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Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

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AleisterCrowley
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Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#404980

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 17th, 2021, 6:26 pm

Moderator Message:
Moved to Legal, P (leaving a link) as it will probably reach the best audience here. C.

A neighbour is having problems with a company called ****** Telecom [ I will provide details if required/legally 'safe']
They have contacted a vulnerable elderly relative of hers, who has dementia, and have sold her a 'telephone screening service' for £129 'one off activation fee' plus £5+a month for 3 months
She (neighbour) has only just found out about this, so it's more than 14 days since the call. The elderly relative can't really remember the call, and doesn't know what exactly she has purchased. There is, apparently, a £399 (!) cancellation fee if she discontinues the service.
As far as I know the neighbour doesn't have any legal control (LPA etc) over the affairs of the relative.
Neighbour is obviously angry and upset that her relative has been exploited
What rights does she have?
What is the best way to recover the money, if possible?

The company is registered in the UK (Croydon) at a serviced office address. The director's address is overseas.

[ I will post a link to here on Legal Issues- Practical unless mods think this post should be moved ]

thanks
AC

AleisterCrowley
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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#404985

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 17th, 2021, 6:48 pm

Update -neighbour does have POA (LPA?) apparently

yorkshirelad1
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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#404997

Postby yorkshirelad1 » April 17th, 2021, 9:00 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote:A neighbour is having problems with a company called ****** Telecom [ I will provide details if required/legally 'safe']
They have contacted a vulnerable elderly relative of hers, who has dementia, and have sold her a 'telephone screening service' for £129 'one off activation fee' plus £5+a month for 3 months
She (neighbour) has only just found out about this, so it's more than 14 days since the call. The elderly relative can't really remember the call, and doesn't know what exactly she has purchased. There is, apparently, a £399 (!) cancellation fee if she discontinues the service.
As far as I know the neighbour doesn't have any legal control (LPA etc) over the affairs of the relative.
Neighbour is obviously angry and upset that her relative has been exploited
What rights does she have?
What is the best way to recover the money, if possible?

The company is registered in the UK (Croydon) at a serviced office address. The director's address is overseas.

[ I will post a link to here on Legal Issues- Practical unless mods think this post should be moved ]

thanks
AC


This sounds awful. I'm not able to advise on the possible avenues in relation to selling to a vulnerable adult but the fees charged sound exorbitant, and not in line with what a bona fide company might charge for a similar service. I wonder if something like Age Concern, or Citizens Advice might be able to give you some pointers on sales made to a vulnerable adult and cancelling them. However, one thing you might be able to do is find out how the payment was made (credit card?) and make sure there aren't any further payments made. Also the poor person's phone number may get circulated to other scammers as a good target, so expect further unsolicited calls. If the payment was made by credit card, maybe the credit card company might have some pointers.

AleisterCrowley
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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405000

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 17th, 2021, 9:43 pm

Thanks YL - I have already suggested the local CAB , or a call to them.
Not sure what the rules are regarding a verbal contract based on a telephone call. Neighbour says she doesn't think vulnerable relation has signed any paper contract - and I doubt she's done it via a website.
I've looked at the CAB stuff and it seems that being past the 14 days may be a problem?
It makes my blood boil that companies can prey on elderly and vulnerable people like this with impunity

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405008

Postby Lootman » April 17th, 2021, 10:42 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote: Not sure what the rules are regarding a verbal contract based on a telephone call. Neighbour says she doesn't think vulnerable relation has signed any paper contract - and I doubt she's done it via a website.

It makes my blood boil that companies can prey on elderly and vulnerable people like this with impunity

Something like this happened to my mother when she was in her later years. In that case it was a cold call that switched her phone service to another provider. My mother barely realised that had happened.

It wasn't that the new deal was outrageous, but more that I felt she was taken advantage of. I switched the service back. So to your question it seems that your service can be switched on the basis of verbal answers to a phone call, which the provider presumably retains recordings of for proof. The law should require a written contract in the post, to be signed, but I don't know if it does.

As was mentioned it would help if no credit card or automated payments are involved, as then payments can be stopped whilst it is sorted out. The money already paid is probably gone once 14 days are past, unless you want to make a real fuss. But there is no way I would pay that exorbitant termination fee.

If payments are made on a credit card, then I might be tempted to close down that card to prevent future automatic charges. Or is there is a standing order or direct debit, then cancel it.

People who do this for a living and target old folks are despicable.

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405010

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 17th, 2021, 10:49 pm

The law should require a written contract in the post, to be signed, but I don't know if it does.
We are discussing this on the local Nextdoor site - as I pointed out there, I have a contract with Amazon for Amazon Prime (annual £80-ish payment) but I've never signed a 'wet ink' contract...

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405028

Postby AF62 » April 18th, 2021, 5:33 am

Was the payment made by credit card? If so then as the fee was over £100 it might be worth tackling the issue via the card company as s75 protection comes in with the card company jointly and severally liable, rather than the dubious telecoms company where any complaints are likely to be water off a duck’s back. If the payment was made by debit card there is the ‘chargeback’ process but the protection is much weaker and must be done within 120 days (s75 is 6 years).

A contract concluded over the phone is valid but obviously the person selling the service must be able to prove it exists and what exactly was agreed to, and to do this they would likely have recorded the call. If the person submitted a Subject Access Request to the telecoms company the telecoms company has to provide all the information they hold, including any call recordings. https://ico.org.uk/your-data-matters/yo ... your-data/

Make a complaint to Ofcom. They are not happy with telecoms companies behaving badly to consumers - https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/ ... tement.pdf

Get the vulnerable person a phone with call blocking, so only numbers stored in the phone cause it to ring, everyone else has to speak their name and press (say) “#” to get their call ‘announced’. Scammers who use automatic call dialling software don’t make it through. It used to be an issue getting calls from doctor’s surgeries and hospitals if you had such a phone as the receptionist didn’t know what to do, but these days it isn’t as either they are better trained or the phones are more common so they do know what to do.

