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Aspiring Contributor
Message 1 of 8

BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

Hi All,

I'm a new BT customer and new to this forum, was with TalkTalk but after years of poor service, slow broadband and frequent disconnections I'd had enough. The final straw was when they increased my bill by £6/month without telling me. They were supposed to tell me that my contract was due to end and tell me my options, they didn't. Three years after my contract ended they put up my bill with no notice or explanation so bye bye!

About this time I got an email from my job coach telling me about BT Basic, a cheap phone and broadband package for people on certain benefits. I clicked the link and read an article entitled "How do I find out more about BT Basic". I called the number in the article (0800800864) and spoke to an operator for over an hour clarifying points that weren't clear in the article. and asking questions. I was asked for my BT account number told operator I didn't have one as I was transferring from TalkTalk as I'd already told him. Told me I have to have a BT account to get Basic package so I replied OK how do I get one? This is where it starts to get ridiculously complicated, told me they have to put me on Fibre 1 package to generate an account number. They then send me the paperwork with an activation date then send me a form to apply for Basic. I asked If I could download the form and they said no, they post me the form, I post it back, they post it to DWP for confirmation I'm on benefit then post it back to BT, what a performance!! I asked them to send me a form so I could fill it in and return it ready for when they need it they said they couldn't until after the activation date as the system won't allow it. I asked how long this would all take and if I have to pay for the more expensive package until Basic is approved. I was assured any overpayment will be refunded if I qualify for Basic. I was told to ignore the paperwork they were sending me as it would be for Fibre 1 and so incorrect. They also told me to ignore the direct debit form until I was on Basic.

I received paperwork on 11th February and noticed they've changed my number, didn't want that, and put me on digital voice, didn't want that either, didn't know what it was at the time.  Phoned about the number and was told they have to do this to create an account, but, if I phoned on or after activation date they could reinstate my old number. When I phoned on activation day to make sure the form had been sent they told me if I wanted to keep my number I should have told them before activation date. I was furious and told them I had been told it could not be changed before activation. Since then I've been told by several operators I can get my old number back and others that I can't, so whose lying?

Application form is another thing, I was assured form was sent but phoned 2 weeks later as not received, Asked if it had been sent and was told they don't have that information so they sent another one, that didn't arrive! Phoned again on 17th March and was told that from 11th March they have a new system which allows operators to fill in form over the phone. I asked how it gets to DWP and was told it's sent electronically and DWP usually reply within 72 hrs.  I emailed my job coach on 26th March to ask if he could find out if BT had contacted them an if they'd replied, he checked and told me there had been no contact from BT. He did include a copy of an email from DWP confirming I am claiming JSA. 31st March phoned again as I'd heard nothing from B T and account still shows package as Fibre 1. Asked if DWP had replied and they said no, asked if the form had been sent and was told by operator they had no way of checking. Asked for details of how it was sent to DWP (i.e. to which email address) so I could tell my job coach, operator claimed to have no way of checking. Now being told by BT Billing my payment is overdue, told them when they get their act together and put me on the correct tariff I may consider paying. Seems many posting on here are having problems trying to get their overpayment refunded, even after being transferred to Basic so I'm paying nothing for now.

I was on the phone to BT most of the day on 25th February and from about 9am - 6pm on 26th trying to sort this out. Most of this time was spent in a queue being transferred from one brain dead **bleep** to the next, each time explaining the problem again. Every time brain dead **bleep** said they couldn't help and transferred me to another queue for another brain dead **bleep**!

I opened 2 complaints, one regarding the application form (2 paper forms sent and not received and 2 forms filled in by phone) and one about the mis-selling of the package and the problems this caused. I had a separate email for each complaint telling me the case was closed and thanking me for contacting them and saying they were pleased they could help. WHAT PLANET ARE THESE **bleep** ON, THEY DID NOTHING TO HELP. Both cases were closed without resolution, or at least no resolution they've told me about. 

My first post on this community, sorry its so long, if I listed all the problems would be far longer! Wish I'd stayed with Talk Talk, they're useless but BT make even them look good! Hoping perhaps a moderator or someone can give them a kick up the backside and halp sort this for me, as you've helped others.

My next and last option I can think of is complain to the ombudsman, I'll do that now if I don't get one of the many interruptions to my broadband that I've had this past week. The ombudsman must be snowed under with complaints about this if posts on this forum are anything to go by. Even had problems registering for this forum, didn't receive verification email which system said was sent, 3 times! Then told me I'd exceeded maximum number of resends, but that's another story.

