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3 year broadband contracts unlawful?

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I am new here and looking for help regarding a 3 year contract with Unicom for broadband and phone. I am a small business of 3 and have been with Unicom for two and a half years. I am moving premises soon and thought I would take the opportunity to get a better deal which I have with BT.

 

I know I signed up for 3 years but have read somewhere that OFCOM have made this practice unlawful in order to be in line with the EU. BT are to deal with Unicom for me but I wonder whether anybody knows how much termination fee they can legally ask me for. I have until next April to run with them but as a 3 year contract is supposed to be unlawfull, can they charge me?

 

I have read many online messages about the tactics of Unicom and don't want them at my throat!

 

Thanks for any advice from anybody who has had dealings recently with them (since the change in law).

 

Sally

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Hi and welcome to CAG

 

Not sure about the law being changed and whether it would apply to phone companies but there was a case recently about a gym management company whose terms were classed as unlawful due to the length of contract. This 'could' be applied to phone companies.

 

http://www.consumeractiongroup.co.uk/forum/showthread.php?289465-Office-of-Fair-Trading-v-Ashbourne-Management-Services-9th.March-2011&highlight=ashbourne


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there are very good arguments to say that long contracts are unfair and therefore invalid. The Ashbourne Management Services case which has been referred to above is a very useful case for all sorts of contracts. The problem in your case is that I understand that you are involved in a business contracts and not a consumer contract. Although consumer contracts have to be fair under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations,, there is no such protection for business contracts. I have seen in several industries that because there is no protection for small businesses, they tend to get very rough and unfair treatment from big companies – in particular mobile phone companies and also utility companies.

I'm afraid that I expect that there is very little you can do. Suddenly, if you try to get out of the contract early – by simply not paying then it is likely that Unicom will simply going and wreck your business and your life with debt collectors, credit file defaults and so forth.


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Hi, Thanks for the information. However, I have read somewhere that this ruling refers to small businesses employing under 10 people and residential consumers. I do hope that somebody has had experience with this company as I know they use bully boy tactics.

 

Sally

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I belive the worst case is that they can inforce the term of the contract so if you have 6 months left they can inforce 6 months payment.

 

As your moving premises can they provide servies at the new prenises, if so is there any charges in doing so?

 

It may be worth considering the options then move to another provider in April? or paying them off to get out of the contract?

 

Businness have very litle protecting compared to Consumers, there was talk of extening that protection to small business but as yet thats not the case.


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Hi Well if they are going to enforce (or try to) the full costs of the next 6 months then I shall have to bite the bullet and remember to give them 3 months notice. It can't be a day less either! I still feel that they can't ask for the full amount - only their costs. I shall not use them for phone calls as I can get them free on my mobile so will costs to a minimum with them. Will let you know how I get on............. Might call Ofcom for advice.

 

Sally

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Essentially Ofcom banned new three year contracts following an EU decision - http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/may/26/ofcom-bans-three-year-contracts - this would not effect the lawfulness of three year contracts entered into prior to the introduction of the ban.

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The only way out of the contract if it is a limited company is by way of a "Change of tenancy". Effectively the contract to the current phone will terminate when the phone service is removed and the telephone number you now have will no longer be valid. Secondly if they try and hold you to the remainder of the contract then they need to cover the cost of doing the transfer of broadband to the new phone number. They cannot increase the length of the contract jus becasue they decided to cover the cost. . I doubt if they can then charge you for the remaining contract as it wil be an Unfair term.

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Hi Sally

Having had a bad experience with Unicom last year and having kept a close eye on their antics ever since then, and being as you only have 6 months left, my advice would be to ‘bite the bullet’ as you have said until next April. Make absolutely sure though that your written cancellation is sent by recorded delivery so that they receive it at least 3 months before the end of the contract. I would also back your letter up with a few emails just to make sure they get the message. I have read of instances where Unicom will try to automatically renew a 3 year contract if the cancellation letter is received just a few days late.

You will get calls from their ‘Retentions Department’ criticising other providers and trying to persuade you to renew with them so be prepared.

Awful awful company – with the most appalling business practices I have ever come across.

RMJ

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Hi, Yes, they do seem to be an awful company. Just how do they get away with it? Nothing less than bullies. They are now telling me that I am tied in until April 2013 following a conversation with my other half in 2010! I have asked for the contract to be sent to me. Yes, they do try to badmouth other companies! I shall see what the contract says but the 'rolling contract' is banned isn't it???

 

Sally

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Hi

Ask Unicom for a recording of the conversation they had with your other half in 2010. As part of the Data Protection Act 1998 they are obliged to provide you with details of any personal information they hold on you. You need to ask for this information in writing (any notes and recordings) and they are allowed to charge up to £10 to supply this information. They have 40 days from receiving your letter to provide you with the information you have requested and if they don’t, you can make a complaint to the Information Commissioners Office.

