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  • FIRST POST
    • gundo
    • By gundo 15th Oct 16, 10:00 PM
    • 194Posts
    • 64Thanks
    gundo
    Carers running up massive bills using Mum's phone to log in!
    • #1
    • 15th Oct 16, 10:00 PM
    Carers running up massive bills using Mum's phone to log in! 15th Oct 16 at 10:00 PM
    My elderly mother has carers popping into see her twice a day every day as medicine prompt and help with prepping food etc. The carers are employed by an agency that provides the service to my Mum's local authority. My Mum's had carers visiting her for over 10 years.

    Anyway since the new carers company took over (the previous company lost the contract with the local authority) every time a carer arrives at my Mum's they use her phone to call the office to "log in" i.e. indicate that they've arrived to their agency.

    I hadn't realised until very recently that these calls were costing a fortune, I'd stupidly assumed that they must be calling a 0800 number (in fact I'm sure I have a vague recollection that one of the carers told me this when I queried them about using the phone). They're calling a landline from my Mum's BT phone line during the week and the calls can last up to 10 minutes!

    My Mum's BT bill is higher than mine and she very rarely uses her phone except to call me occasionally. She has the lowest tariff they do and I have fibre internet and "all the toys".

    Even just looking at only the itemised calls (the ones costing more than 40p) the vast majority of them are the carers logging in.

    The care service user's manual (which I've only just looked at) states that the carer must never use the "service user's" phone except in emergencies and not for logging in.

    My question is: what do I do to prevent this "abuse"?

    I rang the number that featured the most and because it was this afternoon I got put through to the out of hours service of the carer's company. The person I spoke to basically fobbed me off and was very cagey. They wouldn't even divulge an email address of someone I could contact regarding this (I asked for the manager of the carers).

    How do I tackle this problem and who do I escalate this to?

    I think it's an absolute scandal! My Mum's phone bill Direct Debit has gone up from approximately £17 a month if that, to over £37 a month and she almost never uses the phone herself
    Trying hard to be a good moneysaver.
Page 2
    • missprice
    • By missprice 16th Oct 16, 9:37 AM
    • 3,059 Posts
    • 71,816 Thanks
    missprice
    Can only say it bad that the carers use your mum's phone to log in, but are you certain they have been told not to use customers phone?
    The idea is to log in when you get to work so you are paid properly. This means if you use your mobile, you could be anywhere. I don't do caring but I have had jobs where I had to phone log in.

    I was explicitly told to use customer's phone only and never a mobile. In fact if we used our mobile to log in we would lose pay as they could not be certain we were in fact at work. These were businesses so maybe they wouldn't notice a few quid extra phone bill.
    Anyways I always thought it was a ruse to get more money out of the company by the back door sort of. Not a hugely expensive call but even say 50p times by all the staff at every contract would soon add up to quite a sum.
    94 mortgage payments to go.

    Zero wins 2016 😥
    • penguingirl
    • By penguingirl 16th Oct 16, 9:41 AM
    • 985 Posts
    • 892 Thanks
    penguingirl
    Definitely a form of financial exploitation. Speak to your local authority. You could even ask to speak to the safeguarding team if you wanted to go down that route.

    In the interim, I'm sure there are some phone services where you can add a pin number to make a call. Might be worth putting on the phone.
    • Peter333
    • By Peter333 16th Oct 16, 9:57 AM
    • 1,720 Posts
    • 5,405 Thanks
    Peter333
    My elderly mother has carers popping into see her twice a day every day as medicine prompt and help with prepping food etc. The carers are employed by an agency that provides the service to my Mum's local authority. My Mum's had carers visiting her for over 10 years.

    Anyway since the new carers company took over (the previous company lost the contract with the local authority) every time a carer arrives at my Mum's they use her phone to call the office to "log in" i.e. indicate that they've arrived to their agency.

    I hadn't realised until very recently that these calls were costing a fortune, I'd stupidly assumed that they must be calling a 0800 number (in fact I'm sure I have a vague recollection that one of the carers told me this when I queried them about using the phone). They're calling a landline from my Mum's BT phone line during the week and the calls can last up to 10 minutes!

    My Mum's BT bill is higher than mine and she very rarely uses her phone except to call me occasionally. She has the lowest tariff they do and I have fibre internet and "all the toys".

    Even just looking at only the itemised calls (the ones costing more than 40p) the vast majority of them are the carers logging in.

