My complaint to CISAS about huge Virgin mobile phone bills


Dear Mr Law
Case No: 212133585 - Law v Virgin Mobile
Further to our recent correspondence we have received confirmation from the company that they are settling this claim in full.
The adjudicator has no power to award any more than what the customer claims on the application form. Accordingly, the Company has 28 days to comply with the settlement. Should the Company not comply with the settlement please contact CISAS.
However, please be advised that we will not be able to investigate against the Company before the 28 day period has passed, ie on or before 01/11/2013.
Should we not hear from you after this period, we will assume you are happy with the resolution and will close our files accordingly.

For anyone interested...

I wish to complain about my daughter’s Virgin mobile account: account number FAxxxxx

I am a longstanding Virgin media customer. Some time ago was called by Virgin and offered a £5pm sim card for use in the mobile of a family member. I accepted the offer telling them my daughter needed a sim. At no point during this sales call was I informed that more than £5 per month could be spent on this mobile account, not even when I asked them to confirm £5 was all I would pay.

My 13 yr daughter used the sim card and was indeed charged just £5 until March 2013 when I was charged

March        £15.35
April           £100.10
May            £150.15

These charges were due to large numbers of texts being sent (see April breakdown attached). I was not aware any these additional charges were made until I checked the account in May. I had received no alert that such ludicrously large bills were being run up and nether had my daughter.

While the possibility of such charges was perhaps included in the small print of something I signed subsequent to Virgin’s phone sales pitch, my view is that Virgin failed adequately to alert me – even when prompted - either to the £125 credit limit on that account or to the possibility of such vast bills being run up by my daughter. Had I been made clearly aware of the possibility of such bills when I agreed on the phone to take the sim, I would not have done so. Indeed I had believed – based on what I was told over the phone when I agreed to take the sim – that no more than £5per month could be spent (I assumed, based on what I was told, that once £5 limit was reached no more texts or calls could be made that month).

After discovering these huge bills, I subsequently switched my daughter to a new Virgin £15 unlimited mobile tariff. I made this arrangement over the phone with Virgin. I was assured by a Virgin employee that this tariff was unlimited and that no such additional charges could now be run up, as happened on the old £5 tariff. I was quite explicit that such charges were exactly what I wanted to avoid in taking the new account.

In fact, I discovered last week that I was then charged as follows:

May             £0.00 (due to credit from previous payment)
June           £19.80
July            £20.80
August         £38.60

Again, the additional charges were due to texts being sent from the phone (picture texts I believe).

The excess charges on old tariff = 265.60

The excess charges on the new tariff = £34.20

My complaint regarding the new tariff is, first, that I was mis-sold over the phone the new tariff, and was subsequently unexpectedly charged an additional £34.20. Moreover, around 6 weeks ago (I cannot provide an exact date, but July or possibly June) I phoned Virgin to double-check I could not be charged anything over £15pm and was, to my surprise, told that the new £15 tariff still had a £125 credit limit attached to it. However, I was told this was not a problem as the unlimited nature of the new tariff meant no additional charge could be made. I insisted that they nevertheless reduce the credit limit to £15 so that I was absolutely guaranteed no additional charge could be made. I was told by Virgin that the credit limit was henceforth reduced.

As I say, last week I discovered the credit limit on the new tariff account is still £125, and also that additional charges were made in June, July, and even in August after I was told the credit limit had been reduced to £15. The limit still stands £125 today, even after my subsequent complaint. I was then told it could not be reduced.

In my view, (i) Virgin failed adequately to inform me of the charges that could be made on the old £5 tariff up to £125 (no mention whatsoever was made of this possibility when the sim was sold to me verbally), (ii) Virgin had a duty to at least alert me to the ridiculously large bills being run up on this £5 account by my daughter for texts (neither of us had any awareness that this was even possible), a duty they failed to discharge, (iii) Virgin mis-sold me the new tariff over the phone, informing me, incorrectly, that the unlimited nature of the new tariff meant that no such additional charges could be run up, which in fact they were, (iv) Virgin failed to reduce the credit limit on the new tariff, even after they said they had, allowing still further additional charges to be run up.

I have formally complained to Virgin about this matter and was told in a letter dated 30th August (Ref: COM100152869) that they would not reimburse me the additional charges made on the old tariff. I have since been told they will not reimburse additional charges on the new tariff (attached email).


