It seems that a deadline for payment is made a week after a bill goes out, and three weeks later the phone service is suspended. To restore it takes full payment (even if the bill is disputed) and 24 hours to pass it to an approved person, and even the elderly will find their phone service suspended. The charge for late payment / reconnection is £19.50, on top of the handling fee. Bills are sent out monthly, rather than quarterly as in the past, so this charade, where a bill is in dispute, is played out every month, with £19.50 charge being added to the bill each time. In addition, paper bills are not itemised, and where an elderly customer is not up to extracting the information online or willing to accept paperless billing, there is no obvious to find out what this extra £19.50 is about.
I was even told that I would not be charged the reconnection fee until an itemised bill had been sent, but I was lied to, since the phone service was suspended the next day, and an additional charge made.
The first default on payment was in August when I was in holiday and my elderly mother not yet moved in. Even though I paid in full within a month, the phone service was still suspended and £19.50 charged.
I cannot believe this is not initiated by management instructions to staff, and this corporate attitude gives BT the reputation of sharks out to trick as much money out of their customers as possible.
In the end, I did get an itemised bill in the end, but only after a lot of fighting with automated voice mail and Indian call centres, so I could see what they were up to. I was told that one of the £19.50 charges would be credited to my next bill (if there is a next bill). No offer was made to the amount of grief it has cause me, nor the time wasted so far. I am out, and do not want anything more to do with this disreputable outfit. I am transferring my line rental to another provider, and even with broadband thrown in, it works out cheaper. I'm not surprised. It must cost a packet sorting out all these customers who feel cheated and tricked. I am the sort of person that, as soon as a company has won my trust, will get a cheque or an online payment in advance. I'm glad I decided to hold back a couple of months this time.
I do hope that Government will soon hand responsibility for the lines over to someone with a bit more public responsibility. Branson maybe? There is one set of cables lying in the mud on a farm track that was brought down by a gale in 2004, which still hasn't been fixed! I have long given up trying to tell anyone about it.