Questions of Cash: France Telecom calls were billed by mystery company

 

Q. Early this year while in the south of France I used a France Telecom kiosk to make an emergency call to the UK. I inserted a credit card and followed instructions. Nothing happened. Then a man asked me to provide details of my credit card for the call to be connected. I complied and after a period of silence, he told me the call had not been connected. He asked if I wanted to try a different number and I gave him one. He then said that my credit card had been blocked and could I provide him with another. Since the call was important, I did so and was connected. The call lasted two minutes, which resolved the emergency.

My next credit card statements showed that the first call, which had not been connected, cost me £27, and the second, which was very brief, cost £40. The statements merely listed the charges as "telephone call from France". After repeated requests for further information, one of the card issuers told me the payments had been made to a company called BBG London. I have written six times to France Telecom, without reply, including one letter by special delivery, costing £6.

I received an email from "customer services", but not stating at which company, asking for my credit card details for the sender to investigate. The sender refused to explain which company this was from or why my card details were needed, despite repeated requests.

Nothing in the France Telecom kiosk suggested that you would deal with anyone other than France Telecom.

LJ, by email

A. As a result of our enquiries you have now received a full refund. We contacted Orange, which is France Telecom's subsidiary in the UK which now operates as part of EE. A spokeswoman for Orange said: "Operator-assisted calls from Orange payphones in France are subcontracted to BBG Global and we do not set the prices for their services. However, customers should be informed of call charges when they make such a call.

"Through our investigation, BBG's reports showed that [the reader] made four attempts to make a call and was charged for one of the calls. Orange has since been able to help this customer get a full refund from BBG for that call, and BBG has recently credited [the reader] for the amount in question. As part of our investigation, [the reader] informed us that it was not made clear that these calls are handled by BBG and we are therefore addressing this with BBG as it is important customers receive the proper information before they use this service."

BBG is a large international operation with bases in the US, Switzerland and the UK. It provides international phone calls for a number of major clients, including operator-assisted services and pay phones at many hotels and airports. We tried several times, unsuccessfully, to contact the company to request that it investigate your complaint and provide an explanation.

We believe that as a result of your complaint BBG is under pressure to reduce its charges – which seem to us, on the basis of your experience, to be excessive and unreasonable.

Q. About three and a half years ago we put our house on the market with Allen & Harris estate agents of Bath. At the time the HIPS [Home Information Pack] scheme was in place and we signed an agreement for this to be provided at a cost of £485, including VAT. While the agency was taking the photos, our very expensive patio furniture was damaged, the parasol was snapped in half and we were not informed. I called the agents, to be told it would be sorted at the end when the property was sold. But the number of viewings dwindled and so we took the house off the market.

We have now had a letter from a debt collecting agency seeking the £485 and threatening court proceedings. After so long we had assumed the agency had decided not to charge us, given the damage to our property, but the people who worked at the agency at the time are no longer there. The agency has agreed to reduce the fee by £115, but that fails to take into the account the damage.

SC, Somerset

A. We contacted Allen & Harris, which has agreed to write off the debt. A spokeswoman said: "We would like to apologise to [the reader] for any inconvenience and are glad this matter has now been resolved."

Long-distance problems with Santander

Q. I have lived and worked in Thailand for the past five years. I have had persistent problems with accessing my Santander bank account and I am fed up with spending lots of money on international phone calls to them, so I have tried to arrange to issue instructions to the bank by secure email. I visited my Northampton Market Street branch, which assured me that my file had been noted accordingly and this would be enabled. But I have again had problems and I was "told off" over the phone for not telling them I was abroad. My complaints have led to a "goodwill payment" of £25, but I want the matter sorted out.

ML, Thailand

A. Santander accepts that you were mis-informed at your branch and apologises for this and for the poor service you received from its UK security centre. "Please be assured that feedback has been provided to both areas," says a spokeswoman. The bank has now provided you with a direct email address to prevent repetition of the problems and has requested a phone number for you in Thailand to verify transactions. Santander stresses that it asks all customers to notify it when travelling abroad to reduce the risk of fraud.

