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After months of poor service, overcharging and getting nowhere with BT i moved my line rental to Sky.

 

BT are now harrassing me by phone and letter demanding advance charges as i was 'in contract' when i moved and threatening to pass on to their external debt collection agency even though i am trying to communicate with them. I argued that i wasn't in contract and finally got the response that the 12 month contract automatically renews unless cancelled.

 

I thought that under contract law a contract could only be renewed by 'positive action' and that silence was not acceptable.

 

My questions are:

 

Is the contract enforceable meaning i have to pay these advance charges?

 

Can the debt be passed to an external collection agency and be enforced?

 

Many thanks in advance for help & advice.

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Every BT contract has a minimum term of 12 months, unless (a) a reconnection or (b) a marketing incentive. You have probably opted for BT's free Evening & Weekend Calls package, rather than the standard 'Free Weekend Calls' that comes as the basic package deal.

 

In order to get the former (Weekday OffPeak for Free), you agree to an auto-renewing minimum term, which BY may remind you shortly before the renewal kicks in (but are not required to do so). Therefore if you plan to leave them, you do so by terminating the Free Weekday off-peak call package on or just before its anniversary.

 

The contract is fully enforceable as it was an opt in - you accepted their offer of free weekday off-peak calls, and by default accepted the lock-in on the auto-renewing 12 month commitment.

 

Yes, if you do not pay, they will pass to an external agency for collection, as the amount is correctly owed. The good news is that it will not affect your credit file as BT (as yet) do not disclose late or non payers. Within a number of months they will then sell on the debt to a third party.

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Many thanks for your reply - was very comprehensive.

 

One thing i forgot to mention - although i was originally on the free weekend calls package - i moved my calling plan to Sky months before i moved my line rental.

BT continued to charge me for the calling plan, meaning i was paying both Sky & BT for this, i can never log on to my online account with BT so wasn't fully aware i was being double charged - was it my responsibility to notify them or Sky's?

Does the date i moved my calling plan to Sky have any bearing on the contract or shall i just pay in full and get on with my life?

 

I am going to complain either way - they have already ignored my first request for their complaints procedure.

 

Many thanks again.

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The Free Weekend calling plan is free of any charge, as is the Free Off-Peak plan, which provides unbilled calls during the off-peak week too, the only difference is the commitment of the auto-renewing 12 month term. (So the only time you are expected to pay for this is when you leave before the expiry of your commitment).

 

So even if you cancelled either with BT. there is no refund due - you were only paying for BT to provide the line and supply dial tone, this enabled you to use Sky's calling plan, which you would have been required to pay for anyway.

 

By all means complain to BT, their CS can never said to be exemplary (but these days, it is difficult to find any telco that is above reproach).

 

Sky provide different services, in one they require a BT line and you take a call paclage from them, and still pay BT for the line, or your actually move totally to Sky, and your liability to pay BT line rental ceases. In this latter case, Sky would tell BT to terminate and BT would send you a 'goodbye' letter.

 

From what you explain, I don't think BT have done anything wrong, as with a bit of advance planning you could have made the change more financially advantageous to you with a managed exit. As you've found out, it is a complex issue, and you have to thank the government for offering all this 'competition' that has done nothing to simplify the offerings and liabilities consumers will face!

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Many thanks for that Buzby. I have now moved everything to Sky and don't want to risk my line being disconnected and having to sign up to another 12 month contract with BT, so i'm going to pay in full.

 

I do think that BT have acted quite badly in all this - they sent me many threatening letters and final demands for differing amounts - i had to write to them to request an actual bill. When they finally sent me the bill they added a 'late payment' charge on even though they knew it was the first bill they had sent. They have been harrassing me on my mobile phone, constantly ringing me no matter how many times i cut the call off as i am not allowed to take personal calls whilst at work.

 

Thanks again for your advice and letting me get it off my chest - i think i'll tell as many people as possible that Sky line rental is cheaper than BT - hit him where it hurts, in the pocket ;-)

 

Kind regards.

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That's the way tp do it. BT's billing harassment system has been in place for 2 years now, but is fully automated, they start dialling when the Bill (Online or Paper) + 14 is reached. Having been a customer for 60-odd years I resented this type of customer 'care' and moved elsewhere,

 

The Late Payment Charge has nothing to do with whether you get a bill, but whether the outstanding amount has been unpaid on your account for 28 days or more.

