back to article BT business customer contracts to change Thursday

BT customers with Business PSTN lines will find their contract upgraded to include BT Business Line Divert come Thursday - but will find that upgrade locks them into a 12-month repeating contract unless they opt out before it kicks in. Customers should have received a letter about the change, but several telecommunications …


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  1. Simon Dummett

    Misleading title

    If only there'd been an "on" in the title...

    How disappointing to find the story was not about BT managing to somehow use a clause in a contract to change the day of Thursday into something rather different.

    That would have been, in some small way, exciting.

  2. 4.1.3_U1
    Paris Hilton

    Last year

    ... they "upgraded" residential lines to 12 month minimum contracts (from 3). I got caught out by this but luckily managed to persuade them to let me off.

    Paris, because she has no minimum contract.

  3. Andy Worth

    Sneaky Bastards

    Or so they thought......

    BT have always been anti-competitive, ever since other phone companies started showing up. If it wasn't overcharging these other companies for using "their lines" then it was something equally as unfair.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Plusnet tried this

    And got away with it too. They sent out an "unless you contact us, you agree to us moving you to a nice slow traffic shaped connection email." At the time I posted a "Unless you reply to this, you agree that all shares in Plusnet will be signed over to me". I got several replies.

  5. Steve
    Dead Vulture change Thursday

    What do you mean, they are going to change Thursday? Can't they leave it as the 24 hours between Wednesday and Friday? Or are you suffering americanitis and mean '...on Thursday'? Speak English man.

  6. Mark W

    We should all vote with our feet..

    Oh, silly me, no we can't (well, those of us lucky enough to live in non-cable areas anyway).

    BT have a monopoly, and Ofcom are just useless. Just look at the telecoms market now they've fragmented BT Wholesale into Openreach - installations taking forever, and no way of chasing things up because Openreach are answerable to no-one. Just a total joke.

    It would be nice for the 12-month rolling contract if BT Retail actually gave us customer service and so-on for our money, but unfortunately they're as stuffed with Openreach as the rest of us.

  7. Nano nano
    Paris Hilton

    Where will it all end

    Well if Thursday starts, they'll all want to do it - a bit of botox here, a lift there.

    And Thursday's agreed, more's the pity.

    If BT didn't like Thursday the way it was, it should never have started in the first place.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Voting with feet

    As I never tire of saying, the alternative is a data modem like this or and no doubt there are others. If you get phone plus modem on contract the cost is comparable to a landline from BT and you will then be able to post smug comments on el reg.

    Paris coz i wnt 2 get down with the kidz

  9. Cynical Observer
    Thumb Down

    Opt Out .... What do you mean I chose the lobotomy

    "Customers should have received a letter about the change, ......."

    Not all customers did......

    So legally, can they change the T's & C's without notification? This is the whole problem with opt-outs, They can never prove receipt of the notification - just like we can never prove it was sent in the first place.

    "Oh but didn't you know that new agreed price for the line rental was a kidney and three pints of blood?

    Ofcom should act to prohibit such changes ever - in fact the law should be changed to ban such practices in any industry.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    @Mark W

    Not really true, tempting as it is to moan about BT's service (it is pretty appauling after all), they no longer have a monopoly; after heavy regulation, they have now implemented local loop unbundling. You can go to another provider who has their own kit in the local exchange. Yes, that other company will still pay BT wholesale for the use of their lines in the UK backbone, but the wholesale prices charged are regulated by Ofcom, not set by BT. There are strict rules about equality of access to Wholesale's platforms for BT retails and other providers.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    'We will fine you for daring to change providers'

    Isn't that the whole point of this stunt?

    BT do not want people to have free choice to pick other providers.

    The new contract means they can likely take extra money from you if you change providers.

    People that didn't notice the 12 month contract bit will change then find they have been stung, those that are aware of the tie-in will be wary of the extra charge if they try to move & save money.

  12. big yinn

    Not only but also.....

    What hasnt been mentioned so far is the fact that its a 12 month ROLLING contract so unless you remember to call BT BEFORE the 12months are up you'll be tied into another year with them.

    Also if you try and pull out of the contract you'll be hit with early cancellation charges from BT.

    not anti competitive at all, oh no.....

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Thanks for publishing this story

    We have about 1200 BT lines (a fair chunk of which I bet are no longer being used) and are in the process of cancelling some and porting some over to another provider.

