Chatterbox sent the following letter to its customers over the weekend, updating them on its efforts to resolve its cashflow crisis and refund their money:
13th December 2007
This is a follow up to our last letter to bring you up to date with the progress in getting your cash backs paid.
We were originally contacted by Mr Nick Sommerlad from the Daily Mirror, who co-writes a weekly complaints column. He had received complaints regarding non payments of cash backs. After a meeting with him, he conducted his own research and published the findings. As will be observed, these articles were critical of a certain network:
Daily Mirror news story
Daily Mirror story 2
We approached BBC Watchdog to obtain wider coverage of the cash back problem. After meeting senior members of their team and them investigating our material, they aired on 17th October 2007. The programme included a feature on cash backs and our MD Mr Kevin Patel participated. The viewing audience of this programme was some 4 million and the programme indicated that the networks had to accept their responsibility for the cash back problem.
A clip of this programme can be seen at the following link:
We contacted Ofcom and as a result we had a meeting on 13th November 2007 with the Consumer Policy Manager, an Economist and a Lawyer. At this meeting we explained in detail the cash back problem and supplied documentation. They have promised to get back to us with their thoughts which we await with interest. We have also maintained contact with our local Trading Standards Officer.
Mr Roger Godsiff MP has been involved in helping many of his constituents who were left with unpaid cash backs due to the collapse of Dialamobile. We understand Dialamobile have approximately 90,000 customers with unpaid cash backs. Our MD recently had a lengthy meeting with Mr Godsiff and provided him with certain documentation which we feel maybe helpful. The impact of Mr Godsiff’s work can be found at the following link by entering search word “Roger Godsiff”:
This has now become a massive industry wide problem. Among the companies that have entered administration are Mobile Media Systems Ltd (t/a Phoneboxdirect and Mobile Affiliates Limited t/a Coolnewmobile and Phones2yourdoor). This administration involves around 39,000 customers with outstanding cash backs of up to £10 million.
We have continued with our attempts to meet the CEO of 3, Mr Kevin Russell, without getting a positive response. Without such a meeting it has proved difficult to get 3 to cooperate in solving the cash back problem.
chatterbox.com has made various proposals to 3 which we believe would have resulted in both the cash backs being paid and good quality business for 3. We have not had any substantive responses.
At the beginning of 2007, chatterbox.com was accredited the status of Quality 3Seller 2007 (one of the very best 3Sellers in the country). Just over a year ago one of 3’s directors wrote to us saying that “We need more businesses like you in the industry and without you we would not have as strong a business as we do today.”, he also said “we will be showing you how we intend to move our business along to the next level and you are definitely an integral part of that plan”.
Having received these accolades up to the beginning of 2007, 3 seemed by the spring of 2007, to have cooled considerably and instead of working closely with us they turned down our 4 suggested methods of solving the cash back problem. Any of these methods would have benefited 3 as well as our customers.
We have paid 87% (approximately £6.5 million) of our cash back commitments leaving us with approximately 4000 customers unpaid (under £1 million).
We need your continued patience, but we would also suggest that you apply pressure on your networks to help resolve this problem. These multinational companies can very easily resolve this problem instead of not accepting their responsibilities. Don’t forget they continue to benefit financially by receiving your direct debit payments monthly. We suggest you contact their CEO’s for their help.
We are using our best endeavours to get your cash backs paid. However, without the input of the networks this is proving difficult. We have taken on no new connection business for the last seven months. Our MD has injected private loans into the business without which this campaign for customers’ cash backs could not have been carried out. The vast majority of our customers have remained patient and loyal to chatterbox.com for which we are most grateful. The media pressure on the networks is intensifying and we will continue our campaign.
We will keep you informed of future updates. Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience caused and thank you for your continued support.