Questions of Cash: Mobile firm sorry for giving RAF officer the runaround

 

Q. I started a 24-month mobile phone contract with T-Mobile, now part of EE, in January 2012. I am a serving officer in the RAF, so before agreeing the contract I asked whether I would be able to suspend the contract and monthly bills when I was deployed away from the UK and unable to use the mobile. I was promised this was possible. The period of suspension would be added on to the end of the contract, so I would still pay for a full 24 months. I agreed the contract on this basis.

I am now about to deploy away for four months serving my country. But when I spoke to the EE call centre, I was told it was impossible to suspend the contract and this never had been possible. I requested a manager to return my calls, but no one has done so. I went back to the store where I signed the contract and was again told the suspension was possible. I phoned the call centre again, but it is still not returning my calls. I am out of pocket and spending my last days before leaving trying to sort out a mobile phone contract. KT, Shrewsbury.

A. This is now resolved satisfactorily, with the contract suspended for the duration of your service overseas. A spokesman for EE says: "The account has been frozen from the date originally requested. We have offered to waive line rental for three months from the reactivation date as a gesture of goodwill. We apologise for any inconvenience caused."

Q. My friend went on a P&O Cruises liner, the Aurora, in late summer aged 91 and fit. While he was there, he contracted norovirus, spent three days in the liner's medical centre and was given a bill for treatment of £1,700. P&O Cruises insisted he pay before he left the ship. Nor could they provide a wheelchair for him to disembark: passengers had to assist him off and in doing so destroyed his expensive suitcase. Yet when there was a norovirus outbreak on another P&O Cruises ship, the Oriana, the company agreed to meet the medical expenses for about 400 passengers afflicted. P&O Cruises refuses to provide any recompense. JC, Portsmouth.

A. P&O Cruises has reviewed this and refuses to change its position. A spokeswoman says: "Any passengers who require medical treatment on board our ships are charged accordingly as a matter of course. Having said that, it would be fair to say that we did take a different approach during cruise X221 on the Oriana due to the unusual situation that developed [where there was a major outbreak of norovirus]. However, as this was an isolated incident in [the reader's friend's] case, we would not be able to retrospectively adjust the charges that may have been imposed on passengers previously." P&O Cruises is not connected to P&O Ferries: the companies demerged in 2000.

Q. I own a second home in Edinburgh, where gas and electricity are supplied by Npower. On 4 January I received a letter from Npower regretting that I was moving to another supplier. I phoned Npower to deny this and was told that Co-operative Energy had informed them that it was to supply my electricity from 17 January. I had never heard of Co-operative Energy and certainly did not have any contact with them.

Npower advised me to contact Co-operative Energy to find out my meter point administration number or supply number, which I should then pass on to Npower to cancel the proposed transfer. Npower was to then confirm in writing that it would continue to supply my energy. I did not receive this letter, but assumed everything had been resolved.

But then I received a final electricity bill from Npower, repeating they were sorry to lose me. I phoned them again and was told that Co-operative Energy was already supplying electricity to my property, despite my insistence that I did not want this. I am concerned that the change of supplier was able to take place without my authorisation or any contact with me. HC, London.

A. Npower says it is "not at fault here at all … Co-op[erative Energy] took over [the reader's] supply without our or the customer's consent. We have put things right for the customer – switching can take up to six weeks either way. We'll bill the account as if she never left and her direct debit discount will not be affected."

A spokesman for Co-operative Energy said: "[This] property was a flat. We incorrectly registered meters at [the reader's] flat instead of a neighbour, who had requested to switch to Co-operative Energy. This is quite a frequent occurrence in the energy industry, particularly with flats as the numbering can sometimes be complex. An erroneous transfer process was initiated to return the meters back to the original supplier as soon as this was raised by the customer. The customer has received a full explanation and apology."

Q. I booked a medium sized car from Alamo to collect at Sarasota airport [in Florida], to fit two large adults, two medium sized adults and one small adult, plus one large bag and one small bag. I expected to pick up a Chevrolet Aveo or similar, but on arrival I was instead given a Fiat 500 and had to pay for an upgrade. While the Aveo has five seats, the 500 has four seats and is not "similar". Alamo has since changed its online descriptions of these cars to include them in different categories. I have been unable to obtain any reply to my complaints. PE, by email.

A. We raised the matter with Alamo in the United States – the Alamo brand in the UK is operated by a different business. We have been unable to obtain a statement from Alamo in the US, but the company promptly resolved your complaint upon our intervention. It sent you a suitable apology, accepted your complaint was reasonable and refunded you with $274.38.