 

Sky is no angel either - so good luck!

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One other thing i have just noticed - Sky took over my line rental on 14th April 2010 but BT are charging me until April 30th. This is in addition to the cancellation charge.

 

Do you think it's worth me trying to query this, or will BT just say they always do it to the end of the month.

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You still have to give 30 days notice of termination, irrespective of when the transfer takes place. So, if they are charging for the period up to termination this is allowed, the fact Sky were not prevented in taking the line earlier is seen as them being 'flexible'.

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  • 7 months later...

hi buzby, i hope i am posting in the right section i am pretty new here!

i too have a problem wit BT, had a final bill from them before xmas just before moving my line rental to sky who i pay my call

charges with, just got back into part time work and am in the position to pay the £50 bill but have now recieved a letter from

MOORCROFT DEBT RECOVERY LTD stating that the bill has now increased to £70 and failure to pay by the 5th feb 2011 will result in

increased fees approx £160 ,and they confirm that with a major public utility that i am in occupancy at my address ,and are

threatening with a county court judgement, have tried to pay the original bt bill on line but their website doesnt allow it.

can you give me any advice, how do they justify these fees ? when i have been out of work for about 12 months

 

any help you could give would be great THANKS .

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Right,

 

1st thing is DCA's have no power.

 

2nd thing, if BT don't want your money I'd accept that and move on.

 

Now, you don't have a contract with Moorcroft right? So they cannot legally add any charges. Their plan is to get as much money from you as they can, as cheaply as they can. They will try to contact you by phone and by letter, but if it came to them taking you to court, it would cost them more in petrol getting to the court than they could hope to make back! They are idle threats. Don't talk to them on the phone, write to them saying that you will only deal with BT directly in writing. They will probably write a few official looking letters back saying "urgent pay us now" but it's just a template letter designed to scare people into parting with their money. They may even do an online money claim, but if you put in a defense that you don't owe any money to them, they'll drop it instantly.

 

If you want to avoid this pathetic game of theirs you could always write to them offering £7.50 and half a curly wurly in full and final settlement, and could they write back stating that this is acceptable, and play the bartering game with them (BTW I've honestly offered half a curly wurly for a debt before!... long story, needless to say they didn't even get that!) so if you are pro-active and positive I'm sure you'll get a good result.

If in doubt, contact a qualified insured legal professional (or my wife... she knows EVERYTHING)

 

Or send a cheque or postal order payable to Reclaim the Right Ltd.

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  • 2 months later...

HI All

 

Has anyone had to call BT out to sort out a problem and then had them charge for the call out? This happened to me as the problem was "inside the house" and nothing to do with what they call their line. Okay, I cold accept this but to be charged £130.00 which I find to be excessive, even if the engineer was there for 3 hours (20 minutes in fact) this would be excessive. To think a plumber usually charges around £30 call out this is far too much.

 

is there any way in which these charges could be clawed back? and get BT to reduce them to an acceptable amount?

 

I am very angry as the fault was nothing to do with me but BT has made it look as though it was mine.

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After months of poor service, overcharging and getting nowhere with BT i moved my line rental to Sky.

 

BT are now harrassing me by phone and letter demanding advance charges as i was 'in contract' when i moved and threatening to pass on to their external debt collection agency even though i am trying to communicate with them. I argued that i wasn't in contract and finally got the response that the 12 month contract automatically renews unless cancelled.

 

I thought that under contract law a contract could only be renewed by 'positive action' and that silence was not acceptable.

 

My questions are:

 

Is the contract enforceable meaning i have to pay these advance charges?

 

Can the debt be passed to an external collection agency and be enforced?

 

Many thanks in advance for help & advice.

 

Hi,

 

I used to have BT(phone only) for many years.

Because of poor service and overcharging, as you have experienced---I cancelled my contract with them.

 

I still owed them nearly £200---but, in my opinion, they broke their contract with me by giving me false and conflicting information, overcharging me etc.

 

They tried to get the money back by using debt collectors---but I had a contract with BT--not anyone else.

 

This was over a year ago---and I have not heard anything from them for about 7 months.

 

What is good for the goose, as they say. Stick to your guns.

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HI All

 

Has anyone had to call BT out to sort out a problem and then had them charge for the call out? This happened to me as the problem was "inside the house" and nothing to do with what they call their line. Okay, I cold accept this but to be charged £130.00 which I find to be excessive, even if the engineer was there for 3 hours (20 minutes in fact) this would be excessive. To think a plumber usually charges around £30 call out this is far too much.

