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BT has handled matters so that complaint falls outside OFCom time limit

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Hello CAG - can I please ask for your advice on the following situation. BT has come back and offered me £150 in compensation rather than the £2200 + VAT (based on 10 days of our daily rate before they offered compensation) but their offer doesn't reflect the time spent or mayhem created. My MP has offered to help and I'm trying to assess whether


i) a small claims court action would produce any more money; and

ii) whether BT's claim that no footprint has been left on the company's credit rating is in fact the case. I don't know how or where to check


BT has created absolute chaos and appears (whether deliberately or not) to have timed matters so that it's outside Ofcom's terms of reference, as complaints have to be referred to them within 9 months of first being raised. There appear to be two separate complaints procedures (one verbal, the other written) with no connection between the two They have also set not one, but two debt collection agencies on us and recalled the alleged debt from the second one recently, saying that it had been placed with them in error. When I called BT to ask for confirmation that this was the case, they claimed to have written to me and promised to send it over by email, but only today, with my MP's involvement, have they confirmed that no money is o/s.


The second debt collection agency also confirmed that their involvement would show up against the company in any credit searches and this is totally unacceptable. BT now dispute that there will be any footprint against my company as a result of the DCA being involved. The 2nd DCA confirmed that they didn't buy the alleged debt, just chased it.


So, we cancelled BT as a supplier of our business phone lines and broadband at the end of March 2014. Up to that point, we had a direct debit set up that took all money outstanding


Once we had confirmed that we were moving to another telecoms supplier, various bills arrived that we couldn't make any sense of – and neither could anyone at BT; no-one could ever explain what they were for. We received 41 letters and bills between early March and early Oct 2014, some just 1 day apart. Some were for services that we hadn't had for years – for instance, the latest we ever used data backup was Jan 2010 (and it could well have been earlier than that) -yet there possibly appeared (according to one person I spoke to before this was accelerated to the complaints department) to be a demand for money on this, 4 years down the road when there had been no interim request, and when we had a direct debit set up that collected all o/s amounts.


The second debt collection agency also confirmed that BT had supplied conflicting information ie:


fax and broadband service going back to 2007, when the fax number was owned a friend we shared an office with, yet the default date supplied is 17/10/14, 7 years later! BT has also only provided 1 page out of 10 pages that it claims supports this bill.


Every time we received a letter or a bill we rang to try and sort it out but were advised that because it was already logged with the complaints dept we couldn’t be transferred but had to wait for them to call us at their convenience. Nobody could explain whether the larger bills received in June-Aug were several of the smaller ones added together or whether they were stand-alone bills. We were told to ignore the letters and bills every single time we rang, because the system just generated them automatically. I did receive a couple of calls but always when I was out and didn't have the paperwork to hand or any of the ref numbers. It was never even possible to fix a time when someone from the complaints dept would call back; we were just put on a 7-10 day cycle to be called again. We were also given 2 different reference numbers for the same complaint.


We had letters in May, Aug and Sep saying that our service would be cancelled when we'd already done this ourselves in March.


What I find perhaps hardest to believe is that having been told by BT to ignore all their letters, and them making it impossible for us to call them to sort it out, I then made a payment to BT Conferencing by mistake. This was an ancient payee that hadn't been used since April/May 2011. A payment was made in error to them in early Oct – and was refunded around 3 weeks later. I had to call several times and send several emails about it, all in the same company name as these demands were coming to. Not once was it mentioned that BT thought we owed them money, and yet it can only have been a few days later that they instructed the first debt collection agency!


My view is that because no-one can explain what any of these invoices were supposed to be for and because it was all so complicated, this was passed to debt collectors in an attempt to get the money without due process or spending more time on it. No-one ever called to say that the first debt collection agency were going to be involved – the letter from them arrived on the same day as a letter from BT explaining that they'd handed it over. I'm also struggling with the logic of a complaints dept that no-one can call. I can't help thinking that it's a large coincidence that the first debt collection agency was involved 9 month after the original complaint, when by Ofcom's normal timescales it would have been refused.


Thanks so much for your advice



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