Vodafone makes mother of disabled 21-year old pay $3000 USD for new phones it sent him

Vodafone makes mother of disabled 21-year old pay $3000 USD for new phones it sent him
Claire Hardwick is the mother of 21-year old Nick, who suffers from learning disabilities. She has recently paid U.K. carrier Vodafone a total amount of over $3000 USD by direct debit, for eight new smartphones her son ordered and received over a short period of time. Nick is unemployed because of his disability, and cannot manage a bank account. Yet, he managed to get Vodafone to send him the handsets, which his mother believes that he sold for cash.

Even though she has been paying the bills for the account, Vodafone at first would not speak to Claire about what was going on because the account was in Nick's name. Originally, she was paying the equivalent of $68 USD a month for his account, but the bill jumped to $171 USD in April, and over $900 USD last month. Eventually, she was able to talk to the carrier about her Son's account, and that is how she found out that Vodafone had been sending him smartphone after smartphone. Because she paid the mobile operator by direct debit, by the time she figured out what was going on and was able to cancel the arrangement, she did not have enough money left to pay her mortgage this month.

The carrier was unaware of Nick's issues, and continued to send him new phones without determining whether or not he had the wherewithal to pay for them. Vodafone responded to media inquiries by saying that it "had done everything correctly." When the account was set up, Nick passed a credit check conducted by Vodafone even though he was receiving government benefits. While the account was set up under his name, it was Claire's credit card number that was given for the payments.

Vodafone says that if Mrs. Hardwick can provide documentation proving that her son's learning disability affects his ability to make decisions, the carrier will review the charges. For now, it says, Mrs. Hardwick is liable for the charges.

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source: TheGuardian

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35 Comments

1. AlikMalix unregistered

I dont think Vodafone is at fault in anyway. They're a carrier and a seller of devices, it's not their job to review their customer's mental capacity or any other illness or play a psychotherapist. Another way to look at it: "Vodafone refused to sell phones to a disabled person even though he clearly passed the credit check and has ability to pay for them" (as you can see, alternatively can also be spun negatively). I dont believe that vodafone should refund or even consider reveiwing these charges. If the mentally disabled kid got a hold of mother's debit card - that's his moms fault, not vodafones... If you consider your kid unable to make proper judgement - DONT give him your debit card!!!

3. tacarat

Posts: 854; Member since: Apr 22, 2013

It's worse than that. She set up automatic payments with her card and then didn't monitor her bank statement. He didn't need access to the card, it was all put on the monthly bill. It's a good reason to be wary of these types of arrangements. Prepaid would have been better for him. Phones are paid for up front.

5. AlikMalix unregistered

Yep, she was neglectful of her own finances and now looking for someone to blame for her own oversights..

25. Awalker

Posts: 1981; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

Bill payment is one thing but phone purchases are another. I don't see how they can charge her account for a new phone without her consent.

27. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Because the line has consent to charge the card. When you setup a bill pay system...example being xbox. Say I went to a friends house, added my card to his account to authorize a purchase. If I do not take off my card, and allow autopayments to be attached to that account. The user of said xbox can purchase stuff from the store. This is the exact same thing. She gave authorization for that line to be used as a charge ability. She may have only agreed to buy a single phone, but her son, who is the account holder, using a setup payment method, can do it. And he did. Again I put the onus solely on the Mother. Vodafone could be nice, but it should not be mandatory and if anything should be used as a very expensive learning point.

30. Awalker

Posts: 1981; Member since: Aug 15, 2013

If I set up automatic bill pay for service on someone else's account I don't see how a company can charge me for a something that's not service (i.e., a new phone) without my consent. I ordered automatically bill pay for service, not automatic bill payments for new phones. I also think her son is at fault and they should go after him, not her. He's an adult.

46. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

Because you are not authorizing it for monthly payments. You are authorizing the account holder....not you at this point. To use that as a billing method for any bill charges. Since you can charge a phone to your phone bill, monthly payments or sometimes even full phones to the account upon approval...then you are allow that to be charged to the bill. I would encourage you to read up on your terms and conditions.

4. Extraneus

Posts: 121; Member since: Jun 02, 2012

This. Plain and simple. What I don't understand is how you can set up an account in one name, but with someone else's credit card; I'm fairly certain that's a no-go here in Denmark. And if it isn't, it should be!

7. promise7

Posts: 894; Member since: Jul 03, 2013

I know this case is in the UK, but in the US you can pretty much pay bills by whoever debit card/credit card/checking account/personal check even though the account holders name is different. I guess in the US they don't care who it's from, just as long as they get their money. I'm hoping after the mother provides medical documents to Vodafone, they will reverse the charges.

36. KParks23

Posts: 725; Member since: Oct 13, 2010

Why would she not make the account in her name if shes going to be paying??

