Expat BT Complaint – Bill totals £900

This BT customer services complaint defies belief as this customer emigrated to Australia but after countless phone calls still is receiving bills from BT mounting up to £900! Warning – this is a lenghty BT complaint!

Dear Sir

I have come across your BT Complaints blog, and thought you might be interested in my case against BT. After closing my account with BT last year before emigrating, they have continued to charge my bank account with quarterly payments of about £120, leading to overdraft, dd reversals, dd cancellations, insurance cancellations and the associated costs of all this.

I returned for a summer holiday to find a bundle of letters from my bank, and demands from insurance companies, credit cards, etc. I have since spent half of my holiday on the phone to customer services. Each time I am assured resolve, refund and satisafaction, and each time nothing appears to have occured.

I have just written a letter to BT, which I will be sending by recorded post to their registered office tomorrow, I have attached a doc format copy of that letter for your perusal. I will be returning to Australia on 7th September, so am hoping my letter will inspire action. I wonder what your opinion of the matter is, and whether there are any other steps you advise me to follow.

Here is the letter in full….

Dear Sir/Madam,

For the second time in just over 2 years, I have been the victim of theft from British Telecom.

The first occasion was when I left a rental property in Lode, Cambridge, and moved to another rental property, in Hardley, Hampshire. Because I had not informed you of the move early enough, I was advised that I would get service in my new house quicker if I opened a new account, and closed the old one. I followed this advice, but BT continued to charge me on my old account, using the direct debit agreement I had signed, until I noticed it several months later. When I informed BT, a refund was issued, and the direct debit on the old account was stopped. As there were no other consequences on that occasion, I allowed the matter to drop.

The second occasion is very similar. I moved out of the property in Hardley, Hampshire, where the account number above refers to, at the end of June 2008. I informed all my utility providers at the same time, and all others closed my accounts, issued final bills, took payment and stopped the direct debit agreements I had with them. However, once again, BT have failed to issue a final bill, and stop direct debit payments. I have been overseas since September 2008, and have therefore not noticed the quarterly amounts being taken from my account until I returned to the UK in July 2009.

I have been onto BT several times since I found out what had happened, and have been given different stories and offers to resolve the situation each time. At first I corresponded with a Live Help operator, which I found linked from www.bt.com. On that occasion, I explained the situation, and was told a refund would be issued, after calculation of the final bill. I would receive a cheque in the post within 10 days.

After 10 days passed without receipt of correspondence, I looked again on the site for the Live Help system, and could not find a link. I assume this service has been discontinued. I then started the frustrating process of contacting BT through the customer services telephone system.

My first call was answered by an Indian call centre, although I did not get the name of the operator who I spoke to. After explaining the situation to date, as detailed above, I was assured that he would deal with my problem to my satisfaction that very day, and was sincerely apologetic for the inconvenience caused. He explained he would require the help of a supervisor to authorise the transaction, and would I mind holding. I agreed, and found myself cut off after about 20 minutes of listening to mind numbing musak. I was on the phone for nearly 2 hours on that occasion.

The second call, on the 14th August, was again answered by an Indian call centre. This time I took down the name given, Parag. Again I explained the entire situation to date, and I was assured once again that Parag would deal with it to my entire satisfaction today. He would oversee it to completion.

Parag then informed me that my account address had been transferred to a Liverpool address, although the installation address remained the same. When he told me the address, which I unfortunately failed to write down, I advised that it was somewhere I have never even heard of, let alone lived or visited. The number was also changed to an 0151 number, but I did not catch or record the entire number. After some investigation, informed me I would need to send copies of the bills back to BT in order to receive a refund.

I asked if he meant the bills that had apparently started going to some unknown address in Liverpool? He realised the impossibility of his request and then also explained he would need to involve a supervisor, but I would not agree to go on hold and asked that he called me back within 3 hours when they had decided how they would resolve the situation. Being 12:10 at the time, he assured me he would call back before 15:10 the same day. I have never heard back from Parag.

At 15:30 I called again and spoke to Mandy Leighton in the Middlesborough billing centre. Once again, I had to explain the entire situation to date. I also informed her of the assurances and failures of the previous calls, for which she apologised, and assured me that she would make sure my problem would be dealt with by her. Mandy explained she would also need a supervisor to help her authorise a refund but told me she was nearby and she could get her immediately.

