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back to article Bloke threatens BT with giant plywood cheque

It's Friday, so we're sure the following heartwarming tale will cheer your final slog into the weekend: how Reg reader David Humpage is giving BT some serious grief with giant novelty cheques. David wrote to the El Reg consumer affairs department explaining that a couple of years back he noticed he was being charged £4.50 a pop …

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Gold badge

Another side effect

Actually, if he's smart he gets a deal with the debt collector. If BT have indeed formally allocated the debt to a debt collector the normal expectation is to recover approx 10%. If he offers them more (say, £1) he could actually clear this debt if the debt collector is amenable to the arrangement.

In my opinion, that would be an even better result - can't imagine a better "up yours"..

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Pint

Genius

That is fantastic work Dave.

Have a beer on me.

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Any instructions?

Can anyone enlighten me as to where I may obtain a giant novelty cheque? I'd love to send on to a certain company in Glasgow who've been hassling me on and off for the many years since I left university.

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Where to find your novelty cheque

B&Q mate! Ask for an 8x4 of 10mm plywood and a black marker pen...

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New trade

It seems there is scope to set up a little web shop selling these. All you need is an A3 printer or A2 plotter, a supply of plywood and VERY large envelopes :-).

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Pint

Exelent !!!

as far as sending giant novelty cheques to BT, this should be done to all companies that charge a "extra fee" for non didrect debit payments.....

I feel a domain registration coming on !!!!

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Paris Hilton

This will start something

A great way to get rid of an old car.

Paris because she is smarter than BT.http://www.theregister.co.uk/Design/graphics/icons/comment/paris_hilton_32.png

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Fantastic

Absolute legend we need more people like David in this country.....

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Alert

I applaud the effort but..

Well done David on giving it to BT, probably my least favourite company, but I think you may come unstuck in the end. The tales of people writing cheques on cows etc are all apocryphal. BT are also within their rights to reject any non-standard payment from customers. I expect BT fell silent because the amount they could recoup after a legal battle wasn't sufficient for the outlay and they're considering their options. Careful though because debt agencies will charge for every letter, every visit and that debt quickly grows and if BT are in a litigious mood they will take it to court.

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FAIL

Sorry - fail

Cheques can be written on anything so long as all the requisite parts of the cheque are correctly included. If you look on the bill from BT you will see that they accept cheques, but you won't see the wording that they, "Conform to C&CCC Standard 3" which would limit you to standard cheques. The only problem that this guy has is that a bank is within it's rights to charge extra for cashing a non-standard cheque; and they could pass this charge on.

Passing a debt on to a debt collector is actually a classic way for a company to handle a debt that is too small for them to bother chasing themselves. The debt collector charges their fee to the customer on a no-win no-fee basis, so the company itself is never more out of pocket than if they do nothing.

For more information on outsize cheques (albeit in the US market) have a look at http://www.bankrate.com/brm/news/chk/20010320a.asp?prodtype=bank

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Asked for a phone number?

I hope you told them that you don't give personal information without consent from the user?

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This is a title

looking forward to sombody having their cheque painted on the side of an old 40ft container and deliverd as payment to a company like BT.

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FAIL

Cheque written on a cow,

That's fiction!

"More Misleading Cases in the Common Law" by A P Herbert (1930).

No machine readable characters presumably, and a giant wooden cheque won't go through the cheque handling machinery.

Even if BT banked it, and it goes through the clearing system, how much will his bank charge for processing it?

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Pint

Very ironic

I've spent 2 hours on the phone over the past 2 days, and lost a day off work thanks to BT's incompetence who couldn't even send an engineer out within a 5 hour appointment slot that they booked over 3 weeks ago.

They have since dispatched an engineer to my property this morning without informing me, only to find there's no-one in - had they sent him at the correct date and time, there would have been.

Well done Dave. Have one on me, a fellow BT-incompetence sufferer.

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Heart

'KING LOVE IT!!!

BT then claimed the cheque rubbered "because it was non-standard" - something David nicely describes as "clearly bollocks".

David splendidly concludes: "I've had my solicitor write them several letters, pointing out that they've been paid with a legal cheque, and it's up to them to cash it. I've even offered to replace the cheque, though stipulating that there'll be a £25 admin charge and the replacement will be on plywood."

LOVE IT LOVE IT LOVE IT!!! I love this mans way with words and approach. Top marks!! If more people did this these people would likely stop their own stupid games! :)

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Big Brother

Sadly, no.

"Top marks!! If more people did this these people would likely stop their own stupid games! :)"

Sorry, but if enough people were to do this, the big corps would just instruct their puppet lawmakers to pass a law making it illegal.

You would then be free to find a new way to express your righteous civil disobedience until they passed a law blocking that as well.

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Boffin

Kudos

Bloody excellent.

I have to try this - but the robbing lazy bastards aka "Factors" of my housing estate would be the recipient...BT following a close 2nd.

But printed on something very biodegradeable like a banana, or something infeasbily small - maybe pop into Fujisti down the road, and get them to carve me a cheque a hundred molecules high onto one of my old toenails or something. Or print a full-sized one onto a sheet of glass 0.0001mm thick.

