Sky finally admits its mistake

Sky finally admits its mistake

This is the culmination of The Sunday Telegraph’s campaign against Sky TV, primarily to do with how hard it is to cancel your contract.

I played my own tiny part in this, and my pic is even shown (again). Fame at last. The previous post can be found here.

It turns out they were misleading their customers as to the cancellation process and everyone was getting very cross (myself included).

Having admitted their mistake, I then sent them a bill for the cost of my phone calls to their cancellation line. As it was an 0844 number, they owed me over £17 quid!

They paid. How’s THAT for a success story?

My recent brush with fame (although sadly not fortune)

I have recently experienced my own issues, trying to cancel a Sky subscription.  The whole thing is quite a saga, which I am happy to relate in detail if required, but a fair summary (along with my beaming photo) appeared in the Sunday Telegraph, as they had to take up my case to get it solved. Everyone needs extra help sometimes! 

It was after I read this article, that I realised I was not alone in my struggle.

So I emailed the lovely Mr Hyde with my personal tale of woe.  He took up my cause immediately, and within a week, I had received a personal telephone call from someone very high up indeed, who fixed my problem instantly and very apologetically.

Now, the regulator is involved.

Whether this will improve things, I doubt, but it’s a step in the right direction. Please let me know if you have any similar struggles. I know that Talk Talk is even worse to cancel than Sky (sometimes even being dead is not sufficient, apparently), so if you have a tale of woe, please share and we will try to assist.

New website to make complaining easier

In case you do not listen to Moneybox on Radio 4, you may not have heard about a new website that has been set up to make the process of complaining to major UK organisations easier. They have a database of 1000 firms, including, utilities, services and major high street brands, and they will guide you through the complaints process. They even draft the letters for you and email you when it’s time to chase them up again.

If anyone decides to give it a go, please let me know how you get on. Otherwise, next time I have an issue, I’ll give it a go and report back.

In the meantime, here’s the link: The Resolver.

Good news for those lower down the supply chain

New regulations may soon come into force that will allow for fines to be doled out to supermarkets who squeeze their suppliers too tightly.

Supermarkets bow to pressure on “offers”

As any canny shopper knows, supermarket offers are not always as good as they seem.  We all know full well they fiddle the figures, with multi buys costing more than individual items, prices rising to justify subsequent cuts, and so on.

Well, after mentions on BBC Watchdog and research by the Office of Fair Trading, finally the rules have changed.

Interestingly, Asda have NOT signed up to this agreement to make offers fair and transparent.

Thought you’d like to know.

What’s new in the world of consumer protection?

Every so often, a news piece catches my eye or ear, and I think, “I must put that on the blog”.

So here are a few recent stories about how naughty firms have been caught out and told off recently and how consumers are being helped or hindered by recent announcements.

Payday loans companies have been warned about their practices

Energy firms are going to be restricted to a maximum of four tariffs (plus a duel fuel option)

One in ten high street shops is empty

Women’s car insurance premiums will rise – here comes that gender neutral thingy from the EU

PPI Claims company now having the cheek to impersonate the OFT itself!

The Consumer Affairs Minister, Jo Swinson, warns firms who refuse to hand over personal data on request

Misleading makeup adverts banned

If you see a story you think I may have missed, please let me know.


—-Original Message—–

Sent: 08 November 2012 11:53

Subject: Cashback Claim Rejected

Dear Mr XXX

RE: Your cashback claim for your mobile phone purchase

We’re writing to let you know that your month 15 cashback claim for this mobile number has been rejected because you’ve sent us your October 2012 bill and we need your October 2012 bill to pay your cashback claim.

So that we can process this quickly, please resubmit your claim by sending your October 2012 bill to us within 60 days from the date on the bill.

Yours sincerely

The cashback team

Cold Calling – Good News and Bad News

Firstly, the Bad News.

According to a BBC Panorama investigation broadcast in July of this year, the Telephone Preference Service is being ignored.

Now, for the unfamiliar, the Telephone Preference Service (and its lesser known sisters, the Fax Preference Service and the Mail Preference Service) are one of the longest standing, but coolest, bits of consumer protection legislation in the UK.

By registering your telephone number (or fax number or postal address) on a website, you are added to a list of numbers that cold calling marketing companies are NOT ALLOWED TO CALL.

See? How cool is that?

Sadly, if they lie, and say you asked them to call, or if they say they are not selling, but just conducting a survey, they can circumvent the rules. Naughty.

