South Yorkshire MP steps in to resolve telephone contract row

Stephen Jones and John Healey MP outside Stephen Hairdressing in Swinton
Stephen Jones and John Healey MP outside Stephen Hairdressing in Swinton

A 70-year-old South Yorkshire 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 was left with a £3,500 bill after being mis-sold telephone and broadband contracts by Unicom.

Mr Jones, who owns Stephen Hairdressing in Swinton, is a ‘vulnerable’ man unable to understand complex details in consumer contracts, yet cold callers 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 a £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 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.”