BT billed me for £5,157, not £35

The Daily Telegraph - Your Money - - READERS’ LETTERS -

I have been a small-busi­ness cus­tomer of BT Busi­ness mo­bile since 2007. My usual monthly charge is about £35.

Then nine months ago, out of the blue, I re­ceived a text from BT in­form­ing me that, ow­ing to “un­usu­ally high data us­age”, a re­stric­tion had been placed on my phone.

I phoned the num­ber given and was told that I owed BT £5,157. Ap­par­ently there had been a huge data down­load of 9.8GB which seemed to have been go­ing on con­tin­u­ously for two days and about which I have ab­so­lutely no knowl­edge.

I have tried ev­ery av­enue other than the small-claims court to sort this out. NICHOLAS BROWN, EAST SUSSEX

The telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions om­buds­man con­cluded that BT had acted en­tirely cor­rectly. It rec­om­mended that BT pay you £30 as a ges­ture of good­will.

While the mat­ter was be­ing in­ves­ti­gated, BT took the money for the data from your bank ac­count.

My in­volve­ment, sev­eral months after the in­ci­dent, led to BT re­view­ing the case. It said your data limit had been mea­sured and charged cor­rectly. How­ever, it ap­pre­ci­ated that you were a val­ued cus­tomer and, as a one-off good­will ges­ture, de­spite the om­buds­man’s find­ing, it has now waived all the ex­cess data charges. You say this makes an enor­mous dif­fer­ence.

A BT spokesman said: “We’ve changed our pro­cesses to try to pre­vent busi­ness mo­bile cus­tomers rack­ing up large bills for data used out­side their monthly al­lowance.”

Now, once any user goes over their data al­lowance, it adds an ad­di­tional 500MB of data to the ac­count for £5 and sends warn­ing texts, which in­clude the price of the ex­cess data, and asks the ac­count holder to contact it.

It adds up to 10 such bun­dles, after which a bar is ap­plied, which means the ex­tra cost would be a max­i­mum of £50. It is then up to the cus­tomer to call to re­move the bar within the billing cy­cle. Al­ter­na­tively, BT will lift the bar once the new one starts. “de­sign is­sue” rather than a bro­ken pipe, as had been pre­sumed pre­vi­ously.

Fix­ing de­sign de­fects is not cov­ered un­der the pol­icy.

This had come to light just over 10 years after the build­ing’s con­struc­tion and so fell out­side the builder’s own war­ranty pe­riod.

Al­though not strictly cov­ered by the Esure pol­icy, in recog­ni­tion that there had been some mis­com­mu­ni­ca­tion on its part, the in­surer was – as a good­will ges­ture – of­fer­ing what it felt was a so­lu­tion.

This was that its drainage spe­cial­ists would fit one new valve in the up­per bath­room, ex­tend­ing through the bath­room ceil­ing, and in­stall an­other valve else­where. With build­ing ex­pe­ri­ence of your own, you in­sisted that the only ef­fec­tive cure would be to dig the pipes up and lay them again.

I took up your case with Esure. After my in­volve­ment it of­fered £4,000 so you could ar­range to have the work done your­self. This you have ac­cepted.

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