back to article OK, so we paid a bill late, but did BT have to do this?

One of the pains of running a business is billing and cash collection, especially if your customers are big. It really doesn’t matter what you put on the quote or the invoice, they pretty much pay you when they feel like it, and 60 days is usually the quickest if you’re lucky. In effect, SMBs act in aggregate as an unwilling …


This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. SimonF


    The only question is "Why are you using BT?"

    They have the most awful customer service ever and *really* don't give a damn about you.

    Use Zen or AAISP or $ANYBODY else for a better service!

    1. Pen-y-gors

      Re: Why?

      You really think TalkTalk give a better service than BT?

      Based on experience over many years, most ISPs have problems at times, some more than others. To be honest, most work fine most of the time. The important thing is how they react when things go wrong. Do they try and fix things asap or do they deny it's anything to do with them? I use BT Business now and have found them pretty good on the whole - there have been cock-ups, but the Business support bods seem to be able to resolve things a lot quicker than some call-centre drone in Bangalore.

      Having been on the receiving end of an ISP saying it's a problem with the phone line (provided by BT domestic) and BT domestic saying it's a problem with the ISP, it's actually handy having a setup where one part or other of BT is responsible from end to end. And the Business bods do seem to have a bit more clout when it comes to shouting at Openreach.

      1. AMB-York Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        Why are you talking about Talk Talk? No mention in the original post.

        Managed to transfer my parents and my in-laws away from BT. Little by little...

        1. Pen-y-gors

          Re: Why?

          Doesn't $ANYBODY include TalkTalk?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Why?

            "Doesn't $ANYBODY include TalkTalk?"

            Yes it does.

            $ANYBODYWITHACLUE doesn't include TalkTalk, as your rightly point out, and most readers will hopefully have read it that way.

            But thanks for the clarification.

            1. Dodgy Geezer Silver badge

              Re: Why?

              ...$ANYBODYWITHACLUE doesn't include TalkTalk, as your rightly point out, and most readers will hopefully have read it that way....


              Presenting your advice like that makes it incredibly easy to offer even more precise directions. How about only buying your internet services from $THEBESTCOMPANY?

        2. breakfast Silver badge

          Re: Why?

          I tried to transfer away from BT only to realise after waiting 6 weeks to get an unreliable internet connection that my new ISP ( Plusnet ) was in fact wholly owned by BT. Sad times.

          1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

            Re: Why?

            "I tried to transfer away from BT only to realise after waiting 6 weeks to get an unreliable internet connection that my new ISP ( Plusnet ) was in fact wholly owned by BT. Sad times."

            I think yo uneed to contact the ISP Association and get their members list.

            Clare Perry claimed there are 450 ISP's in the UK, of which about 5 hold 90% of the market.

            Which means those 5 have no incentive to be anything but a shower of s**t.

            1. Christopher Blackmore

              Claire Perry

              Has a long record of not understanding technology.

          2. Gary Heard

            Re: Why?

            But if you are on an exchange "out in the sticks" no matter who your ISP is the actual people managing it is Openreach.

            I had a problem with a VPN connection in that every time the phone rang the broadband ( and hence the VPN) dropped.My ISP (also my phone provider) sent a BT engineer round who tested the line and declared "no problem with the line",, but would recommend that the DSLAM in the exchange was changed.

            VPN Still dropped

            I forced my ISP to send round an Openreach Broadband engineer (and that was hard work as Openreach AUTOMATICALLY invoice the ISP for a BB engineer EVEN if they are in the wrong, so I had to agree that if no fault was found I'd pay for the visit.

            I also sent a mail to the woman in charge of Openreach explaining that an engineer had said that he thought the DSLAM should be changed -- and received a reply telling me my ISP must own the problem, I further explained that IF the equipment in the exchange was changed neither I or my ISP would have any visibility of the change -- at which point she agreed to escalate it within Openreach in order to inform me.

            To cut a long story short, after that escalation, an Openreach engineer came out on a Sunday and I overheard his conversation with the main BT Helpdesk. They told him there was a problem with the DSLAM -- that had ALWAYS existed--and the ONLY way to fix it was to replace it.

            A couple of emails later, one to Openreach and one to my ISP and (magically, it was fixed the following Wednesday, new DSLAM so fixed for everyone who would want to use VPN on the exchange.

