Phones 4 U mobile insurance company fined for not dealing with customer complaints

the-brick--talking-mobile-phone-holderIs your mobile phone insured? The monthly cost of insurance can be pretty hefty, but at what personal cost if you lost or broke your phone and didn’t have the cash to replace it?*

In 2012/13, the financial ombudsman tackled 615 new complaints about mobile phone insurance, finding in favour of consumers in 71% of cases. Concerns over wildly varying costs, and what the policies cover, as well as insurers weaselling out of paying claims have made mobile phone insurance one of the hottest consumer bugbears. The small print in some contracts was found, as part of an investigation by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA),  to make it "virtually impossible" to claim.

Now, as part of the FCA crackdown, one such insurer, allied to the Phones 4 U chain, has been heavily criticised (not very exciting) and slapped with a massive £2.8m fine (a bit more impressive) for its behaviour on mobile phone insurance contracts.

Insurance intermediary Policy Administration Services (PAS), which runs Phones 4 U's insurance policies as well as customer complaints relating to those policies was fined £2.8m for its failings in dealing with customer complaints between June 2009 and September 2011.

The FCA found that PAS failed to get to the root cause of complaints and did not treat customers fairly. PAS did not properly record complaints, or investigate them in a consistent manner, and misselling complaints were often rejected just because the consumer had signed a direct debit form.

PAS  has now conducted “a review” to recompense customers who have been left out of pocket owing to its failings. Out of 7,099 complaints, 1,438 customers have been paid compensation estimated to be between £10 and £100.

Tracey McDermott, the FCA’s director of enforcement and financial crime, said: “PAS had wide ranging failures across its complaints handling processes - it failed to investigate complaints properly or to keep accurate records. This is simply not good enough - it does not meet our requirements and does not meet the needs of customers.

"Last week we published the findings of a review into mobile phone insurance which found that sometimes there was a gap between what customers expect, and what they are really getting. There are common themes in this case that revolve around consumer expectations and how they are sometimes being treated in practice. That review publication and this final notice stand side by side and I wholeheartedly recommend that all insurance firms – not just those in the mobile phone insurance market - read the two together.”

Richard Lloyd, that bloke from Which! said: “It's good to see the Financial Conduct Authority stepping up their action against companies that are failing to deal with consumer complaints about mobile phone insurance…There must be substantial fines to act as a proper deterrent, along with strong action against individuals who have broken the rules.

He added, "any consumer who thinks their complaint was not handled correctly should first resubmit their complaint and then take it to the Financial Ombudsman Service if they are not happy with the response."


* you may be able to claim on your home insurance policy. Which is probably a lot cheaper than mobile phone insurance, but might not guarantee a new for old replacement.


  • fibbingarchie
    If you buy a phone you can't afford to replace out of your own funds if its stolen/lost, then you're just a silly piker and no mistake.
  • Sgt U.
    Who's getting the £2.8 million fine then? Can't see the affected customers getting a sniff of it.
  • crap
    old news
  • dvdj10
    @fibbingfuckface What an absolutely retarded comment. Can you afford to buy two of your car outright? Two of your own house outright? (Which you probably have a mortgage on) For the record most people could afford to buy their phone again outright if they'd lost it, but they have insurance so that they don't have to. That's the whole point of insurance.
  • Sicknote
    @fibbingarchie Completely agree; you buy anything you have to admit the appropriate level of risk associated with losing that asset without the intervention of insurance. Any fool who buys the latest whatever smart phone and runs off to the sunset thinking their fully covered by insurance is a sap. Then consider the Phones4U company; in the top 3 of most complained about phone sales outfits - not like you've been warned is it....?
  • fibbingarchie
    Dear oh dear dvdj10, you just don't get it, but that's OK, you must be one them there pikers I was referring to. Car insurance is a legal requirement, mainly because you could be liabe for £millions if you damage other peoples property, maim or kill them. So making a comparison makes you look stupid. The average house being worth hundreds of thousands of pounds is also worth insuring because yes you are right, not many could afford to buy another outright if it was demolished or whatever. But, we're talking about a phone worth up to a couple of hundred quid, so I'll repeat, if you can't afford to replace it with your own funds, you should be spending your money on more appropriate soap most probably! Remember this, statistically speaking, buying insurance is a losing proposition for you, that's how insurance companies make money. So you should always try and avoid it, except for mandatory legal cover and very high value items that would put you in the shit if you lost them.
  • TeddyEdward
    You can make loads out of insurance by fiddling it so fibbingarchie you're talking out the back of your minge.
  • Big M.
    @fibbingarchie 'we’re talking about a phone worth up to a couple of hundred quid'. Maybe a bit more than that, the latest phones are pushing £500. I do think self insuring is the best best though. Put the £40 excess in a bank account, then £15 per month. Most people would save money unless you're losing/fucking phones up on a regular basis. The only insurance I ever make money on is extended warranties. My laptops always go down the stairs every couple of years for some reason. Sometimes out the window.

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