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Rolling Landline Phone Contracts

#1 User is offline   cfmonk 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:31 AM

I appear to be ending up in all sorts of bother at the moment. Here's another one for people to share any experience of.

We moved away from BT just over three years ago to a company (I won't say their name as they are a bit litigious it would appear) who were cheaper at the time. About a year in BT started being significantly cheaper (especially if you get broadband from them too) but I was locked into a three year deal, nothing wrong with that it happens all the time.

I got an irritating phone call from this new company about a month ago saying "Now you've been with us for three years we can offer you some excellent mobile phone deals". GREAT, thought I, I've been with them for three years so I can now leave. I arranged to go over to BT to then get told by ****** that they want 410 off me for cancelling the contract "early".

Turns out it's a rolling contract. If you don't cancel within a certain time period (I.e. more than three months before the end of the contract but less than some other arbitrary time) then they roll you into another whole year. OFCOM have made these illegal from NEXT year but for this year it appears perfectly OK for us to continue to be stung.

I probably did sign a contract agreeing to these terms (although it was certainly not made obvious to me) but I have yet to be provided with a hard copy of the signed contract (despite asking several times). But I am doubting how enforceable this will be. My doubts were substantiated by the campaign of harassment they embarked on in the weeks running up to the switch over to try and get us to stay with them (if they could really get the money that easily why bother?).

Has anyone had experience of this before? What was the outcome?

Cheers,

Chris

#2 User is offline   kerry davies 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 10:47 AM

They are telling you porkies, Chris. ARC's or "rolling contracts" were banned by OFCOM from Decenber 2011 and they cease to exist in December 2012 so if your contract ended between those dates they cannot hold you to it.
OFCOM Statement

If they wish to impose a penalty then they need to be reported to OFCOM as all service providers have undertaken to pro-actively engage in the removal of rolling contracts.
Implementation

#3 User is offline   Wingwalker 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:27 AM

On a slightly off note but within a similar vein, I was signed up to a telecoms company without my knowledge a few years ago after just making initial enquiries about their broadband package. I didn't sign any deals but did give them my address "to see if they could provide broadband in my area".

They then started to try and bill me for a service they hadn't even provided, several phone calls and emails later to terminate said contract I was getting no-where. Then I hit upon the idea of turning the tables and told them I would be billing them 160 for each and every time they continued to contact me citing "invasion of privacy". Because I had given them this notice in writing and allowed them to contact me once more to confirm they had received my letter (sent registered post) I was covered from a legal point of view.

Funnily enough it was all resolved instantly and I never had a peep out of them since.

Providing you notyfy them in writing and are fair in your request then perhaps you may be able to do something similar??? However, it may also be wise to take legal advice first to see where you stand.
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#4 User is offline   cfmonk 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 11:36 AM

View Postkerry davies, on 25 April 2012 - 10:47 AM, said:

They are telling you porkies, Chris. ARC's or "rolling contracts" were banned by OFCOM from Decenber 2011 and they cease to exist in December 2012 so if your contract ended between those dates they cannot hold you to it.
OFCOM Statement


Their interpretation of this is that because my contract was SOLD to me before December 2011 I was already in the contract. I think it's again, a fine point in law and judging by their behaviour not one that they think they can win.

#5 User is offline   bigclive 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 02:48 PM

It's a shame that most comms companies behave in this manner. I used to be with Virgin for my home phone and Internet and they just kept putting the price up higher and higher until I left. My brother did the same after finding out he was being charged three times as much as his friends for very little phone use.

At that point I decided that I used the landline so little and got so much telemarketing on it that I just ditched it completely. Modern mobile packages come with so much bundled time that you don't really need a landline phone. (The only niggle being 0845 customer service numbers being non inclusive.)

I also switched from hard wired Internet to a MiFi unit, and while I'm not going to say it's great, it's usable with the advantage that my Internet connection goes wherever I go.

