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Dear All

 

I would like some advice upon whether to pursue a claim for compensation against BT.

 

Briefly back in February I accepted an offer to transfer my phone line and broadband from Virgin Media to BT.

As part of my original acceptance of BT's offer I had paid a year line rental upfront at the time of order.

 

Within a couple of days Virgin Media persuaded me to stay by dramatically reducing my monthly payments significantly below what BT had offered.

I then followed BT's procedures and cancelled the order, well within the 14 days "cooling off" period.

 

As by end of May I had still received no refund despite speaking to BT's telephone "support" line several times I prepared and sent via recorded delivery the letter below.

 

On 7th June I received a call from Oliver at BT in response to my letter.

In short he told me that BT had no obligation and therefore no intention of compensating me for anything but the original annual rental, but he conceded that he could authorise an ad-hoc payment of 15.00 pounds by way of apology that the situation had not yet been resolved.

 

I replied I found that unacceptable and I reserved the right to pursue a claim via the court procedures mentioned in my letter.

He said that he could do no more and would escalate my complaint to his manager.

 

Later that day I received the email below.

On my return from holiday on 23rd June I had received the Final bill below.

 

At this point, 24th June I have received neither a refund by cheque nor one via my credit card of the annual line rental payment.

My question to the group is:

 

- What is the likelihood of success if I follow my threat of pursuing compensation via the small claims court?

 

- Has anybody actually done this successfully in the past?

 

All contributions and advice gratefully received.

 

2016 06 07 - VOL013-122500421722.pdf

2016 05 17 - Claim for compensation etc.pdf

2016 06 08 - Final Bill.pdf

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Well you are handling this matter extremely well and at the same time extremely badly.

 

Your record-keeping is impeccable – and I wish many other people would do the same. You have written very clearly to BT and you have told them exactly what has happened and it is clear from their response that they understand completely. I notice that you haven't recorded any calls to them. You should do although in this instance, you seem to have all the evidence that you need.

 

You've handled it badly in that firstly you have made a threat to begin a County Court claim and yet you have come here and asked us about it and you have sought advice as to whether we think that a County Court claim is a runner. You should have made these decisions before you made threats.

 

Secondly, in my view, the sums that you are asking in compensation are far too large and I don't think that any court would award them to you. I have no doubt but that you would win in court, but I think that the court would consider that the damages you are seeking are unreasonable.

 

Now to BT. BT are bleating on that they are not authorised to make the kind of payments that you are seeking simply because they are bound by their own service agreements in their own policies. This is complete nonsense of course. What they are in effect saying is that their own internal policies and their own internal rules ride roughshod over your statutory rights as a consumer and over what a court might give you by way of compensation. Effectively I think that BT's position is unlawful and somebody ought to report them to trading standards. Although most people don't see it this way, it is really just the same as a retailer saying that you are covered by a 12 month guarantee and that guarantee overrides your statutory rights as a consumer. It's rubbish.

 

I disagree completely with BT that there is no basis for awarding you money for the time you have spent. I see no reason why the BT staff should be paid for the time that they spend with you and that you shouldn't be paid. I think there is an implied contract – or if you would like to use the phraseology of the energy industry, – a deemed contract. Clearly you are providing a service because you are helping them to unravel the mismanagement of your account. In my view, section 15 of the Supply and Goods and Services Act 1982 applies – because this part of the act remain still in force in relation to businesses (BT is a business and not a private consumer) section 15 says that where a price for services not been agreed then a reasonable price will be implied. I think you would have a lot of work on your hands to persuade a court that £25 an hour was a reasonable price. If you could show the court that you were some professional person who had actually lost £25 an hour by having to spend the time sorting out the mess caused by BT, then you might be able to swing it. I suspect that about £12 an hour is more likely.

 

Secondly, I think that your £100 compensation is excessive. And I doubt whether you would get more than £50 and maybe £40 is a better bet.

