My mother’s lost £125 phone credit

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - FRONT PAGE -

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.

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