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I'm hoping someone can help me with this problem.

 

I switched from AOL to Virgin net in August/September 2006, and as I had my phone line through BT (was very happy with this), I chose a broadband only package at £24.99 a month. I was charged £24.99 a month for my broadband and had no issues until in April 2007 I was called by Virgin.

 

They told me that they had merged and were now Virgin Media and on restructuring their packages my package was now reduced to £19.99 a month...no catches (I asked). They said I was entitled to a free gift for being a customer and I could have either a free view box or a wireless kit...as I have a pc and it's right next to the phone line, I chose the free view box after checking it would cost me nothing.

 

When I first joined Virgin Net before the merger, I told them I wouldn't be needing/using their email address, and requested that they forward my direct debit notifications to my other email, which they did for the first couple of months. I have to admit I didn't notice them stop sending to my main email address. :(

 

Anyways fast forward to early February 2008, my bank statement was a couple of pages instead of the 3/4 page long one I usually get and on it I spied I was being charged £100.61 for Virgin Media. This shocked me as I was all :o How could my broad band cost me that much??? After some investigation I noted that -

 

a) Virgin Media had taken over my phone line by telling BT that I was leaving them.

b) the £19.99 a month was for the phone/broadband package and not the BROADBAND package I was on initially and had assumed I was...the package I should have been on was £14.99 a month!!

c) they refused to give me a decent answer

 

BT apologised when I contacted them, apparently they should have informed me and had failed to do so. I went back to BT for my phone line, however Virgin then informed me that I had canceled my broadband entirely as well. I decided to give up completely and went to Talk Talk - both phone and broadband in March/April 2008.

 

I would like to chase Virgin Media for the money I feel they sort of stole. During the time they where charging me for my phone calls, I was paying BT by Direct Debit for what I believed to be my phone line and calls. I stuck to the so called free evening and weekend calls unawares they weren't free and I was being charged extortionately by Virgin Media. They were charging me between £40+ and £70 a month...on two occasions - November 2007 it was £165 and January 2008 it was £100.61. I would also like to reclaim the £5 a month difference between the package I should have been on for my broadband only and the one they put me on - for the phone/broadband.

 

Unfortunately around the time I discovered this I discovered something else. An unplanned pregnancy that well had complications and I lost the baby and then my relationship with the father fell to pieces days after losing the baby (well he ran away squawking about not dealing with the intensity and how he couldn't cope :rolleyes:). My head wasn't in the right place to deal with anything other than getting around what had happened and getting through a lot of pain and anger and confusion and coping on a day by day basis.

 

Looking through the emails I retrieved from my old Virgin Media account - I have all dd notices, broadband initial order emails and the two for my free view box (nothing mentioning my phone line though oddly enough :rolleyes:), I noticed something else. Despite Virgin Media knowing of the error in February 2008, they continued to charge me £24.99 in March and April...talk about sucking the rest of the gravy out of the boat before giving it up huh?

 

I spoke to Of tel but the woman I spoke to wasn't overly helpful. So hoping someone here can help me.

 

Thanks :)

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You'll find most companies want to grab hold of as many services as they can, but VM should have told you their T&C's and from memory ex-AOL users were NOT obliged to do the dance usually required of a VM phone line which I understand is now mandatory for all other applicants. Without seeing the pile of correspondence it is impossible to tell whether you were given due and correct notice.

 

That said, you would have to have set up a DD, and VM would have to notified you of the debit amounts in writing (did you opt for online billing? If so, it's a dangerous mistake).

 

You'll need to assert your position as an ex-AOL treansferee, rather than simply a new customer bailing out!

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small claims court maybe, obtaining money by deception perhaps

 

Er no! Any claim for deception would be a criminal not a small claims action - which would then have to be for payment of money.

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  • 3 weeks later...
Er no! Any claim for deception would be a criminal not a small claims action - which would then have to be for payment of money.

 

 

 

I don't think you're right buzby. I'm sure you can sue somebody for stealing money from you or obtaining money by deception and it doesn't have to go through criminal courts. Also, for it to go through criminal courts would depend on the police which is worse than depending on Virgin themselves!

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The issue was of taking a simple legal route - for what was described, a Small Claims Action would not be possible, and whilst a private prosecution is always (nearly) available, in the current climate, I'm unaware of anyone wanting to employ a solicitor and run the risk of losing, where you pay both sides fees.

 

Secondly, it doesn't depend on the police. Even if they felt there was a case to answer, it would be up to the PF (or CPS in E&W) to decide to prosecute. If they declined, the police couldn't do anything.