    The care service user's manual (which I've only just looked at) states that the carer must never use the "service user's" phone except in emergencies and not for logging in.

    My question is: what do I do to prevent this "abuse"?

    I rang the number that featured the most and because it was this afternoon I got put through to the out of hours service of the carer's company. The person I spoke to basically fobbed me off and was very cagey. They wouldn't even divulge an email address of someone I could contact regarding this (I asked for the manager of the carers).

    How do I tackle this problem and who do I escalate this to?

    I think it's an absolute scandal! My Mum's phone bill Direct Debit has gone up from approximately £17 a month if that, to over £37 a month and she almost never uses the phone herself
    Originally posted by gundo

    In my opinion, there are some gross assumptions, and hysteria going on on this thread, from a number of posters!

    "This is abuse!" "Outrageous" "Disgusting" "Stealing" "Are you sure her other stuff is OK?" implying the carers have been stealing her possessions? Good grief!

    There is NO evidence that the carers are exploiting anyone or doing anything bad or doing anything deliberately. Obviously the extra £200 a year on the lady's phone bill is not acceptable, and it needs to be addressed. But just contact the council for goodness sake, or her social worker (or both!) It may be that she needs to hand in the bills so they can reimburse her.

    Who'd be a carer?! I know there have been a few that been proven to be dodgy, but the same goes for dentists, policemen, doctors, social workers, plastic surgeons etc, etc, but no-one tars all of THEM with the same brush!

    Contact the relevant department at the council tomorrow.
    As of 25th October 2016, I am not participating in this site. Until MSE sorts out the issue with insidious trouble-makers, it's no longer a place I wish to be. I can't be bothered with the constant battle with trolls.

    MSE is not a nice place to be at the moment, and hasn't been for a while now. So I'm outta here for the foreseeable future.
    • moneyistooshorttomention
    • By moneyistooshorttomention 16th Oct 16, 11:14 AM
    • 10,898 Posts
    • 30,657 Thanks
    moneyistooshorttomention
    So mum can't call any friends or make any other calls she might suddenly decide she wants to make? That solution sounds worse than the problem to me.
    Originally posted by elsien
    It doesn't sound like Mum makes any other phonecalls - but, in order to leave her the option available to phone whoever she wishes, perhaps the best thing is for her to unplug the phone and hide it when they visit her. Followed by telling them a lie and saying something about either the phone being broken or the phoneline needing fixing. I don't normally advocate lying - but they started that game (ie by lying and saying they wouldnt use her phone - and then proceeding to do so).

    It's also a very valid point that they aren't using that time they spend on her phone on caring for her. If the call is only literally 2 minutes and the visit is 2 hours that's one thing - but a 5 minute call out of a 15 minute visit means her not getting one-third of her time from them.

    I guess the "best case analysis - give them the benefit of the doubt" scenario is these visits are very long and the calls are very short and they have just made the assumption that everyone has one of these all-inclusive phone tariffs and not asked her if she does. In that scenario - it's still the case they should have asked her what sort of phone tariff she is on (in order to check she wouldnt be paying for their calls). Even with that scenario though - I'm assuming Mum probably doesnt have a home computer and logic should tell the carers that that would probably mean she has a more "pay as you go" type tariff.
    Last edited by moneyistooshorttomention; 16-10-2016 at 11:18 AM.
    The unexamined life is not worth living.
    • -taff
    • By -taff 16th Oct 16, 11:16 AM
    • 6,458 Posts
    • 3,731 Thanks
    -taff
    There is NO evidence that the carers are exploiting anyone or doing anything bad or doing anything deliberately.
    Originally posted by Peter333
    it clearly states in the service user's manual i.e. the contract they have with care agency that the carer must never use the "service user's" phone except in emergencies and not for logging in.
    Originally posted by gundo
    They don't read about their obligations then?
    Last edited by -taff; 16-10-2016 at 11:18 AM.
    • Loz01
    • By Loz01 16th Oct 16, 11:55 AM
    • 1,083 Posts
    • 2,206 Thanks
    Loz01
    One of my friends does this job and you are definitely not allowed to use the service users phone!! Make a formal complaint in writing and make it clear that they cannot use her phone unless they want to pay!
    Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity..
    • helcat26
    • By helcat26 16th Oct 16, 12:10 PM
    • 861 Posts
    • 2,280 Thanks
    helcat26
    I think you should make a complaint in writing (with a copy of the bill and a scan of the page in the user manual) to both the council and the carer service- do they have a complaints email?


