3 isn’t the magic number for unhappy customers

By Andrew Donaldson and Michael Behr 

One of the UK’s biggest mobile operators has been accused of using “dubious” tactics to prevent customers returning mobile phones, according to disgruntled consumers.

 3 Mobile customers who have returned their phones within the 14-day statutory limit claim to have had their phones sent back to them by the company.

 Customers also say they continue to be billed, contrary to their statutory right of return.

 One of Scotland’s top consumer lawyers, Donald Prichard-Wright described their policy as “legally very dangerous” and in defiance of consumer laws providing customers with a ‘cooling-off’ period.

 Mr Prichard-Wright added: “Every customer has a statutory right to return within fourteen days. By law, a company must comply in cancellation and refund where appropriate.

  “The procedure by 3 is not in the spirit of this law.”

 3 Mobile customer Malcolm Ross returned his phone via Royal Mail Special Delivery within the fourteen day cooling-off period.

 Mr Ross said: “I sent it back but was later billed £20 that month. I phoned 3 who said I hadn’t ‘authorised’ my return.”

 Customers are then contacted by what has been described as “hard-selling” teams of sales advisors who pressure customers to change their minds.

 Mr Ross continued: “Their sales people were aggressive asking me to acknowledge just ‘how good’ the deal the offer was.

 “I kept on saying that I wasn’t interested and was put through 3 different hard sales people. It was a stressful and ridiculous ordeal.”

 A trading standards spokesperson said that they are now investigating these claims.

 3 Mobile were not available for comment.