Katherine said…
Tesco do a capped tarriff - linking family members to one account that you can control as the bill payer...just a thought.
Anonymous said…
Customer service employees have to be the worst! I think maybe you ought to write an additional chapter in the next edition of Believing Bullshit on this kind of poor service.
Karlmarx R said…
What I realised in similar situations is - the customer like you had to spend huge time and make enormous effort to get back our (or your) own money. I think the rules make it such that at times, for small amount, we are made to say "better loose money than spend more time". I think this situation needs attention.

Recently I had complaint made again HSBC, with FCS. Although I won the case, I still feel defeated due to the cumbersome process and amount time & stress.
Anonymous said…
I once had the misfortune of briefly working in customer service of a similar type to the kind you would have engaged with here. It is worth baring in mind that the unforunate individual you are talking to is doing what I consider the worst job I ever had (I have had many kind of job and some of them were really not fun).
In general, you can expect call centre employees to be barely trained or untrained, hounded relentlessly to make sales (often under threat of losing their job), ludicrously poorly paid and to be spending a good portion of thier day being abused by the customers who call. I am not suggesting that people don't complain. They should certainly. I only suggest that folk have a little mercy on the phone jockey they talk too :)
Dominic said…
I'd be tempted to let them know that you're recording the call for financial security purposes and following that, if there was any charge on top of what you had been told on the phone I would mark the bill 'paid under protest' and try and get the money back through the small claims court using the recording
Argon said…
Your mistake. You trusted two untrustworthy classes of entities:

1) Thirteen year old girls with cell phones.
2) Sales representatives.

Get your daughter a pay as you go phone, give her 15 pounds a month and make her recharge the account through a convenience store top-up. Do not attach the account to any credit card.
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Anonymous said…
Please do not use Virgin Mobile as they have neither the skill or the desire to offer their customers a good service. They hide behind websites and do not respond to your complaints if e-mailed. Over populated with foreign call centre operatives who can only respond from a script!
An agreement for a bad credit mobile phones can be difficult to discover however, but definitely not difficult. A client may have to affect on quite a lot of doors of support providers; however, sooner or later they will discover a bad credit mobile phones offer. Once an agreement on a short term or even per month deal is struck -it opens a huge gate of opportunities for the client to change from a low credit score cellular mobile phones client to a client with good ratings.
soggy said…
I have just made a complaint to cisas too about them as I returned a phone within my 14 days and asked my contract to be cancelled they then sent the phone back and said it was damaged , someone had removed the charger and charger cover on phone and sent it back, I have complained to CEO office and basically they are calling me a liar and said now I am over the 14 days I have to pay the 2 years contract for a phone I get no signal on in my house, that's why it was returned, every person I spoke to gives a different answer, I have another phone with a different company now so am absolutely distraught and disgusted with how I have been treated , so don't think the 14 days is real, they break the phone and then delay the while process until you are well over the return time !!
Stephen Law said…
Complain to CISAS. It worked for me. I am sure you will win, given what you say.
soggy said…
Hope it gets sorted or I am going to struggle to pay for another phone
Stephen Law said…
Just for the record, the CISAS forced Virgin to pay me all the money back.
soggy said…
I hope so as I am a single parent on a low income and just can't afford 2 phones :( glad you got you money back , I will never use them again
Anonymous said…
Try it here in Canada.....everything is outsourced to 3rd world countries for service and they have figured out how to wipe and erase taped lines and disk drives so there is no evidence you have even called. I ordered a phone and a plan and they billed me for a $500 phone which they lost and then refused to replace, and then started billing me for a service I couldn't activate because I did not have a phone. When I tried complaining I spent 6 hours playing phone tag with a dozen people only to have someone of obvious east indian decent tell me to "f" off and then he hung up on me....back to square one. Even their parent company, Bell Canada refused to intervene because they are hoping virgin will fail thus eliminating any competition in the monopoly market they are trying to set up here. So, no one will speak to me and even government complaint agencies don't care and I'm out $500 and still without a phone or service. I feel your pain in all this but give up while you still have your's you versus the whole sub continent of India and Richard Branson and his about a man with no class.
Anonymous said…
Stephen: I think you did very well indeed. In my experience (I have a teenage daughter too!) Virgin are FAR better than Orange/EE/t-mobile who lie through their teeth, when they do reply.
I too went to CISAS. EE's "legal" response was a complete mess; if that was done by a qualified lawyer I despair of university education.
Unlike R Karlmarx, I feel triumphant that I won and it has put me in a good mood for days.
Anonymous said…
I have just started a case with cisas againt ee who are asking for a huge amount from a wi fi dongle it went from 12 oo a month to a staggering 553.14 in less than a month it is very stressful to deal with but I can but hope
Anonymous said…
Wow, I feel I had a lucky escape, as I too was called by Virgin with that same £5 pm sim offer - as I was such a valued customer (I hate it when they say that). I'm on a PAYG as I refuse to be beholden to anyone who holds my bank details. End of. So it sounded quite tempting to me as my topups are usually around £5 per 3-4 weeks-ish and because of which I try to use my phone sparingly as every text I send, and every call I make costs me. It sounded a refreshingly good offer - until we got to the end and they asked for my bank details. Shock horror !! I told them, you don't need my bank details, I already pay Virgin for my TV & phone, so just add it to that and I can pay it when I receive the bill (certain companies I will not do direct debit with). No, they say, we are a different source from the TV & home phone side. Oh, I said, well in that case I can't do business with you. Since then they have pestered me numerous times and each time I tell them I dont do direct debit so they bid me good day. I'm hutching toward 60, so I've watched all these companies grow and literally con unsuspecting and innocent people out of lots of money. That seems to be the way of the world now. Quite why they get away with it when we have reasonably good regulatory bodies is beyond me, but the main reason they do is because they are allowed to become huge companies who no longer have any affinity with an individual customer. Sadly we are in a very greedy era, and the people who pay the biggest price are the poorer end because there's always some rotten company who comes up with another plan to extort money from them. They do this on a sudden massive scale, without any concern for the 'customer' and they do this by joining the rotating cycle of bandits that sooner or later will be caught up with by the authorities, or some movement who has taken up the crusade for several years to expose them. After that time, they accept the rap/fine etc, tweak the part they were rapped for and 'ding ding' its round two, for another few years. Sorry,I am ranting and somewhat waylaying, but sometimes its difficult to stop when you get into something like this.
Anonymous said…
Virgin mobile has charged my son £115.00 for picture messaging in 24 hours.
Complained to CISAS and lost the case. Don’t know what to do please help any ideas