If those count as valid cheques of course.

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Another Thumbs-Up!

From myself and my co-workers who've just been inspired by Mr Humpage putting his words into action, and doing what so many of us would want to.

If you're* ever in Sheffield, I'll buy you a real pint!

*That's Dave Humpage, not a general invitation to every reader...!

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Brilliant.

Excellent work sir!

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ql
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Pint

Deep respect

Wonderful stuff. Is this the first in a series of "I managed to stuff BT - just a bit but now I feel a little better" articles? We need them, please.

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Fantastic.......

Title says it all, I have a funny feeling Virgin will be getting some large cheques soon aswell.

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Stu
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Very good!

Stick it to the 'man'!

Now I'm remembering why I rightly haven't been with BT (and not paid them a penny in line rental) in about five years!

.

I'd have been a little more reasonable to correct the huge cardboard cheque administrative error, and offered them a genuine normal sized bank printed cheque for the outstanding amount, however the Admin fee for providing them such a cheque will have cost them the outstanding debt amount, plus one penny, and I would have ensured this was provided up front.

.

If they'd have accepted the offer, it would be boring and spoilsportey, so I might have gone a little further, and instead sent them a cheque engraved in a twenty kilo lump of rock, or something, then charge them another admin fee for correcting my error.

.

Its not like I'd be making them jump thru any more hoops some companies have made me jump thru. The next earliest opportunity, I'm doing it! I don't even own a cheque book!

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Sad

Poor British Telecom. Years after privatisation, still stuffed with indolent Post Office people and new boys they've cultivated into the same spirit.

BT claims to love "paper-free" communication, but the bill download system broke weeks ago (and still isn't fixed), so affected customers like me now have to ask them to send the bill by e-mail. This week they have a new user interface (and a page full of apologies), but I still can't download my bill.

The saddest reflection of their incompetence and disinterest is that the quickest way to find a business phone number is not to navigate BT Directory Enquiries but to Google it.

Google: enter name / get answer.

BT: Find link to their DE page. Do you want a business or a residential number? What is the name of the business? Where is it? Is that the London in south-east England or the village in Lincolnshire...etc. etc.

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Pint

may I be the first...

to congratulate the distant forebears of this fine man for having foresight to take the family name HUMPAGE so that, years later young David could apply some clever "humpage" to BT. Well done, indeed! This round's on me.

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Anonymous Coward

@TheJonB

Whilst not technically covering the "take them to court if they didn't cash my cheque", I would imagine any legal case would be under section 40 of The Administration of Justice Act which covers the unlawful harassment of debtors.

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parking fees

next time I get a parking fine...........

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FAIL

The best of both...

Dave - the best example of British grit, stubbornness and humour.

BT - the best example of dumb-ass corporates that are incapable of communicating properly and dealing with customers in a professional manner.

My money is on Dave. Good luck, pal.

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Anonymous Coward

errr not legal

from the web site linked to above

"Even today, if you owe someone money they are not obliged to accept a cheque. Instead a creditor is entitled to be paid in legal tender and can refuse payment in any other form."

shame that.

still good way of buggering them about for a while, well done that man.

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FAIL

But...

If you tell them you accept cheques, you can't subsequently rescind that offer without notice. Have a read of any BT bill (the bit of the back with "how to pay").

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errr not legal, part 2

first ask " do you accept payment by cheque?"

that then makes any thing you give them legal

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g e
Silver badge

Which, importantly, reminds me...

... to call my home phone then do a 1471 + 3 to dial me back so that BT don't charge me this month for NOT putting any billable traffic over their phone network.

Apparently it costs them around 9 quid to not carry my calls which they pass on to me every month. Check your bills, people, if your line is BT but your calls go through your ISP or other provider.

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WTF?

Re: getting the point

I always feel that companies go to extreme lengths to address individiual non-standard issues in the most inconvenient way possible (e.g threaten debt collectors / court action to scare off the customer) instead of actually listening to the customer base.

As I always say to myself from time to time when faced with contentious issues, "I can either be a dick or I can address the problem and find a solution" In this case, BT is being a dick.

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Awesome

As a very bored accountant on a sunny Friday afternoon, this was just what i needed to raise a smile.

Who knew you could write a cheque on a cow!!

"Yes, I can confirm payment has been made... your MOOney is in the post"

Classic!

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Stop

Holy financial cows, batman

The cow cheque is a story by A.P. Herbert

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Board_of_Inland_Revenue_v_Haddock

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The Negotiable Cow

While one shouldn't rely on the story, A.P. Herbert did train as a lawyer, and many of his stories did have a point to them as a mockery of some specific element of the law at the time.

My own father was once paid by a cheque written on a sugar bag. The rules have, from time-to-time, changed. Back then, there was some sort of stamp duty, and a postage stamp had to be affixed to the cheque. And banks didn't have computers.

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Megaphone

And this is why cheques should not be phased out.

