News & Insight

BBC Radio reveals yet more Verastar bad practice

Jack Oneill

Radio 4 covered some of Verastar's recent bad practice, who previously operated as Unicom...

Radio 4's consumer programme ‘You and Yours’ covered some of Verastar's recent bad practice, who previously traded under the name Unicom.

The Radio 4 programme has received more complaints regarding the behaviour of the utility company Verastar (formerly Unicom), who provide telephone and broadband services to small businesses in the UK.

Five years ago, the BBC revealed that Verastar, then Unicom, were fined £200,000 for misleading their customers. And while the name has changed, the BBC states that the complaints remain the same. Former customers are again finding themselves on the receiving end of dirty tactics and after years of no contact, letters stating that hundreds of pounds are owed in termination fees.

The programme speaks to one customer, Laura Davis, who ran a small pub in Stockbridge in 2015. After disaster struck and a house fire destroyed the business she'd built, Laura ceased trading and contacted Unicom. She was then told by the company that if she ceased trading, there would be no charges - with the BBC playing a clip where Verastar confirms this. But five years later, Laura received a final demand letter claiming she had an outstanding debt over £1200. To make matters worse, she was then unable to get in touch with Unicom via the contact details they had provided.

The letter itself came from bailiff service DCB Legal, who claimed to have taken on the bill from Verastar. The letter warned that bailiffs would be dispatched to Laura's home and alongside Channel 5 cameras if the bill wasn't paid in full. DCB were previously the stars of Channel 5 television series 'Can't Pay, We'll Take It Away' - however, do not act on behalf of a court of law.

Laura said: 'It just comes across quite threatening. It makes you feel helpless and that you're going to be shamed all over TV, when I haven't actually done anything wrong. It made me feel pressurised to pay just to keep cameras away from the house. It's as though they are just trying to scare people into paying large sums of money, just to see what they can get.'

Head over to the BBC website to hear more of Laura's story: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/m000d7jp

At XLN, we're strongly opposed to this kind of approach and that's why we've invested so heavily in our own customer service. Not only do we ascribe to the Ofcom Code of Practice but our 3-ring promise - a commitment to answering all calls inside 3 rings, from UK-based call centres - is a promise to all customers, whichever package they choose. This approach recently saw us win 'Best Telecoms Company' at the 2019 CXAs.

So if you're a small business that thinks, like us, that everyone deserves great customer service, it might be time to switch.