Anonymous said…
Unfortunately, picture messages are charged outside of the standard rate on all providers (usually 40p) as they are classed as non-standard calls and texts. If your son has indeed sent those messages then the charges will stand as it does state in the terms and conditions what classifies as chargable usage. (picture messages, premium rate texts, international texts and 08 number calls are included also). Children and phones really are just a no-go. Especially on a tariff as low as £5 a month..
Anonymous said…
I have a virgin mobile customer for more than an year..i gave got a Situation of getting huge bills witout Any notificaton at Any point of the usage...what i done is for huge bill the rude customer support team says i have dialed077 num...which was actually with in my monthly allowance limits....reallly its luting customer......cheating....Dear fiends please be aware.
Anonymous said…
Maybe the strong words should be directed towards your daughter and not the company in question.

If you leave the light on when you leave the house you don't phone the electric company for a refund.
Anonymous said…
I have just told CISAS about being ripped off for data i can't connect to and providence of fibre i only just got the speeds i was supposed to last month,this is the 3rd contract for fibre due to low speeds and over charging in 4.5 yrs roughly,i asked CISAS to force their hand to cut my both contracts immediately if possible due to breeches of contract for both services.I shall never sign up to their services again,i warned them falling on deaf ears i'd take drastic action around 12 times time for them to now reap the whirlwind i think.
Anonymous said…
I too have a Complaint against Virginmedia's home phone as I refuse to buy their mobile until my present contract elsewhere ends. I have two complaints, one on their Bills that has soared up with my package of Phone, Broadband and TV. For the past two months till April they have been charging me £40.00 whereas I had phoned them in January that I shall quit as I am a loyal customer since they were with Telewest. I can have phone elsewhere but because I want to keep the number and the same e-mail address, I have a battle more than once a year! They give a small refund when I complained but back to square one!
My second issue is since February I have been getting numerous Nuisance Calls per day, even though I have registered with TPS having communicated with them before this began to happen. Virginmedia take advantage of Direct Debit I have for years and take what they please, I am not having this, please HELP!!!
Anonymous said…
This is recently updated with optic fibre whatever speed I never asked for.
Anonymous said…
Bad virgin Mobile
I tried to cancel via website my account in 2014 - after few months they told me - it was not possible - they kept stealing my money from my credit card monthly.
Then I tried via email - they said yes they did but then few months later they asked me to call them so they can only do via phone.
i did that in june 2015 and they confirmed that they canceled my account. but today i see they are still stealing again my money.
They are taking my money without my permission or legal right and without intending to return it.

