Episode 24

Image for Episode 24Not currently available on BBC iPlayer

Duration: 30 minutes

A previous undercover X-Ray report about one of the UK's leading electrical retailers revealed that many customers were being misled when buying extended warranties. Now Lucy speaks exclusively to two of the company's staff about the way they are sold.

Rachel is back on the trail of a rogue Cardiff landlord who flouted the law by failing to protect the bonds of tenants like Hannah Jones and Neus Gil Cortes. They and other students have been left out of pocket and battling in vain to get their deposits returned.

David Watkins from Porth used to serve in the Royal Signal Corps, but says the communication he received from a satellite warrantee company was anything but clear. He was caught out by a cold caller who he says took £160 out of his bank account without warning.

And as Wales becomes a nation of coffee shop lovers, are the big chains playing fair with the portions they give you? Lucy has been finding out whether you get more coffee for your cash when you sit in the café, or whether takeaways are better value for money.

Last on

Mon 25 Mar 2013 19:30 BBC One Wales, Wales HD only

See all previous episodes from X-Ray

  • Hundreds were sold Currys warranties they "didn't want"

    Hundreds were sold Currys warranties they "didn't want".

    An X-Ray investigation has uncovered hundreds of cases where customers have complained they were mis-sold warranties at the retail giant Currys.


    Internal documents obtained by the programme show hundreds of cases where customers claim they were sold a warranty even though they said they didn’t want one.

    Others say they were wrongly told they had to buy a warranty.


    A consumer law expert says selling a warranty without telling a customer could be a breach of criminal law.


    The company say the documents are internal records of the reasons why people cancelled their extended warranties – not proven cases of mis-selling. They reflect a fraction of one per cent of total sales.


    Staff, who have spoken to the BBC on condition of anonymity, say they are under intense pressure to sell warranties – and other extras like in-store set-ups for computers or cables for televisions.


    X-Ray asked one salesman if he had ever mis-sold a warranty. He said:  “I have had to on occasions to keep my job. I have a family to feed. I have to keep my job.”


    The internal documents seen by X-Ray document around two thousand cases of potential mis-selling brought to the company’s attention in a six week period last year. The report features incidents at stores across the UK.


    In around 850 cases customers said they were told – wrongly – that they had to take a warranty. In another 1,250 cases they either refused a warranty, but were sold one anyway, or were sold a warranty without being told about it.


    Prof Margaret Griffiths, a consumer law expert, said: “Companies are under an obligation to tell customers all the material information they need in order to make a proper informed decision.


    “If a company has deliberately withheld material information then that would be contrary to regulations as it would be a material omission. That has the potential to be a criminal law offence.”


    Other documents seen by the programme show that staff can be put on what’s known as a “Capability Programme” if they fail to sell enough extras, like cables, warranties and set-up services. Some staff fear this could lead to them losing their jobs.


    One whistleblower, who held senior positions in Currys stores over a number of years said: “The guy who is asking all them questions and trying to sell you the warranty and all the add ons … his job is at risk if he doesn’t do it”.


    The company have strongly denied the allegations.

     

    They say that the internal report given to X-Ray lists various legitimate reasons why customers cancelled their warranties and not just cases of potential mis-selling.

     

    They use this list to help them identify issues with the sale of warranties and to address any problems with staff.

     

    And the claims of apparent mis-selling made by customers have not been proven. They add that these warranty cancellations actually account for a fraction of one per cent of their total sales.


    They also stress that their staff are not rewarded for the inappropriate selling of warranties and add-ons.

     

    Their employees are trained to offer customers the perfect technology solution and are closely supported by the company.

  • Landlord trouble

    Hannah Jones rented a house from Parviz Emami in her final year at university.

    X-Ray has been on the case of a landlord who’s left a trail of tenants furious over missing deposits.


    Last December we met Neus Gil Cortes who’d spent months fighting her landlord and letting agency to get back a £525 deposit.

     

    Legally, landlords must protect deposits in one of three official schemes.


    Neus said: “It should be protected so when they haven't protected it and they are using it themselves, and then they are not even willing to give it back, for me they are stealing my money.”


    At the time, her landlord, Parviz Emami, told us he’d pay back the balance of the bond very soon but three months later she hadn’t had a penny.


    Since then, X-Ray has heard from other former tenants, including Becs Lewis, who is owed a £550 deposit and Stevie Williams who took Mr Emami to County Court and won but hasn’t had her £480.


    Hannah Jones and six friends rented a house in Cardiff from Mr Emami, and between them paid a £1,820 deposit. They moved out almost two years ago but are still out of pocket.


    Mr Emami’s explanation for the deposits that weren’t protected was that he thought the letting agencies had sorted it out. But he admits he was ultimately responsible for protecting them.


    He said he's had financial difficulties but has promised to pay everyone back, one tenant at a time, within the next three months. He’s also said he is no longer a landlord.


    First to be repaid was Neus who, on getting back her money, said: “Incredible! I had to pinch myself to know it's true! I really did not think that would ever happen.”


    Read more about tenancy deposit protection.

  • Satellite warranty

    David Watkins from Porth, in Rhondda Cynon Taff, paid for a satellite cover he didn't want.

    A satellite warranty company has launched an investigation into the way a pensioner was sold insurance.


    David Watkins, from Porth, in Rhondda Cynon Taff, told X-Ray he was cold-called by a company he thought was Sky, offering to reduce the cost of his satellite subscription.


    David said they told him: "I said what's it all about? It's about your Sky package. We're offering you a reduction as a OAP. They were so convincing."


    Some days later he checked his bank account and found £160 had been taken by a firm from Hampshire called U Protect. They sell warranties to cover repairs to satellite boxes.


    David said: "I asked the bank have there been any withdrawals and they said you've paid £160 for this firm for 36 months' maintenance protection. I said I've never even heard of the firm."


    After X-Ray contacted U Protect, his money was refunded. The company say they’ve launched an investigation and have sacked one manager, and suspended two other members of staff, including the person who first called David.


    But the whole incident has had a big effect on him. David added: "My trust has been betrayed, and I'm very, very guarded with what I say. If I don't like what I'm hearing I'll just slam the phone down and be rude."

Credits

Presenter
Lucy Owen
Presenter
Rhodri Owen
Reporter
Rachel Treadaway-Williams
Series Producer
Susie Phillips

Broadcasts

X-Ray Health Special, Monday 4 August, 7pm

Live Longer Wales

Showing as part of Live Longer Wales, X-Ray is back in this one hour health special.

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