Swinton hairdresser wins battle won to have ‘mis-sold’ contracts ripped up

John Healey MP with hairdresser Stephen Jones.
John Healey MP with hairdresser Stephen Jones.

A 70-year-old Swinton man is finally smiling again after a bill for thousands of pounds in fees and charges against him was dropped by a telecoms company.

Stephen Jones said he was left with a £3,500 bill after being mis-sold telephone and broadband contracts by Unicom.

Mr Jones, who owns a hairdressing shop in the town’s precinct, accepted that he struggles to understand complex details in consumer contracts told how cold callers from Unicom sold him telephone and broadband contracts for his home and shop in May 2012.

The broadband would have cost him £2,500 when he was previously receiving a free service.

A friend took the case to the ombudsman because Unicom disputed an element of the final bill for broadband – which was never connected or used.

The ombudsman ruled in Unicom’s favour, paving the way for it to apply termination fees, leaving Mr Jones with an even larger £3,500 bill.

He was also threatened with court action and bankruptcy.

As a last resort Mr Jones contacted his MP John Healey.

Mr Healey, who represents Wentworth and Dearne constituency for Labour, raised the issue in the House of Commons and criticised the communications industry ombudsman for siding with Unicom.

Two days later Unicom dropped the charges.

Mr Jones said: “I can’t thank John enough for what he has done.

“He was marvellous. I’m very relieved.”

Mr Healey said: “I am delighted and relieved for Mr Jones. He should not have been put through this.

“It has been a shadow hanging over him for two-and-a-half years.”

A spokesman for Unicom said: “We recognise there were particular human circumstances that weren’t taken fully into account at the time. We have apologised to Mr Jones and cleared his account of all outstanding charges.”

In March 2014, Ofcom launched an investigation into Unicom’s sales and marketing practices and is expected to report back its findings in February.