6. Extraneus

Posts: 121; Member since: Jun 02, 2012

One caveat though... Vodafone should have a failsafe for unlikely behaviour. A private account ordering 9 new phones in rapid succession should trigger a control mechanism, as Vodafone is likely aiding criminal behavior in such an instance; an email to the cardholder asking for confirmation at the second phone order would be a proper reaction...

8. King_bilo

Posts: 115; Member since: May 20, 2015

I think it did have a failsafe which the kid passed. And such a failsafe should not even be Vodafone responsibility. Rather the institution that issues the card

34. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

Yeah, my next step would be to change banks. For them not to send an alert or email or call to say, "hey ma'am, we just had a charge posted from your phone company for 8 new cell phones totaling $3000..." is just plain lax and unbecoming of a financial institution. Period.

9. TyrionLannister unregistered

Couldn't have said it better myself.

24. GoBears

Posts: 456; Member since: Apr 27, 2012

There's definitely more to the story too. She probably sold the phones and blamed her disabled son or something shady like that.

43. downphoenix

Posts: 3165; Member since: Jun 19, 2010

By that same token, they shouldn't have just willy nilly sent him phones like that either. And I think that the contract should be invalidated given his mental condition.

44. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

No sympathy here. The 21 yr old has learning disabilities yet he has the intelligence to order then sell 8 phones for cash... Ummmmok!

10. bugsbunny00

Posts: 2265; Member since: Jun 07, 2013

this guy must have all the best phones there is.

14. Grenmad

Posts: 38; Member since: Jun 06, 2014

He is so disabled he is able to order phones and sell them for profit? The mother sounds like an enabler by blaming the carrier not the scamming son.

45. cheetah2k

Posts: 2271; Member since: Jan 16, 2011

Sounds to me like she ordered the phones, sold them, and just using her son as an excuse.... lol

15. 99nights

Posts: 1152; Member since: Mar 10, 2015

They're Guinness world record holders for most complained about company, this just doesn't suprise me at all lol.

16. kanagadeepan

Posts: 1265; Member since: Jan 24, 2012

Though Vodafone is NOT entirely wrong in this case, they are well known money-su(kers..

18. 497362

Posts: 60; Member since: Aug 27, 2015

people like Robert kiyosaki (Sep?) advise that in order to take control of your finances, you have to know what is going on with your account balances. overcoming that denial is one of the first steps to turning around your financial troubles. ya gotta be honest with yerself, not avoid knowing the reality. this woman doesn't want to take responsibility for her finances.

19. Michael.Parker

Posts: 273; Member since: Aug 22, 2015

Vodafone can't be held responsible for a mother who doesn't properly monitor the finances of her mentally disabled kid. Yeah maybe they could be nice and only charge her for the cost of the phones and review their policy of who they give phones too but right now I'm on the side of Vodafone.

20. monkeytown

Posts: 125; Member since: Jul 26, 2012

vodafone did everything right. im sure the son wants to be treated like every other person and this wouldn´t be even any news-worthy if he wasn´t disabled

21. arefkamani

Posts: 1; Member since: Oct 18, 2015

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22. mrblah

Posts: 577; Member since: Jan 22, 2013

It doesn't matter, all in all it it billionaire company vs mom who has enough BS to deal with. Where is your moral compass?

23. 87186

Posts: 312; Member since: Aug 01, 2014

I love all the people backing vodaphone haha but if it happpened to you, you would be singing a completely different tune. "she's lookin for someone to blame". um, no she's looking for help. I think she knows who's to blame. her son. everyone on this side of the keyboard can hurl insults and allegations all they want, but this is not something we should be looking to "blame" someone for. I work with A LOT of individuals with both learning, physical, and mental disablilities, and this sort of thing happens all the time. I've seen parents flip and demand refunds for an app their kid KNOWINGLY, and understood FULLY, how to download. so stop with the high and mighty. If you've ever tried to raise or work with a disabled person and still try to take care of personal business, you would be able to see how this could EASILY happen. that's most likely why she had auto pay set up for him. one less piece of paper and bill to think about. these companies, and people in general, today, lack empathy and morals. I know it could have been prevented, but sadly this occured, and Vodafone needs to be a little more understanding and flexible. Who knows, maybe if Vodaphone spoke to her earlier the damage would not have been this large. these are BILLION dollar companies, and they grabbing for pennies at the expense of a consumer's lack of foresight. it's disgusting and shameful.

29. elitewolverine

Posts: 5192; Member since: Oct 28, 2013

I raise a disabled child. I would NOT BLAME VODAFONE. This is not about empathy or sympathy. This is about a parent who has years, say it again YEARS of dealing with a child she knows cannot make rash decisions. But I am from a time of something called personal responsibility...not this blame someone else. yes she is blaming someone else.

35. SYSTEM_LORD

Posts: 1168; Member since: Oct 05, 2015

We allow banks and these companies automated access to our funds. It would at least be courteous to have some type of lookout for fraud in place. Vodafone could at least set up a more manageable payment plan for her in light of her situation. I would say that's the compassionate thing to do. They can afford it, after all ;-)

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