    In the meantime however unless you can actually be there to speak to the carers put a notice by the phone saying this phone is not to be used for log in and date it as I doubt you will get a swift response to your complaint.
    Then if this continues after you have put up your note they cannot refuse to refund calls made after that time by saying they were given permission to use that phone.
    good luck
    • Jamiesmum
    • By Jamiesmum 16th Oct 16, 12:12 PM
    • 309 Posts
    • 364 Thanks
    Jamiesmum
    I've worked for a few care companies, we can use the SU phones to ring a free 0800 number to log in. It doesn't charge. But this is only for new carers really, most of us have work phones and can tag in via stickers on folders.

    It's something the local authorities bought in to track, (logging in and out) so if her carers are staying 5 minutes for a 30 minute call - the carers will now only get paid 5 minutes pay, and your mum will not have to pay for a half hour call (assuming she's self funding).

    Next, the log in system means that if a carer doesn't arrive (or hasn't logged in) they can ring the carer, find out why, then ring your mum or yourself + send another carer out. I remember a case of a lady with dementia had died and been left for over a week because the carers were just skipping her calls.

    It also means that the carers have a bit more safety late at night, if they are logging in and out correctly and, for example, had a car crash - between house A + B. She can be easily traced.

    I'm not sure why these calls are costing you, I assume they are ringing office number (which should be an area code) but the calls should be free - and anyway, you can totally say no to them using it. Basically they just have to green sheet in on the system which means carers don't log in or out from your mums house and are automatically paid for the time. You could also suggest they just text the on call phone.

    Your best bet would be ringing the office tomorrow after 9 o clock when you can get through to a manager, and ask who to contact regarding repayment of her phone bill.
    • chesky
    • By chesky 16th Oct 16, 7:30 PM
    • 575 Posts
    • 754 Thanks
    chesky
    Don't phone the carers agency, do everything in writing. You may need the proof at some point in the future.
    • Gloomendoom
    • By Gloomendoom 16th Oct 16, 7:39 PM
    • 11,469 Posts
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    Gloomendoom
    Set up a 18185 account (or similar) and ask the carers to use it.
    Advice; it rhymes with mice. Advise; it rhymes with wise.
    • esuhl
    • By esuhl 16th Oct 16, 7:46 PM
    • 6,806 Posts
    • 4,777 Thanks
    esuhl
    You have completely seen the wrong view point here. Firstly the other person is completely correct, and does not have to change the phone package to suit the carers. Secondly, even the manual clearly states not to use the clients phone, except in an emergency.

    I would do two things. As stated above, have a conversation with the allocated social worker regarding the "abuse" of your mothers phone.

    Secondly, I would go look through every bill, and add up the costs of the calls in total. I would then make a formal complaint under the councils complaints procedure, informing them you would like every penny paid back in full.

    This is outrageous behavior.

    Dont change your behavior to accommodate the carers, put a stop to this at once, please let us know how you get on??
    Originally posted by trinidadone
    I couldn't agree more. I'd invoice the care agency for the cost of the calls, and tell them not to use the phone in future. I'd tell them I'd be adding an administrative charge of £25 for any further invoices you need to send them.
    • TBagpuss
    • By TBagpuss 16th Oct 16, 7:52 PM
    • 4,855 Posts
    • 6,370 Thanks
    TBagpuss
    I agree with the previous posters saying that you should raise this in writing, not by phone - if you have a service users manual / contract does it set out the company's complaints process?

    If so, then follow the complaints procedure. Keep a copy of the letter, and try to keep the letter factual, and as unemotional as you can.

    (e.g.
    - I am concerned that this breaches the terms of the contract,
    - it has cost my mother £xx / £xx per month for x months
    - I am concerned that some phone calls last over 10 minutes, and that my mother appears to have been billed for this time when clearly no care was being provided as the carer was on the phone.)