I was told her name was Bev, but Mandy did not know her surname as she was new to the shift. I was informed that they had calculated the refund owed to be approximately £400, but would need to check it over which might take some time. However, I should be assured that the matter would be dealt with and authorised that day, and I would receive a cheque within 7 to 10 days.

I phoned again on 20th August, after receiving a final bill and payment demand in the post without any mention of a refund. Again I spoke to an Indian call centre. I did not have to explain the entire situation on this occasion, as it seems that Mandy and Bev had left detailed notes in my file. I asked why I had received a bill instead of a cheque, and was informed it was bad timing on behalf of the computer. I asked if the refund had been issued, and he explained that the matter had mistakenly been handed over to a debt collection agency, who had since been informed that it was a mistake, but they had to wait up to five days for him to respond before the refund could be issued.

I told him that was not acceptable and needed to it be sent sooner, as it had already been promised to me almost a month earlier. I wanted to know why I had to wait for the debt collector to respond if it was accepted that it was a mistake to involve them, and why the cheque could not be issued anyway, as the debt collection issue was an internal error that should have no affect on me. He could not answer my questions, so I asked to speak to a supervisor. The supervisor came on and I asked his name, which was Narender.

I asked Narender why I had to wait for the internal problem of the debt collector to be resolved before my refund could be issued, and he simply repeated everything I had been told by the previous person. I explained that did not answer the question, and he started repeating it again. I asked him to stop repeating himself, and he then became agitated, raised his voice and told me he was not. I told him I would be reporting his attitude and this situation to the complaints department.

I then asked again why I had to wait for the debt collector, and why the refund could not be authorised and issued, when a bill can apparently by sent and received within a couple of days. He informed me that the refund would be authorised and issued immediately, and I would receive a cheque within 7 to 10 working days. I am now running out of time and patience with BT.

On 7th September I return to Australia for several months, and would like this matter resolved before then. Because of the theft of money from my bank account, it has caused me to go overdrawn resulting in several direct debits to my vehicle insurers to go unpaid. This has resulted in reversals by my bank and an unauthorised overdraft. I had sufficient funds in my account to cover my outgoings until my return from overseas, but had not taken into account the amounts that BT have withdrawn in error.

I had not received the letters from my bank due to being overseas, so could not react in a timely manner. I have therefore accrued £300 in charges from the bank, which has only exacerbated the situation. All my direct debits were eventually cancelled by the bank. This eventually led to the cancellation of my insurance policies, which were being paid by direct debit.

One of the insurance companies has been quite understanding and has simply started up a new direct debit and begun withdrawing the premiums again. However the other of my insurers has not been so lenient and has issued me with charges over £195. I have not received the final assessment yet, so cannot be more accurate at this stage.
So far, therefore, I find I am about £900 out of pocket due to the inadequacy and incompetence of BT. I have looked into the matter of going to court over this, and have been informed that I must first make a written claim to BT in order to give them opportunity to resolve this matter once and for all, hence the writing of this letter.

Please be advised that if I do not receive a full refund of the amounts removed from my account, being approximately £400, plus the bank charges of £300, which I am perfectly capable of proving in court, and the £195 still owing to Amber Select, on behalf of Budget Insurance, which I am also able to produce documented evidence for, within seven days, I will not hesitate to take this matter further, by instigating a claim through Her Majesty’s Courts Service through Money Online (https://www.moneyclaim.gov.uk/csmco/index.jsp), where I will give a full and detailed account of all moneys lost, all charges and fees, plus compensation for the time I have spent chasing the money owed, and the stress caused.

To recount, in order to avoid further and immediate action, I require a payment of at least £900 to be sent to me at the address on this letter within seven days.


Mr C D Stott

For more BT Complaints, take a look around the rest of this site at www.btcomplaint.com

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  • One point this story proves is that you should always stop your Direct debits by an instruction to your Bank – then they have to "bounce2 any DDs that are wri=ongly requested. Many people do not seem to know that they ARE in control if they do this.

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