            Fianl point is that Openreach STILL tried to invoice the ISP for the work they had done -- even though the equipment was faulty.

            The ISP told them where to go.....

          3. rols

            Re: Why?

            Ah but at least you've now got access to in my experience superb customer service, and can actually speak to a network engineer if needs be to get to the heart of any problems. Can't fault PlusNet for the way they handled some of the less than straightforward order requirements on some of our connections.

          4. This Side Up

            Re: Why?

            "I tried to transfer away from BT only to realise after waiting 6 weeks to get an unreliable internet connection that my new ISP ( Plusnet ) was in fact wholly owned by BT. Sad times."

            Plusnet operates as an autonomous company and is a great deal better than the parent. The connection problems probably lie with BT or BT Wholesale regardless of your ISP.

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why?

          One problem we found is that if you need BT to look at your phone line but you're getting your other services from BT they try to get you to move back to BT.

          My mother moved to the utility warehouse stuff and moved back due to the BT FUD when the phone line had issues (it was due to corroded joints from the line to the house cable section).

      2. DanDanDan

        Re: Why?

        "it's actually handy having a setup where one part or other of BT is responsible from end to end"

        It's actually preferable having a setup where no part of BT is responsible for any part from end to end, which is why I've switched BOTH my home phone and broadband away from them. If only openreach were as impartial as they should be/claim to be.

      3. John Smith 19 Gold badge


        <load of irrelevant stuff skipped>

        But it's not a fault it's a routine payment

        And it's not even (technically) overdue.

        BTW the UK has the 2nd worst record (not reputation, studies based on actual figures) payment record in Europe, only Italy is worse for getting cash out of people.

        but I wonder. Is it the SME's desperate to hang onto the the £ till the last possible moment or the big multi £Bn outfits who say "We do it because we can."

        Bottom line SME's are not banks. It's time companies stopped treating them like one or perhaps they should start acting more like one (for some years UK companies have been able to charge fair interest on late payments).

      4. BlueGreen

        Re: Why? @Pen-y-gors

        > You really think TalkTalk give a better service than BT?

        Hell yes. BT were some of the the most incompetent clueless tossers I've ever had to deal with. Moved to talk talk and never had a problem since (3+ years?). End of pain, thank god.

        (Your experience may vary, that was mine)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Why? @Pen-y-gors


          Re talktalk.

          We moved our (we're an SME) business phone and fibre connection over to talktalk, the business support bods aren't bad, we've had no more or less issues than we would have had with any other provider (very, very few) all resolved in a timely fashion.

        2. TheBully

          Re: Why? @Pen-y-gors

          I have had good service on Talktalk got residential FTTC and its pretty fast. There support is good if you go on the user forums. Post your problem on the forum and the staff will get back to you and fix it or book an engineer that's how I got my issues with the Youview sorted anyway. I once had Plusnet business ADSL at home and for 4 months I could not authenticate with the details they gave me until finally I got through to someone technical who knew what they were doing and fixed it for me.

      5. AJ MacLeod

        Re: Why? (@Pen-y-gors)

        Actually yes, I know that TalkTalk give a better service than BT IF AND ONLY IF it's TalkTalk Business (which it would only seem fair to assume for this particular comparison)

        Having suffered many times on other people's behalf at the hands of TT's various consumer arms, I would never have considered their business offering but ended up with them through the takeover and re-takeover of Freedom2surf.

        On the couple of occasions I've had to call them I've had better service than I've found anywhere else, ever (and I spend time on the phone to the whole range ISPs on a weekly basis through work.)

        You know you're going to get somewhere when you start the conversation by giving your diagnosis of the fault and a brief outline of the steps you've taken to deduce it and the person on the other end listens, actually understands and takes the issue from there. It's been my experience every time with TT Business... can't say the same for BT business (though they do usually get there in the end.)

      6. illiad

        Re: Why , Pen-y-gors ?

        the *key* word is *Business* !!! and they tend to be paid *much* more that the paltry domestic offering!!!

        our company uses TalkTalk Business, and has not had any major problems for years... using 100 computers needing *mission critical* access..

        the domestic product of course is not so good, unless you do not need more than two or three pages a day maximum... :p

      7. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why?

        You really think TalkTalk give a better service than BT?

        After having problems with TalkTalk with direct debits requests being made from them multiple times per bill I decided that the only way that I could trust them was to go to cheque payment.

