Customer appeals to 02 over spam attack

Tue, Mar 27, 2012, 01:00

Your consumer queries:FIONA KINSELLA from Dublin got in touch with us in connection with O2. Her difficulty started shortly after 9am on Friday, February 24th when she got four missed calls from a Jamaican telephone number.

“The calls were persistent and when it rang for a fifth time, I stepped out to answer it. I was greeted by a foreign accent saying they were responding to the text I sent saying ‘call me’. I advised the caller that I had sent no such text and that she must have a wrong number. I proceeded to hang up the phone and return to work.”

Over the next hour she had over 10 missed calls and a small number of text messages from a variety of different Jamaican numbers. “Each number started with the same area code and prefix and finished with a different four-digit extension number.”

She contacted O2 and was advised to turn her phone off and ignore all calls, and to delete any text messages as she was being spammed. She asked what would happen if the calls did not stop in the coming hours and was told she should report it to the Garda.

“I turned my phone off for long periods throughout the day and every time I turned it back on I was greeted by a flurry of missed calls, voicemails and text messages.”

She reported in to the Garda and says they were “very sympathetic”, but said the only thing they could do would be to contact O2 and have the numbers blocked. She called O2 again and was told the company did not have the capacity to block numbers and that the only option available was to change her mobile phone number.

“When I asked to speak to a manager the agent told me there was no point, as she wouldn’t tell me anything different.” She was then told that if she changed her number 02 would give her enough credit to contact everyone in her phonebook to let them know.

She insisted that changing her number simply wasn’t an option. “I mentioned to the agent that I was suspicious of where my number had been intercepted by the spammers. The only website to have my mobile phone number is O2.ieand I was currently unable to enter my account.”

She says the agent told her the company “had recently had a lot of trouble with fraudulent activity on their website and my account may have been closed due to such activity”.

There were several over-and-backs with the company, and the volume of calls and texts decreased, but she has been repeatedly rebuffed by 02. She says one agent asked what she was trying to achieve by contacting O2 as she was refusing to change her number and there were no other options available.

“The nuisance phone calls are continuing to date. I receive at least one phone call or text per day. It is extremely frustrating that despite the obvious connection between the O2 website and the spammers, O2 are taking no interest in my case.”

She says her frustration with O2 has far surpassed the issues of the calls and texts.

“The entire structure and service from O2 customer care was deplorable. The staff seemed disinterested and they were not fully informed of the services available to people in my situation.”

O2 confirms that “fraudulent texts were sent to some customers earlier this year by an unknown third party, purporting to be from O2. The texts were not legitimate and did not come from O2. O2 advises its customers not to respond to fraudulent (or ‘smishing’) texts from any unknown source and to avoid clicking on web links contained within such texts. Smishing texts are aimed at tricking the recipient into revealing their personal information – for example passwords to their online O2.ieaccount – on a website set up specifically for that purpose.

“This appears to have happened to the customer in question, resulting in her O2.ieaccount being used to send spam webtexts to a range of random international mobile numbers, and prompting the unsolicited calls back to the customer. As these calls and texts were coming from a variety of sources – rather than just one number – the only totally effective solution was for the customer to change her number, which O2’s care agents offered as a solution. While O2 can block incoming text messages from specific numbers, this service is not available to block voice calls. We apologise that the customer in question felt that her issue was not properly dealt with by us on this occasion.”

Lidl's Irish eggs were stamped 'UK'

A READER called Deirdre contacted us to say she makes “a real effort” to buy Irish products where possible.

“Yesterday, I bought a dozen of Lidl’s free-range large Irish eggs, only to discover when I got home the eggs themselves were stamped UK. Purely from a consumer’s viewpoint of trying to support the local economy, I feel that this mislabelling is totally unacceptable,” she writes.

“I have no problem with Northern Irish products – at least Tesco and Marks & Spencer label items as from Northern Ireland. It isn’t a political question – it’s purely economical.

“In making the effort to buy Irish I want to support local jobs and stop the mass exit of my peers from this country. I have since realised Lidl label their Irish milk in the same manner.

“How can consumers do the right thing while getting duped like this?”

Time is of the essence for receipts at Dunnes

A READER from Dublin recently bought some clothes in Dunnes Stores on February 16th. “The receipt clearly states: ‘Dunnes will exchange or refund goods returned in saleable condition with an original receipt within 28 days of purchase’,” she writes.

“When I sought to avail of this facility on March 15th the staff at Dunnes Cornelscourt informed me that the grace period expired on March 14th. Yet when the days are counted using a calendar, March 15th is the 28th day.”

As it happens – and totally by coincidence – she has a receipt from Next for a purchase made on February 17th with the identical phrase “within 28 days of purchase” as the refund condition.

It says that the applicable date is March 16th. “I have asked the National Consumer Agency to please advise if, in the opinion of the NCA, Dunnes Stores’ interpretation is correct or incorrect and if the NCA can take the matter up with them, so assisting me and other customers.”

She has promised to let Pricewatch know if and when she hears back from the NCA after they have had a chance to review the matter.

Complain in real time about buses and trains


WE GET A LOT of mails from companies plugging their businesses and we ignore most of them but one from a chap called John Ryan caught our eye.

“Our little company has just launched a new free consumer service called Journey Judge,” he writes. “It allows commuters to quickly and instantly complain about their public transport on their smartphone. We crowdsource the live state of public transport and compare the worst services of the day, week and month.”

An app that allows you complain in real time about public transport?

Brilliant.

Journey Judge is only available on Android phones right now, but it is coming to the iPhone soon. You can also see the mobile version of the app by visiting journeyjudge.com on any smartphone.