    We didn't receive the alleged letter so it could have been costly if we hadn't found out about this.

    BT are the second worst company that I have ever dealt with (no one could ever surpass Bulldog) and scams like this do nothing to endear me to them.

  14. John Short

    Another sneaky twist

    Thanks El Reg

    I've just checked our two business lines and discovered that one falls into the category affected. Thing is, this is as a result of a change that has been made to the line in the last two months - no such change has been requested by us !

    Needless to say I've opted out of the scheme, and asked for details of who to send an official complaint to (apart from Ofcom)


  15. Neil Woolford

    I did receive the letter, but opting out isn't confirmed.

    Basically the letter gives a number for a call centre, where a bored but not unfriendly Irish chap takes your phone number (no caller display?) and says he's canceled the change. I've not received anything in writing to confirm this, so if they just change my contract anyway it is my word against theirs. It doesn't encourage me to stay.

  16. Stuart Halliday
    Thumb Up

    Opt-out and get a discount

    Interestingly on reading this (thanks Reg) and phoning them to get a Opt-Out, I was immediately offered a 10% discount on the line rental and calls if I agreed not to change to another supplier for 2 years.

    Nice try BT.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And the optout number didn't work

    When I got BT's letter and tried to opt out, the number wasn't working. When I got through to them they promised to send written confirmation of opt out - and they haven't.

    I've already had problems elsewhere with BT 'losing' details of an agreement made over the phone and sending out a confirmation letter with no info whatsoever about the prices they quoted - then they expected me to pay £600 more than agreed over the life of the contract.

    This underhand selling approach is not an isolated incident - it's the way BT works

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Typical offcom indifference

    "Ofcom will only take action if the rules have been broken"

    If the rules haven't been broken, then the rules need to be CHANGED.

    Rolling one-year contracts serve no useful purpose other than to penalise users for switching companies -- and making company-switching easy is precisely what OFCOM's job OUGHT to be.

    There might be a reasonable justification for INITIAL 12 month contracts, to recover the cost of installation, but there's absolutely no reason why contracts shouldn't be compulsorily terminable on 7 days notice once the initial contract period has expired.

    We've said it before and we'll say it again, these twits at OFCOM need to be SACKED and replaced by proper, competent and above all END-USER-ELECTED replacements.

  19. Anne Dagen

    Update - BT are NOT recording opt outs

    The Reg article prompted me to ring BT and check they had recorded my opt out - they had NOT.

    And apparently they aren't even confirming optouts till after the deadline has passed, it's up to the railroaded customer to keep checking on them

  20. Robert Donkin

    What BT letter

    This is the first I have heard of the new contract. This is not the first time BT have changed contacts in their favour without notice. Of course Ofcom will not do anything - they know BT are still part of the public sector so cannot be challenged.

  21. John Mawhood

    What's the number to call?

    I don't have the number to call to tell them I want to opt out. Please could someone help?

  22. Steve Gold
    Thumb Down

    Unfair Contract Terms & Conditions

    I've just spoken to BT about this - they are deluged with complaints. It seems not all letters have gone out.

    I can't see BT having a leg to stand on - this sharp practice falls under the unfair contracts legislation - they could not enforce it if they tried.

    Absolute shameful behaviour BT.

    Steve :(

  23. Anonymous Coward

    No words

    Words cannot express the disdain i feel for BT. We requested to have a telephone number put on a call plan. 12 months letter we have been hit with huge reconcilation penalties for not meeting the minimum spend. We were told by their lying sales staff that there was no min call spend. We even amended the contract to say that we were signing on the condition that there was no minimum call spend. At the time i knew in the back of my mind that we were going to get screwed, but did not know where else to go to get lines. I have also had similar problems with least cost routers. DOes anyone know of at least a half trustworthy tel supplier? On the current subject, we have received no letter about this change in contract. Having already spent half an hour today arguing with their rude and unhelpful staff over the last bit of money they have charged us, I have not the mental stability to phone them again today, so will just have to be done over once more.

  24. Steve James

    Vote With Your Your Feet

    I think this move from BT is the thin edge of the wedge. I much prefer to do business with a company who doesnt take advantage. 30 day notice contracts are still available from companies such as 123Telecom, who also offer 15% discount off the BT Business line rental price.

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