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The issue was of taking a simple legal route - for what was described, a Small Claims Action would not be possible, and whilst a private prosecution is always (nearly) available, in the current climate, I'm unaware of anyone wanting to employ a solicitor and run the risk of losing, where you pay both sides fees.

 

Secondly, it doesn't depend on the police. Even if they felt there was a case to answer, it would be up to the PF (or CPS in E&W) to decide to prosecute. If they declined, the police couldn't do anything.

 

Why employ a Solicitor to sue a company like Virgin Media for a few hundred quid?

 

Honestly, what do you think the chances are of the CPS wanting to prosecute Virgin Media [and such a case would go through Ofcom, OFT or one of those bodies and they'd refer it to the CPS]? Especially after a claim for a few hundred quid? Even a grand?

 

Gimme a break!

 

For what was described - a big company taking funds out of an account without permission, small claims action is [i think you'll find I'm right] allowed!

 

buzby: Are you having a bad day today perhaps?

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[sigh] A realistic one. Pointing out the pointlessness of your argument;

 

(1) CPS prosecution? Almost zero - however I was correcting your assertion that it is the police who decide on prosecution. They don't.

 

(2) Small Claims cannot be used for 'fraud'. You're attempting to change your agument in mid-flow, but that still doesn't make it any more accurate. If a DD was entered into, then there IS permission if there is an 'error' then either the DD guarantee or the affected parties negotiate. Court action? They'd be laughing at the futility of the claim, as would I.

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Are you not laughing already Raymond ?:rolleyes:

Have a happy and prosperous 2013 by avoiiding Payday loans. If you are sent a private message directing you for advice or support with your issues to another website,this is your choice.Before you decide,consider the users here who have already offered help and support.

Advice offered by Martin3030 is not supported by any legal training or qualification.Members are advised to use the services of fully insured legal professionals when needed.

 

 

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[sigh] A realistic one. Pointing out the pointlessness of your argument;

 

(1) CPS prosecution? Almost zero - however I was correcting your assertion that it is the police who decide on prosecution. They don't.

 

(2) Small Claims cannot be used for 'fraud'. You're attempting to change your agument in mid-flow, but that still doesn't make it any more accurate. If a DD was entered into, then there IS permission if there is an 'error' then either the DD guarantee or the affected parties negotiate. Court action? They'd be laughing at the futility of the claim, as would I.

 

 

1. Point made. However in most cases - besides for corporate fraud - the Police evidence is normally the deciding characteristic for the CPS to prosecute.

 

2. Excuse me. I think you're very wrong. If there is a contract for another service - as in this case - and money is taken - by the same company - for another service not provided, proving it as fraud is unlikely and the chances of a prosecution even more unlikely. Virgin are unlikely to negotiate - look at all the other threads about them - so the only option would be issuing a court action for the money. There is a big difference between definitive fraud and something like this.

 

Furthermore, even if it is fraud, you can still claim your losses in court. All you need to do is look at the amount of people defrauded by [problematic] mentioned on the Penman & Sommerlad Investigate on the Mirror blog [http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/] to see that many people take court action to try and recoup [albeit in many of those cases we are talking of real [problem] artists with whom the chances of recouping money are low] their losses, but the Police also investigate and CPS prosecute.

 

In another thread here, others besides for me have recommended court action to recoup losses where a builder has taken money and not completed the work - and done it to several others. That is also 'fraud' but the fleeced still has the ability to make a court claim.

 

In summary; Fraud does not disallow the fleeced the right to take court action to recoup his/her losses.

 

Now who's laughing! ;-) If you're right then a very lot of postings on this forum are incorrect including on a lot of other consumer forums and from Which? and various consumer columnists. So I doubt very much you're right. If you're right then several District Judge's are wrong in awarding Judgment to the Claimant in at least 3 cases that I am personally assisting the Claimant's and many more that I know of.

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I can keep this simple. By giving the right to a third party to access your bank account, you give up many things. All that is available to the customer is that any money taken 'in error' is returned. There is no cover for consequential loss - you can certainly attempt it, but I'm unaware of a single success in the Scottish courts.

 

It is YOUR definition of the word 'fraud'. Switch it to 'incompetence' and you'll see how the courts will react to it. I've lost what point you are attempting to make in your last paragraph I can't see the connection you're trying to make regarding the issue at hand. When you can realistically connect VMs action to be fraudulent, a different set of rules apply - but because they won't, the answer is not to leave a door open on your bank account.