        They'd raise the bill on a certain date of the month and put said bill into the post for me and ten to twelve days later. The PayBy Date was always between these two dates and I would often get cut off the day that the bill would arrive on my doorstep.

        After a few months of this I left TalkTalk.

    2. g e

      What BT are really doing

      Is asking you to switch provider on principle.

      1. Mips

        Re: What BT are really doing

        Well what BT might also be doing is breaching the Data Protection Act. Your data, the fact that you are a late payer, is being distributed to anyone on the same router plus anyone who can see the screen.

        It this legal. I think not.

    3. Mike 102

      Re: Why?

      good question.

      Against my advice, my mum recently ordered BT broadband/phone-line/tv as a residential customer.

      she now has a braodband connection but this was after 4 calls where each time they gave her a date it would be done by and each time when she phoned to chase as the dtae had passed she was told the order had been cancelled and they would have to expediate the new order which each time was cancelled.

      She's still missing the tv box she was supposed to get.. I think she started this early august. she has had call centre people promise to ring back, hang up on her, refuse to put her through to someone who could take a compaint etc etc etc..

      Lots of "i'm really sorry", "I'll take responsibility", "when you call back ask for me by name" to later be told they didn't exist, she was even told it would be fixed the next day and in the same converstion told two business days...

      It took 4 calls to get a complaint reference number and they said so much that later turned out not to be true, I'm not enitrely convinced it wasn't made up.

      shockingly bad service.

      1. omnicent

        Re: Why?

        I actually had very good service when moving to BT Infinity a couple of months ago - sorry to balance out the story a little but I had terrible service from Virgin who continued to bill be for the next 6 months! (No I'm not a BT mole)

        1. Cynic_999

          Re: Why?

          I've also had good service with BT. I switched to BT infinity (FTTC) from Be Unlimited simply because Be did not offer fibre and BT were the only provider who could offer estimated 70Mbs at the time. Completed in an hour or so on the day arranged, very polite and helpful installation guy, all worked 100% from the start. Intermittently low speed on day 2 resulted in a visit the following day - no fault found at the time of visit but he remade all the copper joints from socket to cabinet (at no charge) and no fault since then. Since then (over 6 months later), speed fluctuates from 60Mbs during congested times to 80Mbps - not usually below 70Mbs and no other service issues (touch wood). Average use around 500GB data downloaded per month.

          1. Rob Beard

            Re: Why?

            Actually I think you'll find that many ISPs can provide FTTC, the connection itself is provided by BT Openreach who provide connections to all the big ISPs, including BT Retail who resell it as BT Infinity.

            We've got FTTC here, it's with the ISP Zen, a pretty darn good (if not the cheapest) ISP (hey it's a case of you get what you pay for). We also have BT Broadband too (ADSL2+ syncing at around 17Mbit/sec). For a comparison, Zen speeds downloading Linux Mint are around 5MBytes/sec, and via BT (bearing in mind it's syncing to the exchange at 17Mbit/sec, so I'd expect at least around 1.7MBytes/sec), we get 171KBytes/sec.


        2. omnicent

          Re: Why?

          Love it that this gets 4 thumbs down, do you disagree that I am happy with my service provider? Or is it that I am not joining in the BT-bashing?

      2. Dazzlingsincethe60s

        Re: Why?

        Problems setting up a direct debit with BT a number of years back, tried 5 times, no joy, line disconnected.

        Time for some serious action - discovered the email address of the Chairman's Office and hey presto! That still had to be chase, when the special advisor didn't fix it I emailed asking for an *extra* special advisor.

        Talk-Talk no better, O2 not perfect but an improvement on Talk-Talk, Sky seemed to think the ADSL could transfer more data than the speed was actually capable of.

        Parents have Virgin and that seemed very straight-forward.

        1. Nuke

          @ Dazzlingsincethe60s - Re: Why?

          Wrote :- "Time for some serious action - discovered the email address of the Chairman's Office and hey presto!"

          Care to share it with us?

    4. Handels

      Re: Why?

      I agree with Simon, why the hell are you using BT!!! The line at my house took 3 months for them to set up, they couldn't get their billing right, sent me threatening letters on lines that didn't exist, refused to let me have a single point of contact even though it's a business line, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Shocking support, shocking and inconsistent technical knowledge, overall i will never use BT again. AAISP and other ISP's are much more flexible and technically capable. It's not all about the promise of a fair broadband price, move to someone else! The screen take over is a poor business tactic - you can bet they will do it on people who have paid their bills, and whatsmore they won't apologise in writing if they get it wrong.

