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Beware of 3, the mobile phone and broadband company…

Posted Sep 10 2012 11:37am

Because once they get their claws on your money, they won’t give it back easily… Even if you haven’t bought anything from them.

On August 16, I ordered an iPad 3, on a monthly contract with 15GB mobile broadband, from 3. Delivery was next day if ordered before 16.00. It was, by 2 hours.

It failed to materialise, nor did I get any feedback from 3. However, while hanging around waiting, it did give me time to wonder what the hell I was going to do with a mobile Internet account. Hell, I’ve not been outside for a month.

So, taking advantage of the fact that they’d failed to deliver, and of the Distance Selling Regulations which give you 7 days grace to cancel for any reason, or for none, I cancelled, by email.

They don’t make it easy to contact them in writing. The only email address is on the Accessibility page, and that goes to the accessibility people, whom I asked to pass it on to sales. The complaints page has nothing but addresses to write to, or phone numbers to call. The Accessibility page, though, also has a fax number, which I used later on.

A few days went by and I thought I’d check my bank account, where I found 3 had set up a Direct Debit, which I got cancelled by the bank. I also spotted that they’d debited my account for £99 deposit on the cancelled order. OK, that was probably automatic and inevitable, but nevertheless I emailed and pointed out that as the order was cancelled, I’d rather like it back.


After waiting a few days, giving a credit transfer time to grind its way through, I filled in their online complaints form.

Still nothing.

September 4, and I faxed a polite but firm letter explaining the situations and asking for my money back promptly.

Yep, you guessed – still nothing. And, by the way, the only email I’ve had was a customer service email telling me how to set up the iPad they hadn’t sent. I binned it; in retrospect I should have given them a bollocking.

So, today, it’s been angry letter, threat of legal action, time, also faxed.

The fax number may well go to the Accessibility people, but that doesn’t matter – it’s gone to the company, it’s their task to ensure it gets to the right people.

Thing is, they legally have 30 days to process refunds, which needs to change as there is no justification for it. A refund can be processed just as quickly as a debit, it doesn’t need 30 days. That’s no reason not to press for payment, though. Can take 30 days isn’t saying it must take 30 days.

So be aware, if you order anything from these buggers, and there’s an upfront payment involved, they won’t be in any hurry to refund it if you cancel. And what happened to the iPad that should have been despatched on August 16? No idea, it never arrived from which I assume it was never sent. 3 haven’t bothered to explain why.

Oh yes, I did buy an iPad 3, just the basic wi-fi version, and subsequently discovered that, using the portable wi-fi hotspot function on my smartphone, I could connect it to the Internet. Not entirely sure when I’ll use that, either, but at least it’s not costing me anything as half a gig comes with my mobile account, ample for my needs, just Twitter and email if I’m away from home. In fact, everything, PC, iPad of course, laptop, ’droid tablet, are all configured to connect via my mobe in the event my broadband connection fails which, touch wood, except for a very few, very short, dropouts, it hasn’t done in over 4 years.

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