Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Great Skype Swindle

A year or so ago I downloaded Skype and began using it as a means of communicating with colleagues at work and my family, particularly on the many occasions when I was staying at hotels, where often the Wi-Fi is free but the phone can be forty-odd pence a minute.

I also put some credit onto my Skype account, just in case I ever needed to call a landline or mobile number from my laptop. What I didn't realise was Skype's terms and conditions, whereby apparently if you haven't used this facility for 180 days, Skype take your money anyway. Oh - they send you three automated reminder emails. That's good of them isn't it?

I know, I know - all I had to do was make a call from my Skype number to another phone and I could have kept my credit for another 180 days. But this can't be right, can it? If Skype want to know if I still want to keep my account, can't they just ask me? Apparently, "if you don't use your remaining credit the balance will be expire to comply with normal business accounting rules." But where else does this happen? Does the credit you built on your electricity, gas, water or phone account get taken by the utility company if you don't use it? I think not.

In my case, I only lost ten pounds' worth of credit, but how about all those others who had more money than me 'taken' in this way? It's a real shame, because I've taken the Skype software off my machine and wild horses wouldn't make me use them again, because it's not a fair way to do business.

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