I have two sim only contracts with EE costing around £28 a month for unlimited calls, texts and limited data. As one of the phones is for my teenage daughter, a monthly spending limit of £5 was agreed upon.
In June, she and my wife went to the Philippines for three weeks to see family. Ten days later I received a text from my bank, Barclays, asking for £3,329 to be deposited into my account so that my EE direct debit would not be returned. When I signed up I saw EE trying to take £9,226.
Shocked and confused I called EE and spoke to a woman who said she couldn’t see anything on the bill so thought it was a fraud. She asked me to contact my bank immediately which I did and Barclays canceled the direct debit.
Eye-popping bills: Our reader received a bill for £9,226 from EE and was told the spending limit didn’t apply to data – calls and texts only
Surprised to hear nothing from EE over the next few days, I tried calling numerous times. Finally I managed to speak to someone, who told me the sickening news that the bill was correct.
I contacted EE’s executive office, who said the bill was for a large number of data bundles used in the Philippines.
When I asked about the £5 spending limit I was told it didn’t apply to data – only for calls and texts.
I was asked to pay £500 to avoid sending the debt to a collection agency. Because I didn’t want collection agencies at my door, I reluctantly paid the amount.
Sally Hamilton replies: You’ve had the kind of post-vacation stomach flu that many travelers dread — that sick feeling when a cell phone bill comes back to bite.
Data roaming is when a device connects to the Internet through a local network and not through the customer’s usual carrier. This means that anyone who sends emails, streams movies, or checks Facebook while abroad can incur additional charges.
Such charges are back, even for those traveling to European destinations. After a five-year hiatus from horror bill risk, travelers should be wary of reusing their devices on the continent. Rules introduced in 2017 meant UK travelers didn’t pay extra to use their mobile phone abroad, but this no longer applies.
I can understand how nauseous you must have felt when the £9,226 question came up. So I asked EE, which is part of BT, to take another look at your case, find out what went wrong and see if it could lower your monster bill.
It appears that your 14-year-old daughter agreed to the purchase of data passes via a link on the EE website and confirmed it via verification text messages. In total she bought 164 packs costing £57.10 a pop.
Although she had agreed (unbeknownst to you) to these purchases, EE agreed to cut the bill by £8,500 – more than 90 percent – “given the ongoing crisis in the cost of living and as a gesture of goodwill” . Although I asked EE didn’t explain how you were misinformed about the £5 limit on your daughter’s phone.
Still, you were relieved that most of the bill was waived. You have lectured your daughter and downgraded her to a prepaid phone, but you intend to file a complaint with the communications ombudsman.
EE says it provides customers with tools to manage spending on services not included in their usual spending limits, helping to avoid add-ons.
Ernest Doku of mobile comparison service Uswitch says carriers should do more to warn customers of lurking data dangers, but recommends they check contracts before traveling and consider buying data passes or add-ons to cut costs .
Other steps include downloading maps, movies and music before leaving home and disabling voicemail as this can incur high costs for playback.
Using Wi-Fi in a hotel or cafe means you can use data and make WhatsApp calls for free. However, keep in mind that these connections may not be secure, so avoid online banking in these places.
The only surefire way to keep data bills from putting a damper on a vacation is to put a phone on airplane mode — or leave it at home.
What happened to our family’s life policy?
My father died in January and while I was running his business I found a premium book for four life insurance policies with Liverpool Victoria – two for my father and one for myself and my brother. I contacted the company – now called LV= – and was asked to send a copy of the book.
In May, after a long search, I received a letter saying that the policies are ‘not in effect’ and if I needed more information I should send a copy of my father’s death certificate. I’m willing to do this, but only if it confirms that the policy has actually been found. Anyway, why can’t they tell me about my policies and my brother’s, since we’re still alive and kicking?
LV= told our reader that their policy was not ‘not in effect’ and that they should send a copy of their father’s death certificate if they wanted more information
Sally Hamilton replies: The policies you discovered were the kind where insurance salespeople once went door-to-door collecting premiums often just a few cents.
Many thousands are now forgotten. You hoped there would be some value in the one you encountered, but felt stunned by LV=’s explanation.
I asked LV= to explain. It said all four plans, dating back to 1965, had been traced and the team was waiting for your father’s death certificate before sharing any information. A spokesperson apologized for not providing details about your own policies.
He says: ‘We are sorry that this was poorly communicated and caused confusion at a difficult time. When we confirmed that the policies were ‘no longer in effect’, it means that the policies were no longer active because they had already been paid out.”
It said that your father’s policy, worth about £1,000, was paid in the 1980s, as was the one in your name, in 1982, for £158. It wouldn’t comment on your brother’s without his permission. Although disappointed that there was no windfall, you were glad you solved the puzzle.
It’s always worth asking as LV= launched a campaign a few years ago that reunited 900 customers with lost policies worth between £50 and £500 each.
Visit lv.com/reconnect or call 0800 023 4139.
- Write to Sally Hamilton at Sally Sorts It, Money Mail, Northcliffe House, 2 Derry Street, London W8 5TT or email email@example.com — provide phone number, address and a note addressed to the offending organization giving them permission to talk to Sally Hamilton. Please do not send original documents as we cannot take any responsibility for them. The Daily Mail cannot accept any legal responsibility for answers given.
RIGHT TO THE POINT
Last July I signed up with British Gas for its conservation plan, which included 100 free days of energy. In October I asked about this and the online staff was very rude. My direct debit was then increased and I still have not received the free days.
British Gas will apply the offer to your account at the end of September and has updated your direct debit. A spokesperson apologizes for the behavior of the online employees, which is being addressed.
I ordered four pairs of shoes from Clarks, but only got three. I’ve been trying to contact customer service for weeks.
Clarks has contacted you to apologize for the error and have issued you a refund for all four pairs of shoes as a goodwill gesture.
We’ve been trying to cancel our broadband deal with Virgin Media for five months now. Despite writing to them repeatedly, we are still receiving payment requests, with the latest totaling £86.13. We are also still stuck with Virgin Media’s wifi box.
DT, West Yorkshire.
A Virgin Media spokesperson apologized, saying there was an error closing the account. The debt has now been swept away and someone has picked up the old equipment.
The Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) contacted me on behalf of Willis Towers Watson to say that I owe some money from an old pension. But I was asked for an address from 20 years ago to verify my identity, which I couldn’t remember, and wouldn’t do anything else, so I gave up.
A ministry spokesman apologized and said someone will contact you to discuss how else to verify your identity.
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