On December 11th, it was flagged up to me that our account had been debited by British Telecom for an unusually high amount. The cheeky bastards had helped themselves to £233 my money via Direct Debit, when the monthly amount I expected to be taken every month was a measly £10.49. The reason behind it was some unwarranted billing for work done outside our property some time ago. I promptly wrote to the BT Chairman, their press room, Ofcom, Otelo and blogged my letter. Whether the knowledge that the issue was public made any difference to the pace at which BT dealt with it, I'll never know. What I know is that the money is, two weeks later, back in my account after I was informally told over the phone that it would be back last week. Still not too bad.
What grates me is that there's been no apology. I fought the charge and got a refund, but BT still seemed unapologetic about having taken the funds over an issue for which I wasn't supposed to be charged.
This leaves me with a few words of advice to everyone who may not be keeping a close eye on their finances:
- Speak to your bank about setting a limit on direct debits when you expect monthly payments to be regular. It'll avoid random high charges like this.
- Check your online banking once a week and sanity-check any spending that looks unexpected.
- Setup "monthly bill" payment rather than "full bill" with each service where your cost may vary and where maintenance work may be slipped onto the bill.
- Get everything you can in writing, or record phone conversations. I'm seriously considering recording conversations with customer service agents from now on to avoid "he said, she said" arguments where it's my word against theirs. Anyone got suggestions on the best way to record all calls to/from a house line?