Tuesday 15 March 2011

BT Rolling Contract - Slimey & Sneaky.

I edited the title, I was angry when I posted this, I’ve since calmed down and renamed the post

I’ve had nothing but trouble with BT, in every way the experience of using them has been a catastrophic disappointment.

Deceptive Corporate Theives

History

In December 2008, I took out a landline and a 12 month broadband contract. Three weeks into the contract the broadband speeds were hideous. It was impossible to watch iPlayer and speeds were sometimes as low as 4k per second. The service was supposed to be 8meg. I live about 1/2 a mile from the exchange, which is in an urban area, there is no excuse for this. Despite claims to the contrary the service was heavily traffic shaped and at ‘peak times’ it was unfit for purpose. I called to cancel, but I was informed that the 14 days had passed. Great.

Six months later I decided to buy myself out of that contract and switch to BE, who despite being owned by O2, provide a very good service. They even don’t charge you on your birthday. I actively evangelise for BE, but that’s another matter. As soon as I switched to BE my connection drastically changed, it was constantly fast and my download max is nearly always at 1.2m per second and upload is about 200k per second. The point I’m trying to make here is that the speed I had under BT could not have been blamed on the exchange, because as soon as I switched provider my speed shot up.

Fast forward to 2011. I noticed that BE would provide me with exactly the same service on my land line for 9 a month instead of BT’s 14 a month and that BE would actually charge me for what I’d used. Unlike BT who insist on direct debits that are for arbitrary amounts based on my usage. Save 60 a year, hell yeah.

So I set in motion the switch to BE, they handled everything, kept me informed and it went without a hitch, well everything apart from one small issue.

Rolling Contracts

Apparently BT have ‘auto renewing’ contracts on their land lines - news to me. I received a bill for about 28 for early termination charges. I though this must be mistake because I took out the landline in 2008. I rang customer service and spoke to a lovely chap called Raj, he informed me that the contracts were auto renewing. Hmmm. Anyway I noticed that btcare do some twittering so I sent them a tweet and this was the response

>Hi Jamie,

>Thanks for your email. It was my intention to speak with you this morning however I was unable to reach you.

I’m sorry for any confusion caused from our auto-renewal contracts. We have provided these contracts to our customers for quite some time now and it enables a special offer on the calling plan on the basis of a 12 month renewable contract. This basically means that the contract is auto-renewed after the 12 months unless we are contacted so that you can opt out. A letter is always sent 30 days before the contract is due to expire to give you the chance to opt out of the renewal.

I have carefully examined the points which you have raised in your email and I understand that you feel that you were never advised of the renewable contract. We do send letters to all customers who place an order for a calling plan that entails a renewable contract and I can see that your letter was sent to you on 22/12/2008 explaining the above. As you were receiving a discounted version of our Unlimited evening and weekend plan on a renewable contract and the service was disconnected in term, the cancellation charge is correct in line with our terms and conditions and will be maintained.

I’m sorry again for any confusion caused to you and I appreciate the time you have taken to send me this email. If you should need help with anything else feel free to drop me an email reply, I’ll be happy to help you.

Kind regards,

Robbie

Digital Care advisor

So no joy there then, looks like they intend on having their pound of flesh.

At no point did the person I placed the order with in 2008 tell me the contract would be auto-renewed, because if they had of, I would have ensured I opted out. The ‘discounted package’ that Robbie speaks of, I have no knowledge of this because I made sure that my landline was a ‘landline only’ service. I spent a miserable year working as a call centre outbound sales person for BT at their Longbenton call centre in 1999 and I’ve got a sneaky suspicion that I was given this ‘free’ discount without my consent.

I sent the following reply

Robbie,

It was never made clear to me when I placed the order that I would auto renew ( ordered on the phone ) and I have never received letter to this effect in December.

Need I remind you that the methods you’ve allegedly used to inform me of the terms and conditions this is similar in nature to Payment Protection Insurance. Recent claims have clearly demonstrated that these tactics will not be stood for. If this were a business to business contract you’d have the upper hand, but as a consumer the law favours my interests.

Your practice will soon be banned by OFCOM, I’m simply asking you to be honourable to the human race and not another enslaved cog in the corporate machine.

>The charges are unfair, sneaky and I’d like them removed. You have the power to do the right thing. Do it.

>I would prefer not to have to take further, but I will.

>With respect.

>Jamie Curle.

So that’s where I stand at the moment. OFCOM is looking to make rolling contracts at thing of the past, but that doesn’t help me now. I guess I just have to keep my nerve and fight.

It’s not just 28, it’s the principal.