I think you have to play the phone companies at their own game and just have no loyalty to them whatsoever. Keep your eye on their contracts and what they are offering new users and have no qualms about phoning up and threatening to leave if they don't give you a good deal. Also make sure you get a non-provider-specific email address like gmail so you can't be threatened (as Virgin did) about losing your email address if you leave them.

#6 User is offline   kerry davies 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:14 PM

Coincidentally I called up about my my home phone line before opening the thread this morning and, because I am a BT pensioner and "talk the talk", arranged to hang on until August when my contract expires. I asked for a note regarding renewal to be placed on the records and will call up with a few options of competing services to renogotiate my deal.

I am going through everything because of my "retirement" and the squeeze and even the AA offered me the same service for a fiver less a month if I agreed to stay with them for another year. There are deals out there to be had and it would pay everyone to haggle, look for alternatives and tell your suppliers that you are doing so.

Like everything in life, a little research before calling is helpfull but in straitened times discounts are available just about everywhere. (Except from me!)

#7 User is offline   matt_beal 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 03:23 PM

View Postbigclive, on 25 April 2012 - 02:48 PM, said:

(The only niggle being 0845 customer service numbers being non inclusive.)


You want "Say no to 0870" in your bookmarks!

You can search for pretty much any premium rate number and get the local version straight away... Saves me an absolute bomb and haven't been let down by it yet. :P

#8 User is offline   bigclive 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 05:17 PM

Ooh, that's a good link to keep. Thanks Matt.

#9 User is offline   danburns 

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Posted 25 April 2012 - 06:24 PM

If you have an Android phone, there is a saynoto0870 app available - whenever you try to dial an 08* number, it will automatically search for a list of alternatives.

#10 User is offline   cfmonk 

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Posted 27 April 2012 - 08:57 AM

Just a quick update. The lines transferred on Monday and since then have not heard a peep out of them! This leads me to believe they don't have a leg to stand on!

#11 User is offline   cfmonk 

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 12:58 PM

I thought I would update everybody on this now that it is finally resolved!

Basically we backwards and forwards for an awfully long time. They claim (and Ofcom agree) that the guidance Kerry links to is just that, guidance and there is no requirement for them to follow it.

Unicom (the company in question, I'm happy to say it now as I'm purely reporting facts) and Ofcom disagree however on when termination fees can be calculated up to, Unicom say it's up to the point when the contract would have expired, Ofcom advised that they could only do it to the end of the year.

Eventually I wrote an email which outlined 6 points of complaint which covered the company's inability to demonstrate how they calculated the termination fee (mainly based on an email they sent where they got there maths wrong FFS!), the aggressive phone calls from the company and their debt collectors when we had told them we would only deal in writing and, crucially in my opinion, the suggestion that their failure to follow Ofcom Guidance on best practice is so far below what one could reasonably expect from a phone company as to invalidate the initial agreement. In the same email I offered to pay them 50 rather than 410.20 which they accepted (although still claiming that they were legally owed the full amount).

I'm convinced I would have won if it had gone to court as, clearly, they were otherwise they would have happily taken that route rather than sending letters for three months!

#12 User is offline   the kid 

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:09 PM

It is far too late now but as a standard I have found the post office to have the best contracts. The do a 100% rolling contract if you want to end you can end when you like 0 fees. They have 0 connection as well (unless someone has had the number disconnected). Their charge was not too bad either in the long run.
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#13 User is offline   ramdram 

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Posted 19 August 2012 - 02:42 PM

If you or anyone gets pestered by nuisance types who have to succeed in making you to cough up because their job depends on it then you have two options which you could use. These poor folk have to follow a script which relies, essentially, on the person being badgered simply giving in. If they really thought they could win then you would get a Solicitor's Letter almost straight away sort of thing. But even then the claimants have to satisfy the DJ (District Judge) about the validity of the claim and the money they are after.

If anyone can find a loophole in a contract then believe me the DJ can and will. If you get mere threats of them going to law then that is usually all they are. If they were really going to law you would be getting the court papers on your doormat.

The second is a reference to your contacting your MP. This works best with official bodies. I have used this last with excellent results.

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