 

I'd go so far as to say that trusting any firm with a Direct Debit will end in tears, as it is always the customer who loses control. If you think otherwise, then the DD propaganda has worked.

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I can keep this simple. By giving the right to a third party to access your bank account, you give up many things. All that is available to the customer is that any money taken 'in error' is returned. There is no cover for consequential loss - you can certainly attempt it, but I'm unaware of a single success in the Scottish courts.

 

It is YOUR definition of the word 'fraud'. Switch it to 'incompetence' and you'll see how the courts will react to it. I've lost what point you are attempting to make in your last paragraph I can't see the connection you're trying to make regarding the issue at hand. When you can realistically connect VMs action to be fraudulent, a different set of rules apply - but because they won't, the answer is not to leave a door open on your bank account.

 

I'd go so far as to say that trusting any firm with a Direct Debit will end in tears, as it is always the customer who loses control. If you think otherwise, then the DD propaganda has worked.

 

1. Follow the thread! I did not define this matter as fraud. Another poster did - 'Hoose' called it 'obtaining money by deception'. Your response was 'Er no! Any claim for deception would be a criminal not a small claims action - which would then have to be for payment of money.'

 

I was responding to that. I do not consider this any more fraud than bank charges are!

 

 

2. In response to 'I'd go so far as to say that trusting any firm with a Direct Debit will end in tears, as it is always the customer who loses control. If you think otherwise, then the DD propaganda has worked.' I do not think otherwise and I can't see where in my posts I implied that I thought otherwise or what the relevance of this is to my posts.

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OrchidLily:

 

You should follow the complaints procedure of Virgin Media to try and get your money back:

 

http://www.virgin.net/terms/salescode.html

 

 

If that fails you can then complain to CISAS: CISAS: Communications & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme

 

That's their Sales Code of Practice, not their Code of Practice for the service.Their Code of Practice is actually located at http://www.cisas.org.uk/documents/code_of_practice_0607.pdf

 

If I was the OP, I wouldn't do it that route, but go through the small claims procedure - a lot quicker [by comparison] and more likely to succeed than the spineless ADR scheme.

 

By comparison:

 

ADR procedure: Complaint to Virgin will take 3 months [most likely they won't respond or will give a runaround so it will take the full 3 months till can even go to CISAS] till goes to CISAS, then another 2 months or so till it concludes there, and most likely not satisfactorily.

 

Small claims procedure: claim issued, 28 days max to file a defence. If they realize they don't have a case, they should settle straight away. If not, they file a defence. AQ's sent out, filed 2 weeks later. Court date allocated for a date within 3 months, and claim over. Most likely will settle beforehand - considering 85% of small claims are settled before the hearing date, especially those against large companies. The ones between individuals and small companies are the ones that normally go to hearing as they are more contentious, or the larger end of small claims. But generally claims below £1k against large companies - it's a few that don't, and they are normally those for additional damages rather than provable losses.

 

I would definitely go for small claims over the ADR scheme in this case, but if the OP doesn't, then I've posted the correct link to the Code of Practice for Virgin, as opposed to the one by "The Ombudsman".

Edited by legalpickle
amendment

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  • 4 weeks later...

This still involves hte OP in an investment of £50 with no guarantee of success. If the funds taken were incorrect, and there is no dispute that the money taken was not owed, then the DD Guarantee applies. If VM says it is owed under contract (or whatever) then the court will have to decide on the basis of that contract.

 

At least hte ombudsman's service does not require a financial outlay, but IMHO that's the only thing going for it.

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This still involves hte OP in an investment of £50 with no guarantee of success. If the funds taken were incorrect, and there is no dispute that the money taken was not owed, then the DD Guarantee applies. If VM says it is owed under contract (or whatever) then the court will have to decide on the basis of that contract.

 

At least hte ombudsman's service does not require a financial outlay, but IMHO that's the only thing going for it.

As you say the only reason to use the Ombudsman is no financial outlay. Compare that to the many problems of their service and the fact that even if one loses in such a small claim, it is extremely unlikely that any costs would be awarded against them. So I'd say court action is the best option in this case.

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Are you overlooking the £50 to initiate the action? If the action you take is lost, you may not have the additional worry of expenses against, but your 'lose' your court fee as you cannot claim this from the company - so any advice to go to court needs to have the caveat that it can still cost you £50.

