Questions Of Cash: 'I'm not getting anywhere with my Carphone Warehouse complaint'

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The Independent Online

Q. I have been in contact with Carphone Warehouse (CW) since July regarding problems with my new mobile phone. I raised this as an official complain on 9 September, but I have hit a brick wall. CW says it can't resolve my complaint because of the Data Protection Act. It has asked for personal information from me that I am not willing to divulge as I do not believe its email system is secure. To make matters worse, emails to CW are either returned as undelivered, or go into a long queue. I have been without a phone for six weeks while the company tries to repair it, during which time I have paid for a phone that I do not have and which has not been in proper working order for four months. I purchased a Samsung I8510 on an 18-month contract in December 2008. NS, Edinburgh.

A. After lengthy negotiations, CW agreed to pay you as a goodwill gesture £90 – the equivalent of three months' rental – plus £39 as the cost of the phone and will repair the phone. A previous offer of a £50 goodwill payment seemed insufficient to us and CW agreed on reconsideration to increase this.

Q. I have made numerous calls to Talk Mobile trying to cancel a mobile phone account since July, just days after it was set up and which was never used. I have received repeated demands for payment of £13.29 and I am now in receipt of a final-reminder notice, which includes a warning concerning the possible consequences of non-payment for my credit rating. I decided to cancel because Talk Mobile failed to activate the "PAC", transferring my existing mobile phone number. Talk Mobile's online complaints service cannot handle a request from me as it shows me as not having a valid phone number. JC, Bridport.

A. Talk Mobile is a division of Carphone Warehouse. Following our intervention, CW has closed your account and cleared the balance shown on your account. It has also sent you a cheque of £15 to repay you for money you overpaid. CW promises there will be no adverse comment lodged on your credit file.

Q. In October I phoned Virgin to request two balance transfers to be made, one to my Capital One credit card and one for £187 to my Santander Abbey Zero card. Ten minutes later I rang Virgin again to cancel the Santander transfer. The man I spoke to said he could see the proposed transaction on screen and that he had cancelled it, so that just left the Capital One transfer to go through. Since then I noticed that the Santander transfer was completed on 12 October. I phoned Virgin and explained the situation and requested that this, and the resulting balance-transfer fee, be cancelled. I was told that I had to call Santander to arrange for them to return the amount of £187 to Virgin and that once this had taken place, the balance-transfer fee would be refunded to me. Santander said it could not return the money and that it was for Virgin to initiate the process. It also said I should arrange for Virgin to recall the money – not arrange for a refund. But if I wished Santander to return the money to Virgin, it would have to charge me another transfer fee of 3 per cent, which I would have to claim back from Virgin. Then Virgin said it didn't have the facility to recall the payment and Santander refused to return the money without charging me another transfer fee. SN, by email.

A. Virgin's credit cards are supplied and administered by MBNA. A spokeswoman for MBNA says: "We have reviewed this case and accept that [the reader] was wrongly advised that this transaction could be stopped. As a result, MBNA has contacted [the reader], refunded her balance-transfer fee and credited £20 to her account as a gesture of goodwill. We have also said that if Santander charges her, we will refund her this money, too."

Q. We used to buy our electricity and liquid petroleum gas from British Gas, allowing us a dual-fuel discount. British Gas sold its LPG operations to Flo Gas several years ago and stopped the dual-fuel discount. Now we have received a leaflet from Flo Gas stating that any new customers joining British Gas electricity will get a dual-fuel discount and also a Flo Gas loyalty bonus of up to £30. If the two companies are still in association, why did loyal British Gas customers lose their dual-fuel allowance? I rang Flo Gas and British Gas, but the only way that old dual-fuel customers can now get a discount is to switch electricity companies for four or five weeks then go back to British Gas. Then we would qualify. How silly. SM, Gwynedd.

A. A spokeswoman for British Gas says: "The leaflet [the reader] received was in her Flo Gas bill and part of a small marketing trial with Flo Gas to see if customers would be interested in buying their electricity from British Gas. It is an introductory offer only of £25. The dual-fuel discount [the reader] received ceased because British Gas sold its LPG business and all customer details remained with Flo Gas. I fully understand the customer's point in regard to her loyalty in remaining a British Gas electricity customer. But as with many companies we sometimes have introductory offers for new customers. But on looking at [the reader's] electricity account as an existing customer there are ways that she could be making savings against the standard rate she is paying. So we will contact her to advise her of other tariff options, such as online and energy efficiency advice. As a gesture of goodwill, we will credit her electricity account with £25 – which is in line with the introductory discount offered."

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