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Aerial / O2 Early Termination Dispute

edited 15 February 2019 at 11:18AM in Mobiles
11 replies 2.6K views
DeeJayDreadyDeeJayDready Forumite
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edited 15 February 2019 at 11:18AM in Mobiles
My partners mum has been in a lengthy dispute with Aerial (a third-party company operating through O2 billing) and I wanted to get the take of a few people on this forum on it.

The contract had been operating for more than a year when I first heard about it, initially with extortionate rates. This was also a ‘business’ contract, which already seemed rather questionable to me. I contacted them repeatedly and with great difficulty eventually got them to revise the tariff to something more sensible (but in reality it was still more than double the cost of a standard sim only deal and with about half the minutes, data etc.) and we agreed that she would see it through so as not to incur cancelation fees; but with the agreement that we would not be contacted again and that would be the end of it.
Over a year later in February 2017 they started cold calling and pressured her into agreeing to an extension on marginally better terms. I told her to call back and cancel a few days later, but they told her that she had already indicated that she was happy to accept what had been offered and that as it was a business contract there was no ‘cooling off period’.
The bills were still very large at times and the tariff was such that it left her with a complete inability to use her phone in the Republic of Ireland during a time of terminal illness suffered by her sister who lived there, and no signal whatsoever at her holiday flat where she spends about 40% of her time. This issue was raised both with Aerial and O2 at the time with no resolution. This resulted in her having to purchase a cheap handset and pay-and-go SIM from another provider and the resultant cost and hassle that includes, such as having two separate phone numbers.
In August 2018 we were both contacted to say that the contact was due to expire in December 2018 and that we needed to renew. We both said that we absolutely would not be renewing under any circumstances due to the previous issues.
We then terminated the contact in November 2018 and moved the number to a normal sim-only deal with another contract provider, but at that point they then started saying that the contract was actually due to run until August 2019 and that there would be an early termination fee (£190) for the remaining period if we used the PAC code. We'd easily had more than enough at that point and went ahead and used the PAC code and are now in dispute over that amount.
O2 were useless in dealing with our complaint and essentially asked Aerial if the debt should be stood over, to which they obviously replied 'yes' and O2 just sent us a letter of deadlock and engaged a debt collection agency. I have spoken to both O2 & Aerial many times over the last few weeks trying to get this written off or massively reduced, but they both washed their hands of it. O2 point to Aerial. Aerial say that they successfully agreed a 24 month extension in February 2017 but that there was still 8 months remaining at that point, so it was in effect a 32 month extension (which is clearly outrageous), and that it is out of their hands now that it is with a debt collection agency.
Our next step would appear to be to go to the Ombudsman and notify Moorcroft Debt Recovery of that so as to avoid them ”increasing the debt by 8%+ daily” during this process. Both she and I are extremely battle wary from this process but are furious at the thought of paying £190 for a period of service that was never provided (December 18 – August 19) and which they previously said didn't exist(!), particularly after they have already made plenty of money from this contact and provided shockingly poor service/customer service throughout. I have never encountered a business like Aerial. My dealings with them have extremely negative with virtually no effort to give any kind of acceptable resolution to a customer with a problem. I think that it should be a matter of reputational shame that O2 allow themselves to be associated with this firm.

Any thoughts on where we go from here?
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  • pmdukpmduk Forumite
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    Why did you not go to the Ombudsman immediately you had the deadlock letter?
  • pmduk wrote: »
    Why did you not go to the Ombudsman immediately you had the deadlock letter?

    The deadlock letter is dated 06/02/19 and arrived 11/02/19. As I say, that is what we intend to do. I just wanted to check on here that that is the most sensible course of action and if there was any tips or recommendations from users on here that may stop these crooks getting away with exploiting her - the £190 amount disputed is for an (ongoing) period of service that was never provided, and that was indicated several times didn't exist...
  • ChinoChino Forumite
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    It's unclear from your post what the minimum term of the "extension" that your mother agreed to was:
    • "Over a year later in February 2017 they started cold calling and pressured her into agreeing to an extension on marginally better terms."
    • "In August 2018 we were both contacted to say that the contact was due to expire in December 2018"
    • "but at that point they then started saying that the contract was actually due to run until August 2019"
    • "Aerial say that they successfully agreed a 24 month extension in February 2017"
    What does your mother's paperwork for the extension say regarding the minimum term?
  • I'll have to tell her to look out any old paperwork or emails, but certainly Aerial are claiming that she agreed to a 24 months extension in February 2017; but as there was still 8 months remaining on the previous contract at that time, they make that 32 months in total (from the date of agreement), which takes you to August 2019 - which is an outrageous practice, one I suspect they may only be able to do legally as it was actaully a 'business' contract that she was originally (mis)sold.

    However a cold calling seller in August 2018 said that the contact was due to expire in December 2018, presumably in an effort to get another renewal. But Aerial are now claiming that is not true and that the term ends in August 2019.
  • pmdukpmduk Forumite
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    There are two company named Aerial you could be referring to, however, both use OS:C as their ADR, (Ombudsman). Generally OS:C is known to for sticking closely to the contractual requirements of both parties, which may prove difficult for the customer here.

    One difficulty may be that you may be found to have complained to the wrong party, you have never had a contract with o2 and your formal complaint should have been made to aerial. On the other hand, o2 didn't take the opportunity, from your account, to distance themselves from the issue.

    If you go to the ombudsman I'd try to argue, if indeed, it's the case that the contract was missold, why would any consumer choose to buy a business contract?

    OP as you are not a party to the contract it has to be your partner's mother that makes the complaint unless you are a registered representative on the account.
  • mobilejunkiemobilejunkie Forumite
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    Does an Ombudsman even cover a business contract?
  • pmdukpmduk Forumite
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    I believe they cover businesses of less than 10 employees
  • The company is called 'Aerial Direct'.

    'Ombudsman Services' are who O2 have referred us to.

    Yes, it would be my partners mother submitting the complaint as it was her account.

    The fact that she was locked into a completely unsuitable business contract is certainly one of our main areas of anger. Particularly as, had it not been, the ludicrous 32-month term supposed agreed to in February via pressured cold calling (she has no memory of agreeing to a term of anyway near this length though!), would have been able to have been cancelled during a standard cooling off period, and this fiasco would've ended long ago. But they refused our request for this on the basis that it was a business tariff (no cooling off period apparently...).

    We intend to submit something to Ombudsman Services today. Should we notify Moorcroft Debt Recovery that the amount is in dispute and not to take any further action until this matter is resolved?
  • pmdukpmduk Forumite
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    Should we notify Moorcroft Debt Recovery that the amount is in dispute and not to take any further action until this matter is resolved?


    I would, and ensure o2 and/or aerials direct have notified them as well, you'll understand why I'm sure.
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