    5. N2

      Re: Why?

      BT are utter shite & treat their customers like crap because for everyone that leaves theres probably two customers stupid enough or coerced into signing up, a lot of financial directors of small companies are in charge of IT (in the loosest sense of the word) there are a few who know their stuff but most dont.

      IDNet provided our broadband with First Telecom for calls, both fantastic companies.

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      Where I work (well one of the sites anyway) we have Zen FTTC, we've had Zen since the site opened, originally ADSL2+ and then upgraded to FTTC when it was made available. It's great, we get pretty good speeds (I think around 50Mbit/sec down and about 10Mbit/sec up or something along those lines, certainly fast enough for the handful of PCs we have here).

      We also have a secondary backup line from our phone provider who is in direct competition with BT (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent). We ordered an ADSL2+ service from them just in case the FTTC went down. So we thought we were getting an ADSL service from $PHONEPROVIDER, or at least their services on top of the usual BT Wholesale service. But nope, we got BT Broadband. They, a BT competitior resell BT Broadband.

      I'm sure if it was known at the time we'd have gone to a different ISP, but sadly we didn't find out until after the installation, and we're now stuck with them for another 18 months.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      I used to work in IT for a major financial institution one of the largest UK companies by capital valuation. Many of our telecoms tech guys were ex-BT so knew how it worked and had contacts there. Even so we sufferred BT arrogance/inertia.

      In a subsequent job I had a customer who switched to BT Broadband and, finding he had a problem with email, was told that he would need to move his website hosting and domain name to BT. Another had a super new do everything switchboard installed by BT. Their business was heavily based on incoming orders by phone. The PBX didn't work, they were without their phone lines for a week, cost them £30k lost sales. I could go on - but no need as there are thousands more people with comparable stories to tell.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why?

      +1 for Zen

  2. sad_loser


    I remember something about belkin trying something similar - I think it was that their router would insert adverts into webpages.

    the interesting thing is that I don't remember the exact detail, only that i have never bought a belkin product since.

    This is sort of thing only too predictable from BT, which is why I am no longer with them, but there are plenty of sheep who will tolerate this sort of treatment.

    1. GettinSadda

      Re: Belkin

      the interesting thing is that I don't remember the exact detail, only that i have never bought a belkin product since.

      Yes - this article means that my opening comments when talking to anybody about using the internet for business will now be to explain that it is important that they don't use BT because of this. If BT don't understand why - then they should not be supplying broadband to businesses!

  3. Shasta McNasty

    Not just broadband

    I have two email accounts that I have used for years. Last month I got an email saying as I was no longer with BT for my broadband, I would have to pay £1.60 a month to keep them.

    Normally I would just let them go, but for several reasonsit was easier to keep them so I set up a direct debit. Now today I get an email saying that BT have postponed getting rid of non-BT customers with addresses for the foreseeable future. So now those who haven't paid will keep the same product I'm paying for.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just broadband

      So stop paying.

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Not just broadband

        Demand a refund

    2. Kubla Cant

      Re: Not just broadband

      That's interesting.

      I too have a email account, though I no longer use BT as my ISP. Every week I receive emails that say something like "Important changes to your BT email account". I always delete them unread because they look like phishing messages - the login links appear to point to domains that have nothing to do with BT (or, indeed, the UK).

      I've always wondered why the spam filter can't catch messages that spoof BT. Now I'm wondering if they were genuine messages in which BT was too stupid to use recognisable domains.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not just broadband

      I know that mail too. I didn't see anything that matches "for the foreseeable future" though.

      Someone I know has account that's been due to expire ever since BT stopped doing PAYG dialup and Metronet started doing PAYG broadband.

      That's not a short time. A decade or so?

      BT Retail. Default provider of telephony and broadband to the ill-informed and naive.

    4. Mr. Flibble

      Re: Not just broadband

      Well, what my email said was that because of problems, accounts that hadn't upgraded wouldn't be disconnected today (16th Sept).

      I know when I tried a few weeks ago, the link to the T&Cs didn't work, and when I contacted one of those "live chat" people, they said to try again in a few days.

      Today I notice the ordering interface is similar, but it won't take my DD account number, so I still can't sign up for it, there's also no mention of T&Cs, which is a bit concerning....