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Hi,

 

I wonder if these suggestions might help. IF you are confident of your ground to an extent that you could convince someone reasonable/impartial in a court of law of Virgin's poor conduct, I would consider exercising the indemnity on your DD agreement with Virgin. Same as someone earlier in this thread, I hate the principle of giving anyone access to take indiscriminate amounts from my account, but nowadays you have little choice. I however found out last year that you do have the power to approach your bank and inform them that you have been incorrectly charged for goods/services under the DD scheme, and request an exercise of the indemnity that covers such a scenario. Upon receiving this instruction the bank (instantly) takes the monies identified by you out of Vrigin's account and puts it back into yours. Naturally the utility provider gets a bit peed off when this happens and starts sending you nasty letters etc. (I did this to British Gas last year during their heyday of mischarging customers).

 

!Thinking ahead you might want to make sure that you have alternative phone/broadband providers set up as Virgin will probably try and cut you off - so you might actually want to start here with BT - insisting that they reconnect your phone line if they have not done so already.

 

At this point you need to do everything in writing and keep copies of all correspondence (yours and theirs) as you might need it later. I would suggest that your first letter to Virgin lays out your case and informs them of the fact that you have taken action, initially via your bank, but are happy to take it to court if they insist. This avoids uninformed threatening conversations on the phone. Try avoid reaching agreements by phone as this ends up being reneged upon, due to corporate 'amnesia'. Keep everything on your side professional and objective - but you can be firm about your position.

 

If Virgin believes they have a case, they will refer the matter to an in-house solicitor, probably simply as 'bad debt' customer, and so you will need to repeat your FULL case history to their solicitors IN WRITING, identifying to them that you always pay your bills and will happily comply with reasonable suggestions to compromise - but state that you are equally prepared to present the same evidence in court if necessary.

 

The solicitor should then throw this issue back at Virgin administration to deal with properly, as they do not want to look stupid in court, or get told off for wasting court's time. You do have the risk of having to go to court, but IF you are sure of your ground, you should be able to do this with a good chance of getting your costs including loss of earnings and travel to court paid for by Virgin.

 

The advantage of this over a small claims court is that you force Virgin to explore the facts internally before having to involve the courts.

 

If the DD indemnity option is not open to you I would consider using the money claims onine service rather than a small claims court (world wide web money claim dot gov dot uk sorry newbies not allowed to leave hyperlinks), although (again from memory - Direct Line Insurance this time!) you do have to pay a circa £120 fee for them to send the baliffs round to Virgin, which you might consider worth it on its own! You again get all your costs back assuming you win. I found that I got my money back within 3 months of my initial registration on MCOL - this 3 months is unfortunately comparatively quick. (The process is something like 1) you state your claim BRIEFLY, 2) you have to allow 6 weeks for Virgin to initially respond to your REPEATED claim for refunds and then 3) you are given the choice of paying for the baliffs if Virgin's solicitors have not responded to the courts a short while later). One of the reasons why this is attractive is that the in-house solicitors for many large companies do not get involved quickly enough to deal with the 6 week window especially for 'small' amounts, and so you go straight to baliffs. :-D

 

Good luck & you have my sympathies. I too hate the feeling of being steamrollered & bullied by someone who feels they have the protection of deeper pockets.

 

DQ

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Are you overlooking the £50 to initiate the action? If the action you take is lost, you may not have the additional worry of expenses against, but your 'lose' your court fee as you cannot claim this from the company - so any advice to go to court needs to have the caveat that it can still cost you £50.

Agree that this needs to be considered, though I think that from what the OP has said the case is pretty certain or very likely to be settled.

 

Hi,

I wonder if these suggestions might help. IF you are confident of your ground to an extent that you could convince someone reasonable/impartial in a court of law of Virgin's poor conduct, I would consider exercising the indemnity on your DD agreement with Virgin. Same as someone earlier in this thread, I hate the principle of giving anyone access to take indiscriminate amounts from my account, but nowadays you have little choice. I however found out last year that you do have the power to approach your bank and inform them that you have been incorrectly charged for goods/services under the DD scheme, and request an exercise of the indemnity that covers such a scenario. Upon receiving this instruction the bank (instantly) takes the monies identified by you out of Vrigin's account and puts it back into yours. Naturally the utility provider gets a bit peed off when this happens and starts sending you nasty letters etc. (I did this to British Gas last year during their heyday of mischarging customers).

My experience with exercising rights under the D/D guarantee - with HSBC, RBS & Barclays - was nightmarish. In the British Gas cases, it was proven that they were incompetent in the way they dealt with things and there were so many claims going through the D/D guarantee that the banks were aware of it - that's my memory. In such cases it is easier to deal with by exercising the D/D guarantee, but in this case, I would only recommend it if the OP wants to waste a lot of time and get very stressed!

