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BT admits SurfTime billing fiasco

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A week after BT denied it had cocked up the bills for some of its SurfTime customers, the telco has finally admitted that it made a mistake.

A red-faced spokesman for the telco admitted this morning that there had been a "breakdown on internal billing procedures" and that steps were being taken to make sure it didn't happen again.

He said that those customers who were fleeced would be refunded in full.

The billing blunder appears to have affected a number of Freeserve customers who had signed up to the flat-fee unmetered access service.

By forking out £5.99 a month to BT they should have been able to access the Net off-peak without adding to their phone bill.

However, the billing blunder meant that Net users were also charged for the cost of the local-rate phone calls.

An internal memo seen by The Register confirmed that the telco did indeed have a problem.

"SurfTime calls made during the period 1st June to 12th June may have been incorrectly priced as a result of a data error," the memo reads.

"This error was spotted as part of BT's normal checking of its bill accuracy. The calls affected would have been to Freeserve's number 0844 0402001. A fix was implemented on 12th June and unbilled calls prior to that date have been corrected. Unfortunately, a number of bills have been sent out between the launch date of 1st June and the fix being implemented. BT is currently in the process of identifying customers affected and the resultant impact on their bill. The error in pricing will be automatically calculated and applied to the customers account for inclusion on their next bill."

Last week Ian Fenn, director of Chopstix Media Limited, claimed one of BT's customer service operators admitted to him that the telco had incorrectly charged punters, although this was denied by BT.

No one at Freeserve or BT would say how many people had been affected. ®

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