Or just pretend they have no idea what the TPS is.

The answer is, if you get a cold call, and you’ve put your number on the website (which takes all of thirty seconds, you’re a fool if you don’t), you just interrupt the blah and tell them:

“This number is registered with the Telephone Preference Service and you are therefore breaking the law by telephoning it. Please give me your name and company name so that I can report this to the Information Commissioner”.

You’ll hear a dialling tone by about “and”. Ideally, the first ‘and’, but at worst, definitely by the second.

The Telephone Preference Service can be found here:

The left hand column contains links to the Fax and Mail Preference Service and also to the Baby Mail Preference Service.  It is sad that this is needed, but this is a truly wonderful and thoughtful service. It blocks people from sending you (or someone you care about) baby-related junk mail and adverts if your child has died.  It must be hard enough to deal with such a thing, without Pampers putting vouchers for nappies through your door every morning. What a wonderful idea.

A bit of the recent Panorama programme can be found here:

Further advice on how to deal with cold callers can be found here:

And now for The Good News: if you’re able to record your telephone calls, you can fight back.  The legal precedent has been set.

This man said “I am going to charge you £10 a minute for my time  if you keep talking to me”.  And then he sent them a bill. And when they didn’t pay, he sued them.

And he won.

So there is now no reason to put up with cold callers, unsolicited faxes or even unsolicited junk mail through your letterbox. You have the power. Take control. Consumer, Fight Back!

The real scandal at Comet

This is a short rant about Comet.

For the non-UK bods, Comet is a large electrical goods chain that has been in financial trouble for YEARS.  Last year, it was sold for just two pounds sterling.  This week, it finally kicked its legs in the air and went into administration.

Okay, fair enough. Although perhaps not for the seven and a half thousand employees who may be unemployed by Christmas, obviously.

The trouble is that, when people buy white goods or large ticket items, they save up over time (or get into debt with payday loan companies and weekly payment schemes, but that’s another story).  They often gather gift vouchers and cards to put towards their major purchase for a considerable period of time.

Before the weekend, the television pundits advised anyone with vouchers lying in a drawer to get out and spend them before the administrators moved in this week.

This was a problem because the first thing the administrators did was refuse to accept all vouchers and gift cards.

Now, I don’t consider myself a MASSIVE expert on retail economics, but I’m pretty sure that when you buy a gift card for someone, you have ALREADY PAID THE MONEY to the retailer.

To then turn around to the holder of, what essentially amounts to a receipt for funds already paid, and tell them they cannot take the goods that have already been paid for, is just not on.

In fact, strictly speaking, I think it’s theft, as defined by the Theft Act 1969 (as amended), because it is the taking of payment for goods or services you have no intention of supplying.  That’s the definition of theft. Or to put it another way, that the Bill fans might find more familiar, it is the taking away with the intent to permanently deprive.

Now, conveniently, as at 19:16 today, 6 November 2012, the BBC News website says that Comet vouchers have now been reinstated, so this little boy can now redeem his voucher.

If you normally skip the links, read this one.

The refusal of this little boy’s voucher caused public ire on a scale I have rarely seen. We get annoyed, we sigh, we mutter amongst ourselves, when large companies misbehave, but we rarely see fury on the scale that this generated. The fact that they have now backed down is, frankly, the safest thing they could have done.

There were those who tried to explain the concept of creditors and the rules of administration, but no one was listening.

And on this occasion, I think the “people” were right. People who have purchased vouchers should not be treated as creditors, and if the law needs to be changed in this area, then so be it. Sort it out, legislators, because this cannot be allowed to happen again. Ever. Even for three days.

Once payment has been made, consumers should always have the right to claim their goods. Anything else is a shameful state of affairs that needs remedying forthwith.

This piece also appears on Mpinion.


In 2009, a friend of mine went into a T-mobile shop to buy a new phone and change her tariff.

Her only requirement was that the new tariff must have cheap calls to the country where her father lived – he was ill at the time.

She asked the assistant at least three times if the tariff she was being sold had cheap calls to the relevant country and was told it did.

Two weeks later, when the first bill came, it was nearly £100.  The contract had been mis-sold and did not include cheap calls to the country she had specified.

She did the logical thing and telephoned Customer Services, free of charge, from her phone.  They assured her they would refund her and apologised.

But when she went into the store, they, and Customer Services – after around two hours on hold – denied all knowledge of the entire conversation.

It took precisely one carefully worded letter to head office to get the matter settled, a full refund, a new phone and an apology.

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