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Persistent billing error

I have a recurring issue that is now becoming pressing. I'll provide fuller details to anyone who is willing and able to assist - There is a lot of back ground as befits attempts to have a complaint I initiated on 21 July and to which I had recd and accepted a settlement offer on 23 Oct (as mediated through CISAS), only for that offer not to be enacted in full. The result: On 7 Jan the CISAS case went to adjudication, a process that may take 15 working days, and today have had an email from VM Billing indicating debt recovery escalating to external debt recovery agency within 15 days if I do not settle. That is, an attempt to collect an erroneous / non-existing debt for a service that was to be discontinued on 23 Nov will now be pursued whilst await the completion of the adjudication process.

Contacting VM has not been productive. My Q is: How do I get VM Billing to respond and at least postpone any debt recovery process until CISAS has made their adjudication decision.

My notes of the last attempt - 18:00 7 Jan - that I noted on the CISAS case file.follow.

As expected I have now recd and attached print of VM email advising escalating "debt" recovery.

Pls note AP 4: [VM Billing shall within the next 14 days] send your details to a Debt Recovery Agency, your credit rating will also be affected, …

I rang VM Customer Service 17:55 0345 454 1111 and this merely repeats “checked your account, … “ without permitting me to talk to Customer Service so I may explain why the debt sought is erroneous.

I then completed a feedback form on the VM website. My remarks as follows,

“Why cannot I contact VM to discuss my bill? Have recd email on 7 Jan explaining I had 15 days to settle before VM will seek to pursue the debt through external debt recovery agency that will affect my credit rating. The problem is the debt is ERRONEOUS. And with NO CHAT available and calling Customer Services on 0345 454 1111 only results in repeated msg that my account is in debt, VM is not providing an opportunity for me to contact VM Customer Service person directly to explain your billing error. I am at a lost what to do. Pls note this is a complaint that I initiated on 22 July, now with CISAS (577920). On 7 Jan, VM having not enacted their complaint resolution offer of 23 Oct (and still have not enacted), the case went to Adjudication. As a company you should be thoroughly ashamed of yourselves.”

Any and all assistance will be gratefully received.

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Re: Persistent billing error

Hi Mark, 

Welcome to forums, I hope you enjoy our community and thank you for your first post. 

I am so sorry for your experience and I will be more than happy to take a look at what is going on. I will need to take a look at your account so I will need some account information. I will pop you over a private message, just keep an eye out for the purple envelope 🙂
Many thanks,

Zoie_p

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Re: Persistent billing error

I have the reply "Unfortunately, we cannot postpone any debt on the account even if the case has gone to CISAS". I thank you for your efforts on my behalf

I believe the reply is deficient -  Postings on this forum suggests this is a familiar scenario to those who have had to contact VM Customer Services as,

- Misses the point about "erroneous billing"

Per ofcom GC s10 "Billing requirements"

... [obligation on providers] not to "render any bill" [ to customer] "unless such bill is accurate"

https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0026/106397/Statement-and-Consultation-Review-of-the...

- I am trying to engage VM Customer Services on their persistent erroneous billing to prevent unnecessary, precipitous and erroneous action (the use of external debt collection agency with consequential threat to my credit raking / ability to make future financial commitments).

Per ofcom GC  s11.3 "Complaints handling and access to ADR"

11.3(a) ."Types of complaints [VM Customer Services] would be required to handle ... [includes] complaints about general customer services"..

The basis of my initial CISAS application, of 14 Sept.

Further, 

11.3(b) [VM Customer Services] "would be expected to accept complaints lodged by .... phone, letter, email or a web page form".

As my post initiating this thread set out, I have made multiple attempts across multiple media - all of those itemised above and now this forum - with no success in attaining constructive engagement.

I remain in contact with CISAS, having posted copy of this msg to the CISAS case file currently at Adjudication. If the CISAS (ADR) adjudication decision sets out deficiencies in VM Customer Services, I shall post those comments here so the community may know the expected standards. I have had many expressions of apologies - But these are insincere unless they are accompanied by action to address. I hope posting here would assist other VM customers in having their complaints addressed in more agreeably efficient and timely manner..

Mark

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Re: Persistent billing error

Hi markpage30,

 

I am sorry that we cannot assist you further in this. 

Thanks,

Zoie_P

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Re: Persistent billing error

I understand; it is not the people using the system and protocols but the design of same, and support and assistance to those in VM Customer Services to be able to effectively discharge their responsibility to addressing customer queries, concerns and complaints.

 

Mark

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Re: Persistent billing error

Hi markpage30

As Zoie_P has advised before this post 

We are unable to assist you with this matter 

Gareth_L

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Re: Persistent billing error

Adjudicator decision now recd and accepted by me. This means the decision is now binding on VM, requiring provision of redress as directed by the adjudicator within 20 working days.

To note from the decision,

- VM failed in its duty of care towards this customer; and

- VM broke a term in the contract between VM and this customer

The findings of the Adjudicator

- This customer had provided the opportunity for VM to challenge his understanding of the settlement agreement made on 23 Oct. It chose not to.

-  Nor has VM attempted to explain its communications after 23 Nov (this includes the billing for disconnected services and subsequent debt collection)

- The exchange on 23 Oct (the complaint resolution offer made by VM through CISAS and accepted by this customer) meant "it was a contractual arrangement in settlement of a dispute that was, and was intended to be, binding on the parties".

- As this customer's VM services were to be disconnected (on 23 Nov) with agreement of the two parties "[this] customer would not be billed for services" after 23 Nov.

- The bill recd by this customer on 29 Nov, relating to charges for services 30 days to 8 Jan 2020, "was for a period when the parties were not in a contractual relationship ... and therefore [VM} was not entitled to raise the bill".

- "As it was foreseeable that continuing to bill the customer in breach of the settlement agreement [of 23 Oct] wold cause distress and inconvenience, … [the Adjudicator] finds the continued was a breach [by VM] of its continuing duty of care [towards this customer]”.

- “[The Adjudicator] finds that the circumstances that have arisen in this case exceptional because it would ordinarily be the case a company having reached a settlement would be expected to abide by it”.

- “The actions taken [against this customer] in pursuing him for a non-existent debt are serious, … causing distress and inconvenience …”

There are indeed people who can help. The great pity is the fruitless effort required by this customer to have VM listen to and actively engage in what was being said and take the appropriate timely action. VM Customer Service obviously failed to do so. What would be more unforgivable, however, is if this culture of Customer Service practice where to continue, causing unnecessary and unwelcome anxiety, distress, frustration and anger for more customers..All current and future customers of VM Customer Services are entitled to receive a better experience.

Mark

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Re: Persistent billing error

I know. I am attempting to assist community members by showing no matter how evasive or frustrating attempts to contact VM Customer Services are - and your forum have multiple examples of this - you can succeed if persist, escalate where possible and make yourself a thorough nuisance.until you are heard.

This is most likely my last forum posting / visit

Mark

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