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back to article Fines 4 U: Mobe insurer cops £3m penalty for grumble dumping

A firm that sells mobile insurance to Phones 4u customers has been smacked with a fine of almost £3million for ignoring customer complaints. The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) fined Policy Administration Services Limited (PAS) £2,834,700 for "poor complaints handling" between June 2009 and September 2011. The accusations …

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"1,438 affected customers" or "1,438 affected customers, that we know of. Our list of the others got eaten by the dog. Honest."

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Mobile phone insurance is usually a complete waste of money. It is typically the type of thing that is imposed on people when they get a new phone, along with the unbelievably shit tech-support helpline subscriptions.

Avoid.

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I get insurance from my bank account, otherwise I wouldn't bother.

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@John Riddoch

Yup, from the bank account here too. Better still, it actually works; we claimed to replace my son's phone (Galaxy Note), no problem, brand new replacement. Mind you, he had fallen thirty-odd feet into a shallow river with a rocky bed, spent about 90 minutes in the water before being airlifted to hospital and another two weeks stabilising two crushed vertebrae and a cracked pelvis, so the insurance company couldn't really argue that it wasn't accidental damage...

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Carphone Whorehouse tried to sell me Geek Squad when I bought my Nexus 7, then asked "can I just have your account number" when I paid with a credit card, and had to get the manager's permission to sell it without. Pfft, I was going to root it and invalidate the warranty straight away anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

In some cases the people who ring you up offering it are fraudsters and the insurance does not exist.

I ask myself if I have ever broken or lost a phone, the answer is no. So why would I need insurance for something I could easily replace?

You can't cheaply replace a house or a new car. So insurance on those is worthwhile (but usually mandatory anyway).

When I bought my HTC One SIM free the shop tried to sell me "geek squad" support. Why on earth would a geek like me need a geek squad helpline? honestly :)

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Anonymous Coward

I usually find that telling them you are a geek usually ends that sales pitch :)

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Grumble dumping

On the basis of the headline I thought this article was going to be rather more interesting than it was.

And where are my bl00dy icons? This new TIFKAM comments interface is cr@p.

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Happy

Re: Grumble dumping

As near as I can figure they moved the icons to a tab so that the advert at the bottom of the page can be seen on a mobile device while commenting. The new layout hasn't propagated across all the pages yet, not sure why.

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Pint

Good.

I had the misfortune of dealing with them ten years ago. Their policy sucked and so did they.

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Outsourced

I find it interesting that the company hires and outside firm to handle complaints. With Hindi as the official language? I would think that it would be a better move to create an internal department with some expert help from the outside to set up a process.

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Anonymous Coward

Brunt - FCA

Everytime I see the letters FCA I think of the Ferengi Commerce Authority .

Posted anon because I work in the ******** industry.

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Anonymous Coward

Contracts 4 U are for MUGS.

Never take a contract! Simple as that.

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It's always a scam

A basic rule is that if one is buying a product, one should never buy optional insurance from the same person who is selling you the product. This applies to mobile phone insurance, payment protection insurance, car rental excess insurance, extended warranties (just another form of insurance, really) and a whole pile of other things. At best the insurance will be overpriced, and at worst it will be overpriced and inadequate as insurance. That's not to say that you should not buy insurance, just that you should buy it directly from a financial institution or insurance broker.

Mobile phone retailers (including Phones 4 U) have been particularly bad in this regard. They are not as bad as they used to be - situations in which you are forced to take it out with "one month free" and have to do something in that month to cancel it seem to be rarer now. Regulators have been cracking down (as here). Good.

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Re: It's always a scam

My previous phone (a Galaxy Ace on PAYG upgrade) was from Phones4U and they didn't give me any stick about insurance.

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Re: It's always a scam

It doesn't matter if you don't take the mobile phone insurance at time of purchase, or not. You'll get it anyway. Well that used to be the case when I temped for a mobile phone insurance company for a month, after redundancy. They had the temp (i.e. me) operate the credit card terminal totally unsupervised (nice security!) - and I also dealt with the customer complaints. And pretty much everything else come to think of it. That place was run on a shoe-string. They must have been raking the cash in, as they were an established insurance company who'd branched out into doing outsourced insurance for a big chain of mobile shops. I think they had one 'manager' and 2-3 temps.

On investigating direct debits, I'd come across many forms where the phone insurance bit was filled out in different pens, and different handwriting, to the sales form. Nothing suspicious here then. But I'm sure a few sales guys never missed their targets on insurance sign-ups...