Message 2 of 8

Re: BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

If you have a working service then you should pay the bill now or they'll cut you off and insist you pay a £100 deposit to reinstate it. More headaches for you.

The ombudsman will also give you more headaches.

Your Work Coach isn't going to know anything about this it'll be a totally different team of DWP people. I'd expect 3-4 weeks before you hear anything although your billing may show BT Basic much quicker.

You may find TalkTalk won't have you back if BT leave a black mark on your credit file.

Get the bill paid.

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Recognised Expert
Message 3 of 8

Re: BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

Although it’s no excuse for poor service, your comment about ‘mis selling’ is disingenuous ( IMHO ) BT Basic is a package imposed on BT, a social tariff, that in effect is subsidised by other BT customers , no other company is forced by the regulator to offer such a discounted deal.... how could  BT have ‘mis sold’ you this, after all BT didn’t ring you up and ‘sell’ you the package, you were advised it would save you money, and you contacted BT who are forced to offer this ‘social’ tariff, no other company  would volunteer to offer anything like it......but as I said, that’s no excuse for not providing it efficiently if you can hardly blame BT for checking that someone who does apply  for it , genuinely does qualify  for it.

If the process is to transfer your service to BT from whoever you are with, on a standard tariff, convert the account you now have a BT account into a BT Basic account , then amend any bills to compensate for any overcharge , then , although you may think it over complicated, that presumably is what you have to do to get it.

Message 4 of 8

Re: BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

And to be fair to BT when that tariff started it was really seen as being for present BT customers. There's a lot more complication now in the market.

Lots of examples of organisations being forced to change/alter prices whether it's gas/electric companies forced to reduce tariffs for people with top up meters or the BBC having to subsidise the TV licence (which they still do for people over 75 and in receipt of Pension Credit) or the Royal Mail being forced to charge the same for a letter posted anywhere in the UK. That's good as they all have a monoply -essentially- like BT does to an extent.

BT also offer a landline deal for people without broadband which is also subsidised and it's also well hid and impossible to order online.

BT Basic does need to be easier (over the phone application is good to see) but BT will be wary about making it too easy as it costs them money and they'll know it's unlikely they'll ever make any money off those customers.

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Aspiring Contributor
Message 5 of 8

Re: BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

In response to the replies I've received;

1)  I was given wrong and conflicting information at the point of sale, that is mis-selling. It doesn't matter if they contacted me or I contacted them, it's still mis-selling.

2) I said I asked my work coach if he could check whether BT had contacted them and if they'd replied. I didn't say he should know anything about it. He did eventually find the department that deals with this and they haven't heard anything although 2 forms have been sent electronically by BT.  BT are unwilling or unable to tell me where these forms were sent so I can't ask DWP to investigate further. 

3) Virgin offer a very cheap package for benefit claimants at a similar price but it's for broadband only. If I'd known about it and known the grief I would have applying for Basic I would have considered it

4)  Nobody forced BT to offer this package so why offer it then make it so difficult to apply? Why give customers wrong and conflicting information (mis-selling) then give then the runaround when they try to resolve it? Why close my 2 complaints without resolution and without telling me why? Is Basic designed to lure customers to BT with the promise of a cheap package then keep them on the more expensive package for as long as possible, seems that way.  I understand BT need to check that I'm claiming a benefit that qualifies me for Basic, that's not the issue. Their system for doing it is seriously broken, 2 paper forms not received by me and 2 electronic forms not received by DWP in spite of BT telling me it only takes about 72 hrs. The last form was filled in over 3 weeks ago, there's also all the other problems since moving back to BT, many not mentioned here. 

5) I doubt Basic is costing BT money, the profits they make. I'm sure it will be written off as a tax loss or they're getting funding from the government. No doubt the accountants have got it well covered.

6) I have a service that works when it feels like it. Constant disconnections, BT say there isn't a fault, they changed me to digital voice without telling me or explaining what it is, so now when I lose broadband I also lose my landline, 4 disconnections in less than a week, is that normal or acceptable? I don't want digital voice but BT say I have to have it, then they say I don't, can't be both!

