Each week former trading standards officer Richard Thomson answers your questions.
Q I would like your advice about a problem with Virgin Media. I’ve been saddled with a £177 termination charge after I cancelled an arrangement for a modem and TV box service upgrade, following a phone conversation with a barely-understandable salesperson. Do I have to pay this charge?
A You were called up by a saleslady with a foreign accent who told you about an available upgrade to your TV and phone package. You said she was garrulous and a little evasive about the cost of the upgrade, but you understood it to be £61 per month.
You initially agreed to the upgrade, but before you could give it further consideration an engineer arrived and replaced your TV box and modem.
Hard on his heels a letter arrived from Virgin Media to confirm the arrangement and a monthly charge of £61. It also spelled out your legal right under the Distance Selling Regulations to cancel the order within seven days, provided the upgrade had not already been installed.
By installing the equipment before you were given notice of your statutory right to cancel it without penalty seems to me to amount to a ‘misleading omission’ by the salesperson, and will be caught by Regulations 5 and 6 of the Consumer Protection from Unfair trading Regulations 2008.
In the circumstances I can see no defect in your right to cancel the order for breach of contract.
Your next move should be to write to Virgin, and point out the error of their ways. If that does not bring about the desired result, don’t hesitate to contact me again.
Q I have had MS for 40 years and have been left housebound after my wheelchair-accessible car was written off in an accident which was not my fault. The insurer paid out £1,498 following a successful claim, and a motoring charity will top this up with another £1,500 when I can find a suitable replacement vehicle. As used wheelchair-adapted cars hold their price, I have a shortfall of £5,000. Do you know of anyone I could approach for help with funding and advice?
A Perhaps your first point of call should be your local MS society. They’re usually good at finding ways of helping out their members through contacts. The Alton and Petersfield Society can be called on 07796 540554 or at 5, Canada Way Bordon, Hants, GU35 OJT.
You may also qualify for the Motability scheme. Contact your local CAB for information and advice.
Some other organisations that might be able to help are local charity groups like the Lions clubs, (branches at Havant and Fleet) Rotary Wessex, or Inner Wheel (district 11).
You can track their contact details down via Google.
Readers may have some helpful suggestions – if so, please get in touch.
There is lots of goodwill out there in the charitable sector, and I’m confident there are organisations that will help you become fully mobile once again.
Richard Thomson is a former trading standards officer with many years experience. If you have a question, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org and wherever possible he will try to provide practical assistance. Unfortunately he cannot guarantee to respond to every letter or e-mail. Richard Thomson welcomes letters from readers on consumer issues. Replies are intended to give general help or advice, not a complete statement of law.