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405103

Postby quelquod » April 18th, 2021, 12:57 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote: The law should require a written contract in the post, to be signed, but I don't know if it does.
We are discussing this on the local Nextdoor site - as I pointed out there, I have a contract with Amazon for Amazon Prime (annual £80-ish payment) but I've never signed a 'wet ink' contract...


I should think that this would invalidate the Ts&Cs on virtually every online transaction.

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405113

Postby PinkDalek » April 18th, 2021, 1:28 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote:...
They have contacted a vulnerable elderly relative of hers, who has dementia, and have sold her a 'telephone screening service' for £129 'one off activation fee' plus £5+a month for 3 months ...


Can you establish how these payments were made?

Update -neighbour does have POA (LPA?) apparently


Can the neighbour be a little bit more definite (as it might assist for the future)?

If a Lasting Power of Attorney has it been or is it in the process of being registered?:

Make, register or end a lasting power of attorney
https://www.gov.uk/power-of-attorney/register

Register a lasting power of attorney

When you’ve made your lasting power of attorney (LPA), you need to register it with the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG).

It takes up to 12 weeks to register an LPA if there are no mistakes in the application....

AleisterCrowley
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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405120

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 18th, 2021, 1:41 pm

@PD She has had LPA for 3 years apparently
@AF62 - thanks for suggestions- she gave them her bank details - so not a debit /credit card transaction

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405174

Postby chas49 » April 18th, 2021, 6:45 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote:@PD She has had LPA for 3 years apparently
@AF62 - thanks for suggestions- she gave them her bank details - so not a debit /credit card transaction


Assuming this wasn't a scam (in the sense of getting bank details in order to access online banking), it sounds like these would have been used to set up a Direct Debit. In which case, the attorney (or the donor) may be able to claim back funds under the DD guarantee on the basis that the vulnerable person didn't understand so it wasn't a valid transaction. Worth a try.....

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405183

Postby supremetwo » April 18th, 2021, 8:59 pm

AleisterCrowley wrote:@PD She has had LPA for 3 years apparently
@AF62 - thanks for suggestions- she gave them her bank details - so not a debit /credit card transaction

If it was a direct debit instruction, there will be written confirmation.

https://www.directdebit.co.uk/FAQs/Page ... Debit.aspx
You will be sent written confirmation of your Direct Debit Instruction within three working days of the telephone call or online sign up, or alternatively no fewer than 10 working days before the first collection. Simply check the details and contact the organisation you're paying if you have a query. Regardless of what method of sign up you use, you are still fully covered by the Direct Debit Guarantee.

And you should have no trouble getting it reversed after reporting this sharp practice - might even get them struck off!

https://www.directdebit.co.uk/DirectDeb ... antee.aspx

Your rights
Organisations using the Direct Debit Scheme go through a careful vetting process before they're authorised, and are closely monitored by the banking industry. The efficiency and security of Direct Debit is monitored and protected by your own bank or building society.

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405205

Postby gryffron » April 19th, 2021, 12:39 am

I’m hoping you can nullify the whole thing. It sounds like a scam on an elderly and vulnerable person to me. But a £399 cancellation fee for a £5pcm service would certainly fall foul of the “unfair terms” regulations in the 2015 Consumer Rights Act under any circumstances. Even if the contract was witnessed by the pope and signed in blood by an adult in full control of their faculties.

Gryff

AleisterCrowley
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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405240

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 19th, 2021, 9:31 am

I passed on suggestions. Neighbour has to date raised formal complaints with;

TPS - she should not have been cold called
The banking ombudsman
UK Action fraud
Trading Standards local to elderly relative
BBC Watchdog

-and is looking at at the other possible approaches.

Hopefully they will decide it's not worth the hassle fighting on multiple fronts and will refund the monies pronto
Unfortunately they will move on to the next victim until shut down - sounds like they have been doing this for years, based on some review links provided by a poster here

Thanks for all the feedback! I will let you know how she gets on

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405260

Postby PinkDalek » April 19th, 2021, 10:29 am

AleisterCrowley wrote:-and is looking at at the other possible approaches.

Has the neighbour holding the LPA contacted the relative's bank?

... sounds like they have been doing this for years, based on some review links provided by a poster here

For the avoidance of doubt, those review links may have been provided by PM and will not be visible on this topic. ;)

AleisterCrowley
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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#405373

Postby AleisterCrowley » April 19th, 2021, 2:11 pm

Yes, she has contacted the bank.
Note re links. I didnt want to identify the company in question - but they seem to be somewhat unpopular on various review sites...

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#407002

Postby vagrantbrain » April 26th, 2021, 10:13 am

If the relative has a proper medical diagnosis of Dementia then there is a very strong argument that they were not in the position to give consent to entering the contract in the first place which would make the contract void. I'm sure getting this information in front of the right person at the telecoms company would quickly see the contract cancelled as no company wants to end up in the papers being seen to be taking advantage of vulnerable customers.

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Re: Unwanted telephone service sold to vulnerable adult

#407403

Postby AF62 » April 27th, 2021, 5:27 pm

vagrantbrain wrote:...as no company wants to end up in the papers being seen to be taking advantage of vulnerable customers.


That might be the case for a reputable company, but there are certainly many disreputable companies who wouldn't give a damn.


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