7) Others posting here are paying at the rate of the temporary contract they were put on to generate an account, some have been paying for months. Many are still paying at the higher rate when their accounts have shown they're on Basic for months. People on benefits, many through no fault of their own, have to watch every penny and huge unbudgeted bills from BT don't help. It often means they have to choose between paying bills or eating and staying warm. I can't and won't pay this until BT get their act together as I know I'll have to fight them all the way to get a refund.

😎 At the point of sale I was told to ignore the Direct Debit form and information they sent me about Fibre 1 as it's wrong. They told me they will send new information when I'm on Basic and I can return the Direct Debit form then, so that's what I'm doing. Nobody said, at any time, it could take months. 

9) TalkTalk offered me a good deal at a reduced rate and 3 months free to get me to stay, I refused this on principle because I left them because of poor service over many years. I will never go back to them on principle. Unfortunately, at present, I'm paying three times what I should be paying on BT and two and a half times what I would be paying if I'd stayed with TalkTalk.

10) BT changed my number against my whishes and without consulting me. They told me they would reinstate my number after the activation date if I asked them. I phoned the day after activation and was told I should have asked before activation as they can't reinstate my number after activation, (mis-selling again!). Can't both be right so which is?

11) The Ombudsman couldn't possibly give me more grief than BT have, we'll see, I'm submitting my complaint when I've finished this.

12) If BT cut off my service and put a black mark on my credit rating I'll ditch the landline and sue them. I have the contacts to do this at no cost to me as O2 found out, cost them a small fortune in compensation. I'll get a Mi Fi mobile dongle which can provide broadband for to up to 10 devices. I can get one delivered within 24 - 48 hrs not the 2 - 3 weeks it takes to change landline service provider. Just put the sim card in and all done, simple! I only use the landline for incoming calls so it'll be no great loss.


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Aspiring Contributor
Message 6 of 8

BT Basic application delays, How I resolved the problem

I'm fairly new to this so hope I've posted this correctly in the right place.

I applied for BT Basic on 11/02/21 and the process was a nightmare. I've read many posts on here , going back several years, and the same problems are recurring time after time. I hope my bad experiences will help others, if it helps just one person then I consider it worth my time and effort posting.

I've posted before under the title "BT Basic, does it even exist?" so this is an update including the resolution.

On 11/02/2021 I called the number (0800 800 8640) on the "How do I find out more about BT Basic?" information sheet on the BT website. I had read the information and noted the questions I wanted to ask before I called. I had a lengthy discussion with the operator who explained the process. He informed me that as I was moving from TalkTalk he needed to create an account. This meant I couldn't go onto Basic directly but they had to put me on the Fibre 1 plan and then transfer me to Basic when the application was complete. I was assured that when my Basic application was approved any difference between Fibre 1 and Basic would be refunded. I asked how long it takes and was told about 2 weeks but could take up to a months if the form wasn't filled in correctly. I asked him to send me a form and was told he couldn't send it until after activation date (25/02/21). I asked why and was told "That's the way it is, the system won't allow me to send it before". I asked if it could be done online and was told no, it has to be done by post as it has to be signed. I was told I would receive paperwork within a few days but to ignore it, and the direct debit form as it would be wrong. He explained they would send new paperwork when Basic went live. 

Paperwork arrived on 17/02/2021 and I noticed they'd changed my phone number so I called and said I don't want my number changed. I was told they have to issue a new number to create a new account and I could ring back on or after activation date to get my old number restored. It also said I would be on Digital Voice, never heard of it and didn't have a clue what it is. I phoned on activation day and was told they couldn't do it and to phone back the next day. I phoned the next day and was told it couldn't be done  now and I should have asked before activation day. I protested that I had but was told it couldn't be done until after. I spent several hours on the phone being transferred from one Muppet to another each time being told something different. I asked for a form, which didn't arrived so I phoned 2 weeks later and they sent another (allegedly!), that didn't arrive either so I phoned again. This time I was told that as from 11/03/21 operators can fill in the form over the phone, I did this, 3 times at 2 week intervals, but none of these forms reached DWP. After many hours on the phone being given the run around and promised callbacks that never happened, I opened a complaint. This was closed without resolution, or none they told me about. This happened several times so I reopened the complaint stating "Issues not resolved". In desperation I refused to pay my bill until the issues were resolved and I was on Basic. They responded by charging me a late fee (which I also refused to pay) and restricted my service so I couldn't make outgoing calls. This didn't bother me as I make outgoing calls on my mobile which are included in my plan. I told them I would complain to the ombudsman and as part of the complaint ask for compensation for stress and distress, my time and loss of service. I was prepared to ditch the landline and get home broadband through a mobile phone provider.