 

!Thinking ahead you might want to make sure that you have alternative phone/broadband providers set up as Virgin will probably try and cut you off - so you might actually want to start here with BT - insisting that they reconnect your phone line if they have not done so already.

I agree 100% Though I would recommend leaving now, or at minimum threatening that in the LBA.

 

At this point you need to do everything in writing and keep copies of all correspondence (yours and theirs) as you might need it later. I would suggest that your first letter to Virgin lays out your case and informs them of the fact that you have taken action, initially via your bank, but are happy to take it to court if they insist. This avoids uninformed threatening conversations on the phone. Try avoid reaching agreements by phone as this ends up being reneged upon, due to corporate 'amnesia'. Keep everything on your side professional and objective - but you can be firm about your position.

Always the right thing. Never speak to them on the phone. Always send letters by special delivery.

 

However if the OP follows my recommendation of court action, it would involve one letter not several.

 

If Virgin believes they have a case, they will refer the matter to an in-house solicitor, probably simply as 'bad debt' customer, and so you will need to repeat your FULL case history to their solicitors IN WRITING, identifying to them that you always pay your bills and will happily comply with reasonable suggestions to compromise - but state that you are equally prepared to present the same evidence in court if necessary.

Is this based on experience with Virgin? None of the companies I have dealt with - a lot - deal this way. If you - against advice - talk to a company then quite often information isn't passed around, but if it's letters, generally my experience is that the legal team are very good at getting all letters.

 

Furthermore, if the OP issues court proceedings all relevant documents should be attached to the claim form, so this won't be relevant.

 

The solicitor should then throw this issue back at Virgin administration to deal with properly, as they do not want to look stupid in court, or get told off for wasting court's time. You do have the risk of having to go to court, but IF you are sure of your ground, you should be able to do this with a good chance of getting your costs including loss of earnings and travel to court paid for by Virgin.

 

The advantage of this over a small claims court is that you force Virgin to explore the facts internally before having to involve the courts.

 

If the DD indemnity option is not open to you I would consider using the money claims onine service rather than a small claims court

MCOL is an issue service. If the claim is disputed it would go to the small claims track. I completely disagree with this point.

 

MCOL has many limitations, most of all that if you are issuing a claim that needs quite a bit of explanation, you are limited and need to go through roundabout routes to deal with it. If it's anything more than an extremely simple claim, I can't recommend against MCOL enough!!!

 

(world wide web money claim dot gov dot uk sorry newbies not allowed to leave hyperlinks), although (again from memory - Direct Line Insurance this time!) you do have to pay a circa £120 fee for them to send the baliffs round to Virgin, which you might consider worth it on its own!

Court fee for Warrant of Execution for claims below £125 is £35 and above that is £55. How you got to a cost of £120 for the bailiff's is beyond me, unless you used private bailiffs.

 

You again get all your costs back assuming you win. I found that I got my money back within 3 months of my initial registration on MCOL - this 3 months is unfortunately comparatively quick. (The process is something like 1) you state your claim BRIEFLY, 2) you have to allow 6 weeks for Virgin to initially respond to your REPEATED claim for refunds and then 3) you are given the choice of paying for the baliffs if Virgin's solicitors have not responded to the courts a short while later). One of the reasons why this is attractive is that the in-house solicitors for many large companies do not get involved quickly enough to deal with the 6 week window especially for 'small' amounts, and so you go straight to baliffs. :-D

I don't know how many claims you have issued against companies. I have issued over the past 4 years just for myself over 70 claims in the county court! I issued twice on MCOL and went through hell. Since then I've issued only at the county court desk.

Generally the large companies will acknowledge service and then either settle or file a defence. Most of them will settle, some will defend. A few [like Easyjet] normally [according to the bailiff's in their local court] acknowledge service and then don't defend or don't acknowledge service.

 

The statement that "in-house solicitors for many large companies do not get involved quickly enough to deal with the 6 week window especially for 'small' amounts, and so you go straight to baliffs." is in my extensive experience untrue and misleading, especially with telecoms companies.

 

Good luck & you have my sympathies. I too hate the feeling of being steamrollered & bullied by someone who feels they have the protection of deeper pockets.

Don't we all!

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:!: All the information I impart is my advice based on my experience. It does not constitute professional advice. If in doubt, always consult with a professional. :!:

 

:-) If you feel my post has been helpful, please click my scales. :-)

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