Determinations

TDR Case Note T004302 (2010)

Issue

Billings - charges for mobile phone services.  

Background

The customer entered into a contract with the Scheme Member Provider (Provider) on 16 February 2009 for the purchase of a mobile phone on a 24-month mobile service connection.

On 15 July 2010 the customer contacted the provider to query charges on his account.  This conversation included discussion about disconnection of his mobile phone, as it appeared that someone else had been using the phone.  The provider advised that the mobile phone was still active, as it had received no disconnection request.  The customer again contacted the provider on 14 August 2010 to advise that his mobile phone had been lost or stolen.  The provider immediately placed a call bar on the account, and no further usage charges were incurred.

The customer considered that his account had been rendered inactive in January or February 2010. He advised that he thought he had disconnected the phone, but that for some reason this did not happen. He complained that the provider should have alerted him when the usage charges had increased, and considered that he should not have to pay for any use of the phone after it was no longer in his possession.
The provider responded that there was mobile phone usage on the customer’s mobile phone account and the customer was liable to pay for the usage. The provider advised that it did not offer an alerting service about increased usage, and it had placed a call bar on the customer’s account as soon as it was made aware that the phone had been lost or stolen.

Adjudicator’s decision: The essential issue was whether the customer was liable to the pay costs incurred in relation to his mobile phone account. The provider’s residential terms and conditions set out the customers’ obligation to pay for all services that the provider provides and charges to customer’s account, even if somebody else uses those services. 

The adjudicator found that it was made clear to the customer during his telephone conversation with the provider on 15 July that the phone was still active and incurring charges. The adjudicator could not uphold the customer’s complaint that his mobile account was inactive as from January or February 2010.

With regard to the customer’s point about not being liable to pay the charges fraudulently incurred on his account, the adjudicator found that the customer was fully aware that the phone was still active and incurring charges as of 15 July. He was advised to either disconnect the service, which would incur a cancellation fee, or upgrade to a new contract.  He was also advised that the phone could continue to incur costs if he did nothing.  The customer took no steps to prevent activity on the phone, and the majority of the calls were made after his call to the provider on 15 July.

Furthermore, in regard to the customer’s complaint about the provider being unwilling to identify the user of the phone, the adjudicator found that the provider was not required to do so, and the responsibility was on the customer to pursue the perpetrator through the police or the civil courts for any fraudulent use of the phone on his mobile account.  

Final outcome

The adjudicator dismissed the customer’s complaint and concluded that the customer was liable to pay the costs incurred on his mobile telephone account.