Questions of cash: 'They billed me for calls I didn't make'


Q. Late last year my mobile handset stopped working. I asked T-Mobile for an early upgrade, but it said this was impossible until one month before the end of my contract in January.

Q. Late last year my mobile handset stopped working. I asked T-Mobile for an early upgrade, but it said this was impossible until one month before the end of my contract in January. Instead, I took out a contract with Orange and traded in my old phone for £100. But I cannot be certain that I removed the SIM card.

I tried to cancel my T-Mobile contract, but could not do so before the end of the term. I did report that my phone was no longer used by me. A few days later, I received a bill from T-Mobile for £229 for calls I did not make. T-Mobile suggested I contact the police to enable me to launch a civil claim. I notified the police and they issued me with a crime number, but they now say the investigation was unsuccessful. I have since been billed by T-Mobile for another £70, but it has said that I don't need to pay this.
CW, London.

A. T-Mobile has agreed to meet half your losses and is waiving £115 on top of the £70. "T-Mobile is taking a loss on this," points out a spokesman. The company says, with some understatement, that it is important not to leave the SIM card in a phone when trading it in. SIM cards should also be destroyed, not thrown away.

Q. If I receive an unsolicited e-mail that apparently comes from a bank asking for my security details, I am told to delete it, because it will be fraudulent. So why is it OK for banks to make unsolicited calls to clients, in which they ask for security information? HSBC has done this to me, but I have refused to provide the information. It probably only wants to sell me a product.
MA, by e-mail.

A. Criminals might piece together sensitive information from unsolicited calls to help them commit identity theft. But where banks do make calls they must ensure they know the identity of the person they are talking with before discussing account information.

HSBC confirms it does make these calls, but says there are valid reasons - for example, if it has noted suspicious activity on your account which may be the result of fraud.

The bank adds that it will only ask for some types of information and will never request your personal identification number (PIN). HSBC suggests customers who are worried should insist on phoning the bank back on a trusted, publicised number.

The Financial Services Authority says it is up to banks to determine what security measures they have in place when phoning customers.

Q. In December I rented a car from Budget at Geneva airport. The car had a full tank of petrol and was returned by me with a full tank of petrol. But two weeks later, I was billed, including for refuelling. I have written to Budget in Switzerland, but without reply. Should I pursue this through my credit card company?
MC, Cheshire.

A. Budget has conceded it was in the wrong. It apologises "profusely" over the error and tardy response, and is reimbursing you fully.

Q. I'm a 30-year-old teacher and I paid into the Teachers' Pension Fund for two years. I'm concerned the fund is being changed, with the retirement age moving from 60 to 65.

I no longer trust this fund as I feel the Government may change other aspects of it in the future. I would like to withdraw from the scheme and have the amount I have invested refunded.
ML, by e-mail.

A. The Government has now entered into negotiations with public-sector trade unions, which might result in plans for a later retirement age being shelved. But Donna Bradshaw, a pensions specialist at independent financial adviser IFG, advises you not to be blinded by your anger. Even if you do now have to retire at 65, the Teachers' Pension Fund remains an extremely good pension scheme, she says.

"You may not think it now, but if you continue in teaching, you will realise that the Teachers' Pension Scheme is an excellent scheme and will continue to be so, even with the planned changes," Bradshaw says.

"The proposed changes will only affect benefits accrued after the new rules come into force and any existing entitlement will remain unchanged.

"Your scheme benefits are very generous and they are guaranteed to increase each year, in line with the cost of living. Not only that, your employer also contributes to your pension; in fact, the employer contribution is currently 13.5 per cent, which is more than double your contribution of 6 per cent. Leaving the scheme would effectively be like giving yourself a pay cut of the same amount."

If, despite this advice, you decide to opt out, it will be costly. If you have pensionable service of two or more years, you can opt for a preserved pension or to transfer to another pension arrangement.

If you have less than that, you would get a refund of your contributions, plus interest at 3 per cent a year, but this would also be subject to deductions. You would lose your share of a payment to the Contributions Agency to pay back your entitlement in the State Second Pension. Plus there would be a standard tax charge of 20 per cent. In addition, any employer contribution paid on your behalf would be lost.

Q. I have had terrible delays trying to open my Abbey Postal cash individual savings account (ISA). Abbey lost my original application, which included proof of my identity. How can I be certain that an Abbey employee has not used this for identity theft?
EB, Bath.

A. Questions of Cash continues to receive readers' complaints about Abbey's poor handling of Postal ISA applications, which exceeded its expectations. This is a problem that we have written about previously.

Abbey says it has now resolved the problems. The bank is adding £75.30 to your ISA balance to compensate you for lost interest arising from the delay. But we regret that despite numerous requests for reassurance, we have been unable to obtain a satisfactory response about your concerns over your lost paperwork and proof of identity.

While Abbey says that it has complete confidence in its staff's honesty, it failed to answer our repeated question of what happened to the applications lost under the weight of the initial response.

* Questions of Cash is pleased to receive readers' letters, by e-mail to cash@independent.co.uk or The Independent, 191 Marsh Wall, London E14 9RS. We cannot guarantee to respond to all letters and do not provide personalised advice. Please do not send original documents.

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

Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Recruitment Genius: DBA Developer - SQL Server

    £30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Administrator

    £13000 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about custom...

    Recruitment Genius: Dialler Administrator

    £22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Main purpose: Under the directi...

    Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City of London

    £35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Contracts Manager - City...

    Day In a Page

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen
    RuPaul interview: The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head

    RuPaul interview

    The drag star on being inspired by Bowie, never fitting in, and saying the first thing that comes into your head
    Secrets of comedy couples: What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?

    Secrets of comedy couples

    What's it like when both you and your partner are stand-ups?
    Satya Nadella: As Windows 10 is launched can he return Microsoft to its former glory?

    Satya Nadella: The man to clean up for Windows?

    While Microsoft's founders spend their billions, the once-invincible tech company's new boss is trying to save it
    The best swimwear for men: From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer

    The best swimwear for men

    From trunks to shorts, make a splash this summer
    Mark Hix recipes: Our chef tries his hand at a spot of summer foraging

    Mark Hix goes summer foraging

     A dinner party doesn't have to mean a trip to the supermarket
    Ashes 2015: With an audacious flourish, home hero Ian Bell ends all debate

    With an audacious flourish, the home hero ends all debate

    Ian Bell advances to Trent Bridge next week almost as undroppable as Alastair Cook and Joe Root, a cornerstone of England's new thinking, says Kevin Garside
    Aaron Ramsey interview: Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season

    Aaron Ramsey interview

    Wales midfielder determined to be centre of attention for Arsenal this season
    Community Shield: Arsene Wenger needs to strike first blow in rivalry with Jose Mourinho

    Community Shield gives Wenger chance to strike first blow in rivalry with Mourinho

    As long as the Arsenal manager's run of games without a win over his Chelsea counterpart continues it will continue to dominate the narrative around the two men