I was patient enough to call then and they confirmed - they canceled few times.

Today 12 months later they are still stealing my money.

I'm planning to reporting to government.
Anonymous said…

July 18th mislaid my debit card at Victoria Station, reported it to bank 1.30am next morning once I got home off the coach.

Call centre ended the call. I switched of 'phone, but call somehow still continue for 10 1/2 hrs.

Virgin Mobile 'allowed' call to continue, even though no-one on the line. They now charging me just over £177 for that call, insisting that personal calls over 10 hrs are 'normal'.

Complaint to Virgin Mobile. Mothing
Complaint to Bank - they contacted VM who said I was liable.
More complaints to VM who said they'd contact me back. (Didn't)
VM suspended my 'phone since I was over my credit limit (Due to erroneous charge)
Complained to VM - call centre gave me some more minutes & 'unsuspended' me, said 'Deadlock Letter' in post
Have cancelled Direct Debit with VM since they have habit of taking money first, even if it's under investigation (Keeping payments on phone, just cancelled DD for phone usage).

Call centre in Phillipines. Contrary to Data Protection Act. EU has list of countries that Data is allowed to be shared with. Phillipines isn't on it.

Paul H
Joe said…

CISAS is a disgrace, they do not protect the consumers. I had approached them for my phone line issues against Virgin Media and CISAS dismissed the case for lack of evidence.
Totally biased verdict. Waste of time !!
emckernan3 said…
l- I am a virgin Mobile customer and the office in the Phillipenes has committed FRAUD against my bank account charging in one month close to $400- I have called to get this resolved numerous times and have recordings of their offensive behaviors that i am ready to release via Facebook if I do not get a representative from the United States Corporate office to personally call me. I'm prepared to go to the local FBI department as this crime is considered cyber theft on Virgin Mobiles behalf. My bank will also investigate this. Virgin Mobile's response today was I call an 888 number and lied in writing saying it was a USA number. Then when I confirmed that it was the Phillipenes again, they said they can't help me and sorry for the Inconvenience! One-that's a lie that they can't better address this issue and two- as a single mother of 3, overcharging my account several times by $400 and $200 PLUS THE $37.40 you charge a month for ONE IPhone plan is illegal and this company condones this by not correcting this for MONTHS and I'm sure you won't lose sleep tonight because of my being the victim of a huge virgin Mobile error- yet my kids suffer from this as it takes away from their welfare. Nice job Virgin Mobile- you condone in house theft of a customer and essentially condone endangering the welfare of children. Shame on all of these deceitful people. I'm exhausted and deserve this to be corrected and I deserve something for my time, loss of interest on money Virgin Mobile Stole and compensation for my enduring and suffering their ongoing harassment vs help.
Anonymous said…
I too am at war with Virgin Mobile.
I will escalate to CISAS when time comes.
I have cancelled my Direct Debit, then requested PAC code - Number now successfully transfered to another provider on a better deal and UK ONLY Call Centres. Virgin Mobile, in my view was the very best Mobile Company in terms of Market Leading Customer Service...but as more and more of its provision moved off-shore, the worse the wore they have become.
Hi Stephen Law,

It seems like Virgin Media right across the board are all nothing but employed career criminals robbing all their customers blind and making up high bills, lying and forcing people to pay their monthly high charges, or they display threatening, rudest behaviour.

They have done this to me and I am at the stage now, where I am going to sue them through CISAS, as I have more than enough proof that is what they have done to me and so many of their customers via all the bad reviews I've read on so many websites. Just put it like that VM will not be getting away with robbing me of well over £1000, as the charges have accumulated to now. No way will VM be getting another penny out of me, it's those career criminals who owe me the extortionate money back.

Thank you for all your bad commnents on here everyone, that will suffice to get VM sorted out once and for all. They think I'm backing down, then they have another thing coming. I do live up to my username. LOL!