Well, after the ethical and intellectual dilemmas of poultry farming we explored here last week, it’s back to earth with a bump. A strange looking letter popped through my letterbox yesterday lunchtime (early for our post which normally shows up at 2.30pm!). Oh, it’s probably something boring, I thought – the usual letters begging me to take out a humungous loan. But I realised, in horror, that it was actually from a debt collection agency called Roxburghe.
When my friend Nina & I shared various fleapit flats in North London we took these letters in our stride. We regularly had to ring up bailiffs to tell them not to help themselves to our belongings because the people who owed the money (previous tenants) no longer lived here. But this is the first time that I’ve received one addressed to me!
Of course, it’s all the doing of my favourite company – TalkTalk/Carphone Warehouse with which I’ve been in dispute for months. For those who don’t remember the story, or have blanked it out of their memory banks for the sheer boredom of it, we stupidly switched our landline & internet to TalkTalk from BT after a cold-calling salesman caught me, unusually, in a good mood. We were told we’d get free internet ‘for life’. Instead, the internet didn’t work so we were without broadband internet for two months, the customer service people were rude and aggressive on the phone and told us if we left TalkTalk we’d have to pay out a £70 ‘cessation’ fee. Now, that salesman, when he read out the terms and conditions over the phone, nevermentioned anything about this ‘fee’ because I would never have signed up otherwise. And what’s more, we got charged via direct debit for an extra month’s service we didn’t receive because we’d already switched back to BT.
After my complaint letters got me nowhere, I sent off a flurry of emails to TalkTalklate last year, including one to the email address on their website supposedly belonging to boss Charles Dunstone. I received one back from one customer service operative saying that according to the computer the matter had been resolved and someone would be in touch. When nobody got in touch I wrongly assumed that they’d dropped their demands, but they’ve actually passed the matter on to Roxburghe. Oh joy! Nice of them to tell me. And now, with Roxburghe’s share of the action, the bill is £82.92.
I’d read on the internet that this is can be a common strategy by companies. They ignore your complaints and pass the matter on to the heavies. What you have to do is contact the debt collection agency and explain that you’re in dispute with the company, and I did so yesterday in writing after I phoned them up and they advised me to do so. I’ve also sent off more emails to TalkTalk, but what good it will do I don’t know. Apparently when 12 weeks have passed without the complaint being resolved I can get in touch with Otello, the telecoms ombudsman and ask them to get involved. So I’ve put the date down in my diary for two weeks’ time! Here’s hoping the debt collectors don’t turn up on my doorstep before then…If all else fails, I’ve also written to Watchdog…