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

News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Sport
Danny Welbeck's Manchester United future is in doubt
footballStriker in talks over £17m move from Manchester United
Sport
Louis van Gaal, Radamel Falcao, Arturo Vidal, Mats Hummels and Javier Hernandez
footballFalcao, Hernandez, Welbeck and every deal live as it happens
Sport
footballFeaturing Bart Simpson
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
Kelly Brook
peopleA spokesperson said the support group was 'extremely disappointed'
News
The five geckos were launched into space to find out about the effects of weightlessness on the creatures’ sex lives
i100
Sport
Andy Murray celebrates a shot while playing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
TennisWin sets up blockbuster US Open quarter-final against Djokovic
Life and Style
techIf those brochure kitchens look a little too perfect to be true, well, that’s probably because they are
Arts and Entertainment
Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand performs live
music Pro-independence show to take place four days before vote
News
news Video - hailed as 'most original' since Benedict Cumberbatch's
News
i100
Life and Style
The longer David Sedaris had his Fitbit, the further afield his walks took him through the West Sussex countryside
lifeDavid Sedaris: What I learnt from my fitness tracker about the world
Arts and Entertainment
Word master: Self holds up a copy of his novel ‘Umbrella’
boksUnlike 'talented mediocrity' George Orwell, you must approach this writer dictionary in hand
News
i100
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

    SQL Implementation Consultant (VB,C#, SQL, Java, Eclipse, integ

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + benefits+bonus+package: Harrington Starr: SQL Impl...

    Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, Fidessa, Equities)

    £85000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Head of IT (Windows, Server, VMware, SAN, ...

    Technical Software Consultant (Excel, VBA, SQL, JAVA, Oracle)

    £40000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: You will not be expected to hav...

    SQL DBA/Developer

    £500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL DBA/Developer SQL, C#, VBA, Data Warehousi...

    Day In a Page

    Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

    The big names to look for this fashion week

    This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York
    Will Self: 'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    'I like Orwell's writing as much as the next talented mediocrity'

    Will Self takes aim at Orwell's rules for writing plain English
    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Meet Afghanistan's middle-class paint-ballers

    Toy guns proving a popular diversion in a country flooded with the real thing
    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Al Pacino wows Venice

    Ham among the brilliance as actor premieres two films at festival
    Neil Lawson Baker interview: ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.

    Neil Lawson Baker interview

    ‘I’ve gained so much from art. It’s only right to give something back’.
    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    The other Mugabe who is lining up for the Zimbabwean presidency

    Wife of President Robert Mugabe appears to have her sights set on succeeding her husband
    The model of a gadget launch: Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed

    The model for a gadget launch

    Cultivate an atmosphere of mystery and excitement to sell stuff people didn't realise they needed
    Alice Roberts: She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    She's done pretty well, for a boffin without a beard

    Alice Roberts talks about her new book on evolution - and why her early TV work drew flak from (mostly male) colleagues
    Get well soon, Joan Rivers - an inspiration, whether she likes it or not

    Get well soon, Joan Rivers

    She is awful. But she's also wonderful, not in spite of but because of the fact she's forever saying appalling things, argues Ellen E Jones
    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    Fashion walks away from the celebrity runway show

    As the collections start, fashion editor Alexander Fury finds video and the internet are proving more attractive
    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy

    Meet the stars of TV's Wolf Hall...

    ... and it's not the cast of the Tudor trilogy
    Weekend at the Asylum: Europe's biggest steampunk convention heads to Lincoln

    Europe's biggest steampunk convention

    Jake Wallis Simons discovers how Victorian ray guns and the martial art of biscuit dunking are precisely what the 21st century needs
    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Don't swallow the tripe – a user's guide to weasel words

    Lying is dangerous and unnecessary. A new book explains the strategies needed to avoid it. John Rentoul on the art of 'uncommunication'
    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough? Was the beloved thespian the last of the cross-generation stars?

    Daddy, who was Richard Attenborough?

    The atomisation of culture means that few of those we regard as stars are universally loved any more, says DJ Taylor