This was a very tangled web. Leigh Morland wrote from her Spar store in Lancashire: “I’m hoping for some help or advice with a recent issue I’ve had with my CCTV rental. I entered into a rental agreement a few years ago with Vtech Zoom, and in the past when I’ve had any faults they’ve been really good and dealt with them quickly. All their callouts were subject to an £80 callout fee, plus the cost of the repairs.”
In January she called them using the number she’d used for years to report that one of her cameras was broken. An engineer came to the store while Leigh was not present. He apparently stayed for 15 minutes and told the staff that the camera was indeed broken and that someone would be in touch regarding a quote for a replacement.
She adds: “I never heard anything regarding a quote, but I was astonished to receive an invoice from ADT for £548.40 for this engineer’s 15-minute visit. Obviously, my main issue is the amount of the invoice, bearing in mind the camera still doesn’t work, and they have made no effort to provide me with a new camera so their visit seems pointless. In addition, I’ve no idea why ADT are billing me as I didn’t even call them. I’ve since realised the Vtech Zoom number diverts calls to ADT now. I’ve never been made aware they had taken over or bought Vtech Zoom; or that callout costs had increased.”
She queried the invoice and was told that the bill was high because she is not a customer and that she didn’t have a service/rental agreement with them.
“I’m now confused as to whether I’m renting the CCTV or not. I always thought it was a rental agreement, because they told me it was, and also said the equipment would still be owned by them at the end of the term and they would remove it from the store.”
During the dispute Leigh cancelled her direct debit which prompted a letter from a third-party finance company telling her to reinstate it, which she did to avoid breaching the terms.
The finance company wrote to her confirming that ADT had become her supplier, but it was nothing to do with the lease arrangement.
She adds: “A couple of things confuse me. The first is how can Vtech say the equipment belongs to them if a finance company have paid them for it and I’m presumably not renting, but paying off the finance over a few years and, on my rental charges it charges for VAT. I wouldn’t have expected to pay VAT on a finance debt. Or, if I am leasing the equipment surely Vtech-now-ADT cannot charge me extortionate rates for ‘not having an agreement with them’?”
I went around the houses trying to unearth a PR company. When I finally found it the only response was that they would liaise directly with Leigh and update me, Data Protection allowing. That doesn’t appear to have happened. In the ensuing two months she heard, via staff, that ADT had rung the store to say they were prepared to reduce the bill to £200, but when Leigh contacted ADT they denied this and also claimed that they had written to her to inform her of the takeover.
All as clear as mud and worrying because her premises licence requires that all the cameras (she has 16) should be working.
In the end Leigh washed her hands of the whole affair. On her wholesaler’s (James Hall) recommendation she replaced the whole CCTV system with a new one. And she says: “It’s brilliant!”