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BT - "British Telecom" or "Bank Thefts"?

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Customer disputes bill so BT nicks the money from her bank account

Our correspondent writes ...

My mother (aged 88) moved house and asked BT to transfer her broadband service. They treated her new address as a new installation and then charged her over 250 for "early contract termination at her old address". The account for this was sent to her new address!

BT collected this by direct debit and ignored the complaint we submitted. They only sprung to life when Mum's bank clawed back the payment from BT as it was clear to the bank that the transaction was not legal (thank goodness for the Direct Debit Guarantee, one of the better banking ideas).

Not content with this, BT went on to try another way of collecting some money. My mother upgraded her Calling Plan to free 24/7 calls. The BT web site clearly shows that such an upgrade is not treated as early cancellation of the previous Calling Plan. Again, by direct debit, they proceeded to collect an "early cancellation charge" of over 80.

Needless to say, BT have paid no compensation for their disgusting treatment of an elderly customer.

Editorial comment:

BT certainly have a strange way of keeping their customers happy. In the days when they were a monopoly, you might not have been surprised if they behaved like this. But they are no longer a monopoly. They now have competitors, many of whom offer a cheaper and better service. Yet they still act like morons with a civil service mentality.

Some years ago I had my analogue line converted to handle ISDN - BT Home Highway as it was termed. I needed faster communication speeds and ISDN effectively gave me two lines which could be merged for data communications. It doubled transmission speed but it was bloody expensive. (Could have been renamed "BT Home Highway Robbery")

Then, along came broadband.

I asked BT to upgrade me to broadband but they wanted to charge me 150 to convert the line back to analogue and they wanted a further 80 for a broadband modem. About the same time Cable and Wireless had completed laying all our local roads with fibre optic cabling systems so they were able to offer high-speed broadband and television. I asked them for a quote for broadband only. The result? Free installation and no charge for the cable modem.

When I asked BT how they could justify such high charges (230 in total) for installing their broadband service, and if they would be prepared to reconsider their charge in the light of a free installation by Cable and Wireless, what do you think they said? Yes, that's correct - it would still cost me 230. I told them to get stuffed and have been on cable ever since.

Although the Cable and Wireless service was transferred to NTL and is now Virgin Media, the service has been splendid. I have a reliable 10MB connection and it costs me no more now than when it was only 512KB.

I still get regular mailings describing the merits of returning to BT but, for the life of me, I can't see any.

Visitors' Comments

Alan Williams, Canterbury writes:

BT customer service is completely useless. Recently they made a mistake on my account which they admitted. But they would not refund the money, only credit my account which meant a substantial payment in advance by me. Their so-called 'customer service' was completely and utterly hopeless and nobody could do anything. They have no authority to change anything or correct a problem. I'm not quite sure what their purpose is.

Donna of Buxton writes:

BT's customer service is an utter disgrace they make me sick, the minute i can go elsewhere i will and that goes for nearly everyone i speak to....i have had many dealings with them! Please tell me if there is another service available as i am unaware of these (cable is not available in my area)

Editorial Comment:

If you have broadband why not take a look at Vonage. Their system works through your internet service, provides a modem that will accept a standard telephone cable, and costs less than 8 a month including calls to all numbers starting 01, 02, or 03. You pay a bit extra for calls to mobiles or local rate calls but it's good value for money if you make a lot of calls.

Paul Harris of Southminster writes:

I left BT in 2011 after more than 28 years as a customer. Towards the end, their customer service was non-existent and they even debited money from me which I had disputed. Although my broadband contract was completed, they managed to take further money from me because they said that my calls package was on a separate contract, even though I was on a calls and broadband package. Their billing system is deliberately messy. You would think that if they take payment in advance for the likes of line rental, they shouldn't be able to rebate this and charge you more when they increase the line rental...but they do.
It would have to be a rainy day in hell before I would recommend or go back to BT.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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