I don’t know of any ‘test cases’ regarding the ban on 3 year contracts but I suspect Unicom will argue that it does not apply to existing contracts – only brand new ones. They will try any trick in the book to keep you as long as they can.

Let us know how you get on and I will try and help.

RMJ

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Although "Consumer law" does not apply to business contracts, Ofcom state small businesses with 10 or fewer employees have the same complaints procedure. Follow this procedure here, follow it to its competion and you do stand a chance of them giving you some "goodwill" as it will cost them to take the complaint to "Ombudsman Services: Communications"


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THe maximum consumer contract that can be enforced is 18mths as far as i know.

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THe maximum consumer contract that can be enforced is 18mths as far as i know.

 

1st this is business, and 2nd Ofcom have banned companies offering 36 month contracts, but if you are already in one it still stands. Ofcom have also approved 24 month contracts. see http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2011/may/26/ofcom-bans-three-year-contracts


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Having just had a call from UNICOM regarding the termination of my home land line, I too have been informed of the three year rolling contract, I have been with the company since 2006, and have my home land line, business line, and business mobile with them. I argued the case that the termination fee was excessive, and as I was keeping my business land line and mobile, surely they could waver the fee for the home line.........NO SUCH LUCK!! It seems that loyalty is a one way street with such companies, I was unaware of the roll over contract and to contract you to a further 3 years to me is be ludicrous, yearly...OK, but 3 years!!! Its a sad state of affairs when someone within the company cannot make a decision to overlook your fees when still staying loyal with other lines. I will now be terminating all contracts with the company, and say to anyone wishing to join UNICOM.........STAY CLEAR or if you join them........ unlike me STAY CLEAR about all the small print, and termination dates!!!

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Hi

 

They are not a good company to deal with are they? I suggest you google them and you will read loads of posts describing coversations between them and customers. I would suggest you don't use them for your calls but you don't have that choice do you? Just make sure you give them their 3 months notice when the time comes. April 2013 for us!

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Hi

 

They are not a good company to deal with are they? I suggest you google them and you will read loads of posts describing coversations between them and customers. I would suggest you don't use them for your calls but you don't have that choice do you? Just make sure you give them their 3 months notice when the time comes. April 2013 for us!

 

Hi Sally,

 

No I have to say my opinion on this company cannot be printed on here. Luckily I receive calls for my business, but on my days off I redirect to my UNICOM mobile, which is a great money spinner for their company, but I shall be installing an answer machine with a contact number for client to call, this way UNICOM will not be reaping the benefits of future calls. My contract ends in Oct 2012, just before the changes to the laws (Dec 2012) governing such malpractice. Onwards and upwards for our fight against such companies.

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Hi Waggy 50

If you made a verbal agreement with Unicom between 8th August 2006 to 18th July 2007, the information below about the the Ofcom investigation of Unicom might be of interest to you.

I am not allowed to post a link as I don't have enough posts but if you Google 'Ofcom Investigation Unicom' it should find it for you. I have just copied and pasted the paragraph that might apply to you.

Good luck with them!

RMJ

Update note – 5 November 2007

In response to the notification issued to Unicom on 18 July 2007, Unicom wrote to Ofcom setting out its proposals to remedy the notified contraventions. Unicom will refund in full and/or waive all early termination fees paid or payable by any verbal telesales customer (i.e. a customer who was sold the service by a Unicom telephone sales operator):

  1. to whom any misrepresentation whatsoever was made by Unicom or one of its employees or representatives during the sales and/or sales verification process; and/or
  2. who was not informed during the sales process that the agreement was for three years; and/or
  3. who was not informed during the sales process that an early termination fee may apply; and/or
  4. who requested or appears to have requested further information from Unicom or one of its employees or representatives during the sales process as to the applicability and/or the level or method of calculating early termination fees, but was not provided with a full and accurate response and who entered into a verbal sales agreement with Unicom between 8 th August 2006 and 18 th July 2007.

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Hi

 

Thank you so much for this. I must admit we got in touch with Ofcom who were not much help so have resigned ourselved since then! Will now look into this but I suspect it is our word against theirs and quite hard to prove.

 

Will Waggy50 report back on any results they get from Unicom?

 

Thanks again for the information. These bully boy tactics have got to be stamped on - they remind me of loan sharks as their mode of business is as bad.

Sally

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The termination cost was too much so have stayed with them until we think of a Plan B! It is actually April 2013 so longer than I thought.

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]IS ANYONE INTERESTED IN PERSUING A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST UNICOM. THEY HAVE REALLY UPSET MANY PEOPLE WITH THEIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND THEIR PHRASE "YOU HAVE BREACHED YOUR CONTRACT".