  4. xyz Silver badge

    Have they not just intercepted your communications?

    I'd inPhorm on them!

  5. Whitter


    Happened on multiple occasions to multiple people? Unsolicited and without justification (not late yet). That's harassment.

    1. Wensleydale Cheese

      Re: Harrassment

      Harrassment indeed.

      I'll never forget the bill they sent me just before Christmas in 1997.

      It went something like "This is OUR money. Don't you DARE spend it on Christmas festivities. WE WANT IT NOW!".

      My reaction was to make a point of paying them as late as possible without getting cut off.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good Experience with BT

    I for one can say that BT have exceptional customer service... actually I lie. I deal with a couple of their engineers on a nearly daily basis and have never met such an unprofessional team of people.

    BT has become almost a swear word in our office.

    BT - Blood Terrible

    1. Jim Willsher

      Re: Good Experience with BT

      Bunch of Tossers is how we refer to them, for the same reasons.

    2. Dr. Mouse

      Re: Good Experience with BT

      "BT has become almost a swear word in our office."

      I must agree.

      As a "consumer" I have had so many problems with them that I won't have anything to do with them as far as possible.

      However I have recently started working for a company who uses them for a backup DSL line at head office and their main connectivity for a warehouse. The head bean counter will not speak to BT any more, pushing it down to her assistant. The same goes for anyone with underlings: They will not speak to BT themselves.

      We also recently moved our warehouse. An order was placed for the same business infinity line as was in the old premises to be set up at our new place. After several (progressively more worried and irate) phone calls trying to get hold of the router, 3 days before we were moving, we were told that our order had been cancelled because we could not get infinity there! No phone call, no email, no contact whatsoever. To allow the move to go ahead we had to purchase 3G dongles to see us through till we arranged alternative connectivity.

      We will not use BT again. That was the final straw. I had always assumed that their terrible customer service was reserved for consumers, but to treat a business customer in this manner... It was absolutely unbelievable!

      1. vonRat

        Re: Good Experience with BT

        BT HAS become a swear word in our office. Profanity is one of the few methods you can use to prevent BT induced madness. Whenever I see a hairy BT backside hanging out one of the roadside cabinets I imagine the DSL lights going out on several nearby routers. Anyone who places their IT infrastructure on the other end of a UK broadband service needs their head examined. I'm off to listen to the "Angry BT Caller" viral again..

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

        Re: Good Experience with BT

        "We will not use BT again. That was the final straw. I had always assumed that their terrible customer service was reserved for consumers, but to treat a business customer in this manner.."


        BT is dedicated to delivering a "uniform" customer experience to all, business and consumer alike.

        Uniformly s**t that is.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good Experience with BT

      Never had any issues with BT engineers (Declaration: my uncle was one back in the GPO days) who on the whole are keen to get stuff done and working. The problem is the layers of account managers, sales assistants and helpdesk drones they put between you and the engineers. Trying to organise installation and maintenance appointments is nearly impossible, and they've failed to turn up on time to two of the last three jobs I've booked.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Good Experience with BT

        In the many IT departments I've worked in BT has always stood for Bloody Terrible.

        However my last network team learned how to 'manage' BT. We almost always got the same engineers for installations and moves as they tend to work geographically so the guys got to know them - and more importantly, got their mobile numbers!. Ever time we placed an order on BT we would phone the BT engineers and let them know about the new order. This almost always got things moving far more quickly than BTs bureaucracy would have allowed as the engineers would look out for the job coming through. As others have said, the engineers mostly just want to get on with the job it's the rest of BT that gets in the way.

      2. Harman Mogul

        Re: Good Experience with BT

        Declaration: my father was in the GPO team that pioneered Subscriber Trunk Dialling, out of the Southampton exchange. If only everything else BT did since the introduction of STD were such an undisputed, unremarked success, the company would be an example for the world!

        But as we see from the many posters here, it is not.

    4. Stoneshop

      Re: Good Experience with BT

      Brutish Telecon

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up


        "Brutish Telecon"


        Up there with conslutant.

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good Experience with BT

      I agree they are un-reliable,but the gals & guys I talk to on the other end of the phone usually try their best to help.. its just a messed up system they are working in..

      I admit that the only reason I use them is because the other companies said no as my phone lines were inactive!

