ASK TONY: Virgin Mobile made wrong call on phone bill when my partner died

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Communication breakdown: Virgin refused to cancel a reader


ASK TONY: When my partner died Virgin Mobile told me it would take a year to cancel his phone contract – and even then it kept charging!

In December 2016 I took out phone contracts for myself and my partner with Virgin Mobile. In January 2018 my partner died.

I asked Virgin if it would cancel my partner’s phone if I sent it back. It said I couldn’t cancel until December 2018 as it was in my name, so I would have to continue to pay for the two phones. 

In December 2018 I called to cancel my partner’s phone and upgrade mine. 

Communication breakdown: Virgin refused to cancel a reader’s partner’s phone after she died because the contract was in his name

But in March this year I noticed that Virgin was still charging for my partner’s phone. I complained, and it agreed to make a refund for the three months. Two weeks later I phoned again. 

But the money didn’t come. I still don’t understand why, in my circumstances, it couldn’t cancel the contract when my partner died.

A. M., Bristol.

Neither do I! When you phoned Virgin to say your partner had died, staff should have offered support. Instead, they chose exploitation by demanding you continue paying for their phone.

After I became involved, Virgin contacted you to apologise and refunded the money you had been charged since the end of the contract. 

They added £20 as an apology for the delay in making this refund, making a total of £90.

I felt this did not go far enough. Your partner had died, yet instead of offering sympathy and showing flexibility, Virgin callously continued to charge for the second phone.

It finally agreed to a full refund dating back to February 2018 when you informed them of your partner’s death. So it has coughed up a further £174.

A Virgin Media spokesman says: ‘We sincerely apologise for the inconvenience and poor service that your reader has experienced.’

Straight to the point 

I bought my daughter a £10,000 Volkswagen Polo from Vertu Motors, in Nottingham, in February. 

As part of the deal I was offered a £100 Amazon voucher. But despite much chasing, it has still not arrived.

G. W. Derbyshire.

Vertu Motors said there had been an administrative error. The branch manager has since called you to ensure the voucher is paid.

*** 

I renewed my passport in July. As it was not due to expire until March next year I assumed an extra eight months would be added to my new expiry date. 

But this didn’t happen and my new passport will need to be renewed before July 2029 instead of March 2030.

B. C., Llandough, Vale of Glamorgan.

It’s true that you used to be able to carry over up to nine months to your new passport. 

But the rules changed in September last year and you can no longer do this. A Home Office spokesman says these changes were made to meet international guidelines.

*** 

Bailiffs came to my door chasing a debt that was registered to my address but for a name I didn’t recognise. Will this will leave a black mark on my own credit profile?

L. B., Catford.

Credit taken out by an individual will be associated with their name, not the address the debt has been registered at, so it will not impact your own finances or credit score.

As a precaution, obtain credit reports from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion to check no credit has been taken out fraudulently in your name.

HMRC says I owe £559.90 in unpaid tax. As I am an 84‑year-old pensioner on limited income, this has come as a bit of a shock.

It initially told me this was because my bank had not supplied any savings interest figures. 

So I supplied these, and then HMRC said it was because one of my pension providers had failed to adjust my tax code when HMRC altered it for the 2018/19 tax year.

The pension company says it did not receive any such notification and sent me back to HMRC — which then said it sent the notification in February 2018.

B. C., Leicestershire.

Having looked at your annual tax statement I wonder how any pensioner who has spent their life simply paying tax via PAYE is supposed to understand the complexities of these calculations.

You’ve got small private pensions, some of which are taxed and some not; untaxed interest which is then offset by allowances later in the calculation; and then other tax allowances.

HMRC says the problem stems from the fact that a new tax code was not properly applied by your pension company. The good news is that HMRC accepts this issue was not of your making and has removed the underpayment, so won’t be asking you to repay it.

*** 

Some years ago I started an Axa Sun Life savings plan and eventually was told I would receive £5,766. 

But I’ve never received this money which I wish to use to pay for my funeral. In December 2015 I was sent a cheque for £2,750 which I took to a local funeral director. 

I have asked Axa why it paid me the wrong amount, but it says it has not.

M. S., Wakefield.

Tracking down an old insurance policy can be like untangling glutinous spaghetti. So many companies have been taken over and chunks of policies sold that the trail becomes a gooey mess. In your case, it led to Aviva, which took over this policy type.

It confirms that the full amount of £5,766 was paid directly into your TSB savings account in October 2015.

Aviva has helped you check your bank accounts and these confirm a transfer of money from your savings account to your current account in December 2015 followed by a cheque payment to the funeral director.

Both TSB and Aviva have been in direct contact with you to explain what has happened. The money was paid, but you seem to have muddled which account it went into.

 

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