23-11-2011 12:45 AM
I am after any help or advice anyone can offer. I am so frustrated by this and the lack of effort on the part of vodafone to resolve it that I would like advice on how to take it the highest possible authorities. Hopefully this can prevent other people from being treated so badly by vodafone.
I have had a long-running dispute with vodafone for three years now which has caused such a lot of stress and worry. Now it is seriously affecting my credit rating and I am unable to get an overdraft or loan – this is down to a £800 debt that is not mine. I have had years of correspondance with vodafone and at least three debt collection agencies yet this issue is no closer to being resolved as no one is prepared to address the problems.
It is a long story, but please bear with me!
I sold a phone contract on ebay (there is a specific section for this on ebay, and also Vodafone had a password system to transfer a phone contract).
The buyer said she was changing the phone into her name that day, I still have these messages. Having spoken to her again, incredibly stupidly, I sent her the handset (I still have the recorded delivery). A few days later, she called and said that, in fact she would have to establish a 3 month payment record before the account could be transferred into her name. I had spoken to vodafone during this period, but had understood that this process was underway.
(I do realise that these actions are far too naïve and trusting – I am truly suffering for it now)
From then on things became much, much worse. The buyer contacted me again a couple of months later (I was away at university at the time) and said that she had set up another line on the account and the phone had been sent to my home address. By the time I got home, it was beyond the 14 day cancellation period, and I felt forced to send yet another handset to her, as I was very nervous that she would not pay the bills on the first one (have the recorded delivery slip for this too).
As I had feared, she then stopped paying bills on either handset and I got a letter asking for around £800 for call charges and early termination fees on the two lines. I tried to contact the buyer, but she always hung up on me.
I wrote to the buyer but she ignored my letters.
I did once speak to a very helpful man at vodafone, known only as Lee, who said (and sent me an email to confirm) that “per the guidelines from the CAB and Offcom, the users of the handset and telephone numbers on your account are liable for any charges that they run up in conjunction with the service, along with any disconnection fees despite the fact that the numbers are in your name” (this is a direct quote, I do not acknowledge the account as being in my name, since vodafone accepted instruction from someone else to set up another line, and I certainly do not acknowldge any debts on the account).
Since then, unfortunately vodafone have provided shockingly poor customer service, responding very slowly, if at all, to my emails and letters. The replies also do not address the points I raise.
This has now gone on for 3 years and I have had very aggressive calls from at least 3 debt collection agencies, and a huge black mark on my credit rating that is making things extremely difficult for me.
I realise that vodafone has sent out 2 handsets and provided for calls that have not been payed for. I fully agree that they should persue payment from this woman. However, this is not seriously adversely affecting me. I need advice on the following things as the situation with vodafone has become awful and I am taking steps to report them Offcom, and any other regulatory bodies, as they should not be allowed to treat people this way.
How can they accept instruction from someone else to set up a new line on an account that is still in my name?
Vodafone have been incredibly evasive in replying to or even acknowledging letters and emails. I have sent everything by recorded post, but if I receive a reply, the (numbered!) points I ask them to address are not mentioned. The various debt collection agencies the debt has been passed to and from have been much more forthcoming in correspondence, and have returned the debt to vodafone, I assume because they acknowledge it is a bad debt. I am in the process of reporting this evasive approach to the relevant authorities. Is there anything else I can do to get them to address the actual problems?
Any help would be really appreciated. If possible, don't focus on my stupidity at sending the phones to her in the first place – I am already well aware of this!!
I have posted this in a few place as I want other people to be warned and also to receive responses. I will of course the posts when I have found someone who can help so I don't waste anyone elses time
Thanks in advance for any help.
23-11-2011 10:04 AM - edited 23-11-2011 10:07 AM
You have certainly got yourself stitched up by this person you 'sold' your Vodafone contract to on ebay.
I cannot believe how naive you have been, you even sent a fraudster a nice new shiny phone on a second contract which this stranger took out in your name with your stolen identity and believed that three months payment needed to be made by this fraudster brefore the contract could be transferred into this persons name. That would not be possible if this person has not even transferred the contract in their name and a far a Vodafone would have known, the account woud still be in your name.
This stranger would most likely not even have accepted the change of ownership into their name and the account carried on being billed in your name whilst this complete stranger carried on using the contract with your stolen identity running up bills which you were responsible for.
The debt would now have been passed to debt collectors for collection and Vodafone would be unable to help with this awful situation which you have got yourself into.
Presumably you would know who this fraudster is. Report this fraudster to the Police and ebay and get yourself along to the Citizens Advise Bureau for help and advise.