Within days of making the complaint I had a phone call from the BT Executive team to try to resolve the issues. they had looked into the issues and quickly realised the account had been set up wrong, it was set up as a Fibre 1 account and should have been set up as a Basic account. This meant the system wouldn't allow changes such as moving me to basic or restoring my old number. I think this could be because the Fibre 1 contract is 24 months and because I was still in contract system wouldn't allow changes. With Basic there is no contract, just give 30 days notice.

The only way to fix this was to cancel the Fibre one account and create a new Basic account and a new order, this meant another new number! This was done and took 2 weeks, I'm told this time is set by the regulator so would be the same for all providers. BT engineer called Tuesday (08/06/21) and connected the ADSL line and on Wednesday (09/06/21) the Executive Team called me to restore my original number, this  was completed this morning (Thursday  09/06/21).  So, after 4 months I'm finally on Basic and have my old number back.

Some other facts you may find helpful, as told to me by BT employees;

Providers are not allowed to hold onto numbers, the only reason you can't have your old number back is if it has been re-allocated.

There are over 25 customers in my immediate area who are waiting to go onto Basic, some have been waiting longer than me! I wonder how many were caused by the same mistakes.

In areas where ADSL lines are not available, mainly new housing estates, Basic customers are put on Digital Voice and presumably a fibre connection. This contradicts what a BT operator told me, that to go onto Basic you must have an ADSL line.

From May BT no longer offer the option of an ADSL (copper) line to new customers.

If all goes to plan everybody will be on digital voice by 2025, if so I assume all Basic customers will be changed over to fibre and digital voice.

The Basic team has no permanent full time members, this means operators aren't on the team long enough to get to know the process. This is sure to lead to mistakes being made.

I'm told the Basic application process is being overhauled and simplified to make it easier for customers and BT staff to understand, time will tell.

If you're having long delays with your Basic application I suggest you contact the BT Executive team. Ask them to check back and see if your account was set up correctly.  






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Aspiring Contributor
Message 7 of 8

Re: BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

Far from giving me more headaches my complaint made BT take notice. A few days after submitting my complaint I had a call from BT Executive team, within 2 weeks I'm on Basic and my old number is reinstated. 

I didn't say my work coach would know anything but he's in a position where he can find out. He checked the records and no enquiries from BT were recorded. He also got me a statement of proof of benefit which he emailed me.

BT did restrict my outgoing calls, charged me a late payment fee (which I also refused to pay) and then cut off my broadband. Part of my claim against BT is for stress, distress, my wasted time, and loss of service. Evidence uploaded by BT supports my case rather than defending theirs, they have no case! Seems some MUPPET at BT set up my account wrong at the point of sale and it took 4 months for someone to notice it. Person who finally resolved it identified the problem and resolved it in a few hours. They had to delete the account and create a new one to fix it, all charges on the old account have been deleted. If they had put a strike on my credit rating I'd soon have got that removed, and added it to my compensation claim. Just waiting for the ombudsman to assess how much compensation BT will have to give me. They can award up to £10,000, not expecting anything like that but just shows the powers they have,

I totally disagree that if I have a working service I should pay my bill. Yes I had a working service but not the service I ordered. service they provided cost three times the price so why should I pay, even if I could afford to.

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Aspiring Contributor
Message 8 of 8

Re: BT Basic does it even exist? A very sick joke

Suggest you check the definition of mis selling. I enquired about Basic but BT gave me false, conflicting and misleading information at the point of sale, that's mis selling.

If Basic was imposed on BT by the regulator then it looks like they're making it difficult if not impossible to apply. If this is the case the regulator should fine them heavily. If BT is running this service at a loss I'm sure it's loose change compared to the huge profits they make. No doubt it's written off as a tax loss.

I've no problem with them checking if I'm eligible but how can I do that if they don't send out the form? Two forms sent (allegedly) but not received and when the system changed in March three filled in over the phone but none reached DWP.  I got a statement from DWP to prove I'm on a benefit that qualifies me for Basic, they wouldn't accept it saying it has to be on their form.

Application process is so complicated even BT employees don't understand it so how are customers expected to.

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