 

The problem with having stated these amounts in your excellent letter to BT is that you have now put yourself into a position which you will not be able to hold onto and so you will have to back down. If you wanted, you could sue them for the amounts that you have said and then use that as a negotiating hand but I can assure you that the amounts that you would eventually get would be in the region of the figures I have quoted to you, at the top end. On the other hand of course, once you had the court papers issued and in BT's hands, they might simply decide that it's just too much hassle to fight you and they might pay up everything you claim. The cost of bringing a County Court claim like this is not very great. You don't have very much to lose. I don't know where you are in the country but BT would be obliged to travel to your local County Court because you are a litigant in person. This would add to the general logistical problems of having to defend the case. Economically, it wouldn't make sense at all for BT to resist your claim. On the other hand, big companies like this are prepared to spend thousands to smash down an individual simply to save a few quid.

 

Finally, you have threatened to bring a County Court action and also to mount a complaint to the ombudsman. You're not entitled to do this. If you bring a County Court claim then you automatically exclude any complaint process to the ombudsman. Clearly, by making this dual threat, you have disclosed that you actually don't know what the rules are and this undermines your credibility enormously and I can imagine it would bring chuckles to the BT complaint staff who read it because they would consider that this is simply another person making huff and puff.

 

Because the cost of bringing a County Court claim for this value is so small, then if you have the spare change, you might want to bring the claim simply as an exercise, and for a bit of fun, and because BT needs a slap.

 

However, you better start informing yourself and preparing yourself and being more realistic then you appear to have been so far

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BankFodder,

Many thanks for your advice and I totally accept that I have gone about this in the wrong way. If only I had asked for advice before putting both feet firmly in it!

In my defence I wrote the letter to BT, while in a bit of a strop about their behaviour, prior to going away for a fortnight and was somewhat wrong footed when I actually got a call from BT two days before leaving.

I do actually have recordings of the calls I made to to BT but not of the last one they made to me on my mobile. There are no transcripts, simply an audio file for each call that I made.

 

I have been following your advice and am following the links you pointed me to and will hopefully soon be clearer about the potential process I might follow.

 

Can I ask if you would clarify a few points for me please?

 

1. If I did follow the Small Claims track and failed to convince the Judge that my total claim was reasonable would I lose my right to the refund of the annual line rental I have already paid?

2. I would likely follow your advice and reduce my claim for the time taken and the request for a goodwill ex-gratia payment so this would total (say 100 pound). How (if at all) would this be affected by the content of my initial letter to BT?

3. Would also add the Money Claim Online Fee (25 or 35 pound) to my claim at the outset or look for that to be awarded if judgement was made in my favour.

4. If I elect to pursue BT through the Small Claim route do I need to inform them by a Letter before Action or simply go ahead from here without further recourse to them?

 

In summary, by taking the Small Claim route would I stand to lose any all or some of:

  • the existing payment for annual line rental
  • the existing offer of 30 pound from BT
  • the Court fee
  • any other expenses I incur during the process.

Thanks in advance

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I'm afraid that "a strop" is not good place to start writing letters from.

 

In answer to your questions,

I would expect that the question of annual line rental would be part of the matter that you would raise before the judge – so that would be decided in court.

How would you feel if somebody threatened to huff and puff and blow your house down if you didn't do what they said and then for no reason at all they suddenly came back and said that actually fell huff and puff and only blow your shed down. What would you feel about their credibility?

The claim fee is added automatically at the end if you win. If you did a bit of looking around, then you would find this out for yourself.

Finally, there is so much information about the process of threatening and bringing a claim on this forum that I'm going to let you find out for yourself.

 

This is a self-help forum and we work very hard to people that we expect people to do their own spadework because it is only by investing your own time that you are a better decision to make a proper judgement as to whether you want to go ahead with your complaint.

 

You may feel that this is rather harsh but although you haven't posted very much, you've been around since 2006 and so you must have an idea of the culture of our community.

 

Where extremely happy to help you and very enthusiastic about it – but you need to reciprocate.

 

Come back when you have found out a little more and will help you through some of the more complicated aspects

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