Blaydon’s mum, who has been battling ‘useless’ phone insurance, wins £720 payout

A broken iPhone inevitably means a expensive repair bill, but Denise Chisholm wasn’t too concerned when she brought her daughter’s phone in for repairs.

Denise, from Blaydon, has been paying £11 a month for insurance for more than two years, so she was confident she wouldn’t have any problems taking the phone back to Carphone Warehouse’s Metrocentre branch. But the nurse didn’t anticipate what happened next – when the shop assistant told her she couldn’t claim the damage under the retailer’s Geek Squad phone insurance because Apple had stopped producing the model.

Denise, who works in the Special Care Baby Unit at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Gateshead, was told she was not entitled to a replacement or repair as the model was no longer available as the policy would only be replaced on a like-for-like basis.

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“I told the assistant it wasn’t worth the paper it was written on — and she agreed with me,” said Denise, 57. I had paid into the policy since the phone was new, and my daughter had it a few years, and most of the time it wouldn’t have paid off The whole unit had gone black and had to be replaced. I was so upset.”

Denise filed a complaint for Instore, then decided to take things further and hired the Barings law firm to take the case on her behalf. She forgot everything until she received a letter from Barings saying her complaint was upheld. “I was asked for my bank account information and address, and to be honest I was suspicious,” Denise said. “A lot had happened between completing the form and getting back to you, and my daughter had a new phone and contact, so all was forgotten.”

Barings Law took a fee of £570 from the total amount awarded to her for a refund and compensation and left her £720, which she was pleased about.

“I’m glad I didn’t just accept what I was told,” she said. “If the insurance company stopped making claims when a phone was discontinued, the customer should have known at the time. It was totally unfair. Learning that the insurance I paid for monthly was basically worthless was incredibly frustrating. There’s no point in having it for something if you can’t make a claim if something goes wrong!”

Carphone Warehouse has acknowledged that there is a problem with the mis-selling of insurance products. A statement on its website reads: “The Financial Conduct Authority has completed an investigation into the historical sales processes of Geek Squad Mobile Phone Insurance in Carphone Warehouse stores. The FCA’s investigation focused specifically on the sales process between December 2008 and June 2015 and found some areas where it believes Carphone Warehouse did not meet expected standards over the period. Based on these findings, the FCA has fined the company .

“It is clear that between 2008 and June 2015 we failed to meet the standards expected by our customers on a number of occasions and – as the FCA has acknowledged – Carphone Warehouse has made significant improvements to its sales processes, complaints handling, since 2015 and monitoring Carphone Warehouse worked very closely with the FCA during their investigation.

“If you currently have, or have had in the past, a Geek Squad insurance policy and would like to speak to someone about it, the best way to get in touch is by filling in your details below and we will get back to you that way to you as soon as possible. If you have recently received a letter, text message or email from us, please contact us using the details in that message.”

Chroniclelive contacted Currys Carphone Warehouse for comment.

Whilst Denise was happy to let Barings make the claim on her behalf, it is possible to claim yourself by contacting Currys Carphone Warehouse via this link.

If you have an issue with a regulated financial company that the company cannot solve itself, you can complain to the Financial Ombudsman Service (FOS).

Here’s our step-by-step guide on how to complain if you think you’ve been sold a financial product in error

What can I complain about?

Typical areas that the FOS deals with are:

  • bank accounts
  • credit cards
  • Debt collection and irresponsible lending
    Payment Protection Insurance (PPI)
  • Insurance, including auto, home, travel and pet policies, roadside assistance, income protection, critical illness and personal health insurance
  • investments.
  • Mortgages and loans, including payday loans
  • pensions and pensions
  • savings

The Ombudsman can only help with complaints about companies regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority.

How far back can my complaint go?

It depends. You either have three years from when you knew you could make a complaint or six years from the event you are complaining about. You must contact the Ombudsman within six months of your last contact with the company you are complaining about. If you miss this deadline, you will have to start the whole process over and start filing the complaint a second time with the original company.

Can I reopen a previous claim?

Every time you complain, the company must give you a final answer and refer you to the Ombudsman’s free service. If you do not receive a definitive response or your right to recourse to the Ombudsman within six months of his letter is not mentioned, your timeframe is extended to three years from the time you knew you could lodge a complaint , or six years from the event you are complaining about. If you are still within these time limits and want to continue a complaint from where you left off, contact the Ombudsman.

Can I claim compensation for the effort involved in making the claim?

The Ombudsman awards compensation for material hardship and inconvenience about a quarter of the time, so be sure to include the hours you spent tracking the issue and request compensation.

How do I start a complaint with the FOS?

The FOS will not consider complaints until you have exhausted the company’s complaints procedure, so you should complain directly to the company and provide as much evidence as possible to support your case. You can either write a letter detailing a complaint or use the free online complaints tool Resolver to help you with this. A company has eight weeks to review your complaint and provide you with a “final response”. If this does not lead to a resolution, you can escalate this to the FOS.

How do I contact the FOS?

To make a new complaint you need to fill out a form which you can find on the FOS website or simply fill out the online complaint form. If you would prefer to discuss it with someone, call 0800 023 4567.

How long does it take to get feedback on my case?

It can take three to nine months, so keep in mind that this can be a lengthy process.

What do I get?

In addition to financial compensation, the Ombudsman’s aim is to put you back in the position you would have been in if the company had acted correctly from the start. Examples include correcting credit reports or restoring a no-claims bonus

I’m still not happy – what’s the next step?

If you are still unsatisfied with the outcome, you may consider taking the company to small claims court, but be aware that the court will consider the FOS decision. There are also fees for going to court, which start at £25 and go up to £455 depending on how much you want to claim.

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