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"Auto-renewal" scam on my credit card

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  • "Auto-renewal" scam on my credit card

    I took out car breakdown cover with a company called "RecoverCover" (a trading name of Dynamo Cover Ltd) last year, commencing on 16 June 2017 and ending at 23:59 on 15 June 2018. I never used their services - and going by their terrible reviews on Trustpilot, it's just as well that I didn't bother.

    They sent me a few PDFs outlining their cover and Terms & Conditions and I heard nothing more from them until 9 June, when they took £29.90 from my credit card for another year's "cover" starting 16 June 2018..

    I immediately challenged this by email, saying I had not at any time authorised it. I also tried phoning them but got a recorded message saying that their office hours were Mon-Fri.

    So I then exercised my right to dispute the transaction with my credit card company (Capital One) and asked them to cancel any Continuous Payment Authority, as is my legal right under The Payment Services Regulations 2009. I emailed RecoverCover again to tell them I was taking this action.

    On Monday 11 June, their Customer Services Manager emailed back to say that if the card provider cancelled the payment, I would still be liable for this cover (which I never wanted and had not even started yet) and also mentioned a £6.99 "cancellation fee". She also claimed that an email had been sent two weeks earlier saying the cover would be auto-renewed and inviting me to click a cancellation link if I wished to opt out.

    I pointed out to her that the T&Cs sent with my original purchase made no mention of any auto-renewal or a Continuous Purchase Authority or a cancellation fee or even a right to unilaterally amend their T&Cs in future. I also disputed that I had ever received this email that she mentioned. She then claimed that the email had not bounced therefore I “must” have received it.

    Actually, there are all sorts of reasons why they wouldn’t necessarily get a non-delivery notification in the event of non-delivery, but let’s not get too technical. It turned out in the end that Gmail had received the email but had put it in a “Promotions” folder that I hadn’t seen. But even if I had seen it, non-reply to a single email is NOT sufficient legal grounds to presume consent. I believe this is well established in English case law (e.g. Felthouse v Brindley).

    Many emails went back and forth between myself and this employee in which I pointed out that they didn’t have a legal leg to stand on, either in terms of their unilateral change of T&Cs or their "we will renew your cover unless you click our link to opt out" email, that I never authorised the auto-renewal and that I want to be refunded in full.

    I have now made a formal written complaint to their head honcho, a Mr Alex Mills, and am awaiting their response before deciding my next course of action. As yet, the Royal Mail Track & Trace is not showing the letter as having been delivered, so I telephoned them a couple of hours to see if the complaint email I had sent, which included my letter as a Word attachment, had been received and also to see if I could get the situation resolved by talking to them.

    The guy who answered confirmed that the complaint email had been received. I asked him about what would happen if I did issue a cancellation request (without prejudice to my contention that the auto-renewal was never authorised by me in the first place). He said they would stop the cover but I would not be refunded and their £6.99 would be in addition to the £29.90 I had already paid! This cannot possibly be right, surely? He also claimed that the "cooling off" period was 14 days starting from the date of their email. Surely that can't be right either? Surely a cooling off period must start from the commencement of the cover or at least from the date they took my money?
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