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★★☆☆☆

“Debit Card Security with 3 Mobile”

Written on: 23/03/2017 by JulienPruitt215 (1 review written)

In May of last year I cancelled my mobile contract with THREE for no reason other than I couldn’t get a signal either at home (other than via the app) or at work. I cancelled my contract over the phone and was given a PAC code which I was told would last for thirty-days. That meant, according to their customer service operator, that I would not be able to use the code once that time-span had passed. As far as I was concerned my contract ended during that phone call and irrespective of whether I used that PAC code or otherwise, especially after THREE had unsuccessfully tried to persuade me to stay with them at the time of my cancellation. I did not use the PAC Code or my Three phone number once the new one was in place and at no stage was any mention made of the contract being ongoing if my PAC was just allowed to lapse.

I even allowed my Direct Debit with Three to run for a few months to ensure they got any monies owed to them, not that I was using the phone much at all.

At the end of November I left the UK but returned last week. One of the first letters in my huge backlog of mail was a December letter from THREE informing me that I owed them forty-pounds. I do not like being a bad debtor and immediately paid it, despite wondering how this had arisen seven months after I cancelled my contract with them. Stranger still, why were they offering to reconnect me (a customer who’d cancelled) if I paid the forty pounds? Further into my mountain of mail I was informed by a debt collection company that they had been appointed by Three to recoup my forty pounds. I phoned the ‘debt collection agency’ to tell them that the money had been paid and to query why it was being sought. They informed me that they were no longer dealing with this file. My (foolish) assumption was that Three had realized their mistake and had withdrawn their claim.

On the strength of this, last Friday I phoned Three to ask about refunding my forty-pounds. The first member of their call-centre staff succeeded in irritating me through informing me that I could not have my money refunded as the contract was still ongoing from last May as I hadn’t used my PAC Code. I was then put through to the Three team that deals with cancellations. A Mr Pareish (who has a great telephone manner) told me that – despite not having used my PAC code - he would ensure that “as a valued customer” I would get my money back and he would cancel my unwanted – and previously cancelled - contract. He went on to say that his boss was out of the office but he would call me to authorize it on Monday.
Today, I eventually received a call from said ‘boss’ in the call-centre who left me with the feeling that he’d had the conversation that I was having with him hundreds of times before – most likely with former THREE customers who’d left without any refund.

In short, because I had not used my PAC Code last year my contract had remained open, hence the forty- pounds debt chasing and despite telling THREE that I was cancelling it. These are the rules of Ofcom, the boss told me. However, he went on, as I was a valued customer who had always paid my bills on time then he would issue a refund order for my monies. Great!....or, at least I had thought so up until this point: “However, sir, the problem is that our Payments Department at THREE will most likely put a stop to your refund as they will not see it as our fault. I will do my best but that is how they view it.” The second problem (deliberately placed hurdle?) came – and here’s the security risk - when he pointed out that THREE’s Payments Department could not refund via the debit card I had made my forty-pound payment on unless I gave him the “first six and last three numbers from your debit card. That is what they require”. They could do nothing without that, or so he said.

Maybe you feel that I should have had more confidence in Three’s “distant” call-centre and given the gentleman my debit card information over the phone – albeit a substantial but incomplete part of it? Maybe I misread his ominous warnings of THREE’s all powerful but apparently obstructive “Payments Department.” Either way, a distinct smell was beginning to waft down the phone from his end and it wasn’t the guy’s aftershave!

I ended the call by informing him that I was uncomfortable giving him that sort of information over the phone, especially as it was fairly obvious through this conversation that Three had no sincere intention of refunding my money. I told him that the stalemate he was deliberately creating meant that THREE could keep my forty-pounds but – rest assured – I would ensure that an account of my dealings with them would not go untold. Be warned if you have cause to do business with THREE. Their welcome will be far warmer than any attempted farewell on your part, at least judging by my experience.

It is worth noting that THREE’s Mr Pareish seemed to have no problem immediately cancelling my account when I was on the phone to him last Friday. Why didn’t THREE do that when I first requested it last May?

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