    Also set out exactly how you would like them to resolve the situation - e.g. are you asking them to refund the extra costs or simply to ensure that it doesn't happen in the future?
    • Person_one
    • By Person_one 16th Oct 16, 8:27 PM
    • 26,024 Posts
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    Person_one
    Who'd be a carer?! I know there have been a few that been proven to be dodgy, but the same goes for dentists, policemen, doctors, social workers, plastic surgeons etc, etc, but no-one tars all of THEM with the same brush!
    Originally posted by Peter333
    Um, I'm pretty sure that they do!
    • mumps
    • By mumps 16th Oct 16, 10:22 PM
    • 5,422 Posts
    • 11,277 Thanks
    mumps
    I have an elderly relative who has carers, they have to log in using her phone to prove they are actually at her home. The calls are free, not sure what the number is but it doesn't cost her anything and ensures she gets the time she is paid for. I thought all agencies would be the same. I don't think the service user should have to pay for calls but I don't think carers using their own phones is the answer.
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    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 16th Oct 16, 10:42 PM
    • 34,065 Posts
    • 142,429 Thanks
    silvercar
    A lot of mobile phones now have GPS, so very easy to send your location via most messaging services. WhatsApp allows you to send a map showing your location.
    • UKTigerlily
    • By UKTigerlily 16th Oct 16, 11:23 PM
    • 4,215 Posts
    • 5,190 Thanks
    UKTigerlily
    What would the Carers do if she didn't have a landline? Presumably they'd still have to login? When I had a Nurse (& also when workmen have been) their vehicles are tagged somehow so their location is known at all times & i'd assume if the Carer didn't show then there'd be complaints & their employer would be aware.

    I'd get copies of all calls & highlight them on the bill, along with the total cost & send a letter of complaint telling them that Carers can no longer use the home phone & you want the full cost of the calls back. Plus, if there was any time from visits missed then that too
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    • whitewing
    • By whitewing 16th Oct 16, 11:37 PM
    • 11,304 Posts
    • 47,384 Thanks
    whitewing
    I would state...except to call 999 in an emergency situation....I know they should have their own phone and use common sense, but who knows what would happen if they panic.
    When you find people who not only tolerate your quirks but celebrate them with glad cries of "Me too!" be sure to cherish them. Because these weirdos are your true family.
    • Peter333
    • By Peter333 17th Oct 16, 12:40 AM
    • 1,720 Posts
    • 5,405 Thanks
    Peter333
    What would the Carers do if she didn't have a landline? Presumably they'd still have to login? When I had a Nurse (& also when workmen have been) their vehicles are tagged somehow so their location is known at all times & i'd assume if the Carer didn't show then there'd be complaints & their employer would be aware.

    I'd get copies of all calls & highlight them on the bill, along with the total cost & send a letter of complaint telling them that Carers can no longer use the home phone & you want the full cost of the calls back. Plus, if there was any time from visits missed then that too
    Originally posted by UKTigerlily
    I wondered this too actually. I don't think anyone has ever visited our house from anywhere; a doctor, a meter man, a man from the gasboard or waterboard, a contractor, a repairman or anyone, and had to use OUR phone to check in. And why do the carers need to spend 10 minutes on the phone?

    All very odd!
    As of 25th October 2016, I am not participating in this site. Until MSE sorts out the issue with insidious trouble-makers, it's no longer a place I wish to be. I can't be bothered with the constant battle with trolls.

    MSE is not a nice place to be at the moment, and hasn't been for a while now. So I'm outta here for the foreseeable future.
    • mumps
    • By mumps 17th Oct 16, 1:22 PM
    • 5,422 Posts
    • 11,277 Thanks
    mumps
    A lot of mobile phones now have GPS, so very easy to send your location via most messaging services. WhatsApp allows you to send a map showing your location.
    Originally posted by silvercar
    Well they could be sitting in their car talking to their boyfriend on their mobile for 15 minutes out of a 30 minute visit. I actually want to know that the carers are with my relative for the time they are being paid to be there. The care companies can set up a number where the client is being charged and it is proof they are in the house and I think that protects everyone.
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    • silvercar
    • By silvercar 17th Oct 16, 2:09 PM
    • 34,065 Posts
    • 142,429 Thanks
    silvercar
    Well they could be sitting in their car talking to their boyfriend on their mobile for 15 minutes out of a 30 minute visit. I actually want to know that the carers are with my relative for the time they are being paid to be there. The care companies can set up a number where the client is being charged and it is proof they are in the house and I think that protects everyone.
    Originally posted by mumps
    Hmm, sounds like all you would get is proof that they are on the phone and not necessarily that they are caring for your relative.
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