What do you do if you don’t get what you paid for, as agreed with a service provider, and they simply ignore you when you complain?
Well, as I keep repeating in this column, if you paid by credit card, you can apply to the bank which issued your card for chargeback, which means your bank asks the merchant’s bank to give the money back. If you can prove your claim, you should get your refund.
Consumers generally aren’t privy to the business arrangements of companies - they see a big brand which has been around for years, and invest their trust - and money - in it, believing they’re in safe hands, should anything “go wrong”.
As many discover, when things-going-wrong involve the doors of the company closing, without them having got what they paid for - in terms of a franchise agreement, each “branch” is, in fact, a privately run company.
What’s a debt collector’s favourite threat? “We’re going to ‘blacklist’ you on the credit bureau.” And while that might be a valid threat when it comes to current debt, it’s illegal for a credit provider or its debt collectors to list a prescribed debt.
What is a prescribed debt? According to the Prescription Act, if, in the past three years, you have not made any payment towards settling a debt, acknowledged owing the debt in any way – including over the phone – and you have not agreed to pay it, or been summonsed in respect of it, it has prescribed, and you can raise this as a defence when asked to pay a prescribed debt. This excludes mortgage debt, taxes and any state-related debt such as a TV licence.
I’m writing about telesales deals again – it’s a subject I feel strongly about, and my inbox appears to be home to more than the usual number of complaints from readers who claim they were misled into agreeing to contracts they don’t want.
Before the telesales industry starts sending me hate mail, I realise that many call centres are run with the greatest amount of professionalism and integrity, with checks in place to ensure that commission-chasing sales agents don’t fail to disclose the full implications of the deal they’re punting.