Pricewatch: Readers’ queries
This week’s consumer concerns relate to a huge broadband bill and a hotel refusing to accept a voucher
‘My trouble began when I received a bill from Meteor for €740 as I had exceeded my broadband limit,’ a reader tells us
CUSTOMER DISTRESSED BY MOUNTING BROADBAND BILL
Lisa is a mobile phone customer with Meteor. She pays her bill by direct debit and until recently “always found their billing reasonable”. She added mobile broadband with Meteor several months ago and agreed a fixed price with them of €25 per month.
“My trouble began when I received a bill from Meteor for €740 as I had exceeded my broadband limit,” she writes. “I queried this bill with Meteor, as I felt that we could not have genuinely used this amount when we had been doing nothing new during this time, as all previous bills had been around €25.”
She also asked that she be contacted via email if her account approached its limit in the future and this was agreed by Meteor. “I requested to speak to a supervisor to have it explained to me how my bill had exceeded my limit so drastically. I was refused my request to speak to a supervisor,” she says.
She contacted ComReg, who agreed to look into the issue. “As a result of ComReg intervening, Meteor agreed to deduct €500. This would have been very acceptable except that same week a new Meteor bill arrived for €1,800 in total with €500 deducted as a ‘gesture of goodwill’. No email to advise me we were approaching our limit was received at any stage”.
Then a breakdown of charges arrived in the post. “As I went through these charges a number of issues came to my attention, namely on one of the dates where we apparently had high usage there was nobody in the house, as we were all in A&E with my son. Also, some of the charges were in the middle of the night. Again impossible, as we switch off our wifi when we are going to bed.
Again she tried to discuss these issues with a supervisor and was promised a call back, which she never received.
“I am still disputing the total amount with Meteor, but in the meantime they have disconnected my phone and I can no longer use my number. This number has been mine for about 15 years. It was brought with me to Meteor and also is my business contact number.”
As she was in dispute over the first bill of €740, she wants to know why she was not alerted to the fact that she was exceeding her limit again, and why she was allowed to accrue more excessive charges while trying to come to a resolution regarding the first bill.
“I am a struggling start-up business, otherwise I would have attempted to set up a weekly repayment plan with Meteor in order to retain my number, as it’s an advertised business number.”
We contacted Meteor. A spokeswoman said the company wished to apologise to our reader for her customer-care experience, but it maintained the charges were valid. However, it said it had applied “a significant credit” our reader’s bill “as a gesture of goodwill”.
The spokeswoman also said that, after ComReg raised a query, Meteor had decided of its own volition to give the customer a credit of €500.
We suggested a charge on this scale seemed wildly excessive. The company said it would discuss our reader’s usage with her and examine why it was so high during this billing period.
HOTEL REFUSES TO HONOUR GIFT VOUCHER
A reader by the name of Noelle got a Carlton Hotel Group Gold voucher for Christmas 2012. In October 2013 she and her family went to the Carlton Hotel in Kinsale, used the voucher and “had a lovely time”. She asked for the same present from her family last Christmas, and her sister bought the voucher online on December 4th.
“I booked the hotel for May, but a few weeks ago changed it to April. On the first booking, I advised the staff that I had a voucher,” she writes. “When we arrived at the hotel in April, the staff informed me they could not accept the voucher, as they were no longer redeemable and had not been since December 2013.
“The short story the manager gave me was that the Carlton Kinsale Hotel went into receivership in September 2013 but still uses the Carlton name. Since then the Gold vouchers would not be reimbursed to the hotel, so they were no longer accepting them. I said we used a Gold voucher in October 2013. His response was that they honoured them then but not now.”
She also told him that the family had not been informed that there was any issue with the vouchers when they had stayed there, and said that according to the website on April 21st this year the Gold voucher was redeemable for the Kinsale hotel.
She got nowhere, so she left and stayed elsewhere. “The company has refused to refund the unused voucher and said it changed the website on April 22nd stating that the Gold voucher is redeemable only in Blanchardstown, Dublin Airport and Ballinasloe.”
We spoke to the hotel manager, who said that, since December 20th last year, it was no longer able to accept vouchers from the Carlton Hotel Group. He said the hotel had done its best to communicate this to those with vouchers and had sent updated information to everyone who made a booking, as well as publishing the information on its website and carrying a warning at the check-in desk.
He said its inability to accept these vouchers was beyond its control, and urged our reader to contact the Carlton Hotel Group for a refund or to arrange to stay in an alternative hotel.