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BT Payphone Overcharging Scam

I used a BT Payphone from Gatwick airport recently. Shocked that the minimum price of a call had gone up to 40p and I only had 20p, I opted to use my Visa debit card. I was on the phone for less than two minutes. I checked my bank account today and I was charged £9.60 for the call!

So, in a state of bewilderment I called BT to have this obvious fault rectified. The friendly American voice at the other end told me that she would see what she could do as it was the first time i’d used the service. She then came back on the phone and told me that she would credit me “4.8 dollars”. Confused, I asked her to clarify if that would be £4.80 or US$4.80, and she confirmed that it would be half the price of the call: £4.80.

Further confused and bewildered, I asked her if I had been charged £4.80 per minute of the call, and that this was not a simple error in their systems. When she confirmed that was the case, I then asked who I could speak to about this situation as BT’s website clearly states the charge is 20 pence per minute with a £1 connection charge. I was then told that she did not know what was on the website, but that since I hadn’t asked the price before I called, I must have been unware of the charge for the service.

She then endevoured to find someone else I could speak to, but instead informed me that she had checked with her supervisor and I would be credited the full £9.60 as it was the first time I had used the service. Somewhat infuriated by this point, I asked who in BT I could speak to regarding the fact that they charge £4.80 per minute for a call, when their website clearly states the price at 20 pence per minute. I was first told that there was no one who could deal with such a request, then after I contested this I was transferred to the supervisor (another friendly American accent – do BT use US call centres?) who told me that he would take my points and transfer them to the relevant party.

Am I going crazy? Am I living in a parallel universe? Can BT honestly charge people £4.80 per minute to use a Payphone? Is that legal when their website clearly states the price? This is all somewhat worrying as it’s the day after i’ve just signed a 5 year BT Business contract!

4 thoughts on “BT Payphone Overcharging Scam

  1. I am getting increasingly suspicious about the devious ways that BT have to scam Customers and whilst I have a few direct experiences I am quite surprised that a blue chip UK can giant can openly operate the scams depicted on this and other web sites. In my case I was using Onetel and because their service was becoming extremely unreliable I looked around and decided that I may even be able to save money with BT line rental and broadband having seen the heavy advertiing around late summer. I had been with BT for a few years previous to the couple of years with Onetel but I was shocked when out of the blue came a connection fee of £125. How could they levy this charge without prewarning. When challenged tey said tat they had to send smeone out to make the change and that was the reason for the cost. Well no one came to my house or even near it so I dont know whjat they did but the main point is they cant just charge a fee witout pre warning. Another scam that came to light is when I had difficulties connecting a perfectly good PC that was connected to Onetel broadband to BT broadband. I gave them remote assistance and they messed around with my configuration before concluding that I had to be transferred t another number to get it resolved. I asked if there would be a charge and they said no, however after getting into a deep discussion with the new contact engineer it transpired that for him to sort it out I would have to agree to an annual technical support fee (which I promptly declined) My views on BT have totally changed now and I do not trust them at all and wonder how a company so large can operate such scams.

