Questions of Cash: February 2015

Posted on August 4, 2015 · Posted in The Independent

Q. We recently moved to a property converted from a shop to residential dwelling.  We needed a landline and BT agreed on 23 March 2014 to install one for us on the day we moved, 2 May 2014.  Our account was in the name of my wife, so the new line would be in her name.  The installation did not happen as the engineer could not find the property and went home. It was eventually installed on 10 July – 69 days later – and we claimed compensation for additional costs involved for us to use our pay as you go mobile phones. BT agreed, via its ‘actual financial loss’ scheme to pay a small amount per day and then, via the ombudsman, £50 compensation. It also agreed to pay £135 for my wife’s use of her mobile, but refused my £95 claim as I was not the account holder.  I actually pay the bill, but that did not count. In order for BT to pay me I would have needed to have a separate landline in my name; it does not accept accounts in joint names.  This apparently is all set out in the  very small print, which I had accepted. They also would not pay for us travelling to a library to use the internet, the cost of postage or fees to get evidence from our phone providers so all in all we are out of pocket to the tune of around £250 for those various additional costs.  Be warned about BT’s small print in case you ever want to make a claim.  RM, Somerset.

A.  BT gave us this statement: “We have apologised to [the reader’s wife] for the shortfall in customer service and for the inconvenience this matter has caused. We are disappointed when we cannot reach an agreement with a customer, but we follow the Ofcom prescribed process to ensure the customer can refer the matter to the Ombudsman. We always abide by the Ombudsman’s conclusions. This case went to the Ombudsman and the proposals were agreed by [the reader’s wife] and BT.  As agreed, BT applied a credit of £50 as a gesture of goodwill for the shortfall in customer service and inconvenience caused; applied a credit of £10.96 for duplicate Anytime Calling Plan charges; confirmed in writing that compensation of £122.74 was placed against the account on the July 31, 2014; confirmed in writing that upon receipt of the required information, BT would continue to assess [the reader’s wife’s] claim for actual financial loss (AFL).  BT responded to [the reader’s wife’s] AFL claim on November 18, 2014. We have made a payment for £135 in full and final settlement of the claim, which was credited against [the reader’s wife’s] account. This was a gesture of goodwill because although we were provided with evidence of mobile phone usage, the breakdown did not show evidence of top-ups. We could not refund the cost of [the reader’s] mobile usage, as our customer service guarantee scheme only covers the account holder’s mobile phone. We also said we were unable to refund the cost of postage for providing us with the documents.”

Q. We took out a BT promotional contract at £20 per month, which ends in June this year. BT has now informed us that the contract fee has increased to £21.25 per month. The small increase is not a problem, but the idea that they can change the price mid-contract is appalling. I had understood that a contract could not be changed and if, for example, we were to end the contract early we would be liable to pay a fee. However, it seems BT can just increase an agreed contracted amount when it suits them. I have spoken to BT representatives and was told that all providers had increased charges and there was nothing they could do. I was also told that we had been informed – not to my knowledge – of this change and given the chance to end the contract with no charge. We would then have had to move to a more expensive contract anyway, so that is a bit of a no win situation.  MF, Mold.

A. Changes to agreed contract prices are frequent gripes of Questions of Cash correspondents.  BT argues that it is justified by the detailed terms and conditions in the contract.  A spokesman explains: “Some BT prices changed on December 1, 2014. We wrote to all customers with details of the changes. We started to do this at the end of August last year. Customers can leave without penalty charges when we put up prices and they should contact us within 30 days of receiving their letter or email detailing the price rises.  Line Rental Saver enables BT customers to save money over standard line rental by paying for their line rental for a year upfront. For example, Line Rental Saver is currently £169.90, which is equivalent to £14.16 a month compared to standard line rental of £16.99 a month. The price of Line Rental Saver is set and so cannot increase over the year. It’s made clear to customers when they sign up to Line Rental Saver that it is non-refundable.”

Q. I have received two e-mails purporting to come from i-tunes.  I have an i-tunes account, but rarely use it.  The e-mails concern an order supposedly placed in my name.  I am asked to click on a link if I have concerns that the transaction is fraudulent.  This seems like a phishing exercise – if I fill in the requested details they can spend money on my credit card.  IA, by email.

A.  This is actually a very widespread ‘phishing’ exercise, with fraudsters trying to access details of your bank account.  Careful examination of the sender’s email address is likely to show that it is not connected to i-tunes.  You should not open the email and definitely not complete any attached or linked forms.  Apple requests that all such fraudulent emails are forwarded to them at reportphishing@apple.com.