Pricewatch: readers’ queries

Companies are very fast to set debt collectors onto customers – or former customers

 

Mary Quilter works with the Irish wheelchair Association and has a service user client with multiple sclerosis who ears €188 a week. Our reader’s client was on a bill-pay contract with Vodafone but she switched to a ready-to-go account because the monthly bill was too high.

“When I went to set up the new account there was an outstanding bill of €229.78,” Mary writes . The Vodafone employee she was dealing with in shop said she could not set up a new account until this outstanding balance was paid “which Is understandable”, our reader writes.

So the balance was cleared at a post office on February 15th, 2016.

“My client then was then topping up by €20 a month. Then, in December, she received a bill from Vodafone for €221 approx. When I went back to the company they said it was nothing to do with them. My client is now getting solicitor’s letters and the debt has gone to a credit agency. I was speaking to the lady collecting the money and she said my client can pay back €10 a week or two separate payments of €104 and she will take €70 off.

She was saying the Vodafone account wasn’t properly closed down and it should have been in writing. We were never made aware of this in the Vodafone shop but now the shop will not accept any responsibility for this. Does she just payback the money? We would be so grateful for your help.”

It is a feature of the 21st century that companies are very fast to set debt collectors onto customers – or former customers – who they believe owe them money. While such letters are very upsetting and people can easily be scared or bullied into paying money they do not actually owe, the reality is that while debt collectors can huff and puff, there is virtually nothing that they can do, not least when the people they are chasing are entirely blameless as is the case here.

Our reader’s client was on the verge of paying this money to the debt collectors last week. We strongly urged her not to do that and we contacted Vodafone to find out what was going on.

The problem was resolved almost immediately. “We have made contact with the customer, this issues has now been resolved. We apologise for any inconvenience caused,” a spokeswoman said.

Our next story, sadly, was not quite so easy to resolve. Stan Ryan sent two registered parcels to his son in Frankfurt on January 4th. “They were both large and I paid a total cost of €148,” he tells us. “The delivery time was to be three or four days.” But that is not what happened.

One of the parcels our reader sent was eventually delivered on January 26th but the second has gone missing. “So far I have dealt with 10 different people on this matter,” he writes. “This is crazy. I feel that if one person took responsibility that the parcel could be found. In this day and age of computers it is simply not possible for a large parcel to be ‘lost’.”

While it would appear that the parcel disappeared when it was in Germany, he lays the blame squarely at the door of An Post and says he feels extremely let down by our national carrier. “The items sent are unlikely to be replaceable. I don’t know if it is downright inefficiency or what but this matter has certainly been neglected by the postal system,” he writes.

He is also certain his parcel “has to be lying somewhere and is too big not to be noticed. It may in fact be in a DHL packet in Germany since this is the company that I have been told An Post use there.”

So we contacted An Post to see if they could put this matter to bed. And they did, but not really in the way either we or our reader were hoping. “We very much regret that Mr Ryan’s experience of our international service [which] fell so far short of the quality for which he had paid,” a spokeswoman said. She accepted that the experience was both “upsetting and inconveniencing” for him and his son.

“The An Post team did everything possible to locate the item though our delivery partner in Germany. Having exhausted all possible avenues of enquiry, Deutsche Post has declared the outstanding parcel to be ‘lost’. Mr Ryan will be reimbursed for both the cost of the postage and the value of the missing item’s contents. We have requested more detail on the contents so that we can process this payment.”

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