Questions of Cash: Its a dongle out there: the Vodafone charges and the phantom device

Q | I upgraded my mobile phone in January to an HTC One model and took out a new Vodafone contract. When I received my February bill, I was shocked that it was £66. When I looked closely, I noticed a charge of £6.37 plus VAT for a phone number that I did not recognise. Looking back over my account, I found that I had been paying for this number – at the lesser rate of £4.72 plus VAT – as far back as the bills I could access on the internet went.

I phoned customer services and was told that this was for a dongle. Apparently this had been sent to me on 27 September 2011 and I was first billed in October 2011. I did not receive the dongle and the operator accepted that it had never been activated or used. The dongle had been offered via a direct marketing call. I did not initiate the request, but felt it was something I would like to try out. This is why I did not query it when the dongle did not arrive.

I asked to be refunded the money that I had paid for the dongle over the two years and seven months, but was instead offered £20 compensation. I rejected this and was offered £40. After rejecting this, I was offered £60 as an "absolutely final offer". I was not happy as this was less than I paid, but I accepted it as better than nothing. I was told this would be credited to my account on my February bill, which should then have been just £6. I was therefore not worried that I only had £50 in my bank account on the due date for payment.

Instead I was charged £66. The operator had got the date wrong for the credit to my account, which I was told would be processed in March instead. I have since had the full bill taken from my account by direct debit in both March and April. JF, Hampshire

A | Vodafone accepts that it made mistakes. A spokeswoman for the company explains: "[The reader] agreed to a mobile broadband dongle at £5 per month on 26 September 2011. She didn't contact us to say that the dongle had never arrived, so there would be no way for us to know this. However, it's clear that it has never been used. On that basis, we will credit the amount she has paid over this period – £144 – plus the £10 she was charged by her bank when we failed to credit the £60 as we had promised.

"We will also add a £20 credit to her account by way of apology for failing to do this." Vodafone will therefore pay you a total of £174 – a lot better than the £60 that it promised but failed to refund.

it's no bundle of joy as BT goes round the houses

Q | I ordered a combined phone/broadband/TV package from BT Vision on 16 February. On 28 February an engineer arrived but found a fault on the line, and the broadband and TV could not be connected. He disconnected the phone line.

I was told I could not cancel my payment for the disconnected line as the job was not "closed out'.

Another BT engineer arrived on 2 April, but said he had a job only for the broadband and so would not install the TV service. He phoned his office and was told the TV arrangement had been cancelled because of an aerial upgrade issue. This was untrue and the aerial was fine. I was promised the TV connection would take place later and I would be phoned to arrange a new date. This never happened.

When I phoned again to complain, I was promised a rebate of £43.73 and a rearranged engineer visit for 14 April. When this did not happen, I rang BT and was told the engineer did not have the house number, had tried ringing, there was no reply and he went away. The appointment details clearly had my correct address on them. I am self-employed and have lost earnings taking time off for these appointments. When I explained this to BT, it offered me £10 off my next bill. I rejected this and have been told that compensation can only be offered on completion of the job. JK, Berkshire

A | BT agrees that the first installation failed because of a fault on your phone line. A company spokesman says the television installation was not carried out "because of confusion" over your address. Your TV service has now been installed.

The spokesman adds: "We have apologised for the poor customer service and agreed to give [the reader] £30 and credit him for two months' broadband and TV. We have also cancelled his additional line and credited him with the cost from 28 February."

a boiler is damaged after a meter is changed. what is to blame?

Q | My stepmother's boiler was damaged after the electricity meter was changed. I have obtained a copy of the engineer's worksheet, and that was the conclusion. The engineer told my stepmother, whose supplier is npower, that the damage would have been caused by a power surge – an opinion confirmed separately by another engineer, who unfortunately feels he cannot put this in writing as he is working in the same field as npower and it is such a large company. SA, Kent.

A | A spokeswoman for npower says: "The incident did occur after the meter was changed, but this was not the reason the boiler broke ... We are confident this was an existing issue with the boiler prior to the meter being exchanged." Although, at our suggestion, you obtained a report from the second engineer describing the problem, this did not conclude that a power surge caused the problem with the boiler. Without such a clear conclusion, it is hard to see what more can be done.

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

Independent Partners; Do you need financial advice on your investments, pension or insurance? Book a free consultation with an independent Financial Adviser at VouchedFor.co.uk

Arts and Entertainment
Attenborough with the primates
tvWhy BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
News
Campbell: ‘Sometimes you have to be economical with the truth’
newsFormer spin doctor says MPs should study tactics of leading sports figures like José Mourinho
Sport
football
Life and Style
Agretti is often compared to its relative, samphire, though is closer in taste to spinach
food + drink
News
Kelly Osbourne will play a flight attendant in Sharknado 2
people
News
Down-to-earth: Winstone isn't one for considering his 'legacy'
people
News
The dress can be seen in different colours
i100
Sport
Wes Brown is sent-off
football
Voices
Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey VC
voicesBeware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
Life and Style
Alexander McQueen's AW 2009/10 collection during Paris Fashion Week
fashionMeet the collaborators who helped create the late designer’s notorious spectacles
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

    SThree: HR Benefits Manager

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + pro rata: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

    Recruitment Genius: Office Manager / Financial Services

    £30000 - £37000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established in 1999, a highly r...

    Jemma Gent: Year End Accountant

    £250-£300 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Are you a qualified accountant with strong exp...

    Jemma Gent: Management Accountant

    £230 - £260 Day Rate: Jemma Gent: Do you want to stamp your footprint in histo...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

    The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
    A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

    It's not easy being Green

    After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
    Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

    Gorillas nearly missed

    BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
    Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

    The Downton Abbey effect

    Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
    China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

    China's wild panda numbers on the up

    New census reveals 17% since 2003
    Barbara Woodward: Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with the growing economic superpower

    Our woman in Beijing builds a new relationship

    Britain's first female ambassador to China intends to forge strong links with growing economic power
    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer. But the only British soldier to be awarded the Victoria Cross in Afghanistan has both

    Courage is rare. True humility is even rarer

    Beware of imitations, but the words of the soldier awarded the Victoria Cross were the real thing, says DJ Taylor
    Alexander McQueen: The catwalk was a stage for the designer's astonishing and troubling vision

    Alexander McQueen's astonishing vision

    Ahead of a major retrospective, Alexander Fury talks to the collaborators who helped create the late designer's notorious spectacle
    New BBC series savours half a century of food in Britain, from Vesta curries to nouvelle cuisine

    Dinner through the decades

    A new BBC series challenged Brandon Robshaw and his family to eat their way from the 1950s to the 1990s
    Philippa Perry interview: The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course

    Philippa Perry interview

    The psychotherapist on McDonald's, fancy specs and meeting Grayson Perry on an evening course
    Bill Granger recipes: Our chef recreates the exoticism of the Indonesian stir-fry

    Bill Granger's Indonesian stir-fry recipes

    Our chef was inspired by the south-east Asian cuisine he encountered as a teenager
    Chelsea vs Tottenham: Harry Kane was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope

    Harry Kane interview

    The striker was at Wembley to see Spurs beat the Blues and win the Capital One Cup - now he's their great hope
    The Last Word: For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?

    Michael Calvin's Last Word

    For the good of the game: why on earth don’t we leave Fifa?
    HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

    Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

    Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?