Scam Warning - BT





Summary

During a house move, we wanted to close off a residential account and open a business account to support all our business services. Getting the new biz connection sorted was - as usual - an entertaining prospect to get OpenReach engineers the information directly from BT Business (my mobile phone, called BT, once through handed phone to Openreach engineer to resolve the issues, etc). However the real entertainment was in getting the residential account closed.

Investigation

At first we were told that either we had to cancel the residential contract and pay a premium fee for the pleasure. If you've ever seen the terms and conditions for a BT account (here is a link) you'll see it seems pretty straight forward...with no obvious mention of a cancellation charge.

In frustration close to moving day and whilst travelling to meet clients I simply closed the call at that stage. However when I called back to approach the subject again after the move I asked for the numbers: what would it cost to cancel vs. what it would cost to pay for the final two months of the contract. It was slightly more expensive to cancel than it was to continue with the services but the relocation had already completed. So I asked the customer support member to transfer the services.

This was also fine - the new location has multiple connections for phone and internet services so the old account could have run to the premises alongside the business account. However the old location had Infinity and the new barely has ADSL - At first BT attempted to waive the disconnection in favour of closing one service to open another. This would mean a new 12 month contract for services to the property.

The important factor to note here is that if you have a contract to supply services, and the provider can no longer provide those services they cannot bill you further and must reach reasonable settlement. This was pointed out to BT and after another 5 mins on hold, they agreed to waive the disconnection fee and close the account within 14 days.

Sky also tried this once when two people owning separate accounts move in together. The customer support representative in that case was adamant that both accounts have to be connected to the same address; despite the fact that Sky cannot connect multiple accounts to one household. Nor would the CSR in that case accept that if Sky could not provide services (which would have been acceptable) it had breached it's own contract for services.

Also listed in the "Goodbye" email was a statement about refunds on advance purchase of line rental - to the effect that there may not be:

We can't refund your upfront payment for BT Line Rental Saver


If you've paid up to £[xxx.xx] in advance for 12 months' line rental, we can't refund any of it as it was a special discount for paying upfront.

Be cautious about taking cheaper deals without checking the implications at point of sale.

Reason For Concern

If there was no push back from the consumers side, BT would have enforced a disconnection fee for closing the account or guaranteed another 12 months cash for themselves - neither of these options are in the best interests in the consumer.

Also the option agreed by both parties was never offered as a possibility by the service provider on the initial call making the entire process more stressful and misleading.

The terms and conditions weren't made sufficiently clear, and the actuals T's & C's appear to be buried up to your point of installation. There is a note about the construction of these charges on BTs website here but there doesn't appear to be any rationalisation or justification (how can cancellation cost more than the services?)

Additionally, back in late 2014 I moved into an apartment building in Birmingham and had BT move my home connection there. When the engineer was at my flat getting it all sorted he connected the broadband first and then went to connect it. He phoned me back and asked me to check that the router and internet connection were operational - which it was.

When he got back I asked him if the phone line was also connected...this is the astounding bit: He said ... "No, I'll do that shortly after I've tidied up the broadband socket in your flat".

So some of the things the phone companies tell you about having to have a phone line connection in order to supply your broadband are not true. But I guess we knew that already didn't we?

Next Actions

Last updated 27-7
  • Awaiting response from BT w/regards double billed items on initial charge
    • Promised reconciliation will be taken care of on next quarterly bill
  • Once billing is reconciled will represent this incident to OfCom

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