BT business customer contracts to change Thursday
Two days left to opt out of new 12-month agreement
Updated: BT customers with Business PSTN lines will find their contract upgraded to include BT Business Line Divert come Thursday - but will find that upgrade locks them into a 12-month repeating contract unless they opt out before it kicks in.
Customers should have received a letter about the change, but several telecommunications companies joined together in filing an official complaint to Ofcom at the end of last month, suggesting that such changes need more than assumed consent. Their case has now been taken up by the Federation of Communication Services who believe that BT's behaviour is anti-competitive, and that requiring customers to opt out of a new contract is unreasonable.
Kerry Ritz, MD of VoIP provider Vonage UK, is adamant that the ex-monopoly isn't playing fair. "Yet again BT is resorting to stealth tactics to hold on to its customers," he said. "Opt-outs are widely regarded as unfair and anti the consumer, yet BT uses them because they know their services aren’t up to scratch."
Ofcom will only take action if the rules have been broken, but the federation cites precedent from a year ago that would seem to indicate Ofcom not only has the right, but also the obligation, to act in a case like this one. Of course, on that occasion it was BT who was complaining.
Ofcom say they are "actively engaged" with BT Retail on this matter, but won't say if they're going to let the company rewrite the contracts. BT points out that customers should already have received a written warning and that a special line has been set up (0800 587 1984) to answer queries and allow customers to opt out.
Anyone wanting to do so is going to have to move pretty quickly, though if you're happy with BT and want free Business Line Divert then you've no reason to call. Anyone else using a Business PSTN line might want to check what they are about to be tied down to. ®
Update BT has been in touch to remind us that it was Wednesday, not Thursday, that the new contracts came into effect, but that's no problem as customers have until the 19th of May to cancel the new contract, and apparently the busy chaps at BT will be phoning every one of you over the next month or so to offer you the opportunity to opt out, or explain why you've already opted out.
Do let us know if/when you hear from them.
Vote With Your Your Feet
I think this move from BT is the thin edge of the wedge. I much prefer to do business with a company who doesnt take advantage. 30 day notice contracts are still available from companies such as 123Telecom, who also offer 15% discount off the BT Business line rental price.
Words cannot express the disdain i feel for BT. We requested to have a telephone number put on a call plan. 12 months letter we have been hit with huge reconcilation penalties for not meeting the minimum spend. We were told by their lying sales staff that there was no min call spend. We even amended the contract to say that we were signing on the condition that there was no minimum call spend. At the time i knew in the back of my mind that we were going to get screwed, but did not know where else to go to get lines. I have also had similar problems with least cost routers. DOes anyone know of at least a half trustworthy tel supplier? On the current subject, we have received no letter about this change in contract. Having already spent half an hour today arguing with their rude and unhelpful staff over the last bit of money they have charged us, I have not the mental stability to phone them again today, so will just have to be done over once more.
Unfair Contract Terms & Conditions
I've just spoken to BT about this - they are deluged with complaints. It seems not all letters have gone out.
I can't see BT having a leg to stand on - this sharp practice falls under the unfair contracts legislation - they could not enforce it if they tried.
Absolute shameful behaviour BT.