Below are some frequently asked consumer questions about communications complaints and the work of the ombudsman.
I’ve refused to pay a disputed charge which has affected my credit score. Can this be rectified?
Communications companies are obliged to provide an accurate representation of a customer’s payment history. We can recommend the removal of adverse information if it has been applied in error and that a company ensures that the customer’s credit file is updated to reflect their true payment history. It is not for our service to express the precise terms of any amendment and a customer can contact a credit reference agenyc (CRA) for further advice if they wish to dispute any subsequent update.
I accepted an offer to upgrade my mobile phone but my provider says it has no record of the offer, which it made over the phone. What should I do?
If there is a dispute over what was agreed when you agreed to the upgrade, you should complain to your service provider. If, after following the complaints procedure, you remain unhappy, we may be able to help. There are currently no specific rules which compel a communications provider to retain recordings of calls. However, where there is a dispute over what was agreed, we assess the evidence to decide what was most likely to have occurred on the balance of probabilities.
Mobile bill shock
What is ‘bill shock’?
When a consumer receives an unexpectedly high bill. This can occur following a trip abroad, where it can be easy to accumulate high call, text and data charges. It may also occur if a phone is lost/stolen and isn’t reported immediately.
What protection is available for consumers if their phone is lost or stolen?
The Code of Practice on Consumer Billing March 2015 is a voluntary code, set up to help protect consumers from unexpected costs. The signatories (EE, Vodafone, Virgin Mobile, Three and O2) agree to cap charges if the lost/stolen phone is resported to them within 24 hours.
How much is the cap on charges?
It has been agreed by the signatories that customers will be responsible for a maximum of £100 when they report their handset as lost or stolen within 24 hours to both their provider and the police.
What if my phone provider isn’t signed up to the voluntary Code of Practice?
You should check with your provider if it has a policy for capping bills following a lost or stolen device, which is separate to the code.
What are the caps on EU roaming charges?
The cost of using a phone within the European Union is capped under EU law. Travellers within the EU should automatically benefit from the caps, unless they have deliberately chosen to opt out (for example, by buying a roaming bundle). Call, text and data caps are outlined on the Europa website. When you cross a border within the EU, your mobile operator must send you a text telling you the price for making and receiving calls, texting and going online in the EU country you've just entered. To protect you against excessive data roaming bills, the volume of downloaded data on your mobile device is capped, worldwide, at €50 (or the equivalent in another currency), unless you have agreed to a different limit with your operator. You will also receive a warning when you reach 80% of this agreed limit.
I’m worried about getting a huge bill when I return from holiday. What should I do?
There are steps you can take before, during and after your holiday to manage your phone charges and ensure you don’t get a shock when you receive your bill. Read our avoid bill shock when travelling abroad advice to find out more.
If I’m based in the UK and texting a phone abroad will it cost me?
Texting a UK number abroad should be free but it’s always best to check with your provider for international text rates.