Mr Brown had a dispute with his telephone service provider, he had tried to call the Customer Service Manager on the freephone number they provided but had been refused to be put through on 17 separate occasions.
Basically, Mr Brown was cold called by somebody from Callwell Communications Company, or at least representing that company, early in February of this year. They caller was trying to sell him a phone and Broadband package called Homeband and it sounded like a very good service. Mr Brown asked if it was possible to use Homeband on his other line, an NTL line, and not the telephone number that he was called on which was a BT line.
Mr Brown asked if he could read a leaflet or pamphlet about it before signing up to it as he wanted to see all the fine print before signing up to anything over the telephone. He was informed that he could not do this as it was against company policy and that he could only sign up to this offer by the phone today. But Mr Brown was assured that would be sent details of the new service which would not come into operation for a further 28 days and so he would have plenty of time to cancel it without regress at any point during that time, if there was anything that Mr Brown did not like.
Mr Brown thought this sounded reasonable and so he signed up to the deal on his NTL line.
By the following week, however, he had still not received any leaflets or information from Callwell Communications and so he called to check what was going on.
Unfortunately, it seemed that all the details appeared to have been sent out to the wrong address and so they would resend them. Mt Brown asked if the 28 day approval period could start from today and not from the original telephone call to allow him more time to thoroughly read it. He was then told that he had been misinformed by the person who had originally called him and that there was only a 14 day approval period.
However, he was reassured that they would start the 14 day approval period from now, the day that he was calling, and not from the original day he was called. Mr Brown agreed and everything seemed fine.
The next day however, Mr Brown was surprised to receive a letter from BT confirming that his other line, his BT line had been cancelled. This was not the line that he had requested the Homeband service on and even if there had been a mistake with the number it was way before the 14 day period that had been agreed the day before. Mr Brown rang BT and Mr Brown asked them who had cancelled that number but they were unable to tell me.
He then called Callwell Communications Company and they confirmed that it was them who had now taken over the BT line and replaced it with the Homeband service. Mr Brown was now speaking to somebody called Shahid and he apologised for the error and said he would change the Homeband service to the other number as had been originally agreed, but when Mr Brown gave him the number Shahid said it was an NTL line and the service didn't work on NTL lines. If only the original cold caller had told him this it would have saved him a lot of time and bother.
Shahid apologised and explained that the original person who had sold him the Homeband service did not represent Caudwell Communications and was probably subcontracted to try and sell the service. These girls were on commission and sometimes they bent the rules a little to try and get a sale and earn their commission for tat day. Shahid said he would cancel the service and that there would be no further charge.
Mr Brown duly received written confirmation of the cancellation of service on the 17th March and signed by the Communications Manager, Mark Shawberry, and assumed the matter closed.
Mr Brown then received a message on his answering machine from somebody called James informing him that there was a very high spend on his telephone line and wanted to check that it was okay. This obviously alerted him to something being wrong and Mr Brown called Callwell Communications Company immediately, but was told not to worry that it was just a routine call and their appeared to be nothing wrong with the line and there was no high spend on it. Mr Brown thought it was odd, but having been reassured that it was fine and that everything was in hand, Mr Brown let it go.
On the 25th of March Mr Brown then received a bill for £358.22 as a fine for cancelling the service. At no point did anyone ever suggest that there was a cancellation fee if Mr Brown did not go through with the service. On top of all the errors and the fact that the service was put on to the wrong line in the first place, this seemed utterly ridiculous.
On the third of April, Mr Brown called Callwell Communications Company yet again and spoke to somebody called Lisa. Mr Brown went through the whole story again and requested that a very strong complaint be made about all the mess of miss-selling of the product, the misinformation given to him on several different occasions, and the terrible lack of communication between departments, none of whom seemed to know that Mr Brown had been miss-sold this product and had cancelled it sometime ago.
Callwell Communications Company assured him that they would correct mistake and that she would make a full report about it. They apologised yet again for the misunderstandings that seem to have plagued this case and suggested that it probably stemmed from a woman in India who was the person originally selling the product who didn't understand the operation completely. Mr Brown accepted the apology and considered the matter closed once more.
On the 25th of April Mr Brown noticed that his account had been debited by £358.22 by Caudwell Communications. Mr Brown rang up immediately and was extremely anxious to find out what was going on and who had authorised such a debit without his authority. Mr Brown forgot the name of the person that he was talking to but he went through the whole story yet again, but despite all this, they were extremely obstructive and unhelpful and said they were unable to recredit him the amount and that Mr Brown would have to take it up with his bank.
Mr Brown took it up with his bank, telling them the whole story, they agreed that Caudwell Communications had no right to have withdrawn that sum of money from his account and recredit him the money immediately and promised an inquiry into the situation.
On the six of May, Mr Brown then rang Caudwell Communications again this time speaking to a lady called Breda MCaulkin. Yet again he had to go through the whole story and yet again she apologised and said she would correct mistake at her end and there would be no further action.
But on the May 26 of May, but Mr Brown then received a further bill for the outstanding balance plus further threats of administration costs if it was not met within a certain time period. As you can imagine Mr Brown was approaching the end of his tether by now and called Caudwell Communications in an extremely anxious state and requested to speak to Mark Shawberry, the Customer Service manager. Mr Brown was told that he was unavailable and so Mr Brown asked to speak to the duty manager and was told that he was unavailable as well. Mr Brown tried explaining the whole story yet again and he asked 17 times to speak either with Mark Shawberry or with somebody in authority and was told 17 times that he could not and he would have to write in. In an utter fury, and incandescent with rage, Mr Brown rang off.
The following day he rang again and spoke to a man called Tafib. He seemed to be understanding and he promised to call him back once he had spoken to his line manager. Needless to say no such call was forthcoming and he never returned the call again.
On the ninth of June, Mr Brown received a further letter again requesting the outstanding balance of £358.38 but also threatening to further administrative fees if this was not met within five days of this date. Mr Brown tried calling the credit control team on the telephone number given, but was told by recorded message that all the lines were busy and that he should try later.
This mess had now been going on for the best part of half a year now and all Mr Brown had got was obstructive taped messages and when he did get through to someone they told him everything was alright when it wasn't.
In the meantime Mr Brown had spent many days worth of time and effort trying to sort out this problem. Mr Brown suggested that Callwell Communications Company withdraws its constant billing of him and his account, retracts its incessant threats of administration costs and offers something in some way to compensate him for his time, his stress, his phone bills in trying to sort this mess out and for your company's total incompetence which includes: illegal selling of products by using false information: Illegally debiting funds from his account: And six months worth of letters bordering on harassment to his home.
Callwell Communications Company refused to take any liability and so Mr Brown took the case to the Oftel Ombudsman and gave them the full story and asked for compensation. After several months Oftel returned Mr Browns complaint saying that Oftel would ask Callwell Communications Company to issue an apology and £30 worth of compensation as a gesture of goodwill. Mr Brown refused this paltry offer as he had run up more that £30 in phone bills alone and asked for an increase. Oftel refused to increase the offer.
Eventually the case was brought to the attention of eCourt. The eCourt Verdict was that Callwell Communications Company should offer Mr Brown either the full Homeband service free for a year or pay a lump sum settlement of £200 as compensation for misselling, misrepresentation, stress, postage, phone bills, and time wasting.