personal finance

BT always has a new line … in broadband excuses

Here’s a breathtaking insight into the corporate mind. Last month, I told the tale of BT customer CP of Croxdale, Durham, who wanted a broadband service.

After four months’ delay, he was informed he would have to pay up to £3,000 for the “complex” installation. He couldn’t be told the precise sum until he had agreed to pay it and, unless he agreed within four days, his order would be cancelled.

BT initially stood by its still unspecified demand when I intervened, then, after further pressure, its sister company Openreach admitted that the property already had the relevant infrastructure and there would be no charge. “Miscommunication” was blamed.

CP was due £5.83 for each day of delay under the rules of the telecoms regulator, Ofcom, and BT confirmed in writing that he would be compensated for the 141 days he’d been kept waiting. But instead of the £822 due, he received £215.

When he complained, he was told that this was because the delay was due to an unspecified “third party”, and was offered £50 in goodwill.

This was the first time a third party had been mentioned, and BT seemed unsure just who it meant.

First, it told me it was the landowner who had to give permission for the groundwork required, then that it was a power company and involved “health and safety”.

It’s irrelevant, either way, as Ofcom rules are unequivocal: compensation applies for delays whether or not caused by a third party.

Did that shame BT into stumping up? Not a bit of it.

So I contacted Ofcom, which confirmed that compensation is due whether or not third parties caused the delay and, although it does not investigate individual complaints, invited CP to get in touch to help with its monitoring and enforcement.

BT was unmoved by Ofcom’s view. I advised CP to complain to the communications ombudsman, and BT, in its submission, has come up with a fourth excuse for the 107-day delay – CP himself!

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