I was wondering if anybody can give me some help or advice as to where to turn next regarding an outstanding debt with Vodafone.
The background to my story is as follows...
In early 2011 I ran into financial difficulties due to seperation with my partner, me being left with the mortgage, bills etc to pay with one salary where once there were two.I had a mobile phone contract with Vodafone for a dongle and an iPhone which was costing me around £80 per month which I could not sustain. I contacted Vodafone at the time when I ran into difficulties and explained my monthly income and outgoings and offered them payment of what I could afford at the time without running into further difficulties.
The adviser that I spoke to said that after a while of not making full payments the contract would cancel down automatically and the account would then be passed to a debt collection agency. After approximately 3 motnhs this happened and I was contacted by the DCA (Fredrickson's) to arrange payment of the debt. I contacted them as soon as I received the first letter and again explained what I had already done to Vodafone and the DCA accepted the agreement which I had in place of £10 per month until my circumstances changed.
My complaint arises after contacting the DCA in August last year in the hope of arranging a full and final settlement in the hope that the default that Vodafone had registered on my credit reference file would be removed.
After contacting the DCA offering 50% of the amount showing as outstanding to Vodafone on my credit file, the DCA contacted me to refuse my offer and also said that the amount owing was more. In addition to this, the payments showing as being made on my credit file, were less than what I was actually paying to the DCA.
I contacted the DCA and asked them to explain the discrepancies between the two amounts and why the full amount of payments had not been passed on to Vodafone and they replied with a statement of account. The statement showed that they had added a £100 'referral fee' onto the original debt from Vodafone.
I don't think I am unjustified in saying this, but to ask someone who is already in financial difficulties and paying £700 in early termination fees, for the DCA to add a further £100 for this I think is scandalous. After finding this out I did a bit of research on here and various other sites and have contacted Trading Standards who referred me to Consumer Avice Direct who then passed me on to National Debtline. When I received a response from National Debtline they advised me to contact the Financial Ombudsman regarding the charges and also mentioned that I should report the company to the OFT. Both of these I have now done, but as yet I am yet to hear anything back.
Meanwhile, after my final letter to the DCA before referring my complaint to the Ombudsman the DCA have contacted me again confirming their stance... The £100 stays... And advising me to contact Vodafone directly.
The main concern for me was to try and come to an agreement with the DCA or Vodafone to have the default removed from my file, as apart from this I have otherwise got a good history, mortgage and essential outgoings kept up to date etc etc. However, the DCA are not budging on this £100 which, I understand from OFT guidelines that I am not liable to pay and are refusing to remove the defaut.
I still want to arrange to clear the debt, but now feel as though I have been ripped off as the full amount of my payments have not been being passed on to Vodafone and now my balance outstanding is therefore a lot higher. As it stands, with all of the payments that I have made the balance should now stand at £461.24, Vodafone show the amount outstanding on my credit file as £511.94 and have confirmed this in a web chat with them and yet the DCA are chasing me for £561.24.
After being passed from pillar to post for the past 5 months I really hope someone from CAG can help!