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We have heard from many customers who were charged termination fees after they closed down or sold their business. Some customers were told that in order to waive the termination fees, Unicom required a solicitor's letter on headed paper as proof of sale / closure of the business but with the specific words 'Mr/Mrs X HAS CEASED TO TRADE IN ALL CAPACITIES'. If the solicitor's letter did not contain these words, Unicom applied their debt collection procedures. Customers then received multiple threats of legal action if termination fees were not paid on the continuously revised 'final' dates. Customers also received copies of 'Court Claim Forms / Summons' from Unicom with an additional £80 'Court Fee' but the Claim Forms were not listed at any court.
Click below to see examples of Unicom's correspondences
Example 1 - Example 2 - Example 3 - Example 4
The above examples and many more letters were demands for termination fees sent to a customer after he sold his business to retire and the letters and regular telephone calls for payment were spread out over around 18 months. This customer's solicitor was unable to provide Unicom with a letter confirming that 'Mr X has ceased to trade in all capacities' as he could not predict what Mr X might do in the future. (Importantly, Mr X refused to pay termination fees but Unicom did not progress their threats and did not take legal action)
We have recently heard from a number of Unicom customers who have received a letter from Unicom with the heading 'CLAIM FORM SUBMITTED FOR ISSUE'. Click HERE to see example. Customers who received this letter believed that Unicom had commenced court action for payment of termination fees but when no genuine court documents arrived and they heard nothing more, customers realised that this letter was just another threat.
It is also worth noting that 'Universal Debt Collection' is simply a trading name Verastar Ltd have given to their own in-house Credit Control Department to collect debts from their own brands under the Verastar Ltd umbrella such as Unicom, Kinex, Titan Telecom etc. 'Universal Debt Collection' do NOT hold a licence to collect debts as a debt collector. They are not a licensed independent external debt collection agency which their letter heading and web site had led some people to believe.
We have heard from many people who have have felt harassed and intimidated by Unicom's debt collection practices for collection of disputed termination fees and who have had to endure months of regular harassing phone calls, multiple letters with threats of legal action if termination fees are not paid by continuously revised dates, threats of involving the bailiffs, threats of trashing the customers credit ratings and state that credit will be difficult to obtain, threats of having to pay court costs, threats of an attachment of earnings order, threats of a charging order on the sale of property, threats of permanent loss of customerís business telephone numbers, threats of third party debt order to freeze bank account and if customers express their intention of filing a defence at court, Unicom threaten to 'apply to have it struck out'
Many customers have received copies of Court Claim Forms that resemble Court Summons and include a Court Fee of £80 but if there is no Court Stamp, Claim No. Issue Date or Court Address then it is not a genuine Court Summons. Click HERE to see example. In addition, the signatures on this Claim Form from Unicom above 'Claimant's Solicitor' is not that of a qualified solicitor.
To our knowledge, Unicom have never listed an application at court for collection of termination fees.
The in-house credit control / debt collection departments of telecom companies are not regulated or monitored and are not answerable to any regulatory body whatsoever. Ofcom have no provision within their General Conditions to control or monitor the debt collection practices of telecom companies, nor do the Financial Conduct Authority. This means that the credit control departments of telecom companies do not have to adhere to FCA rules. This loophole in legislation enables the in-house credit control departments of some telecom companies to apply debt collection practices that are unfair and misleading and which are prohibited by the FCA. Click HERE for more information.
Wonga who are regulated by the FCA were required to compensate around 41,000 customers over £2.6m for unfair and misleading debt collection practices and more information can be seen HERE
Ofgem who have the remit to regulate the debt collection practices of utility companies, other than telecom companies, have investigated a number of utility companies for unfair and misleading debt collection practices and more information can be seen HERE
A former Unicom customer has uploaded a video clip on Youtube of the conversation his advocate had with Unicom to discuss a Court Claim Form he had received from Unicom demanding over £7,000.00 termination fees that was signed by Jamie Lloyd and it appears to be a criminal offence to impersonate a solicitor. It appears from the comments that this customer believed that the 'debt was passed from debt collectors'. Click HERE to watch the Youtube clip (This video was removed from You Tube around 10 May 2016)
If you feel harassed by the debt collection practices of Verastar Ltd. / Unicom/ Kinex / Titan Telecom for collection of termination fees, if you have received letters threatening legal action or copies of 'Court Claim Forms / Summons', remember, you are definitely not alone and many others have had to endure similar threats. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we might be able to help.
Click on 'Compaints' tab to view a vast collection of links to complaints, comments, reports and reviews about Unicom / Universal Utilities Ltd / Verastar Ltd / Kinex / Titan Telecom / Universal Debt Collection
Such is the level of interest in complaints about Unicom that one particular thread entitled ĎUnicom Complaintsí on the Money Saving Expert forum has been viewed over an astonishing 98,000 (NINETY EIGHT THOUSAND) times to date (8 March 2016) and rises daily. (Many postings on this thread have been deleted after intervention from Unicom)
Disclaimer: Any suggestions given on this site are our opinions and not a substitute for legal advice from a solicitor or an organization like Citizens Advice.