 

is there any way in which these charges could be clawed back? and get BT to reduce them to an acceptable amount?

 

I am very angry as the fault was nothing to do with me but BT has made it look as though it was mine.

 

£125 is their standard call out fee. If the fault was BEFORE the master socket it is BT's responsability, AFTER the master socket, it is your responsability. However, BT should have made you aware of this before sending an engineer.

 

IF they did not make you aware that you would have to pay if the fault was on your side of the Master Socket, you should complain following their complaints procedure outlined in their "Code of practice" located here

If you’re not happy with the service we’ve given you

How you can complain

We aim to be number one for customer service. Even so, things can go wrong. When they do, we want to know so we can put them right as quickly as we can. Here are the ways you can complain to us.

Online

Go to www.bt.com and click on ‘Contact BT’. This way, you won’t have to write, print or post a letter to us, and we can handle your complaint sooner.

By phone

If you’re a residential customer and your complaint is about sales, a bill or general matters, call us free on 0800 800 150 between 8am and 9pm Monday to Friday, 8am and 8pm on Saturdays or 9am and 6pm on Sundays.

If you use a textphone, you can call us free on 18001 0800 800 150.

If you aren’t able to complain yourself, you can ask someone to register a complaint and act on your behalf.

If your complaint is about repairing a fault, call us free on 0800 800 151. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our customer service advisers will try to solve the problem while you’re still on the line.

If you’re a business customer with fewer than ten employees and your complaint is about sales or services, call us free on 0800 800 152 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday. If your complaint is about a bill, call us on 0845 600 6156 between 8am and 6pm Monday to Friday or 8am and 1pm on Saturdays.

If your complaint is about repairing a fault, call us free 0800 800 154. This line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our customer service advisers will try to solve the problem while you’re still on the line.

If you’d like to complain about a BT payphone, call us free on 0800 661 610.

By letter

It takes longer to reply by letter but, if you prefer to write, please send your letter to the appropriate address below. Make sure you include the account number and telephone number of the service you’re complaining about.

If you’re a residential customer, write to:

Customer Service Manager

BT Customer Correspondence Centre

Providence Row

Durham

DH98 1BT

If you’re a business customer, write to:

BT Business Accounts

Providence Row

Durham

DH98 1BT

We’ll normally get back to you by phone but will gladly confirm any particular points in writing if you wish.

Page 3

What we’ll do and when

Our aim is to solve any problem to your complete satisfaction, and our customer service advisers will try to do this as quickly as possible, preferably during a phone call or email exchange. If we can’t do this, we’ll agree with you what we can do.

We aim to respond to a letter within ten working days, an email within five working days and if we can’t sort out your complaint when you phone us, we’ll call you back within five working days.

We’ll try to sort out your complaint on the spot but whatever happens, we’ll respond and try to keep you regularly updated if it’s going to take a while to check into things.

If an advisor can’t sort out your complaint, we’ll escalate it. A team leader or manager will then work with you to try and sort out the problem. If that doesn’t work out, we’ll involve a Centre manager or a Complaint Review Service team. We settle most complaints by this stage but, if not, we’ll explain our final position. In some cases, we might send you a ‘deadlock’ letter. This means there’s nothing more we can do.

You can ask for a manager to review your complaint at any time if our adviser hasn’t been able to help and hasn’t already offered to refer things to a manager.

What you can do if you’re still not happy

If you’re still not happy having followed the process explained above, and we’ve sent you a ‘deadlock’ letter or eight weeks have passed since you complained, you can refer your complaint to Ombudsman Services: Communications.

Ombudsman Services: Communications

Ombudsman Services: Communications provides a free independent service for customers who aren’t satisfied with the final outcome of their complaints.

Ombudsman Services: Communications can’t deal with complaints about commercial policy (such as, for example, our prices or broadband availability). Nor can it deal with complaints from businesses with more than ten employees.

If you complain to Ombudsman Services: Communication, you must do so within six months of receiving your ‘deadlock’ letter. If we haven’t sent you a ‘deadlock’ letter, you must contact Ombudsman Services: Communications within nine months of making your complaint to us.

