We use cookies to allow us and selected partners to improve your experience and our advertising. By continuing to browse you consent to our use of cookies. You can understand more and change your cookies preferences here.

‘Cold calling company charged me £180 for ‘freezer cover’, how do I get my money back?’’

What can you do if you’ve been convinced to take out appliance cover you don’t need?

‘Cold calling company charged me £180 for ‘freezer cover’, how do I get my money back?’’

Do you have an issue you need to put right? Which? is here to help get your consumer problems sorted.

Dear Which?,

I’m a carer for a vulnerable person and I’ve recently been helping them with their paperwork. I’ve noticed that he had a large number of insurance policies for appliances, some of which are overlapping.

I found the policies have been set up following numerous cold calls, which are targeting the person I care for.

There are several policies with a company called ‘My Smart Cover’, all worth £180 to renew. One is for ‘freezer cover’ and another for ‘TV cover’ – both have the same wording. I decided to call them and cancel the policy. When I did I was treated badly and told it would be £150 to cancel the policies.

I’m tempted to pay for renewal to keep them away for a few more years but I’m worried the policies are on auto renewal and will be paid automatically, what can I do?

William*

Put to Rights

Luke Jeffery, consumer rights expert at Which? says:

We’ve heard from consumers before about cold callers selling dubious ‘home appliance insurance’ they don’t need.

These companies call people, often vulnerable, out of the blue and persuade them that they need to buy insurance for their appliances. Often, these policies don’t offer much cover and the policy wording is generic, confusing and light on detail.

It might be tempting to pay the renewal cost so that it’s dealt with, but this just puts the issue off until the next time and could even leave you open to more cold calls.

If you’re worried there might be direct debits going to this company, contact the bank of the person you care for and ask them to cancel any future payments to the company.

In addition, the Direct Debit Guarantee scheme, which most banks are signed up to, can help protect you from unauthorised payments, or payments taken in error.

In these instances, the payer is entitled to a full refund from their bank. In response your bank was quick to block the payment and you haven’t been left out of pocket.

When researching ‘My Smart Cover’ we found that the company’s registration on Companies House had been struck off (ordered to close) after only a year.

Despite multiple attempts to contact  ‘My Smart Cover’, it has not responded.

FCA advice on cold calling companies

We’ve passed our findings onto the insurance industry regulator, the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and asked them for advice on what to do in this situation.

The FCA is working with Trading Standards to tackle the issue, although it was unable to provide any details of recent action it had taken.

Legitimate and reputable firms never call people out of the blue asking for payment. If you are called unexpectedly, check the details before you commit to buying anything being sold this way.

We checked the FCA’s register for ‘My Smart Cover’ but didn’t find it on there. When a company isn’t on the register it could mean that the company isn’t complying with the regulator’s rules.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) warns: ‘some fraudulent firms take payments from customers but don’t arrange the insurance as agreed. This could leave you with little or no protection.

‘Some other companies contact people to sell, promote or advise on insurance without our authorisation.

‘We strongly advise that you only deal with financial services firms that are authorised by us. You can check the Financial Services Register to make sure they are.

‘To confirm the identity of an authorised firm, ask for their ‘firm reference number’ (FRN) and contact details. You should always call them back on the switchboard number given on the FS Register.

‘You can also search our list of unauthorised firms to avoid doing business with, although their names are likely to change regularly.

‘Remember: if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.’

Need to know

  • Contact your bank immediately – If you think you’ve been mis-sold a policy or are having trouble cancelling one, contact your bank for advice.
  • Try claiming money back using the Direct Debit Guarantee – this protects customers from unauthorised payments and payments taken in error.
  • Try chargeback or section 75 – you might be able to claim your money back under Section 75 if you paid over £100 using a credit card. If you used a debit card you can ask your bank to refund you through its chargeback procedure.

Get in touch. If you’ve got a consumer rights problem you need put right, email us at yourstory@which.co.uk.

Please be aware that we can’t help with, or respond to every email that we receive. The inbox is monitored periodically during office hours, Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.

*This person’s name has been changed on request

Back to top
Back to top