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EE refused to let cancer patient delay mobile bill

Wednesday, November 18th 2015 by Ellen Branagh

A cancer patient has hit out at EE after the company refused to allow him to delay payment on his phone bill – because he hadn’t been a customer for long enough.

Rob Richardson was diagnosed with testicular cancer in August and had surgery soon after, leaving him unable to work and reliant on statutory sick pay of £80 a week, topped up by his savings which have now run out.

The 28-year-old, from Warrington, is hoping to return to work as a chef within the next few weeks after finishing chemotherapy, but has had to make some arrangements to delay payments on various bills.

But when he asked EE if he could set up a payment plan to pay an outstanding amount of £45, he was told he hadn’t been a customer for long enough.

Mr Richardson said he has actually been with the provider for five years but the account was previously in his fiancee’s name, with him named as an additional account holder, and that EE told him he had technically only been a customer for the past six months since the details were changed.

“I spoke to them previously and said I might struggle if I couldn’t work and was told I’d be able to set up a payment plan,” he told Cable.co.uk.

“They rang me because I was late paying my last bill. It was a bill of £95 which was my fault, I had forgotten to cancel various things like Spotify.

“I asked if I could sort out a payment plan and they said it would probably be fine, but I’d have to call back to speak to someone in customer service rather than the collections department.”

Mr Richardson rang up a week later and paid £50 of the bill, but asked if he could arrange a plan for the remaining £45.

“I knew I had some grants coming, so I’d easily clear it, plus I’m hoping to go back to work. It’s not like I was asking to drag it out into next year.”

'Morals'

But he was told that because the account had only been in his name for six months, he had not been with EE long enough to be allowed to arrange a payment plan.

“Eventually they said they could kind of help but only if I made an appointment to go back to see my specialist and get a special sick note relating to my phone.

“I thought, ‘hasn’t the NHS got enough on its plate at the moment without people going in for their phones’.

“So the only way EE could help me was for me to go back to my doctor, who is in Liverpool, and take up his time sorting this out.”

Mr Richardson said the conversation had left him “fuming” and sparked him to write a complaint on social media for the first time in his life.

“To think what people are going through, you’ve got enough on your plate when you’re diagnosed with cancer, let alone this.

“Every other company I’ve dealt with has been really understanding. It’s only EE I’ve had a problem with.

“The fact I’d been told on two previous occasions that it would be possible and that I only had £45 outstanding made it worse.

“I want them to cancel my contract. I don’t want to be with a company that has these kinds of morals and treats people like this.”

After Cable.co.uk contacted EE, the company offered to waive Mr Richardson's remaining bill and give him 50% off for six months, but he declined the offer and the company agreed to cancel his contract.

EE said that it has processes in place to help customers manage their bills and delay payments in the event of serious illness.

The company has reviewed the case and apologised to Mr Richardson and allowed him to leave his contract at no extra cost due to the "extenuating circumstances".

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