Your consumer queries
Hidden activation charges for UPC television services
Conn Holohan from Galway recently signed up to UPC’s broadband and digital-television service over the telephone. “When I received an invoice the next day, I was astonished to see that there was a €45 activation fee for each service as this had never been mentioned by the salesperson who had sold me the product,” he writes.
He rang UPC and was told they would listen to a recording of the previous conversation and if the activation fee was not mentioned, then he would not be charged. “Over the next week and a half I rang back three times, only to be told each time that they had not yet listened back to the call. The third time I rang, I was told that as a gesture of goodwill UPC would refund one of the €45 charges.”
He said this was unacceptable and was told that the situation would therefore have to be referred to the complaints department. “The next day a manager rang me to tell me that there would be no activation fee charged to my account, without ever referring to any review of the original phone call.”
He said he then discovered his parents had being having the exact same experience. “They were similarly charged for an activation fee that had not been mentioned in the original sales call and when they challenged it over a series of phone calls, the charge was dropped.” He says he now wonders if it is deliberate UPC policy to sell products without mentioning the activation charge “based on the assumption that a proportion of people will simply pay, and if customers do challenge it, they can then be refunded”.
A UPC spokeswoman said it was policy that all charges and fees were stated up front. However she could not confirm our reader was told about the activation fee as UPC’s “recording server was not working properly during the day that he called”. She apologised for the delay in getting back to our reader and expressed surprise that his parents experienced a similar occurrence.
Wake up and smell the expensive coffee
Rhona Kelly was in Citywest Hotel recently for a meeting and she asked for a coffee and a scone in reception.
She says the cup was small “and filled with very average coffee”.
It came with a heated scone, two pats of foil-wrapped butter, a jam portion, and a shot glass filled with what she says was spray “cream” out of a can.
“When the cashier said €6.20 I thought I had misheard but on receiving my change of a tenner, it was clearly only €3.80.”
She asked how much the coffee was and was told it was €2.85, a price Kelly describes as “astounding”. She then asked about the scone. It was “a mind-boggling €3.35.
“If I had been served said scone with a little dish of freshly whipped cream, another of homemade jam, a nicely cut pat of butter and a linen napkin, that would be fair enough, and for €2.85 I expect decent coffee and more than three mouthfuls.”
Charges ensure maximum customer frustration
A couple of weeks ago we featured an item from a reader fed up with being hit with ridiculous administration charges by insurance companies who modify minor details attached to policies.
She called her insurance company to change her address and was charged €20 by the customer-service agent, who was able to change the details on a computer while she was on the phone.
Her gripe prompted a number of readers to get in touch.
Sharon Roberts used to be insured with Its4Women insurance company. She said “they charged €20 per change so if your car broke down, as happened to us, and you needed to temporarily use the garage’s car, they would charge €20 to change the insurance over to the temporary car and €20 to change it back.”
She says that on paper the company seemed to offer cheaper car insurance “but it really is a case of buyer beware because a couple of changes to the policy in one year and you’ve spent any initial saving”.
Brian McCann, meanwhile, was less than pleased to be charged €40 by 123.ieto change his insurance to a new car.