BT Nightmare 49

In the past month, the following Direct debit payments have been taken from my bank account:

23 March 2011 BT Group plc 83.71
04 April 2011 BT Group plc 222.64
18 April 2011 BT Group plc 192.19
21 April 2011 BT Group plc 93.05
22 April 2011 BT Group plc 86.05

Total £677.64

I genuinely have no idea why. I only have one address and one broadband phone line, which includes one of those BT internet hub phones to make international calls cheaper. We do make some international calls, and before I moved here last summer our BT bill was around £60 per month.

One of the reasons why I have no idea what these multiple charges relate to, is that I have not received a single bill since I moved here last July. I have three times contacted BT about this. The last time we discovered that, when I moved here, BT had started sending the bills to an old address at which I lived many years ago – for no possible reason. Not to my last address, to which BT sent my phone bills while I lived there, and on which I have redirected mail. The BT operative who told me this said that they would send me copies of all the missing bills, and he nobly added they would waive the charge for duplicate bills. In fact I have received nothing since – not the missing nor current bills.

In December the BT line was cut off for three weeks. BT told me it was for unpaid bills. I told them that the bill was paid by direct debit and no payment had been missed. But that I could not understand at all the huge bills I was getting. They said they would write. They have not.

There is no worse organisation than BT for multiple recorded menus leading to eventual transfer to an under-trained operative six thousand miles away who has no relevant response permissible to somebody who claims they have been wrongly billed.

Today a buzz through seven automated menus eventually tells me that the BT billing department is closed for the Bank Holdiay, which is peculiar as I am pretty sure Good Friday is not a holiday in the country where it is situated.

Altogether BT have taken £2,950 out of my account in five months without giving me a single bill. I still have absolutely no idea why. Apparently they are open tomorrow. I will tell you what they say then.

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49 thoughts on “BT Nightmare

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  • tony_opmoc

    I don’t normally write this kind of stuff on an English website for fairly obvious reasons – you know it is true – but in America they think I am making it up…

    Once or maybe twice or three times or an infinite number of times – they asked her – who the fuck is that? whilst she was expressing her natural soul and giving away everything she had..

    On the rare occasions when I couldn’t remember my own name – they said _ i know your wife – I thought it was her…

    I am sorted – fluffy cool white shirt bought in India from the cousins of the people who made it…

    Black Bow Tie – Off The Internet For 99p…

    And some BLACK Sexy Shorts…

    My Wife is Going As a Bunny Rabbit

    And We Are Going On The Bus later Today


  • Parky

    I think after £222.64 went from your account on the 4th April you should have suspended the direct debit at your bank account and wrote to bastard telecom asking what they are playing at and to sort it out pronto. It is also worth registering with their on-line service and you can check the call usage before the next bill is due to see any unusual items are appearing. Call them also to put a ban on premium rate numbers as it may well be that someone in your household is calling these infernal swine and running up the bill at an astronomical rate. Finally look for third party providers that undercut BT big time for international calls, never use BT for this type of call they are always the most expensive.

  • Archie

    Some 20 years ago, I was heavily involved in a very specific piece of campaigning. There was certain proof my phone line was being intercepted. I received a quarterly BT bill for c. £6000.

    I called the number on the bill, and launched a tirade to the effect that I had no objection to them bugging my line, as I had nothing to hide, but resented having to foot the bill for it. I was transferred to a “Mr White”, who “could neither confirm or deny”

    Three days later I received a revised bill for c. £90

  • Ron

    You should try dealing with France Telecom in France. ” You can’t do that from this menu. Please call customer service on 1014.” Calls 1014 to get a voice response service telling me “You can’t do that from this menu. Please call customer service on 1014.”
    Called the English language customer service line and they sorted out my problem immediately. I asked why it was easier to it in English than in French and they said their English customers had higher expectations of customer service than their French ones.
    I went to the café across the street and told the patron who poured himself a tiny beer, took a sip and looked as if he were about to start crying.
    Anyway, what’s this got to do with Obama saying Bradley Manning broke the law?

  • s j west

    You should change if you can from BT to another provider. The Co-op have an uk based phone offering, To be balanced not all phone companies are based abroad but do avoid plusnet as that’s BT too.

    Its painless to move and line rental will be cheaper.

