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What a con ! what to do ?

Policies made to deceive

2:22 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I recently signed up with a well known people trace company, as I was moving house I used them to confirm details of the owners of the property and safe guard myself against dodgy landlords...

In the first instance you can only sign up on a recurring monthly fee system unless you cancel they continue to take money from your account, but if you close your account they delete the remaining credits on the account and you effectively lose what you've paid for..

I thought I had cancelled, but hadn't immediately as I wanted to obviously use up my credits first, I simply forgot because of christmas etc... until then I noticed money taken out of my account, I contacted them and said I thought I had closed this account ? they got back to me and said no you didn't but we just have...

My point is I gave no instruction to close the account, so they have effectively taken my money and wiped out my credits..

There reply said I had indictated that I wanted to close it, my point is I gave no instruction or permission to close it and obviously now they arew refusing to reinstate it..

A nice con if you can get it, I'm sure this kind of system is delberately set up to con people just in this exact way, how many people have been used in this very way, they get your money, wipe your credits and get your money for free, nothing, gratis, without providing a service...

My question is who can I contact to complain to ? is it trading standards ? ofcom ? is there any body that deals with this kind of complaint and may look in to these kind of practices..

Any ideas !

3:39 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Trading standards local to their base.

Make sure you have copies of all the documentation.

They are usually most helpful.

A lot may depend on how you worded your letter to them; could they have taken that as an instruction?

7:48 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Trading standards first definitely.

Assuming you still feel you have a grievance after talking to them, did you pay by credit card? If so you have no problem, call your card issuer and ask about their chargeback procedure.

Probably worth contacting the company again before pressing go on the chargeback - you may find the "misunderstanding" can be cleared up easily once they know they face the certainty of losing the money anyway.

8:35 pm on Jan 20, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If it's the same "famous" company I think it is, I was also zapped by their auto-subscription process. Call them right up. They'll cancel over the phone immediately, but they don't make it easy to find the phone number on their site. You could file a complaint with the BBB, but I don't know that it will get far. Companies using these tactics usually have all their legal "T's" crossed.
3:05 am on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Your lucky these guys actually closed the account.

I got one place that wouldn't close it no matter how many emails/calls I placed. I even threatened to charge back if they charged me once again.... and they did charge me again.

Safe to say they got a very angry customer from this experience.

1:03 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Well after few mad rants and threats I have received a more positive responce...

"We have spoken to the IT department and unfortunately, we are unable to move your account back to subscribed for you.

We are willing to move the credits back to your account, but you will need to re-subscribe on the system for us to do this.

Please advise us when you have done this so that we can add the 18 credits back to your account that were removed and we will also add an additional 5 credits as a gesture of goodwill.

The credits and new subscription will then run until you cancel the new subscription"

I suspect I may have to give them more money to sign up again lol .. but not checked yet..

This kind of tie-in practice can't be right...
Just because they have a T&C doesn't mean it's all above board..

1:22 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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If I understand rightly though, what you are actually paying for is a monthly service with a credit system in place to limit the number of searches you can do in a month, is that right?

if you are paying on a "per credit basis" those credits should remain until
a) you have used them
b) they expire, under a pre defined expiry date

If you are paying on a monthly contract basis, those credits should expire at the end of the month, if you cancel it will depend on whether the T&C's state that after cancellation your account will remain active until the end of the month, or whether they state that the account will be closed with immediate effect,

If you thought you had cancelled the account in the first place, why is it an issue if they subsequently close the account, do you want to continue with the service, or do you want it now because you think you have been duped?

I'm just a bit confused as to what you feel this company has done wrong, if they have acted within the terms laid out when you bought the service, then you were aware of the cancellation terms when you took the service out, in which case you haven't really got any grounds to complain, they followed the cancellation procedure that they said they would.

Admittedly it sounds like someone was a little over zealous in cancelling the account, but you stated that that had been your intention all along, so I am struggling to see where the issue lies?

5:42 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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I would just reply that you just want the additional month's subscription refunded. They save 23 credits, you're not out of pocket.
8:45 pm on Jan 21, 2009 (gmt 0)

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Yoshimi, that's kind of right.. you pay a fee and get so many credits to use, then if you don't cancel they automatically bill you for another month and add more credits.. but if you close the account, you lose any credits that are on your account...

As they had just billed me again for another month, I lost the credits I had, plus the new month credits, so about 6 weeks credits, I would normaslly have used before closing the account, to at least get my moneys worth..

to take your money in this way is annoying as you have no option, but to then close the account and wipe out all my credits without my permission is not just cheeky but down right conning... imo

4:01 pm on Jan 25, 2009 (gmt 0)

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What they are doing is not right. They should give you a grace period to use up credits after cancelling billing, e.g. by cancelling your billing and eligibility for future credits but not cancelling your account.

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