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Orange Direct Debit Issues


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Hi all

 

Apologies if I'm starting a new thread when one already exists on this, I did check the first 10 or so pages and couldn't see anything relating to my problem, so am starting a new one!!

 

Orange billed me incorrectly on my last bill for 2 x Non-Direct Debit charges (amounting to around £7), despite the fact that I'd set up direct debit payment (this was the first month I'd done that) and they were going to take the money by DD.

 

I called them on 15th November to tell them about the error. After some initial disputing from them, they agreed the charge shouldn't have been made, but said there was only 1 Non-DD charge, not 2. I figured I must have read my bill wrong and left it at that. On checking my bill again, I discovered I was right and so called them back on 17th November, spoke to a very helpful guy, explained that there should have been another credit for the 2nd Non-DD charge, he agreed and said it was "all sorted".

 

When I checked my bank account today, I found that they'd taken the full direct debit amount. The upshot of this was that a subsequent DD that came out today, the day before my pay day, had taken me £4 overdrawn and my bank had returned the DD (we don't usually sail this close to the wind with our bank account, but this month I'd worked it out almost to the penny as we had a lot of expense!). I'll now be charged by my bank for going overdrawn, for the returned DD and no doubt charged by the company whose DD 'bounced'. If Orange had charged me correctly, as I assumed they would after me highlighting the error, my account would not have gone overdrawn and so I feel Orange should compensate me for the charges.

 

I spoke to Orange today and they couldn't care less, they said the credit would appear on next month's bill. I've asked for a supervisor to call me back (I wanted to speak to one there and then, but 'none were available').

 

Has anyone else had this problem with them and did you manage to get bank / third party charges refunded?

 

Thanks

 

Lisa

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I've also just realised that for 9 months now, they've been charging us two non-direct debit charges - 1 per phone, on the same account (amounting to around £7 per month). Am I right in thinking that we should be able to reclaim 1 of those charges per month from Orange as well?

 

Any help would be very gratefully received!! :)

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If the fee was billed incorrectly then you are due a refund, but I'd suggest you do this in writing and not over the phone. I'd also suggest that if you are so close to the wire, a DD is not your best payment option. You have no control over what the originator will take, and unless you have some cushioning funds, you will always be in this situation and life is too short. (To spend it chasing refunds and apologising to the bank for an error you hadn't made).

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Thanks for the reply. I'm going to write to Orange today and attempt to get a refund of the charges my bank will make. I've written to the bank already asking for some leniency and explaining the situation to them - as we were only £4 overdrawn and just for 1 day as I'm paid today and as it was due to a DD error, I'm hoping they might waive some / all of the charges, but we'll see!

 

We opted for the direct debit option to save money (so we could avoid the non-DD charge). So far it's cost us far more than the charge would have done, so maybe you're right and we should go back to paying the bill the 'traditional' way!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi,

I'd consider asking for a refund via your bank. Part of the direct debit guarantee states:

"If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society"

The ombudsman is quite clear on this too financial ombudsman - direct debit guarantee

Given the incorrect billing by Orange has caused knock on problems and charges, requesting a refund of that particular transaction from your bank would mean you haven't now gone overdrawn and so unravels the charges. If they refuse or try to pass you back to Orange then, not only would this make them in breach of the guarantee, but, they would in fact be seeking to profit from their breach with the subsequent charges.

Edited by trashedboy
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Hi,

I'd consider asking for a refund via your bank. Part of the direct debit guarantee states:

"If an error is made in the payment of your Direct Debit, by the organisation or your bank or building society, you are entitled to a full and immediate refund of the amount paid from your bank or building society"

The ombudsman is quite clear on this too financial ombudsman - direct debit guarantee

Given the incorrect billing by Orange has caused knock on problems and charges, requesting a refund of that particular transaction from your bank would mean you haven't now gone overdrawn and so unravels the charges. If they refuse or try to pass you back to Orange then, not only would this make them in breach of the guarantee, but, they would in fact be seeking to profit from their breach with the subsequent charges.

 

 

That arguement wouldn't work, as when he was billed. The fees where included in the bill so therefore the guarantee does not apply here as they took out what they billed!

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That arguement wouldn't work, as when he was billed. The fees where included in the bill so therefore the guarantee does not apply here as they took out what they billed!

 

Correct. When you agree to pay by direct debit, you agree that you'll sort out any problems AFTER you've paid up. Because you can't reverse part of the direct debit, have the lot reversed and you're in breach of contract, because you haven't paid what you owed.

 

In addition any bank charges you incur as a result of a payee's error are your responsibility. Neither the bank nor the payee is obliged to reimburse you.

 

Direct debit is often an expensive and time consuming way to pay people.

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Does the fact Trixiewillis contacted Orange to dispute the amount prior to the direct debit being collected not make a difference? Surely doing this effectively withdrew permission to take the billed amount. The Orange agent saying "all sorted" would also seem to imply a revision to the billed amount.

 

I accept I may be being totally naive here and that the DD guarantee is almost meaningless.

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Correct. It does indeed withdraw their permission to take the amount on the bill. They should take the agreed amount.

 

However if they proceed to take the higher amount, and you then have the direct debit reversed, you haven't corrected the situation - e.g. paid the right amount. You've paid nothing.