You can contact Ombudsman Services: Communications at:

Ombudsman Services: Communications

PO Box 730

Warrington

WA4 6WU

Phone: 0330 440 1614, 01925 430049 or 0845 050 1614

Fax: 0330 440 1615 or 01925 430059

Textphone: 0845 051 1513 or 0330 440 1600

Email: [email protected]

Website: www.otelo.org.uk

Although they state by letter may take more time, I'd personally prefer everything to be in writing.

If in doubt, contact a qualified insured legal professional (or my wife... she knows EVERYTHING)

 

Or send a cheque or postal order payable to Reclaim the Right Ltd.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Epsom,

 

I to have a dispute with BT possibly similar to yours and find your comments very interesting.

 

I telephoned BT to leave due to increasing prices and was offered a new rate of £25.00 per month. Having been with BT for 20 + years I took it but for the second month was charged £43.00. I contacted BT by telephone and was told that it was due to outstanding payments from before the new rate. I therefore accepted this and the following month was again £25.00. Unfortunately the fourth month payment was £68.

 

I cancelled the contract and left but have been sent an outstanding charge for early termination of £53. I have written three letters but all they do is ignore my questions about the increased charges and include a list of my payments which I already know. I have discovered by 'phone though that the payment of £25 would never cover my usage. They never told me this at the outset probably because I would have declined the contract.

 

I have so far refused to pay and have received notification that the debt will be passed to a debt collector. I have told them that I am disputing the debt but they have in turn replied that it doesn't matter, the debt can still be recovered.

 

I am presently writing to Otelo and hopefully they will support me but I can only wait and see

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Epsom,

 

I to have a dispute with BT possibly similar to yours and find your comments very interesting.

 

I telephoned BT to leave due to increasing prices and was offered a new rate of £25.00 per month. Having been with BT for 20 + years I took it but for the second month was charged £43.00. I contacted BT by telephone and was told that it was due to outstanding payments from before the new rate. I therefore accepted this and the following month was again £25.00. Unfortunately the fourth month payment was £68.

 

I cancelled the contract and left but have been sent an outstanding charge for early termination of £53. I have written three letters but all they do is ignore my questions about the increased charges and include a list of my payments which I already know. I have discovered by 'phone though that the payment of £25 would never cover my usage. They never told me this at the outset probably because I would have declined the contract.

 

I have so far refused to pay and have received notification that the debt will be passed to a debt collector. I have told them that I am disputing the debt but they have in turn replied that it doesn't matter, the debt can still be recovered.

 

I am presently writing to Otelo and hopefully they will support me but I can only wait and see

 

Hi Dave882,

 

I wouldnt worry about BT at all.

 

As I say in my post, I cancelled my account because of false information that they gave me and not giving me time to pay off an outstanding balance ( 2 weeks they gave me--after I had been with them for over 25 yrs!)!.

 

As far as I am concerned, they left me with no choice but to leave them----because they broke their contract with me--by giving me false/ wrong information, therefore leaving me having to pay more than I should have.

 

I recommend going to the site GETOUTOFDEBTFREE ( I have to ut it like that--because I cant post links).

Follow the procedure there in sending up to three letters to BT..and any debt collector if necessary.

 

Put the onus on them to prove their case......

 

As regards debt collectors like Moorcroft etc...I have absolutely no fear of them.

They are third party interlopers who usually buy debts from companies who know they have no chance of winning.

 

They will use all sorts of fear tactics.....but dont be out off by them! Your 'debt' was with BT---not anyone else.

 

Don't do any business over the phone, only by post.....and recorded delivery.

 

Anyway, thses are just some tips----go to the website I mentioned and you will find great advice.

 

As of this moment, I have not heard from BT for many months ( or their debt collectors)....and I 'owe' £200+.

 

I am with Virgin Media now, and have a Virgin line.....I have received calls recently from BT asking if I would like to join them!!!

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Just a quick FYI epsom, there are similar letters in the CAG library

 

And dave, you are correct, whilst you have a dispute it is unlawful for them to pass the debt on to a debt collector. Report them to the FOS if they do!

If in doubt, contact a qualified insured legal professional (or my wife... she knows EVERYTHING)

 

Or send a cheque or postal order payable to Reclaim the Right Ltd.

to

923 Finchley Road London NW11 7PE

 

 

Click here if you fancy an email address that shows you mean business! (only £6 and that will really help CAG)

 

If you can't donate, please use the Internet Search boxes on the CAG pages - these will generate a small but regular income for the site

 

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