Books For Children / erroneous charging - debt recovery agency
I subscribed to Books For Children last year - in May I believe - I was lured by a special offer & competition to win a laptop.
I subsequently tied myself into a contract to purchase 4 books by June 2010.
I found that once a member I was inundated with unsolicited offers both by mobile phone & email as well as having to cancel an 'editor's choice' sent to me monthly unless I cancelled it first. It seemed that any offers I did take up were not to count towards my 4 book quota commitment.
However the reason I am complaining today is as follows, please bear with me, it is longwinded - for this I blame BFC
I paid a bill on 28th November, by phone.
To the best of my knowledge I was paid up to date at that time & told I had cleared my debt.
Despite this I began to receive overdue payment reminders - each time the bill seemed to increase.
Initially, because it was leading up to Christmas time I just thought there was a 'lag' in their system & that it would all resolve itself shortly, internally, when they realised their billing mistake.
The letters stopped - reinforcing this train of thought on my part.
Then shortly before & after Christmas I began to receive letters from Groundwell Debt Recovery - for the money I had already paid.
I ignored the first couple of these - again thinking communication within the company was just inefficient - I was also away from some time over Christmas.
In the New Year I received another Groundwell letter or two - so I contacted Books For Children by phone - I believe on 4th February, having first checked my online account.
It stated that I owed a £1.97 late payment charge. I knew this was unfair as I had paid my bill many weeks previously.
The man I spoke to at Books For Children confirmed the following:-
Yes I had paid my outstanding bill on 28th November.
No I should never have received a late payment charge.
No I should never have received letters from Groundwell.
He told me that he had removed the £1.97 debt from my account
He confirmed that I didn't owe the company any money
He confirmed that he would notify accounts & Groundwell that I didn't owe any money
He confirmed that neither Groundwell nor Books For Children would contact me again with regard to this matter
He confirmed that it was understandable that I was unhappy and apologised on behalf of Books For Children. Finally he assured me that 'editor's choice' was no longer operating and that I would not receive any more unsolicited products.
Despite all this on 19th February I received another threatening letter from Groundwell (dated 15th Feb ref [protected]) stating that I owed £23.93 will all the associated intimidating blurb that comes in such letters.
I promptly checked my online account - it stated that I owed £1.97.
I tried to phone Books For Children but was told by a recorded message that I had to contact them during week day office hours.
I went online & sent a complaint to Customer Services detailing all the above, on the form they provide. I shall attach herewith what I could copy of this before I sent it and my complaint reference.
I also expressed my extreme displeasure with the company and that I would like to hear back from them in writing by Monday 21st Feb stating that they had cleared the matter up.
I wrote that I would like an apology and that I no longer wished to deal with such a company as their's due to the unscrupulous manner in which they did business, regardless of the contract I had with them.
I also included my land line suggesting that a phone call would also be appropriate but that essentially I needed assurance in writing that they were attending to this matter, their errors & my mistreatment as a customer.
I also said that I would be consulting my solicitor if I didn't hear from them.
I have yet to hear from them and it is now 4th March.
How you guys can help, hopefully...
I would desperately appreciate some advice from yourselves as to how I should proceed with all this.
I am loath to sit waiting for ages to speak with someone at BFC on the phone - I am a busy woman.
Clearly there is little point in complaining by phone or writing to them again as they lie on the phone & do not respond to written complaints..
I am frightened that the debt recovery agency are about to turn up on my doorstep & am concerned that this will have given me blacklisting points on my credit rating.
As you can imagine I am furious & absoultely certain I am not the first customer to be treated like this.
Please please advice me as to what I can do & please please warn other consumers to have nothing to do with this bullysome & unscrupulous 'outfit' - thieves too as far as I am concerned.
Nicola Litsa Aris