  2. This is a conversation I had on line with a BT sales representative:

    We are now routing you to one of our chat team…
    You are now connected with Mattie
    Mattie: hi
    Mattie: how may I help you today ?
    gerard white: I’m interested in the unlimited anytime plan, but i’m not sure i understand, am i limited to just 20 calls a month?
    gerard white: is there a limit to the number of calls I can make to uk landlines?
    Mattie: no, you are limited to 150 calls per month or 1000 minutes inclusive minutes
    gerard white: so that is just 5 calls per day?
    gerard white: or 33 minutes a day?
    gerard white: is that correct?
    Mattie: That is an interesting way of looking at it !
    gerard white: but is it correct?
    Mattie: But you are allowed up to 60 mins per call
    gerard white: 60 minutes per call but with a limit of 1000 minutes per month?
    gerard white: even with just 5 calls a day if each call was 60 minutes then that could add up to 9,000 minutes in a month, would that be inclusive within the plan?
    Mattie: Fair use policy applies – max. 1,000 mins or 150 calls a month. If either of these limits on free calls is exceeded
    gerard white: fair use for who?
    Mattie: I appreciate the point you are making, but I can only confirm to you the terms of the plan.
    gerard white: but 1000 minutes divided by 150 calls is only 6 minutes per call
    gerard white: If that is correct it seems misleading to advertise the service as Unlimited Anytime; actually it appears more like Very Limited All The Time
    Mattie: That may be the case, but a significant number of BT Customers operate within these limits.
    gerard white: yes but it is not Unlimited
    gerard white: it is actually limited to 30 minutes calling per day
    Mattie: Fair point !
    gerard white: so actually it is misleading advertising
    Mattie: But If you wish to make your observations to BT, I can send you the link.
    gerard white: Actually I think it is more appropriate to copy this to the Advertising Standards Authority as it is misselling
    Mattie: I can assure you that all these terms have gone through the legal department prior to being advertised.
    Mattie: If it was considered as mis-selling then it would not be used by BT.
    gerard white: I’m sure they have, but wouldn’t you agree it is misleading?
    Mattie: I agree that it can be confusing.
    gerard white: Are there any other hidden costs such as call set up?
    Mattie: One moment please while I find that information for you.
    gerard white: seems strange that an adviser such as yourself finds the terms and conditions to be so confusing that it takes so long to answer a simple question. Could it possibly be that BT’s terms and conditions are confusing and unfair?
    Mattie: An 8p set-up charges is applied, if you call a non inclusive number or you exceed your inclusive minutes.
    Mattie: Actually it is trying to find the specific clause and trying to paraphrase it.
    gerard white: yes but you are supposedly knowledgeable and had some training relating to BT’s terms and conditions
    gerard white: can you explain the fair usage policy to me please?
    Mattie: The t & c ‘s are amended all the time.
    Mattie: So it is goog to familiarise oneself with them from time to time.
    Mattie: How do you want me to explain the fair usage policy
    Mattie: other than the fact that its limits are 1000 minutes or 150 calls.
    Mattie: How BT arrived at these figures I am not in a position to explain.
    gerard white: why do the t&c’s change all the time, that alone seems unfair.I mean if you have difficulty to keep up what chance have I as a customer without the time to read constantly changing t&c’s have?
    gerard white: can the t&c’s change after I have entered into an agreement?
    Mattie: no
    Mattie: No the do not change, the verbage may be simplified
    gerard white: so once i have entered into an agreement with bt the terms will not change, is that correct?
    Mattie: to clarify any ambiguities or misinterpretations of any clauses.
    Mattie: that is correct.
    gerard white: what is the fair usage policy for business customers?
    Mattie: My remit is residential calls and lines, would you like me to send you the link for business customers.
    gerard white: so what is the best package for a residential user?
    Mattie: calls or calls + broadband
    gerard white: i already have broadband. I make a lot of calls using CPS services but I would like to know if it is possible to get a service from BT which is competitive with CPS services?
    Mattie: The Anytime call plan is £4.95 a month, additional to your BT line rental cost. That would make it a total of £16.20 a month.
    Mattie: Are do not what you current providers rates to know how BT’s rates compare.
    Mattie: With the Unlimited Anytime Plan you’ll get inclusive unlimited UK landline calls at any time of day, plus cheap calls to UK mobiles. 0845 and 0870 numbers are also included free for you plus 200 text from your phone. You can also sign up at no extra cost to BT Answer 1571 and BT Privacy. And if you need help – free 24/7 help and support.
    gerard white: so if I make an average of 60 calls per day weekdays, 52 of those calls last only a few minutes but 8 last between 30 – 60 minutes would that be covered within the package? What would my monthly bill be?
    Mattie: Sorry, I unable to calculate the total cost of your calls, since it depends what time of the day you make the calls and how many minutes per call etc…
    Mattie: etc etc…..
    gerard white: well lets say that I make the calls between 8 am and 6 pm. 52 of the calls last 4 minutes and 8 of the calls last 45 minutes
    Mattie: It also depends whether the calls are inclusive calls.
    gerard white: this all sounds very confusing, can you explain please
    Mattie: Since, I would not want to give you misleading information, can suggest that you contact Customer Service on 0800 800150
    Mattie: They are open Monday to Friday 8am to 9pm, Saturday 8am to 8pm and Sunday 9am to 6pm
    gerard white: yes but if you don’t understand and it is your job to do so then it appears that BT’s billing is designed to confuse
    Mattie: Our job is to assist customers who wish to order on line and to offer guidance as and were we can.
    Mattie: If we are not able to assist then we will always refer them to Customer Service.
    Mattie: We are a chat-only operation and most of enquiries usually fairly basic.
    gerard white: so what is the worst case scenario, if I sign up for this “Unlimited” package, is there a limit on how high my bills might be?
    Mattie: Please explain ???
    Mattie: The level of calls will depend on the number and duration of calls within the period.
    gerard white: well I was about to sign up for the unlimited package as I thought it would be a way of controlling how much I spend on telephone charges but having chatted with you I now realize that actually it is very limited and in fact may be a very expensive package but I have no way of understanding just how expensive it may be
    Mattie: You do have the option to set up a monthly payment plan if you so wish.
    gerard white: yes but is there any plan which actually offers me unlimited calls?
    Mattie: no
    Mattie: Have you looked at the telephone services through the internet ?
    gerard white: yes I use Jahjah
    gerard white: or skype
    Mattie: What about Skype ?
    gerard white: with skype I have unlimited calls for I think it is £2.45 a quarter
    Mattie: you got there before me !
    Mattie: What is there ‘fair usage’ policy ?
    gerard white: 50 calls per day
    Mattie: No time limits ?
    gerard white: BT seems horrendouslytheir packages designed to deceive expensive and
    gerard white: I’ve not come up against any limits
    gerard white: I’m sure there must be but at least I can control my spending with them
    Mattie: Why not try a combination of BT Anytime and Skype ?
    gerard white: seems like with the bt package I have no way of knowing how much my bills are going to be in advance, at the end of the month I could be facing huge bills with all the set up charges
    Mattie: sorry, I don’t have any other solution for you.
    gerard white: anyway, thanks for your assistance I hope you don’t mind if I post this conversation as an example of BT’s confusing pricing structures

  3. as i loyal customer with bt 4 ova 3yrs,i,m frustrated n angry that while chossing x directory my family still gets bombarded with irratating calls from debt collecting companies,specsavers and worst still there done after the watershed time.when we contacted bt we were then told they r in the rights 2 sell your number 2 variouis contractors.we have asked bt 2 stop those sort of incoming calls 2 no avail instsed we have 2 indure r kids waking up.sadly customer comes after profit.farce

  4. Was there a sign on the payphone saying at Gatwick what the charge would be? BT do seem very happy to keep people on the wrong home / business account when there is something better / cheaper. We should all visit sites like u-switch at least once a year, but none of us do.

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