Questions of Cash: Confusion over Smart move almost cost me extra £1,000

 

Q. I ordered a new smartphone from Three in June 2010. I made clear that I was cancelling my existing contract, as I was switching to a "pay as you go" arrangement. But Three continued to collect payments on the previous contract, despite the fact that I was no longer using that phone number. This was Three's mistake, so I must be entitled to the refund of the payments. This amounts to £27.41 per month, over 36 months, which is a total of £986.76. EH, by email.

A. There was clearly confusion during the phone call in which you cancelled the contract. You were not charged for your expensive handset – because it came as part of a contract renewal. If the call centre had realised you were cancelling the contract it would have charged you for the handset at a cost of more than £200. In what seems to us a very fair settlement, Three has offered to repay the amount you paid on the contract, less the cost of the phone. This comes out at £762.90. You are very happy with this proposal and have accepted it.

Q. More than two years ago, I purchased a mobile from Vodafone on a monthly contract. When this came to an end, Vodafone contacted me and asked if I wanted a new contract, with a new handset. I was very happy with my handset, so declined the offer of a new model. It was eight months later that I realised that I was paying the same contract price as before, even though the handset had been fully paid for during the previous contract. Vodafone failed to point this out to me. I have now gone on to a cheaper contract, but Vodafone has refused to refund the extra I paid unnecessarily. RG, Newcastle.

A. At the end of the two-year contract period you could have opted to go on a "SIM only" contract. A SIM-only contract can be as much as £30 a month cheaper than an inclusive package with handset. It is clearly not in the interests of a mobile phone company to point this out. A spokeswoman for Vodafone comments: "When a customer enters an agreement with us, this is for a minimum term. This minimum commitment gives us the flexibility to supply, not just the network service, but also high-value handsets at significant discount, or even for no charge at all.

After the minimum term – usually two years – customers can review their price plan, upgrade their phone, or move to a SIM-only arrangement and keep the existing phone. As [the reader] points out, we contacted him to let him know that he could upgrade his phone if he chose too. He chose not to, and the agreement with us carried on at the same price plan. Any changes to the agreement would be for [the reader] to arrange. We have 19m customers and it would simply be impossible for Vodafone to manage these accounts on behalf of customers, or to recommend certain actions and certain times during their agreement with us. This is not a service we offer, or claim to offer.

The agreement the customer signs up for is for a minimum term – it isn't a fixed contract. Plenty of our customers choose to continue with their agreement beyond the minimum term and continue to pay the line rental on their original terms." You are now benefiting from having gone on to a SIM-only contract. But it is always worth comparing the cost of a contract that includes a handset with that of a SIM-only contract, while buying separately the handset of your choice. This may be cheaper. The real cost of choosing an expensive smartphone will also become clearer. Some consumers may then decide that buying a cheaper model with fewer functions, used with a SIM-only contract, both meets their needs and is significantly less expensive.

Q. I had an old BMW car, which was stolen in December last year. In June this year I received from the RAC a notification of an insurance policy renewal. I explained that the car had been stolen and they had been made aware of this. I told its call centre that I did not wish to renew the insurance because the car is no longer in existence. The RAC then took an additional direct debit from my bank account of £99.50. I alerted my bank, which stopped the direct debit. On the 25th I received a letter from the RAC's debt recovery team stating that because the policy had been cancelled I owed them £532.68. I was to make a full payment of this by 4 August, or phone them to explain. I also received another letter requesting immediate payment. The RAC has been taking regular payments from my account, which have continued since my car was stolen last year. CM, Leicester.

A. The balance on your account with the RAC has now been written-off. A spokesman for the RAC says: "We have looked into the queries raised by [the reader] and are pleased to have now resolved them to his satisfaction. When an insured vehicle is stolen, it is the responsibility of the customer to let both their underwriter and insurance intermediary know about the theft as soon as possible and confirm their intentions for the policy.

"In these claims situations, we will generally allow customers to replace their stolen vehicle on their current insurance policy with a new vehicle, to ensure that they can continue to benefit from the remainder of their policy. However, when a policy is cancelled following a claim, customers are required to pay any outstanding premiums as explained in the terms of cancellation within the policy documents. We have now spoken to [the reader] and apologised for the additional stress this matter has caused. Due to him being a loyal customer of the RAC, we have waived his outstanding premium as a gesture of goodwill."

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But if you have a financial dilemma, we'll do our best to help. Please email us at: questionsofcash@ independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind-the-scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
News
Winchester College Football (universally known as Winkies) is designed to make athletic skill all but irrelevant
Life...arcane public school games explained
PROMOTED VIDEO
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
News
i100(and it's got nothing to do with the Great British Bake Off)
News
Angelina Jolie with her father Jon Voight
peopleAsked whether he was upset not to be invited, he responded by saying he was busy with the Emmy Awards
News
Bill Kerr has died aged 92
peopleBill Kerr appeared in Hancock’s Half Hour and later worked alongside Spike Milligan and Peter Sellers
News
news It's not just the world that's a mess at the moment...
Sport
footballPremiership preview: All the talking points ahead of this weekend's matches
News
Keira Knightley poses topless for a special September The Photographer's issue of Interview Magazine, out now
people
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
News
i100
Sport
Mario Balotelli pictured in his Liverpool shirt for the first time
football
Life and Style
tech
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Data Scientist (SQL,Data mining, data modelling, PHD, AI)

    £50000 - £80000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: Data Sci...

    SAS Business Analyst - Credit Risk - Retail Banking

    £450 - £500 per day: Orgtel: SAS Business Analyst, London, Banking, Credit Ris...

    Project Manager - Pensions

    £32000 - £38000 Per Annum Bonus, Life Insurance + Other Benefits: Clearwater P...

    KYC Analyst, Birmingham - £200-£250 p/d

    £200 - £250 per day + competitive: Orgtel: KYC Analyst, Key Banking Client, Bi...

    Day In a Page

    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
    America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

    America’s new apartheid

    Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone