Services and Billing
What about people who don’t have a bank account so can’t pay by Direct Debit?
Ofcom recognises that consumers on low incomes may have little choice but to pay non-direct debit charges because they don’t have a bank account, or only have an account which doesn’t allow direct debit, or simply because paying by direct debit is not the best way of them managing their finances.
Some operators apply an extra charge depending on how you pay your bill. Not all providers charge extra and where charges are applied these may vary so it’s worth shopping around. Check whether there are any other low-cost payment methods that might be suitable for you.
It is therefore important that companies comply with the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 and General Condition 10 by making sure that the existence and amount of any charges that apply to where a certain type of payment method is used are clear.
In addition, the Consumer Rights (Payment Surcharges) Regulations 2012 (‘Payment Surcharge Regulations’) came into force on 6 April 2013 and apply to contracts entered into on or after that date.
They say that if a company charges a residential customer for using a particular payment method, the charge must do no more than cover the costs the company incurs in processing the payment (they do not apply to business customers).
If you are a residential consumer concerned about the amount you have paid for a payment surcharge, you should first raise your concerns with your communications service provider.
A copy of the Payment Surcharge Regulations can be found here: http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/3110/made
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