Why have hidden charges not been stopped?

  dasmon777 11:05 01 Oct 2007

Two years ago I had to work with another organisation and as part of my work try and get a website/portal created. For this I went to Fasthosts and ordered a domain and relevant hosting package.
At the beginning of last year the organisation ceased delivery and the hosting which was in my name was no longer needed. I had completely forgotten about it until last year when I was charged for the renewals - Some £400. Which I could obviously not charge back to anyone.
I then went into my control panel provided by Fasthosts and switched off all the hosting requirements and tried to see if there was anything else I had to do to cancel this service.
I could find nothing else. No other cancellation advice or procedures. So switched off the hosting and domain and thought that would be the end of it. Until August when I had to pay a renewal for the domain registration.
Again I went into the control panel, which has changed significantly from the last time, to cancel the domain.
I checked to make sure that there was no hosting - there wasn't and no other bills expected - there were none. They have a recurring payments module and nothing was showing.
Two days ago I have been charged direct from my credit card for database and server configurations that I do not need £291+ for additional services for a hosting service I had cancelled.
You need to have hosting services to access these additional services, which I clearly didn't.
There is a very clear lack of transparency over charges and cancellation procedures within this company.
My first complaint was met with “you cannot complain unless you input a particular code”, despite the fact they have invoice and account information. Then you cannot simply cancel your services - you have to find the relevant support article and then request cancellation from the appropriate department.
I clearly have no hope of getting my money back as I didn't trawl through the many many pages of sales information to find out how to cancel the service even though I thought I had.
I feel that someone should be making the public aware of the practices by some hosting companies that I thought had died out long ago.
There should be greater clarity in terms of what you are going to be charged and when.
Plus there should be an easier cancellation method. Goodness know they make it easy enough to purchase why cannot they make things just as simple to cancel.
Why is there no commercial body out there to supervise this kind of trading. I notice that Fasthosts are not members of the ISPA – which I find very significant, also really annoying because I cannot complain to them either.
My warning to everyone is – be extremely careful when ordering from this company because you may find it almost impossible to leave. Of course after the event – I am finding all sorts of warnings and complaints about Fasthosts all over the internet. Sadly too late for the £800 down the plughole.
Oh and it is almost impossible to get refunds from this company, even if you are in the right, they will happily wait for you to take them to court (according to another online source who experienced similar problems).

  Markus 11:42 01 Oct 2007

Contact your CC Company and explain the situation to them.
A block can be put on the account so that no more payments can be taken from you by this Company. The CC recovery team might also be able to recover your money for you if the charges were not justified.You should also have new cards issued for your account. This will only take a few days to sort out and you will not need to change your passwords.
Just remember to inform anyone who might receive payment from your card for a service on a regular basis.
Hope it all works out for you.

  dasmon777 11:55 01 Oct 2007

One of the things they are renowned for is to pass the debt onto a collection agency as soon as there is any prevention of payment.

I know of one guy who when his CC expired and he didn't change the expiry date correctly was charged a late payment fee by Fasthosts and the whole lot was quickly passed to a debt recovery company as soon as he complained about it.

He then suffered months of abuse and harrassment by the credit collection agency even though he was trying to resolve it by going to court.

I have little faith in Fasthosts being understanding.

There is even some ambiguity over whether or not all the services will have been cancelled. They don't confirm any cancellations and you only know if you have successfully cancelled, a year later if they don't charge you again!!

  grumpygramp 12:52 01 Oct 2007

I learned many years ago, from a similar experience, to always confirm any cancellation of any service or other , by a letter sent special delivery .Whilst the letter costs £3 odd to send I have concrete proof that I have cancelled .
I also have peace of mind .

  spuds 16:47 01 Oct 2007

I agree, always confirm thing in writing. If the case as to be proven, then stating that you did this that or another (without proof) isn't going to help in a court of law (if it goes that far).

Have a word with your local trading standards office, perhaps they may have a solution. They will also advice on collection agency procedures.Your credit card company will also undertake an investigation, if you request them to do so.

  dasmon777 17:43 01 Oct 2007

I have spoken to Consumer direct and they say pretty much the same thing. Even though you can buy things with a click, you still have to cancel things with a registered letter.

Welcome back to the dark ages - I will get out my parchment, sharpen my quill and heat up the wax seal tonight, confirm my cancellation and write off the £300 as lost to the clever legal framework that makes so many rich people richer and the likes of us so much poorer.

Let this stand as a warning to anyone who considers using the likes of Fasthosts - the fact that it is legal does not make it right.

Thank you -all of you who have responded.

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