 

So you're in breach of contract, because you needed to pay the sums due. Just because you agreed that the payee could collect the money from you doesn't relieve you of your obligation to make sure it gets to them.

 

The direct debit guarantee is meaningless.

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No. DD is highly automated. Depending on their back officde systems, the billing system creates a debit file that is either couriered to their bank, or played in to their finds processor. This usually happens in tandem with the invoice being generated, so even if you had contacted them on receipt of the bill and disputed it, the debit would still proceed. As MB points out - if this is not what you want DON'T USE DIRECT DEBIT. By doing so, your financial affairs are managed by others.

 

As for the agen t saying it was 'sorted'. This can also mean a credit is now applied, and will show on your NEXT bill. Expecting it to somehow reduce the amount previously notified would be an assumption, and probably incorrectl.

Edited by buzby
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I'd have thought (naivety again?) that the mechanics of how direct debits are processed are irrelevant, and ultimately should be the supplier/banks' problem. Economically, it certainly makes sense to make it the consumer's problem as they will get away with it most of the time regardless of correctness.

 

The wording of the direct debit guarantee does not make the association of "direct debit amount = billed amount therefore correct", but rather states "if an error is made by us or by your bank...". Billing the wrong amount is just as much an error in my mind as taking a different amount to that billed.

 

Is anyone aware of any case law or, better still, ombudsman rulings for this situation?

 

I agree, the meaning of "its sorted" is wide open to interpretation as well as being somewhat unprofessional. What is it reasonable for the average consumer, who has not been in this situation before, nor worked in the industry, to take it to mean? If, say, the phone call commences "I've been billed the wrong amount" and ends "its sorted" then the assumption that the bill has been corrected is extremely reasonable.

 

Mark Blackpool's comment regarding reversal vs obligation to pay could be very relevant, especially given the way everything is run on automatic - would a reversal, even with a manual payment, then reinstate the non-DD fee or other penalties thus rendering the guarantee protection meaningless.

 

Given the seemingly limited, or even irrelevant, protection of the guarantee, it is a shame companies are allowed to make such large penalties/discounts for direct debit payments. As you say Buzby, life is too short to be chasing refunds yet often the price difference means those of us who can least afford it when it goes wrong feel we have limited choice.

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To me, it is more relevant that folk have been fooled into believing that it is somehow in their best interest to lose fiscal control and give away on a whm. That's the travesty. Once done so, it is up to the hapless consumer to beg for their money back, on the basis that they don't have it, and are at the mercy of faceless others to hopefully agree. THEN if they are, you get hit with DD failure charges for institutingf a reversal, and of course, a DD amount can be processed again with minimal formality if the original debit did not complete (unless someone had the good sense to cancel the mandate in total, therefore removing this risk).

 

As to a problem being 'sorted' - again - what the customer assumes is irrelevant. This should be followed by "Does this mean you will take the RIGHT amount THIS month", only to have it explained no, we'll be taking a lesser amount NEXT month would explain the process - but expecting CS staff to volunteer such information would be nothing more than an aspiration.

 

As to your last paragraph - we have already seen CAG members admitting that even IF they opted out of DD and paid the higher basic charge, they would still be ahead of the game - and in control. It is the false premise of 'saving' coupled with the 'DD Guarantee' mantra, that suckers the masses.

 

As you say, the evil is the carrots being used to enforce compliance - and OFCOM is still to report on the matter, with the hope that billing differning amounts that bear no relation to the processing cost will be outlawed, indeed how has this situation been allowed to even take a foothold? I pay by whatever means suits me, and the firm pays whatever cost they negotiated - yet now, I'm supposed to pay them for this, AND to send me a bil, which I also have to pay for (or forego, to save money).

 

They must be laughing at how quick we'll want to save a few quid a year and accept it without complaint!

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One by one the very few safeguards that ever existed with Direct debit are being removed.

 

You used to get ten days notice - ten working days, minimum, before an amount could be debited.

 

Now any payee can override that and dictate those terms. For instance with BT it's "up to 10 days". NOT 10 working days.

 

The next aspect which will be removed will be the ability to have a DD reversed by your Bank. In the event of double charging or overcharging, you'll have to plead with the supplier for a refund, and more likely will be given a credit on your account instead rather than your money back.

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Actually Mark, these safeguards were imaginary. When DD's commenced, they were to replace SO's, and as such had the same element of restrictions, DATES AND AMOUNTS were specified - unless on the odd occasion they were 'unspecified'. Spin forward a few years and DD mandates because to specifically mention debits could be taken on/for 'unspecified dates and amounts. Meanwhile, the 'guarantee' remained unaltered.

 

Now, ALL DD's are unspecified, add to this removal of any requirement to sign a mandate and have if forwarded to your bank, was the opening of the free-for-all. Because it was sone in stages - effectively by stealth - the actual result of the cumulative changes were hidden from the consumer under the smokescreen of the 'guarantee' and along with it, the lack of any consequential loss rights.

 

Unless users have a spare £1k sloshing around in their account to take up the slack, I would advise anyone to cancel ALL DD's with immediate effect, and take responsibility for their own financial affairs directly.

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