Questions Of Cash: Left in tears by wrangle over medical bills


Q. I went to a medical centre in August last year with varicose veins. Although my vein was pumping blood the wrong way, I was told that an operation to treat it was no longer available through the NHS.

I was advised to have it carried out privately and so I obtained quotes for a range of operations and costs. The surgeon’s practice manager was quite helpful. In October I agreed to have the VNUS operation at £1,105. The operation was booked for 30 November, which ended up being the strike day for publicservice workers. I had the operation instead at the end of January at Park Hospital in Nottingham. I was never told the detail of how the costs would be charged. The first bill came a few days later from the surgeon for £386. Then I had a charge from BMI Healthcare for the hospital costs of £1,000. So instead of a bill of £1,105, the total was £1,386. The check-up visit cost a further £85. Apparently the hospital increased its price at some point but I had agreed to a payment of £1,105. When I spoke to someone at the hospital, they agreed I was correct, yet the next day I had a final demand for the payment. I phoned the next week to speak again to the same person and I was told that no such person worked there! The debt collection agency now says that the bill has been taken back by the hospital. I have since heard back from the person who I spoke to before – so he does exist – who promises the matter will be sorted. But it is now over three months since the operation and I am still unclear what is happening. I burst into tears last week with frustration. CT, Cheshire.

A. Your outstanding bill has now been cancelled. A BMI Healthcare spokesman says: “The vast majority of our patients – almost 97% according to our most recent independently compiled statistics – rate their overall quality of care as good or better and enjoy a seamless process from their first consultation to the conclusion of their treatment and settlement of their costs. Unfortunately in this very rare instance an incorrect bill was sent to the reader and we would like to apologise again to her for the error and the distress it has caused.”

Q. I entered into a twoyear contract for a mobile phone service with Virgin Media in October 2011. Just a month into the contract, Virgin Media suspended my service without any formal or informal communication. I only realised that my service was suspended through the voice mail when I was trying to make a call to my wife in an emergency. I then made contact with Virgin Media to seek an explanation as to why the service was suspended. No clear explanation was given. The person I spoke to refused to discuss the matter. I then told him that if this was not resolved imminently the only option for me was to cancel the direct debit. I made several attempts to get clarity and I spoke again with another employee of Virgin Media, who agreed to cancel the contract and start afresh to amend their mistake of including my wife’s details on the account. We spoke for 50 minutes. Despite all this, nothing has been resolved so I was left without any option besides cancelling my direct debit for a service I was not receiving. I have a wife and children and other social and business networks to communicate with and cannot live without a phone. Virgin Media breached the contract with me by not honouring their commitment. In doing so, they ruined my relationship with my previous provider, who I was with for seven years. Now they are demanding payment of £781.43. CM, by email.

A. There is a serious disagreement between you and Virgin Media about the key facts. Specifically, Virgin Media denies that you ever opened an account with it in your name. Virgin Media insists the account was in your wife’s name and only she is able to discuss the matter with them, as required by the Data Protection Act. Virgin Media states that the account was not cancelled, but was suspended when the agreed direct debit payment was cancelled. Its records show a large bill in your wife’s name that has been outstanding for several months, while you still have a phone that was supplied by them, which is worth around £400. You reject Virgin Media’s explanation of events, but we are unable to do anything more unless your wife authorises us to do so. Given this impasse, we suggest that you or your wife lodge a complaint with the ombudsman’s scheme to which Virgin Media belongs, Otelo, the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman. It can be contacted on 0845 050 1614.

Q. I have an internet savings account with Tesco Bank, paying interest at 2.90 per cent until this month’s first anniversary. I have received a letter fromthe bank saying: “As a loyal Internet Saver customer, here’s something to say thank you.” The rate from May 2012 will be 2.40 per cent. The advertised rate for new customers is 2.80 per cent. For existing customers, this can only be achieved by closing one account and opening a new one, in spite of the letter saying “so you don’t need to worry about arranging anything. What could be easier?” PM, Dorset.

A. It seems to get the best rate at a Tesco account, consumers have to go to a bit of effort. A spokesman for the bank says: “So that Tesco savers don’t fall on to an underlying rate we automatically give all Internet Saver customers a new annual bonus. At any time a customer can open and transfer their funds to a new Internet Saver and we’ve explained this to [the reader]. However, on this occasion our customer has chosen not to do so.”

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:

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

A boy holds a chick during the Russian National Agricultural Exhibition Golden Autumn 2014 in Moscow on October 9, 2014.
Life and Style
love + sex
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle v United 1 player ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Ashdown Group: Graduate Application Support Analyst

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A global leader operating...

    Reach Volunteering: External Finance Trustee Needed!

    Voluntary post, reasonable expenses reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: Would you ...

    Christine McCleave: FP&A Analyst

    £36,000 - £40,000: Christine McCleave: Are you looking for a new opportunity a...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £40,000

    £15000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

    Day In a Page

    War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

    Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

    Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
    Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

    What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

    Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
    The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

    Setting in motion the Internet of Things

    British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
    Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

    Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

    Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
    Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

    Cult competition The Moth goes global

    The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
    Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

    Pakistani women come out fighting

    Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
    Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

    Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

    The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
    LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

    Education: LGBT History Month

    Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
    11 best gel eyeliners

    Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

    Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
    Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

    The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

    Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

    After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot