SALLY SORTS IT: I was landed with a £600 fee to cancel my late wife’s mobile deal


My wife died on April 23 and when sorting out her affairs I rang Three to cancel her phone contract.

I was told that this could not be done because I had set up a two-year contract for her in September last year.

If I wanted to cancel this it would cost me £600, or I would need to pay the monthly payments of £44 until September 2023. That adds up to about £700. Please help.

D. H., Gwent.

Mobile phone company Three first asked our reader £600 to cancel his late wife’s mobile deal, but then it waived the cancellation fee

Sally Hamilton replies: Mobile phone companies are notorious for charging nasty penalties to those wishing to exit contracts early.

There is a business argument, of course, as they need to claw back the upfront cost of the mobile device issued as part of any deal.

But to be so cold-hearted to a recently bereaved customer is intolerable. I got in touch with Three immediately to ask it to put this obvious injustice right.

As a result, its customer services team contacted you to offer its condolences and apologise, explaining that the person you reported your wife’s death to had been poorly trained in dealing with the bereaved. You had been given incorrect information.

SCAM WATCH 

If you are booking a last-minute summer get-away, beware fraudsters advertising fake villas and hotels online.

Victims of holiday booking scams lose an average of £1,200, according to Lloyds Bank.

Many are tricked into paying for accommodation that does not exist — and the crooks then disappear without a trace.

Holidaymakers should be especially cautious when using Facebook, as nearly two-thirds of this type of scam originate on the social media site.

Stick to trusted websites such as Airbnb and Expedia. And always check customer reviews before handing over any money.

Usually, if a Three phone contract customer passes away, its policy is for the account to be closed without charge. This applies even if the customer is not the account holder.

Three corrected its error, cancelled your late wife’s contract, and waived the cancellation fee.

It also said you could keep her phone, and a couple of days later it sent you a food hamper to say sorry for its failing in this case.

When I caught up with you this week you told me you were grateful the problem had been sorted, although it was clear that it had been an upsetting episode at an already distressing time.

A Three spokesman says: ‘We apologise for the difficulty D. H. has faced in closing this account — our customer service was not up to our usual high standards on this occasion. We will be conducting further training with our team based on this experience.’

Bulb Energy is asking me to pay £819 but it has never been my supplier

Bulb Energy has been harassing me for the payment of a bill for 18 months — even though it has never been my energy supplier.

When I moved into a rental property in London in August 2020, I compared tariffs. I called Bulb and provided my email address and phone number but did not confirm I wanted to sign up.

Instead, I chose British Gas, which billed me for electricity and gas until December 2021, when my tenancy ended.

As background, in September 2020, I was notified by Bulb that it had been contacted by another provider to take on my supply and that I need not take any action.

Even so, I received emails sporadically, asking me to set up a direct debit.

In October 2020, I flagged to the company that I was with British Gas. At this point I noticed that Bulb had an inaccurate address for me, which I also mentioned.

In February this year, I asked what I could do to ensure that the supplier never contacted me again.

An agent said that if I just paid the outstanding balance of £24 on the account, the issue would be settled.

Wanting this all to be over, I paid it. Then, this March, I received a distressing email telling me that my account was £819 in debit.

I am at my wits’ end trying to deal with the situation.

S. R., London.

Bulb Energy has been harassing our reader for the payment of a bill for 18 months - but it has now apologised and written off the £819 bill

Bulb Energy has been harassing our reader for the payment of a bill for 18 months – but it has now apologised and written off the £819 bill

I was concerned that it might be hard to resolve your case because Bulb is one of the many casualties of a crisis in the energy market that saw more than 30 suppliers go bust last year.

But unlike the smaller firms, whose customers were transferred to a new provider by regulator Ofgem under a ‘supplier of last resort’ arrangement, Bulb was considered too big, so was put into ‘special administration’. This involved a firm called Teneo taking over the administration of the energy company.

The upshot is that Bulb, which has 1.6million residential customers, is trading as before, though the hope is a buyer will emerge and the company will be sold. What this means for you is that complaints are still dealt with by Bulb.

So, I asked the firm if it could shed any light on the matter. My intervention worked, because within two days it had investigated and resolved your case.

It turns out your phantom bill was nothing to do with the firm’s financial difficulties.

The problem arose because of a confusion over meters. Your rental property was in a building once divided into three flats, which had been reconfigured into two properties by the time you moved in.

The previous tenant had been supplied by Bulb, but when you asked to switch from Bulb to British Gas, it appears the latter mistakenly linked your account to a now redundant meter that had served the third flat.

This caused a gremlin in the switching process and explains why you were bombarded with direct debit requests.

Even though the meter error was not Bulb’s fault, the company agreed that your repeated requests for help regarding the matter should have been dealt with more swiftly.

Bulb has apologised and written off the £819 bill. It has also refunded the £24 you paid in your effort to make the problem go away.

Straight to the point 

My Netflix subscription costs £5.99 a month. But in March two payments were taken. My bank said this was likely to be fraud and refunded me. But Netflix claimed just one sum had been paid and suspended my account.

W. B., via email.

You were frustrated by Netflix’s lack of customer service. When I asked the firm to investigate, a spokesman refused to explain what had gone wrong. They instead suggested you contact its customer service team on 0808 196 5391 or via its online chat: help.netflix.com/en/contactus.

When I withdrew £20 from my local Post Office cash machine I got a shock. My balance was just £52.91 — around £1,000 less than expected. When I checked online at home my account showed the correct amount. What happened?

P. T., Stockport, Gtr Manchester.

The Post Office insisted its cash machine was not broken and pointed me towards your bank. When I sent Lloyds the printout you had received showing the smaller balance, a spokesman said it was not related to your account and belonged to the customer who had used the machine before you.

My 32-year-old god-daughter listed a jumpsuit on eBay shortly before she died. Someone bought it and her mother dutifully posted the item. But the eBay account was then shut and we have been told the money cannot be traced or paid.

S. J., Sandhurst, Berks.

Ebay says that it was very sorry to hear about your experience and has now paid out £70, which includes a little compensation.

A company contacted me claiming it could help recover unclaimed marriage tax allowance.

I did not complete the online form as it asked for personal details such as our National Insurance numbers. Is this a scam?

M. L., Wirral, Cheshire.

You do not need a third party to claim the marriage tax allowance, so be wary of any companies offering this service. Even if they are not outright scammers, many charge hefty fees.

To find out if you are eligible, or to apply for the perk, visit gov.uk/marriage-allowance. It is worth up to £252 per tax year and one person must earn less than £12,570 to qualify. 

  • Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email sally@dailymail.co.uk — include phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organisation giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take responsibility for them. No legal responsibility can be accepted by the Daily Mail for answers given. 

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