We recently talked about ways that you can limit your data usage whilst away on holiday or on a business trip. Sometimes this information comes in too late though, when the damage has already been done. The web is full of horror stories about data charges which have broken through the £1,000 barrier, in some cases even breaching the 5 figure boundary. If you’re unfortunate enough to be one of these folk, then there are some things that you can do to mitigate the damage. Below is our ten step guide to contesting data charges
1) Get your core documents to hand, and create a list with the below information:
Your Account name and your account number
Your Plan type
Plan inclusions (what you get with your package)
Any Plan extras that you may have purchased, which can include additional data
2) Create a dispute document
This sheet becomes your evidence war chest. Firstly, you need to ascertain the amount of money that you plan to dispute. This should not be arbitrary, and should be calculated around your genuine reasons for disputing your bill.
For example, if your bill came to £1,000, then you would not contest the full amount because clearly you will have used some data genuinely. You may, for example, wish to content £350 worth of it though. Note down this figure, and the calculations you used to get to it.
Secondly, you need to lay out your evidence and why you believe that this data roaming charge is unfair.
Start with the reasons why you think its unfair and thus why you’re disputing it. Sadly, ‘I can’t afford it’ won’t cut the mustard here. You need to look at themes like misleading information, bad advice and incorrect charges instead.
you should now have an overall value that you wish to contest allied against your genuine reasons for disputing the bill.
3) your plan of attack
How do you plan on laying out your concerns and actually contesting the charges? Write down this plan of attack.
We recommend that you begin by sending an email to customer services. Typically, this will yield a quick response, but if it fails you may want to escalate things by going to the phone carriers consumer affairs division. By this stage you should be phoning the company and seeking to talk directly to a representative. If you’re still struggling at this stage, its time to seek legal aid.
4) Draft your email
Include all of the above information, and firmly state ho you expect this to be resolved. This will anchor the discussions and give you a target resolution.
To push things along, you need to roughly outline your next steps if you’re unhappy with their response. This should never be threatening and should be stated to inform them about your plan.
5) Type up a draft email. Include all relevant account details, the disputed amount, the reasons why you are disputing, and what resolution you seek.
The reason for using email as the primary communication method is that it ill allow you to keep a record of correspondence. Therefore it is important to include the below line at the end of your email draft:
“I would like all correspondence related to this matter to be concluded via email so I have an accurate and complete record of all of our conversations.”
Before you hit ‘send’, have a trusted friend or family member run their eyes over the prose. Overplaying your hand with threatening language will not help your course, so ensure you are courteous, informative and polite.
6) Send your email to the complaints department and await a response.
Despite your final sentence, it’s perfectly possible that they will call you back. If they do, politely ask them to abide by your email instructions and to email you back. Besides ensuring the paper trail continues, this will also ensure that they know you are dealing with this matter professionally and that you mean business.
If you have not heard back within 7 days, e-send the email.
If you still don’t hear back, refer back to your battle plan.
7) Conclude the settlement
Presuming you have now heard back, its time to settle the case. There are a number of scenarios. The first is that the company have come back with a reasonable and fully acceptable reply, giving you hat you asked for, or something close to it. Deciding what’s acceptable is key here. Its important and worthwhile to note that most phone companies will not budge much beyond their initial response.
If the response is not favourable, than it becomes even more important to keep a paper trail of all communications. At this stage, it is time to take the evidence to your legal advisor. Due to the costs involved here, it is best to find a resolution that you can accept in step 7 where possible.
If you have put this action plan to the test, share your experiences in the comments below.