 

They have just threatened to come to my house (which I am not living at any longer) to take goods equal to the value of the termination fee I am refusing to pay. What is up with these monsters? I have never encountered a company so brutal and heavy handed as this one. BT would never act this way.

 

Unicom have charged us 720 GBP as we moved abroad due to financial issues. We had 6 months left on our contract. We never realised it was a 3 year contract when we signed up and so they said, it was our error for not reading the terms and conditions.

 

If there are enough people to do this, we should set up a class action suit and sue Unicom for harassment, unfair business tactics and inability to negotiate terms under extraordinary circumstances. Their clause is strictly to prevent people from going to competitors. If you are leaving because you are leaving the country, these terms should not be applicable. Or at least have a manager to investigate the customers needs and negotiate with them. I don't think they are a very fair, ethical company. I was told my service would be cheaper with Unicom then it was with BT. That was a blatent lie as the cost after switching was just as high and the service was disrupted many times with never a credit to my account for the down time. But, that was ok, huh?

 

Let's stand united and fight them. There is strength in numbers. Who wants to get involved? I will be setting up a website and email address-

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Hi there,

 

I have purchased the domain name unicomcomplaints.com to do exactly what you have mentioned. Further more I work professionally as a Digital Media Strategist.

Needless to say Unicomm have annoyed me a great deal so I intend to make sure that they will not be able to use the internet as a source of revenue. Of course this will be done in a legal way.

 

I have a definate idea of how to do this, let me know if you are interested.

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Hi DM

Well done and I am looking forward to seeing your site up and running.

They annoyed me a great deal also when I tried to leave them at the end of my 3 year contract but thankfully the matter is now resolved after quite a battle. I do however keep an occasional eye on what they are up to and am horrified by some of the stories I am reading.

CAB is an excellent site but your post is buried on page 2 of the thread and not easily visible. Have you thought about creating a new thread? Or have you thought about posting your message on any of these other sites as well?

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]IS ANYONE INTERESTED IN PERSUING A CLASS ACTION LAWSUIT AGAINST UNICOM. THEY HAVE REALLY UPSET MANY PEOPLE WITH THEIR TERMS AND CONDITIONS AND THEIR PHRASE "YOU HAVE BREACHED YOUR CONTRACT".

 

They have just threatened to come to my house (which I am not living at any longer) to take goods equal to the value of the termination fee I am refusing to pay. What is up with these monsters? I have never encountered a company so brutal and heavy handed as this one. BT would never act this way.

 

Unicom have charged us 720 GBP as we moved abroad due to financial issues. We had 6 months left on our contract. We never realised it was a 3 year contract when we signed up and so they said, it was our error for not reading the terms and conditions.

 

If there are enough people to do this, we should set up a class action suit and sue Unicom for harassment, unfair business tactics and inability to negotiate terms under extraordinary circumstances. Their clause is strictly to prevent people from going to competitors. If you are leaving because you are leaving the country, these terms should not be applicable. Or at least have a manager to investigate the customers needs and negotiate with them. I don't think they are a very fair, ethical company. I was told my service would be cheaper with Unicom then it was with BT. That was a blatent lie as the cost after switching was just as high and the service was disrupted many times with never a credit to my account for the down time. But, that was ok, huh?

 

Let's stand united and fight them. There is strength in numbers. Who wants to get involved? I will be setting up a website and email address-

 

Lots of small claims would impact them a lot more. There has been a case where 3 year contracts were ruled as unfair (OFT Vrs Ashbourne management) and it would not be cost effective for them to defend. When 3 or 4 lots of 7 day LBA's land on their doors, then a week later 7 lots of court papers maybe they'll start to listen.


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Hi DM

Well done and I am looking forward to seeing your site up and running.

 

They annoyed me a great deal also when I tried to leave them at the end of my 3 year contract but thankfully the matter is now resolved after quite a battle. I do however keep an occasional eye on what they are up to and am horrified by some of the stories I am reading.

 

CAB is an excellent site but your post is buried on page 2 of the thread and not easily visible. Have you thought about creating a new thread? Or have you thought about posting your message on any of these other sites as well?

Review Centre

Money Saving Expert

UK Business Forums

 

Please do contact me if I can be of any help.

 

It should be up and running this week.

If you have experience in Wordpress I can give you an account when the site is up and running.

Actually I was thinking about putting a list of sites together for people to put their complaint up. I will also create a new post when it is up and running.

I think if social media etc is utilised in the right way companies will find that treating people badly can affect their income.

Individual’s opinions can be spread a hell of lot further these days, so companies like Unicom that have the older mindset that they can treat people like crap, try to force their customers to stay with them will soon be a thing of the past. Hah I have been given a choice of paying £300 to end my contract or pay £150(with £50 discount...so kind) to move the contract to my new house. This isn’t going to end pretty:razz:

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