CHECKACO NEWS How phone companies keep your cash if you don’t use your Pay As You Go Phone for a few months – and give your number to someone else

Use or lose it – phone firms keep your credit on PAYG after 70 days

Writing in the Guardian newspaper the consumer expert Anna Timms gave advice to a reader who had asked why the phone company Three had kept the credit on her late mother’s phone after she died.

JC of London had written into the newspaper’s consumer guru saying: “My mother recently died of cancer, just three weeks after her diagnosis. While she was in hospital and the local hospice, visitors were restricted due to Covid. Many of her friends therefore paid for credit to top up her pay-as-you-go (PAYG) mobile phone so that they could keep in touch. But she deteriorated so quickly that she was unable to use all the credit, and had £93.86 left on the phone when she passed away.

“I asked the provider, Three, to refund the money so it could be donated to one of the four charities she had nominated in her final days. It was five weeks before the company told me that the money couldn’t be returned and that the number would have to be cancelled as it was in my mum’s name. Three has taken the money my mum’s friends so kindly gave her to ease her dying days and refused to allow me to pass it on to the hospice that looked after her so well.”

Anna Sims explained that: “Most mobile phone providers, believe it or not, hang on to unused mobile phone credits. Not only that – customers forfeit any outstanding money on their sim card and their phone number if they don’t use their phone for six months – or in the case of some providers, for just 70 days. This policy, buried in the small print, penalises often elderly customers who buy a PAYG phone for emergencies, and may find it doesn’t work when they suddenly need it.”

Although this case was resolved amicably after the publicity the practice continues with most phone companies pocketing your cash. Some allow 90 days some firms up to six months and if you do not use the phone for longer the number may be allocated to a new customer so you will have a phone with no credit and a number that no long works.

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