Outlandish £900 GPRS Monthly Bill

  bfoc 18:24 09 Aug 2004

Whilst in Ireland in June I used my O2 mobile web sofware and mobile phone on 4 occasions to check my email, mainly to stop spam clogging up my Inbox.

I had checked the cost and knew it wasn't cheap but, by switching off graphics where possible, I aimed to keep the costs down.

I keep an eye on the counter supplied with O2 mobile web and since February this year the total amount transferred has been 18.5Mb. The vast majority of this was whilst it was free on special offer. I have also used it a couple of times since coming back from Ireland which would account for 1 or 2 Mbs.

Last Monday (2/08/04) I checked my O2 account online and visited the 'unbilled calls' section to discover that £760 excluding VAT had been charged for using the GPRS service. Claiming that I had transferred 130Mb of data!

I phoned that day and spoke to someone, explained the position and pointed out that seven connections were logged at exactly the same date and time (to the second) all for large amounts of data. I also made clear that the 'built in O2 counter' showed no such transfers. I was promised it would be dealt with and I would be contacted again that day. I wasn't.

Since then I have phoned nearly every day (sometimes twice) and been promised calls back - which usually don't arrive. The only change has been that the charges have now moved onto my bill!

Today I asked for and spoke to a Customer Services Manager who promised me that I would be contacted today with an update - I haven't been.

Has anyone any suggestions/ideas for making O2 wake up and take this seriously - or will it only happen when I don't pay?

I would pay the bill less the charges you are disputing and send a letter by recorded delivery to their customer services detailing and disputing the charges.

It is always best to put something in writing, at least then you have informed the "officialy" rather than verbally and are placing the onus on them to respond to your query.

  bfoc 22:53 09 Aug 2004

What you suggest is excellent - but I wanted to prevent it ever reaching the point when I was billed with a stupid amount.

Since there will be a difference of around £860 between what they will ask and what I will pay I can see the beginning of a long saga - not to mention the real chance that my 'service' will be withdrawn!

The problem with writing is that it takes days to get a response.

I have emailed and got back a stock reply that said absolutely nothing relevant.

Tomorrow I will get a fax number of someone and fax a letter and also post a recorded delivery one.

Just hoped someone here might know of a short cut to get to someone who actually deals with things at O2.

  Widows Son 23:37 09 Aug 2004

If so it may be worth your while contacting your bank and cancelling the direct debit, to prevent O2 trying to deduct the £900. Obviously once you've got this problem sorted you can sign another mandate.

I would make it clear to O2 that in doing so you are not attempting to avoid paying your bill, just trying to stop them overcharging.

If O2 don't sort the mess out to your satisfaction quickly you may want to contact trading standards, and/or Otelo click here an Ombudsman Scheme that O2 belong to. (I've never had to use Otelo myself so I can't comment on their service)

  Forum Editor 23:38 09 Aug 2004

it doesn't mean much, except that someone signed for it, and that could be anyone.

Send a fax by all means, and confirm it by writing a normal letter. It's essential that you record the fact that you dispute a large portion of the bill. Follow silasgreenback's advice and pay the bill minus the disputed amount - don't just sit tight and pay nothing.

  spuds 00:26 10 Aug 2004

I had a billing problem with Cellnet [now 02]and they were adamant that they made no mistakes in their billing procedures.They made it clear that I was to pay,as their word was final. Speaking to the administration people, only seemed to to result in false information, calls not returned etc.They only thing that happened, was that I was further billed and presented with interest and administration charges, whilst I was trying to sort out the problem in a amicable way. I contacted Oftel [now Ofcom] and their response was great, and the matter was soon sorted in a very short time. Ofcom click here

With regards to ombudsman schemes, I tend to find that many these organization are a very long winded affair, which usually takes many,many months of paperwork and pointless administration.

With reference to stopping direct debit payments, especially with O2, be a little wary as they will soon transfer your case to a debt collection agency. They give no quarters, or at least they didn't in the past. If you intend to stop payment or part payment,then notify them of your immediate intentions, so that you have your side of events on record. Using the advice of Ofcom may ease the burden, it did in my case.

  GANDALF <|:-)> 00:44 10 Aug 2004

It is for this reason alone that I use Internet cafés and never use a mobile phone for emails or anything to do with the net. I hope that the emails were important and not the usual dross that I get.

The advice given has been excellent. Pay the amount that you feel that you owe (very, very important) and inform them of your dispute by mail/fax. Ensure that you tell O2 that you have paid what you consider to be the correct amount (also very important) and that you are not witholding payment but disputing the amount of the bill for what you consider to be valid reasons.


  bfoc 07:48 10 Aug 2004

Widows Son - I have cancelled the Direct Debit - which is not due for three weeks or so - and I will pay the undisputed amount (everything but the EU GPRS) in very good time.

FE - I will certainly make clear that I dispute matters and will also make clear that I am happy to pay what I actually owe.

spuds - Thanks for the Ofcom imfo, I was considering that and what you say about debt collection agencies confirms my desire to get the matter resolved as quickly as possible.

GANDALF <|:-)> - I have used O2's GPRS mobile web since February on numbers of occasions with no problem and found it quite useful - and cheaper than many internet cafes - but you are right this will put me off!

Just going to phone again and see why the promised call back yesterday did not arrive and then I will write and fax them.

  Lead 10:42 10 Aug 2004

Just be aware that cancelling the direct debit may well make things a little more complicated, especially if the matter drags on. Even if you do send them a part-payment, if they don't adjust the account it may still show as being overdue and effectively be classed as a non-payment and adversly effect your credit report. (However, if I were in your shoes, it's something I would have done too.)

I am still trying to recover from a problem with Orange and an online retailer regarding a mobile phone contract. To cut a long story short, after more than 6 months of arguments over being billed for a phone and contract I didn't have, Orange agreed to stop pursuing payment (ie debt collectors) and finally close the matter. However, as they hadn't been receiving any payments (thankfully, I didn't have a direct debit set up) it was being logged on my credit report as non-payment of a bill. (I have an online account with Experian, so was able to check.) Consequently, I am now trying to get the entry removed from my report, but that too is taking a while (over a month so far). In the meantime I have been declined a car-loan recently as my credit report looks like I don't pay my bills!

  bfoc 10:57 10 Aug 2004

Your point underlines the reason I wanted it sorted before it appeared on my bill.

Now I will just have to try to get them to remove it and put it into dispute.

I couldn't leave them to take £800+ from my account that isn't justified - I simply can't afford it!

Ah well!

  Stuartli 11:09 10 Aug 2004

You shouldn't cancel a direct debit mandate without informing those who collect any payments as well.

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