I needed to contact Ovo Energy to discuss an unexpected £261 bill.
I had had to give up work while recovering from two liver transplants and the bill coincided with the notification that my employment and support allowance was to stop, leaving me with no income.
I searched for customer services online and dialled the prominent number to find out if I might pay in instalments. The call was terminated midway, so I redialled.
When I received my mobile bill I found the two calls totalled £48.37. My provider said the number I had called belongs to A2B Telecom and is charged at £3.60 per minute plus an access charge, whereas Ovo has a freephone number, which is what I thought I was calling.
I contacted Ovo who said it could not be held responsible for the call charges and tried in vain to get through to A2B Telecom. This is a sizeable chunk of money that I really cannot afford.
You have fallen victim to a telecoms service that charges premium rates to put callers through to big corporations. The webpage containing the number for Ovo does state the charges and the fact that there is a cheaper line, but this is beneath the large-print phone number and many callers will not read that far.
A very brief message also speeds through the cost when you dial, but again, it’s easy to tune out.
Amazingly, these services are legitimate even though only the unwitting would use them instead of the cheaper or free alternatives.
A2B Telecom supplies premium rate numbers to businesses with the lure of “unlimited income from only a few hours’ work a month”.
It also operates a premium rate connection to Amazon customer services, which has caught out numerous readers. The company declined to comment.
Ovo Energy says it has no association with A2B and gets no share in the revenue from its number.
However, it has since offered to deduct the charges from your energy debt as a goodwill gesture and to discuss an affordable payment plan for the balance.
If you need help email Anna Tims at [email protected] or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions