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Phone customers urged to reclaim money

Phone customers urged to reclaim money

Category: Mobile Phones

This article was correct at the time of publication. It is now over 6 months old so the content may be out of date.

Consumers have been urged to check whether they are owed money when they switch their communications services to a new provider.

Ofcom said around two million people had left their communications provider over the past two years without claiming at least £10 million owed to them.

The watchdog said that consumers often did not know that they were owed money by their landline, mobile, broadband or pay TV provider.

"The money owed could be for having paid for line rental in advance or for promotional credits that customers may have been given during their contract," it said.

Ofcom said it had been working with providers to encourage them to automatically refund credit to their contract customers.

Initially, of the major providers the regulator spoke to, only BT, Orange and Post Office automatically refunded outstanding credit to their customers, no matter what amount was owed.

However, following discussions, T-Mobile has now agreed to automatically refund all outstanding credit and Vodafone will do so for all customers who pay by direct debit.

Virgin Media and Virgin Mobile already automatically refunds its customers for amounts over £1 if they terminate their contracts before 28 days, but has now agreed to automate the process for all customers for amounts over £1 from December 2010.

O2 has agreed to automatically credit amounts over £20.

However, customers of Sky, Talk Talk (including AOL and Tiscali) and Three will need to contact them directly to arrange a refund, although Ofcom said its conversations with these providers had led to improved information being given to consumers about their outstanding credits.

"Consumers were telling us that they found it difficult to claim unused credit from their providers when they left their contracts," said Ofcom's chief executive, Ed Richards.

"Taken together, people have been millions of pounds out of pocket as a result.

"We hope that automated refund processes, clearer signposting by providers and our new consumer guide should help consumers claim back money that is rightfully theirs."

Disclaimer: Information is correct as of the date of publication (shown at the top of this article). Any products featured may be withdrawn by their provider or changed at any time.