unused customer credit will be distributed to charity.
In view of the special circumstances, Vodafone has arranged to make a full refund, paid by cheque, to you in your mother’s name.
I gather that you are not worried about the loss of the texts, and don’t really know how your mother accumulated so many.