Has anyone else had this problem? Rehana Ali, a subpostmistress from Manchester, rang to say that her husband signed up with a Bradford-based agent for a cashback deal on two mobile phones offering 80 free minutes per month on each, through Orange.
They have never used anywhere like the number of free minutes and are entitled to the promised cashback. But every month the company, CSS Mobiles, takes £80 via direct debit. This has been going on for five months and the couple have yet to see any refund.
They have contacted CSS several times and been told, yes, it will be sorted and they have rung Orange who says it's nothing to do with them (although they will owe Orange a cancellation fee of £500 if they cancel the contract).
They contacted their trading standards office which redirected them to Consumer Direct, which confirmed that Orange is not liable (although as the Alis' MP pointed out, Orange should do something about such trading tactics) and said they should go down the small claims route. I'm in favour of them ditching the direct debit. Orange surely will not sue. But they are unsure.
What amazes me here is the poor customer service all round - from CSS, from Orange and from their local Manchester Trading Standards, as, in this instance, the Alis are not complaining commercially but as consumers, who I thought had rather a lot of rights these days.
Rehana has also sent me copies of cuttings from the Bradford Telegraph & Argus which carried stories similar to theirs. CSS admitted to 20 such cases and said they had been resolved with the help of West Yorkshire Trading Standards. The company blamed the problem on a computer virus. West Yorkshire TSOs have asked anyone with similar problems to get in touch.