As you are a student, hopefully you have got some family you can confide in and who will help.
The debt will be in your name and your responsibility and although you have my sympathy, this could have been avoided. I would be surprised if you had not received correspondence from Vodafone which you should have acted on when this fraud first happened three years ago.
23-11-2011 10:38 AM
I have to admit what a terrible position to be in. I can imagine how frustrating this is.
AnnS has advised what I would have, by suggesting contacting the police to see if something can be done around this. Unfortunately the account was in your name and advised by Lee we are unable to remove the outstanding balance from the account.
The only thing that can change at this time is your credit file showing as "settled" as long as the balance has been covered, that then might help you to get the over draft / loan that you are looking for.
24-11-2011 05:41 PM
Many thanks for the responses.
Martin - how can I be held liable for the 2nd phone line if vodafone accepted instruction from someone else?
- furthermore, lee clearly stated that it is the users of the handset liable for the calls.
How, then can I be responsible for the debts.
Ann - I called vodafone when I found out about the second phone. They said it was beyond 14 days and impossible to cancel the contract. At that time the buyer was paying the bills on the first line and I felt that I really had no choice as I could not cancel the contract, nor refuse to send it least she stop paying the bills on both accounts. I realise sending the first phone was far to trusting (but I did think that the account was in the process of being transferred) but sending the second phone really seemed to be my only option.
Martin - there was a pin on my account, which only I knew. The second buyer could not have known this, so vodafone must have known it was not me setting up the account. This is an error on the part of vodafone - how does this concern the police?
Many thanks for your help.
24-11-2011 05:58 PM
With the 2nd phone there are a few security measures that can be used to access an account, as we realise that PIN codes can easily be forgotten. If someone calls with that information they will pass the security on the account without the PIN code.
The phone was ordered, and you mentioned that you sent that person the phone, so you had some sort of indication that this has occurred.
The usage etc was done under your name which makes you legally responsible for the action that has happened on the account, which is why you are responsible for the debt that has arisen from this.
I understand that this is a strange circumstance to be in, as it is the first time I have ever seen this happen. But the fundamental reason is that the account was in your name with someone else using the line. This is something that we can not be responsible for as long as we cover any security on the account by law.
I would recommend speaking with the police if you have proof that you have sent both phones to this other person and to get any further advice with this. Looking at the information that you have given I am not sure if they will be able to advise of anything because of the reasons I have given you.
24-11-2011 10:15 PM
Might help might not. You sold the contract to another person, therefore transferring it to them. You have proof of such.
Second time around they instigated a second line. This was done fradulently as you did not instruct vodafone to do so..
I assume that paymetns were taken form the new owners bank not yours?
The second line is a clear act of fraud, therefore the police should be informed and matters instigated that you press charges against her for fraud, and failing to abide byt he contract she bought and undertook.
It is tricky situation and Vodafone probably could have been a bit more helpful. Certainly as I understand it, if you ahve a contract you are responsible for it. If you sell such that onus of responsiblity is on the buyers.
Contact ebay and see if they can help, paypal etc. They might be as useless as a chocolate teapot both worth trying.
I would also say go and see asolictor about opening a case inthe small claims court sueing the woman who bought your contract, as she is in clear breach of contract. You can sue her for the outstanding debt.
I'd also think about going to court and swearing on that you sold this contract on with Vodafones permission and knowledge to this person and that person has defaulted on the agrement that Vodafone also agreed with and set up payments with this person, therefore you are not to blame. a Solictor should be able to tell you about this.
This court swearing is legal proof of non blame and to my mind you are not.
It's tricky but I do think that as you have sold this contract and vodafone agreed with it and took money directly form this person. Then they should be chasing the new owner not you.
In the eyes of the law, a contract is affirmed and legal in the eyes of the law, verbal, written or otherwise.
You sold the contract to a new person. They accpeted it and so did Vodafone accept this person is now the title holder of the contract. I can't see how it is possible that you are being hounded because the legal owner is the girl and she is in breach of contract, not you. Vodafone should be taking it up with her not you. You were released from the contract the moment she paid and began to use it.
Do go see a solictor especilly one who knows the Sales of Goods act and contractual law, which you need and take your own legal action against this person. Keep copies of your proof of tansfer of ownership.
Look up contractual and Sales of good acts and see if there is any precedent set already where, a person seling a contract with approval of a company, for the premise of you being removed from that contract and the buyer takes it all on when they buy it.
Try consumer direct, trading standards and http://whatconsumer.co.uk they may help shed some light on this rather tricky situation.
Yes you were naive but also Vodaphone agreed to this so they also have a proportion of blame.