  • Brian Barder

    Craig, I sympathise. Contrary to an earlier comment, this is not a hangover from when BT was publicly owned but typical private sector profit-maximising behaviour, seamlessly linked to gross incompetence. Varioue suggestions, mostly repeating tips already contributed: don’t think of using BT for your broadband; if you have a fibre-glass cable laid near your home, go over to Virgin Media for both broadband and telephone: if not, pay a little more and use Zen Internet, far and away the best ISP using your BT line. Check your BT account online and make sure that you haven’t been put on an “online billing only” account: revert to paper billing as well. If you insist on staying with BT despite this woeful experience, cancel the direct debit (do it today!) and pay monthly only after you have checked every item on your bill; then pay only for the calls you can recognise as having been made. BT will probably cancel your account for underpayment at which point you can transfer to Virgin Media Cable. Track down the names and telephone numbers of the Chairman and Chief Executive of BT, find free or cheap alternatives to their premium telephone numbers (using and telephone them five times a day until you get satisfaction. You can sometimes get their home telephone numbers or private email addresses from Who’s Who or by persistent Googling. Ringing them at home makes them mad (and annoys their wives, mistresses or husbands) and gets results. If that fails, ring the BT head office and ask to be put through to the Chief Executive’s office — mentioning him by name and saying it’s a personal call. Use Skype for international calls — it’s incredibly cheap (and so what if Skype eaves-drops on your calls? Half the British print media are probably doing the same thing, not to mention assorted spooks of twenty nations). Get a good contract for your mobile or smartphone which gives you lots of free minutes per month and free texts, and use that instead of your BT landline for all your UK calls to landlines and to some other mobiles (I use o2 which is not bad: patchy customer service but 1m times better than BT!).
    Hope some of that helps. Changing is a bore but saves huge amounts of time-wasting and frustrating trouble later. Nil illegitimibus carborundum!

  • Clark

    “…typical private sector profit-maximising behaviour, seamlessly linked to gross incompetence” – beautifully put.
    “…and so what if Skype eaves-drops on your calls?” – the point is to NEVER encourage the use of non-free software, formats or protocols, as they ALWAYS end up being misused. What is that quote, something about the only reliable way of avoiding oppression being to prevent its means developing in the first place? We bear a social responsibility here. It may not be us that suffer from the use of freedom-denying protocols like Skype, but people in other countries.

  • evgueni

    Clark, thanks for the heads-up. I shall avoid Skype when engaging in seditious, subversive and clandestine activities! It’s still rather good for chit-chat with friends and family and the video call thingie is great for showing off the kids to rellies miles away. Their international call rates to phones are competitive, too.

  • Ishmael

    Bacause they can. Like most things in life now, the catchphrase is “whatcha gonna do about it”

  • mary

    Brian Barder above thinks that the ‘intervention’ in Libya was a good thing according to his blog. The US has just launched its first strike on Libya using one of their two Predator drones. Over 20 humans* have just been killed in Pakistan using the same evil method.

    *actually civilians but described by the NY Times and the Washington Post as ‘militants’. The coalition is obviously planning a high explosive incineration for Gaddafi.

    Margo is spot on here at Medialens

  • Ivan K

    On that link Margot says:

    ……The act of using drone attacks in the “humanitarian” war in Libya is an admission by the US Administration that it is subservient to the goals of the CIA……

    I don’t actually understand how that could be so. We hear that the Syrian opposition is supported by CIA. Then, why does the US administration turn a blind eye for the widely promoted plights of that opposition?

    Those plights are almost completely fictional, of course, but isn’t it CIA that that has arranged the fiction.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    I think a lot of these companies just add random charges thinking they’ll mostly get away with it.

    Scottish Power put my electricity bill on business rates for no apparent reason. It’s a house. No business has ever been run from it. It’s been on domestic rates for almost 40 years, but i have to send a council tax bill to them to prove it’s a home and not a business. Will be demanding a refund and if they refuse it i’ll be going to the regulator.

  • ingo

    Craig, do you remember the outstanding bills form your predecessor who lived there? These items could be outstanding seperate sums accrued by his tennats. I think you should claim all the money back and demand itemised billing. Take care, its sooo hot here in Narfuk.

  • edikat

    From a UK broadband (IP/SIP enabled phone) overseas calls generally cost from USD 0.01 to 0.05 a minute, leaning mostly towards the low end.

    As you are conversant in Russian (as am I) I would sign up with and get all Moscow calls free, and most CIS dirt cheap.

    This what I do.

    It does however surprise my friends when I tell them my phone company is Russian and they provide a cheaper service (both Land and Mobile) than all UK providers including the mobile operators.

  • mary

    I have just done another speed test on my BT Total Fraud Broadband. I pay for up to 8 Mbps and get 992Kbps this morning. I will ditch them at the first opportunity.

    It’s good to talk!

  • septicisle

    Did you take your old number with you Craig? From my experience BT charge exorbitant amounts to redirect your calls to the new number, which might explain some of the charges.

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