A week ago, I shared my complaint letter to British Telecom with readers, and it seemed to have had an impact! Many of you seem to have had issues with either BT as well (some sound far worse off than me!) and others with Direct Debit in general. On Tuesday morning, I turned my phone on to find a voicemail asking me to call back Linda Duggan at British Telecom. Speaking to Linda, she assured me the refund for the full engineer visit charge would be refunded today. (As an aside, no, the money isn't in my account yet, so whoever said "they promised you'd have it in your account by Christmas... but Christmas of what year?" will probably turn out to be right.)
So the outcome is as follows: I got my money back after a bit of whinging, I got an explanation on how to change my direct debit from "Full bill" to "Monthly bill" but nothing resembling an apology for taking the money in the first place.
The first lesson we all get out of this is that we need to keep a very close eye on our finances because companies will unapologetically take excessive funds out of our accounts without so much as a notification. I discovered there was a difference between Full bill and Monthly bill payment, and will ensure, from now on, that only the authorised amount gets debited.
The other lesson is that you shouldn't be afraid to be forward and take your complaint straight to the top. Faffing with call centres won't get you anywhere, they are not interested in your problem. Go to the chairman, the press office, the customer relations officer, and follow-up on it regularly. Don't let it slip, be prompt in dealing with it when you discover the problem and you'll get resolution.