In 2014 we were approached by our BT sales manager (Philip Croade) who advised us to switch to a fibre optic line with Mitel SIP internet phones as our copper system (which had never caused us any problems) would no longer be serviced by BT – I’ve since realised that this information was false.
However, trusting his advice, I ordered the new fibre optic line and Mitel SIP phones which he promised would deliver an amazing, super-fast service. The internet side of the operation was connected in June 2014, installation of the phones was to take place the following month. This is where our nightmare began…………
BT began billing us over £1,000 a month from July 2014 – this was for the use of the new SIP phones. Unfortunately, due to BT’s engineers experiencing difficulties the SIP phones weren’t actually installed until over a YEAR later in September 2015!! – but as stated previously, billing for them began in earnest in July 2014 at a cost of over £1,000 a month.
Bearing in mind we were still paying for the old copper system which we were still using while the engineers fiddled unsuccessfully with the SIP phones, we were in effect paying double for the same service. We called BT’s billing departments several times and explained over and over again that we were being billed for internet phones that hadn’t been connected and therefore not in use. We were told every time that our account would be put on hold and investigated. On the face of it this appeared to be a very simple mistake and we assumed BT would eventually see the error of their ways and cancel the bills, boy oh boy how wrong we were………
Unfortunately, not only did they not cancel the bills from July 2014, they continued to issue more monthly bills, all for over £1,000 each – for nearly fifteen months! My staff continued to waste valuable time calling BT’s complaints/billing departments every month to explain their obvious mistake – but their response was always the same; ‘your account will be put on hold and investigated’ – but it never was and the bills turned from black to red, ominously threatening us with disconnection unless payment for this bogus bill was made. Realising we were unable to speak with someone who could help, we began paying these colossal bills to avoid being disconnected.
One of my directors actually spoke to a lady from BT’s billing department herself and explained that we were being charged for a system that hadn’t even been connected – her response as you’ve probably guessed was ‘your account will be put on hold and investigated’. My director explained that we were given this information every month yet nothing was ever achieved and receiving no further satisfactory response, she asked the lady for her direct number in order that she could liaise with just one person from then on.
The lady’s name was Joanne and she kindly gave my director her direct number. The following month when yet another bill arrived my director telephoned ‘Joanne’ on her direct number. The ‘direct’ number however turned out to be the number of a call centre which is answered by thousands of BT call operators up and down the country – obviously nobody knew who ‘Joanne’ was. Clearly Joanne knew the number she gave my director was not a direct line, this was a calculated move to deceive my director and I’ve sadly come to realise it’s just one of the tricks BT uses to knock the customer back. Is this one of BT’s so-called improvements to their Complaints Dept?
Philip Croade who was our designated account manager tried to intervene but was unable to stop the flow of false bills. It is interesting to note here that even a BT employee was unable to penetrate BT’s billing department – that gives us all a pretty good indication of how difficult BT have made disputing a bill – even their own staff can’t manage it! We realised that we were dealing with a company who can wrongfully bill you for thousands of pounds but make it virtually impossible for you to speak to anyone who can rectify the problem – and if you refuse to pay the false bill they disconnect you. It was then I started to realise how they manage to achieve profits of over £8 million a day.
Philip Croade bravely advised us to stop paying for the false bills almost a year after they’d started – and hey presto, we were disconnected!! We lost a whole day’s business with no apologies from BT and certainly no offer of any compensation. Philip Croade eventually ceased returning our calls as he was powerless to help and we were left on our own to deal with the biggest communication company in the U.K. – who make it impossible for their customers to communicate with them.
The billing issues worsened over time with duplicated, false and sometimes downright fabricated bills being issued. With a very poor system in place to rectify the problems our issues worsened with BT instructing numerous debt collection agencies to force us to pay for bills that shouldn’t have been issued in the first place. My previous exemplary credit rating has been systematically destroyed.
When our complaint was eventually transferred to someone who was able to refund some of our overpayments (more on this person on another page) no sooner were the overpayments credited to our account, someone else in BT reissued them demanding payment with the back up of debt collection agencies – for bills we’d actually paid twice, been refunded and had our account credited for! Yes, unbelievable I know! I think the term for this is ‘false accounting’ and I think we should demand that BT’s accounts department is investigated, how can we trust a company who can do this at will? We were even sent a cheque to cover one refund but their cheque actually bounced and BT had to arrange a BACS payment – their accounts department is a complete and utter shambles and I would strongly advise each and every one of you to check – and double check your bills from BT in future.
Having been forced for over a year to pay for a telephone system that wasn’t even connected, we began receiving additional bills that just didn’t match up. Aside from the fact that the phones weren’t even working properly (more on that on the technical page) and we were massively in credit due to the overpayments, we began receiving final demands all sent on the same day in different envelopes, for different amounts – yet all for the same account! Which bill was correct was anyone’s guess. After many conversations with BT even they were confused as to which bill was correct. How many other businesses and customers are paying bills that are inaccurate? I would ask you again to scrutinise your bills from BT very carefully!
After further arguments with the BT accounts department they agreed to fully investigate our complaint. As a result of their investigation they sent us another cheque, unfortunately the cheque was only for one penny. How someone in BT’s accounts department decided that we were owed just one penny is beyond my understanding – and how they can justify spending 65p to post a cheque with the value of 1p is mind-boggling! Needless to say we didn’t bank the cheque.
All this goes to prove that BT’s accounting system is in a complete mess and cannot be trusted. I have a pile of false duplicated BT bills nearly 4″ high – I’m quite certain that we’re not the only business being issued with false and duplicated bills and I’m also quite certain there must be many other people/businesses paying bills that they shouldn’t be. Once again that daily profit of £8 million becomes easier to comprehend. It’s time ladies and gentlemen to open the lid on the mess that BT is in – because we’re the ones who suffer at the hands of their incompetence while they continue to rake in substantial profits.
The above final demands were all received late December 2016 and all bear the date of the 15th – all came in separate envelopes – all are for the same account – which one is correct?
Again all the above final demands were all received late December 2016 and all bear the date of the 15th – all came in separate envelopes – all are for the same account yet all the amounts differ. How can a computer come up with four different bills for the same account? It’s impossible, yet it happens frequently – it’s got to stop. As customers we are entitled to a proper scrutiny of our usage – dishing out bills with varying amounts is a complete and utter farce.
It also begs the question – did BT hope that we would be so confused by their accounting systems would we pay each bill..? The final demands total in the region of £93,000 – we couldn’t possibly run up bills for that amount so how can they possibly bill us for that amount? Something is seriously wrong here and needs forensic auditing. After much argument with their accounts department BT agreed that the bills were not correct and cancelled them – hoorah for that!