Compare with the Independent: See how much you could save by switching credit cards. Compare now

Arts & Entertainment
Ricky Gervais at a screening of 'Muppets Most Wanted' in London last month
tvAs the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian on why he'll never bow to critics who habitually circle his work
Arts & Entertainment
Don (John Hamm) and Megan (Jessica Paré) Draper are going their separate ways in the final series of ‘Mad Men’
tvReview: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
News
news
Life & Style
Going down: Google's ambition to build an elevator into space isn't likely to be fulfilled any time soon
techTechnology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
VIDEO
News
David Cameron sings a hymn during the enthronement service of The Most Rev Justin Welby as Archbishop of Canterbury, at Canterbury Cathedral last year
news
Life & Style
From long to Jong: Guy Pewsey outside Mo Nabbach’s M&M Hair Academy in west London before the haircut
fashionThe Independent heads to an Ealing hairdressers to try out the North Korean dictator's trademark do
Sport
Vito Mannone fails to keep out Samir Nasri's late strike
sportMan City 2 Sunderland 2: Keeper flaps at Nasri's late leveller, but Black Cat striker's two goals in 10 minutes had already done damage
Extras
indybest10 best smartphones
News
peopleRyan Gosling says yes, science says no. Take the A-list facial hair challenge
Arts & Entertainment
tvCreator Vince Gilligan sheds light on alternate endings
Life & Style
Google Doodle celebrates the 63rd anniversary of the Peak District National Park
tech
News
Paul Weller, aka the Modfather, performing at last year’s Isle of Wight Festival in Newport
people
Life & Style
Michael Acton Smith founded Firebox straight out of university before creating Moshi Monsters
techHe started out selling silliness with online retailer Firebox, before launching virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
News
Ethical matters: pupils during a philosophy lesson
educationTaunton School's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success
Arts & Entertainment
Play It Forward: the DC Record Fair in Washington, US
musicIndependent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads on Record Store Day
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition iPad app?
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Data Analyst - Financial services, Client data, LEI

    £40000 - £50000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: A leading, Cit...

    Management Consultancy - Operational Research Analysts

    £35000 - £50000 per annum + Bonus + Benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: You must ...

    Corporate Actions Consultant - Market data, ISO15022, presales

    £45000 - £60000 per annum + BONUS + BENEFITS: Harrington Starr: Corporate Acti...

    Prudential Risk/Operational Risk Associate - London

    £350 - £400 per day: Harrington Starr: An opportunity has arisen at a FCA regu...

    Day In a Page

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail. If you think it's awful, then just don't watch it'

    Ricky Gervais: 'People are waiting for me to fail'

    As the second series of his divisive sitcom 'Derek' hits screens, the comedian tells James Rampton why he'll never bow to the critics who habitually circle his work
    Mad Men series 7, TV review: The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge

    Mad Men returns for a final fling

    The suits are still sharp, but Don Draper has lost his edge
    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground as there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit

    Google finds a lift into space will never get off the ground

    Technology giant’s scientists say there is no material strong enough for a cable from Earth into orbit
    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics

    Is sexual harassment a fact of gay life?

    Westminster is awash with tales of young men being sexually harassed - but it's far from being just a problem in politics
    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith: The man behind a British success story

    Moshi Monster creator Michael Acton Smith

    Acton Smith launched a world of virtual creatures who took the real world by storm
    Kim Jong-un's haircut: The Independent heads to Ealing to try out the dictator's do

    Our journalist tries out Kim Jong-un's haircut

    The North Korean embassy in London complained when M&M Hair Academy used Kim Jong-un's image in the window. Curious, Guy Pewsey heads to the hair salon and surrenders to the clippers
    A History of the First World War in 100 moments: A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part

    A History of the First World War in 100 moments

    A forgotten naval victory in which even Nature played a part
    Vespa rides on with launch of Primavera: Iconic Italian scooter still revving up millions of sales

    Vespa rides on with launch of the Primavera

    The Vespa has been a style icon since the 1950s and the release this month of its latest model confirms it has lost little of its lustre
    Record Store Day: Independent music shops can offer a tempting alternative to downloads

    Record Store Day celebrates independent music shops

    This Saturday sees a host of events around the country to champion the sellers of well-grooved wax
    Taunton's policy of putting philosophy at heart of its curriculum is one of secrets of its success

    Education: Secret of Taunton's success

    Taunton School, in Somerset, is one of the country's leading independent schools, says Richard Garner
    10 best smartphones

    10 best smartphones

    With a number of new smartphones on the market, we round up the best around, including some more established models
    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    Mickey Arthur: Aussie tells ECB to stick with Ashley Giles

    The former Australia coach on why England must keep to Plan A, about his shock at their collapse Down Under, why he sent players home from India and the agonies of losing his job
    Homelessness: Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Why is the supported lodgings lifeline under threat?

    Zubairi Sentongo swapped poverty in Uganda for homelessness in Britain. But a YMCA scheme connected him with a couple offering warmth and shelter
    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park

    A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

    When the world’s biggest shed took over Regent’s Park
    The pain of IVF

    The pain of IVF

    As an Italian woman vows to keep the babies from someone else’s eggs, Julian Baggini ponders how the reality of childbirth is often messier than the natural ideal