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FAIL

Re: It's always a scam

I stopped using Phone 4 F***ing U over after a sales person said I couldn't take out the contract until I heard the sales speech on insurance.

I went elsewhere.

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I can't complain about the mobi insurance offered by my bank. £50 excess but they've replaced m broken phones twice now.

The only odd thing is, when putting in your claim online, the field for explaining what happened requires 150 characers MINIMUM. I struggled stretching "I fumbled the phone taking it from my pocket an it smashed on the floor". I ended up talking about the weather for the day.

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Coat

"..requires 150 characers MINIMUM..."

Easy.

"I reached into my jacket pocket to retrieve my mobile telephone and as I removed it from said pocket, the infernal device slipped from the grasp of my fingers and full upon the floor at my feet. Whilst I retrieved the device in question, I subsequently determined that its untimely descent onto an unyielding surface had rendered it entirely inoperable."

See? Well over the minimum and I didn't have to mention the weather at all......

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How, exactly

Is lining the regulators pockets going to solve the consumers problem ? They should have ordered the claims honored double time or else. This is just hidden tax.

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JC_

Re: How, exactly

The company has been walloped with a big fine; from it's point of view, it'd be better to pay the extra to keep customers happy, rather than have unhappy customers, the fine and bad publicity.

Hopefully the fine is big enough to do this and not just be treated as a 'cost of business'.

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Facepalm

Never bothered

I don't think I've had mobile insurance since Orange offered it free for 12 months with new handsets (remember that? 1997?).

I've never knackered a mobile to date - if I'm honest I have a big box of museum pieces^H^H^H spares in case I do knacker one mid-contract, but I've been buying unlocked handsets for years now anyway. At £5/month or what ever I think I've saved enough to cover a replacement or two and still be up on the deal.

Never bother with extended warranties either. When I was offered a £150 extended warranty on a £600 appliance recently a simple calculation showed they were expecting a 1 in 4 chance of a total failure in the covered five years. My request to the sales droid to instead show me some more reliable appliances just got a blank look. Perhaps that question isn't covered in the script?

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Even if you want insurance

The best thing to do is say "no thanks" when they try and push it. If you absolutely must have insurance there are better deals online from virtually every major insurer. The ones in the shop are just a high priced scam and the sales people are on commission to push it.

Related to this, I bought a car last year and they were trying push a "showroom insurance" on me which I said no thanks to, despite quite a sales pitch. When I looked online I found I could obtain an equivalent policy for half the price, not that I was interested in taking it even at the reduced price.

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Mobile Phone Insurance

Mine is with my bank (Halifax Ultimate Rewards) and when my Samsung Galaxy S3 was stolen by pick pockets in Barcelona I got a payout within two weeks. OK it wasn't the full amount due to excess but I received 85% of the value so can go ahead and buy another handset. Some insurance does work.

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Anonymous Coward

I used to work at this company (PAS/LSG/4UGroup). This is the least of their worries. They aren't PCI compliant, use pirated software, and had 20 million CC numbers stored on a portable HDD.

One for giggles - when the server room flooded with sewerage, the IT Director had everyone in there, despite electrical commando sockets, mopping it up with paper towels :)

Perhaps worst, a good while before I left, they had huge promotions involving TCF...

AC kinda obvious :)

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what happens with the fine money? shouldnt that go to the customers rather than some faceless quango that will just use the money on moats for MPs?

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Coat

I thought "grumble dumping" was a stomach complaint! Oh well.... live and learn....

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Happy

I thought it was going to be some kind of fetish porn.

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Not the olny issue with mobile phones

When buying a phone on contract the phone and the contract should be separate costs so you know what you're paying for the device and your line rental.

Why can I not get a brand new phone without a contract (as in released today, top of the range)?

Personally I think the whole mobile industry is bloody scam and needs major shake ups!

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Re: Not the olny issue with mobile phones

if that is the case why are they not being done like the banks for forcing PPI?

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Arse-covering: my 2p worth

With contracts, if you break the phone you've still got to pay the bill. (Breaking your home phone doesn't stop BT charging line rental.) Having insurance means you're less likely to stop paying the bill for a busted phone on a connection you can no longer use.

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Have they gone bankrupt yet?

Without paying the fine?

Popped up the next day with a new name?

That seem to be the normal answer for companies like this.

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Anonymous Coward

Grumble Dumping

I think this is what happens early saturday morning after you do the traditional Friday thing; bacon butty, beer, more beer, Brick Lane curry (with beer), more beer, Brick lane beigels etc. I think you're uninsurable by that point anyway.

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