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Message 1 of 3

Engineer charges - disparity in what the engineer said and what he reported....

I'm new to the forum and post because I am concerned at the way in which BT and their contracted Open Reach engineering arm handle faults.  In particular,  the way in which notification of charges is made.  It seems that even if the engineer says on site " no charge" BT can then charge you.


In my case I had a fault whereby I could successfully dial out from all the extensions and the master socket but callers ringing my line received an engaged tone.  I reported the fault and BT said that they would need to send and engineer as they could not diagnose the problem remotely.


The  engineer arrived and tested the internal extensions and the master socket and confirmed that the fault was as notified. He then tested the internal extensions and master socket internally and told me he was going to have to go outside the house to check the integrity of the wiring at the point of entry to my property.


He then explained that two cables in the external (grey) trunking box had touched and he would replace them. He informed me that because this was external and not damage it would not incur a charge.  He then proceeded to replace the master socket as he said it was wise to do so as he was there.  To reiterate, he made absolutely no mention of damage or a charge.  


He asked for my signature and went on his way.  I have since seen that BT have charged me £129.


I called BT who told me that the engineer had reported a problem with an extension and that there was damage.  I explained that I had closely watched the engineer work and discussed from start to finish what he was doing.  I also explained that at no time did he mention 'damage' or an that the fault related to 'an extension'.  The cause for the fault he said was that externally two wires had shorted causing the problem.  To be clear -  he said there would be no charge.


I am at a loss as to why the engineer said one thing to me and wrote another on his report.  I am also concerned that representatives of BT Open Reach give contradictory information in reports which is taken as gospel by the administrative team handling complaints and disputes.  Had I known he was going to charge I would have made notes, taken photographs and gathered evidence of what he said.  In short, it's his word against mine and BT doen't beleive what I am saying.


During my lengthy conversation with the BT complaints team I asked what damage had been reported and I was told that the engineer's report simply said 'damage'.  I asked to see a copy and was told I'd have to pay £10 to recieve a copy of the information recorded in their records using the Freedom of Information Act.


To summarise,  I would appreciate any help, guidance or advice as to how to satisfactorily challenge this charge.  The BT website says: I will be charged if the cause is:


  • Your main socket, due to damage you've caused
  • Your home phone extension wiring
  • The way you've connected up your equipment
  • Interference from something else in your home, like your phone, alarm system, or a faulty microfilter
  • A faulty BT Home Hub that's out of warranty (your Hub is in warranty if you're in contract)
  • Damage caused by damp, flood, fire, or building work
  • Damage outside caused by things like broken guttering or trees
  • Telephone wires that have been accidently cut

None of these has happened!!  I have never touched the phone wiring and I live in a relatively new build.  All the extensions worked  - it was incoming calls that were affected.  I watched him repair the wires externally to clear the fault.


I look forward to someone being able to provide asisstance.  Frankly,  BT's staff were unhelpful, didn't believe me and were borderline rude.  I feel I have no way of disputing this.


Surely, if I am told there will be no charge -  that is contractually binding?  I also read on this forum that the engineer must tell the customer  in writing if a charge is to be levied -  is that true?


I hope you can help..........








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Message 2 of 3

Re: Engineer charges - disparity in what the engineer said and what he reported....

No, an Openreach Engineer is not obliged in anyway to discuss or confirm whether you will or won't be charged because it's not up to them.......

When an Openreach Engineer closes a job he/she will put down what they have found causing the fault and what they've done to rectify it and if Openreach decide that visit is chargeable they bill their customer, which is your Service Provider....

There is close to 400 providers out there, all have different rules on when they will/won't pass charges on so Openreach Engineers can never really confirm if you're will or won't...

As I said, he shouldn't have discussed charges with you and just referred you to your provider...
Message 3 of 3

Re: Engineer charges - disparity in what the engineer said and what he reported....

I don't think this is an isolated situation.


I too had such a problem a couple of years ago when I joined BT from Sky. On the day I was due to transfer the phone line went down in the morning as expected but didn't come back up. When I chased the order I was told everything should be working but it wasn't so had to report a fault. An engineer came out while my wife was at home. He couldn't find a fault in my property (but replaced the master socket saying it would be wise to do so while he was there) then traced the fault to somewhere outside my property. I too then got charge £129 for a fault caused by an extension. My DECT phone base plugs into my master socket but I do have one extension, fitted by an Openreach engineer a couple of years previously, to place my router on the other side of the room - it had already been tested as fine so where that charge came from is anyone's guess.


Anyhow, I argued and argued on the phone until finally - get this - "as a good will gesture"(!!) I was refunded the charge.


Now we've moved house we've been waiting 3 weeks already for Openreach to reconnect us. One postponed appointment, one missed appointment (which, BTW, directly cost me £250 of lost business) and a new scheduled appointment for the end of the month I've lost all respect and confidence in the competence of Openreach engineers - especially as no one seems to be able to tell me what the cause is of the 5 week delay (so far) in our reconnection.

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