Bad Companies

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British Gas Services
The service that I got from British Gas Services is so bad that it deserves its own webpage.

Carphone Warehouse
I have had two dealings with Carphone Warehouse, and both gave me lots of problems. Firstly, it sold me a new Orange mobile phone. I asked a couple of specific questions about the new tariff and received very clear specific answers. When I got my first bill through from Orange, I realised that the answers that I was given were wrong. I don't expect that I was deliberately misled, but I was given the wrong information.

I complained to Carphone Warehouse, and got a totally unacceptable response. Because of the misleading information that I'd been given, my monthly mobile bill was going to be far higher than I expected. The response that I got from Carphone Warehouse said, "I have spoken to my manager who has informed me that we do not issue refunds for calls made. However, as a gesture of goodwill I have been authorised to raise a voucher on your account for 10.00 which can only be used in a carphonewarehouse store". In other words, "Our salesmen can say what they want, but we'll go back our our word whenever we want to". Fortunately, although it wasn't its fault, Orange took my complaint seriously, and sorted out all my problems.

The second dealing that I had with Carphone Warehouse was when I bought a portable keyboard for my PDA. I bought it over the telephone, and was promised by the sales person that I would be able to return it to any Carphone Warehouse store within 14 days for a full refund. About 12 days later, I decided that I didn't want to keep the keyboard, so I returned it to the Slough store. I was then told that Carphone Warehouse doesn't issue refunds (despite being told this by the Salesman, and it also being my legal right under the Distance Selling Regulations).

After several telephone calls to the so-called Customer Services department, the store agreed to refund the money. The man who served me, just took the keyboard, pressed a few buttons on his till, and said that everything was sorted. I insisted on getting a receipt, which he begrudgingly printed out for me.

Several weeks later, I checked my credit card account, and found out that the refund still hadn't arrived in my account. It was a good job that I had insisted on a receipt, because the store had no record of receiving the keyboard. After a lot more hassle, it turned out that the man who served me had simply put the keyboard in the bottom of a cupboard, and left it there.

Another company that I had a lot of (still unresolved) problems with was AdamPhones (a company recommended by Carphone Warehouse - you would have thought that I would have learnt by now!). I hired two phones to use in America when I took Bird to New York for the weekend. The daily rate seemed very reasonable, but when I received my final bill from AdamPhones, I realised how such a low daily rate was possible - extra charges had been added in. The agreement clearly stated that I would be charged for making calls, and for receiving calls abroad, which is obviously acceptable, but extra charges were sneaked in when the invoice was produced.

Before I signed the contract, I asked whether the daily rate applied from when the phones were despatched from AdamPhones's offices to when they were received back, or whether it was only for the days that I actually wanted to use the phones. I was told that it only applied for the days that we wanted to use the phones. I therefore faxed the agreement through to AdamPhones, clearly stating the hire period on the fax.

The phones weren't picked up on the day that the hire period should have ended, so I telephoned AdamPhones to ask for them to be picked up (it was waiting for me to telephone to ask for them to be picked up, even though I stated when I wanted the phones to be picked up in writing when I signed the rental agreement). When the invoice was sent through, I had been charged for the extra two days' hire, even though I had clearly stated the end period of hire on my fax.

I was also charged for receiving a call while I was in America. I telephoned AdamPhones, and was told that the charge for receiving the call, was for a text message that I received. I checked the rental agreement, and didn't find any reference to being charged for receiving text messages. The man that I spoke to understood my problems, and that that if I e-mailed him, then I would receive a full refund.

I did this, but received an e-mail from the Billing Manager, saying that I would not receive a refund (that's the main problem with a verbal agreement, I have no proof that I was offered a refund on the phone). He claims that the reference to "incoming calls aboard" includes text messages (not in the English language that I understand, or according to any other mobile company that I've dealt with), and has completely ignored my complaint about the extended hire period.

It's now January 2004 (our weekend away was in July 2003), and I have given up trying to get a refund out of this company, so would just like to warn people not to use its services. In other words, "Our salesmen can say what they want, but we'll go back our our word whenever we want to".

PC World
When I was deciding on a PC to buy, the staff at PC World was friendly, helpful and professional. The offer of included in home help to repair any warranty faults sounded very useful.

However, once things started to go wrong, PC World's service really began to show its true colours.

My initial problem was that whenever I was connected to the internet, my cursor constantly flickered between the arrow and the hour glass. Not a major problem, but annoying when trying to "surf the 'net" and click on URL links. I telephoned its customer support line and couldn't get the problem fixed.

I then took the PC back to PC World and the staff agreed to replace it. However, both the replacement and the store's demonstration model had the same fault. I decided that I was happy to put up with the flashing cursor because there was no alternative available at the time.

Several months later I found that the PC's clock did not keep time when the mains supply was disconnected. I found this unacceptable and contacted PC World. Despite several phone calls, e-mails and letters, the manager of the store has failed to even contact me to discuss my problems, let alone try to rectify them. I have now managed to fix the PC myself.

Tesco Personal Finance
I had used a Tesco Personal Finance credit card for a couple of years before asking to add on an additional card holder. I telephoned the Tesco Visa card customer services and asked for an application form to be sent out. A week later it hadn't arrived, so I called again. The form then arrived.

I immediately filled in the form and returned it to Tesco Personal Finance. Three weeks later, I had heard nothing, so I telephoned Tesco to ask where the card was. I was told that the application had been approved, and that the card would be sent soon.

After another 3 weeks, I had heard nothing, so telephoned again. I was told that the card had been sent out 2 weeks ago, but that they would send a replacement.

The "replacement" failed to arrive, so I called again. The person that I spoke to told me that only one card had already been sent, but didn't seem concerned that it had gone missing and ordered another replacement.

After another 2 weeks, no card had appeared, so I wrote (by recorded delivery) to Tesco Personal Finance explaining my dissatisfaction and returning the credit cards cancelling my account. Despite cancelling the account, I received statements every month telling me that I have zero balance on the account for about 6 months, and even received a replacement card when one expired.

I will never use Tesco Personal Finance, or any Royal Bank of Scotland or Natwest companies again.


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Created on: 13 Nov 2003. Modified on: 05 May 2010.
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