Well done that man - the £25 admin fee is a stroke of genius. If this guy runs for parliament, there's a good chance he'll get in, and should probably be prime minister!

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Admin fees rule...

I once charged Post Office Counters a tenner to re-issue the cheque for my road tax as they had managed to lose the original. They were not happy, but were kind of stuck with it.

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Unhappy

Amusing

Seems he's relying on a common law definition of cheque, but not one that will clear the cheque clearing systems. Arguably IF BT presents the cheque for payment, to their bank, the cheque won't clear, and therefore will bounce.

Under the common law though, they can present it to his bank, or to him specifically for payment, and it probably could be honoured.

They're probably ultimately right, but it's not worth anyone's time to enforce it. Well, maybe it is to the lawyer.

He'd probably be seeking a declaration from the court that it was valid satiation of the debt. Basically the court saying to BT, you've been validly paid, now go away.

Really creative and entertaining though, and I hope BT backs off because their "Bill payment" fee is probably deserving of some kind of a consumer protection law smack upside the head.

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Paris Hilton

I tried to pay a parking fine

with bags of 1p's and 2p's once and thought I was well clever until I received a letter from the council containing a photocopied law book page showing what amounts coinage ceases to be legal tender.

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Grenade

Cheques, Legal Tender and Contracts

Cheques are not legal tender and BT are not legally obliged to accept anything except cash.

However, I'm not sure if this changes as BT accepts on its bills that cheques are a legitimate payment method, and this may therefore result in the contract being deemed as satisfied if a valid cheque of any size is offered as payment.

As long as it has all the components i.e. name, account number, signature etc, banks will accept cheques of any size, although they may charge a fee for non-standard versions.

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The winner is the blood sucking solictor

I agree this is a good stunt and I'll be first to join if anyone founds the BT eradication society (I use the phone coop) but I cant help thinking the only real winner out of this is his blood sucking solictior (a vile breed they are) who is no doubt charging him 25 quid+ per letter whereas it'll cost Bollocks Telecom next to bugger all.

Stu had the right idea but I would have stuck to the £25 admin charge.

We need someone to do this to the mobile phone networks now as they've been at this crap of ccharging for anything bar DD for years.

Well done Dave but I think the point has now been made mate.

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Ouch.

This is hilarious. Usually these stories go the other way. There's a famous story about a guy who repeatedly tried to collect a debt, the debtor refused to open the door whenever the collector knocked. One day the debtor got fed up and took action, but he was ignorant of the law. He wrote a check onto a wooden door and dropped it from a second floor window onto the collector's head. The debt collector took the door to the bank and they cashed it.

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Nice

I've got some 8'x4' sheets of Plywood kicking around somewhere.

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Anonymous Coward

What an absolute shower BT are...

Incompetent, idle, dishonest ... I could go on and on from direct personal experience of this sad and profoundly dishonest excuse for an organisation. Their standards of service are woeful, and they have no qualms about being rude or lying to customers - they'll tell you anything to get rid of you. And every new service or idea they come up with is a reaction to the market - they've long forgotten how to lead, if they ever knew.

Mr Humpage should get a medal for doing what we all dream of but never stir ourselves to do. His name should become a new verb.

And BT proves yet again they're not only useless, but humourless too - any competent organisation would realise that humour is best fought with humour. The sheer PR gain of actually cashing that cheque (whatever effort or cost that involved) has clearly eluded them. But "you ain't allowed to do that, mate!" is their over-riding PR technique.

BT do nothing - NOTHING - unless the end aim is to screw the public. You can take a business out of the public sector, but unfortunately it's not so easy to take jobsworth public sector attitudes out of a business. I don't even pay for my calls via BT - but every month they find new and exciting ways of surcharging me. If I didn't need them for broadband (Moon Base will be cabled before our rural area) they'd be history, with 3 mobile phones in the house.

The only way forward for BT in my view (and it should have been done at the outset) is to fire 100% - starting at the very top - and start selectively re-hiring. I'm not holding my breath.

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Headmaster

Ah, but remember that legal tender...

... is not as simple as "cash please!" either. It's a specific term and doesn't even touch paper money (banknotes, etc); it details the amounts upto which someone is obliged to accept payment in certain coin denominations. For example, I do NOT have to accept your payment of twenty quid in pennies.

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Anonymous Coward

As a former BT customer

Who has been charged £35 for the privilege of leaving them even though my broadband account was over 18 months old.

I am totally going to do this... With a letter attacked detailing all of their failings

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Anonymous Coward

Set your printer to 'economy' mate...

... if your experience of BT is a fraction as bad as mine, it may be a hell of a long letter...

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Anyone remember this?

http://www.zipadeeday.com/viewarticle.asp?article=128

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Anonymous Coward

Direct debits

I've always wondered about direct debits after a run-in I had with a financial institution about the date they submitted a direct-debit wandered up to 5 days behind, and a few days before the draw date.

If BT or whoever decide to consistently draw direct debits one day early, how many people would notice. But how much would it be worth to them to get the interest on tens of thousands of bill's worth of money for a day!

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