Monday, July 24, 2006

An achievement

When we first moved to our new palatial apartment we made the error of signing up with BT. We knew that we didn't want their broadband service because (a) they are expensive (b) they cap the amount you can download each month (c) they are notoriously crap. When signing up (over the telephone) I did tell the salesdroid that we were looking for a different broadband supplier and even mentioned that it was likely to be Bulldog (who are a LLU supplier), but salesdriod assured me that this was fine and that I needed to have my BT account set up before I could proceed with Bulldog anyway. Everything seemed to be in order, so I gave all the usual account details so that BT could take the setup payment direct from my bank account and everything in the garden was rosy.

Then we signed the stuff for Bulldog whose sales staff said that we didn't need to open the account with BT because they would have done all that for us as part of our start up agreement and that if we'd told that to the BT salesdroid then they (BT) had mis-sold the service. (Cue silent fuming with steam coming out of my ears).

Meanwhile I get a bill from BT for £38.50. Okay so we had their service for a total of three days, but I had agreed to the service, even if their salesdroid had mis-sold it to me, but that's okay because the direct debit is set up and they can take the money directly from my account. Wrong! A few days later I get the red letter. I telephone BT and ask what the problem is. I am told that the direct debit hadn't been set up. I get the person to hold whilst I log into my account (the joys of internet banking) only to find that there in black and white (well it's actually a rather calming blue and white, but I digress) is the direct debit set up on my account. I recite this information to BT person who then says that my bank declined the direct debit as there were no funds, I look at my online statement. There is over £3000 in the account, transferred from the savings account for buying new furniture and the like, plus there is a £500 overdraft facility. There is no evidence that the direct debit has been collected, keeping BT person on the land line I use my mobile phone to call my bank, who confirm that they have not had a request from BT to collect a payment. Again I tell the BT person, who by now is getting very anxious, having been found out to be telling porkies. They will look into the situation and call me back.

A week passes and I've not had a call back, however I do get a letter from BT's solicitor threatening legal action if I don't pay the amount owing. Now I'm feeling stroppy. I check all the online details of my account. No evidence that BT have tried to take a payment, but the direct debit is still there. I call my bank and they confirm that there is nothing in their records to say that BT have even tried to take a payment and also that there is no reason why a request for payment would be refused. I'm very pleased about this because I occasionally like to have a good strop.

So I write back to their solicitors as follows:

Dear Sirs,

Thank you for your letter of 26th January 2006, the contents of which I note with interest.
It seems to me that your client due to the incompetence that has made them famous, has involved you to extract an amount of money that they have not by their own wits been able to take directly themselves.

Given that despite being told my name AND my spelling it out, the person on the help desk was unable to enter this correctly on a keyboard. I take this as an indication that your client employs imbeciles to man their call centres, especially after I telephoned to correct this error and yet, as evidenced from your letter, they are still incapable of following simple instructions.

However, your letter relates to an unpaid amount and this is where their inabilities really set in, for whilst it seems, your client was able to set up a direct debit (as you will see quite clearly on the enclosed print from my internet banking site) they do not seem to have been able to get their collective brains to work long enough to collect the amount directly from the account as instructed. Still one shouldn't mock the afflicted as it's not very p.c.

Please do consider taking this to the Sheriff Court, I am sure that they get very little light relief during their working day and this case would no doubt relieve the monotony. Or on the other hand you could instruct you client to use the direct debit mandate that they have, and which they should have used in the first instant. I do sympathise with you that your only client's inability to complete their own business functions has resulted in your wasted time.

Yours faithfully

Solicitor duly wrote back saying that they would take no further action but would "pass my comments" back to their client i.e. BT.

This has now trundled on up to their elevated complaints section and still BT cannot take a payment from my account. The money is there. I'm willing for them to take it but I will not go out of my way to make the payment by any other means because that will only encourage them to be lazy about their business practices and to be honest their business practices are pretty crap to start with.

So on to today. I get three letters from a debt collection company. One is the you haven't paid this bill and we have been instructed to collect it, the second is the you've ignored us and we could take you to court if you don't pay us and the third is the despite previous correspondeance you have ignored us so we have prepared papers to take you to court. I try to telephone the company but you just get the usual "all our operators are busy" stuff, so I think sod this lets go back to the problem. I call BT, the woman I speak to is very polite and business like. I tell her about the three letters and she is shocked. She says that she can see the history of this on the account notes and she is sorry that this has gone on so long, would I mind holding whilst she consults with her supervisor. I'm on hold for what seems like an hour (hold music does that to you) and she comes back to me. She will contact the debt collection agency to get the file back, she will arrange for the whole amount to the credited to my bill so that I have nothing to pay. I almost fell over at that. I said I don;t mind paying the £38.50, it was billed to me I owe it and if only BT could call on my bank to take the money I'd be please to see it go as it's one less thing for me to worry about. But no the girl is adamant. The bill will be credited as compensation for all the stress and anguish that this has caused me.

A result!

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