      I was basically forced to go with BT by the other suppliers for my business, but since I pay everything electronically (cheques? i've used maybe 10-15 in my entire life and that is only when I cannot pay electronically...) I would never see a message like this..

  7. weevil

    This is real pot kettle black. I used to resell BT fibre, and they were regularly 1-2 months late in paying commission owed to sales.

    You'll like this one though:

    I moved to a house in East London in January. One of the deciding factors was that Infinity was to be livened up in March. So, with the lack of any other high speed internet I decide to place the order for normal BT broadband because it can be upgraded quickly and cheaply to Infinity without having to buy out the contract of any other ISP.

    Come March, I go to order Infinity:

    "Sorry, Infinity has been delayed to March....2014"

    So due to their woefully inaccurate information I am now stuck in a BT contract with a sub-standard product and an even subber-standard customer care (i don't care if thats not a word, it is now) and there's nothing I can do about it.

    I have a million and one horror stories about BT, working in white-labelled telecoms, they're all about Openreach, but its still BT. Try and find a way to complain about an Openreach product or service as an end user, it is literally impossible. Try and complain about an Openreach product or service as a reseller? Also impossible.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I deal with the Openreach engineers who divert the cables and ducts and there are nothing but helpful and reliable, something I can't say about any other statutory undertakers

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        The Engineers I've had fix issues for me are great, its the system that is FUBAR.. The trick is for anything that is not simple, to ask for a supervisor, then maybe you will get someone who speaks English...

        So if you make an order, remember its not the person taking the order, or the guys fulfilling it that are the problem its the system that eats your order and cancels it...

        1. John Smith 19 Gold badge

          AC @12:12

          "So if you make an order, remember its not the person taking the order, or the guys fulfilling it that are the problem its the system that eats your order and cancels it..."

          Of course there is always Plan B.

          Do not place an order with BT in the first place.

          That is the simplest solution.

    2. Mike Pellatt

      You really should have known

      If you believed BT's "go-live" dates for Infinity anywhere in London, and work in the telecomms business - well, what can I say. I don't have the "insider" knowledge that you ought to, and wouldn't believe them. Just look at how often the date for the exchange local to my organisation - Southwark - has been pushed back.

      It's most obviously the case in London that BT are shit-scared of their leased line revenue vanishing on the back of business infinity - though that was irrelevant to me as our copper (or possible ali, going by the attenuation....) is EO.

      I'm just so glad that Hyperoptic are now doing business leased lines. 100Mps for less than the price of 4-pair EFM. Perfect timing for me, too.

  8. teebie

    That's awful customer service, awful product provision and awful warping of user expectations. I think it was a bad idea.

  9. Tom7

    How to make a big company pay their debts on time

    Send them a statutory demand. If they owe more than £750 and don't pay within 21 days, you can apply to a court to have them liquidated.

    1. Triggerfish

      Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

      Nice idea, in reality though you just piss off you're big customers who then go to your rivals, Big companies have small companies over a barrel in these situations especially if its a lot of your sales.

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Give them your rivals' contact details

        If they aren't going to pay, you do not want them as clients. Send the hassle to your competitors.

      2. Juan Inamillion

        Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

        I don't think so, in my experience it's always the bean counters who hold things up. Speaking with the actual client (or rep) usually reveals that they thought the invoice has been paid.

    2. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

      Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

      We do a contract for all customers to sign when they order work from us

      "30 days payable from reciept of goods, interest will be charged at xx% per day on all accounts outstanding unless the managing director gives the ok to waive the fee.

      At 60 days from reciept of goods, the debt will be sold to a debt collection agency"

      But it is fun when a big company gets the balifes arrive to lock the door because you've gone to a small claims court and they've ignored the mail......

      1. Cynic_999

        Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

        Hmmm - yes, very satisfying at the time, but not so good if they were a big customer of yours and your competitor is now getting all that business ...

        1. Yet Another Commentard

          Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

          Per BT's accounts (unaudited bit): "This year the average number of days between invoice date and supplier

          payment was 60 days (2011/12: 61 days)."

          So just the four times what they allow.

          That number sits uncomfortably with the audited numbers with purchases at about £5,500 million and amounts owed on those of about £3,000 million (notes 6 and 17). A crude division of one by the other times 365 gives a metric called "creditor days" or roughly how long it takes them to pay, which is ... nearly 200 days!

        2. MonkeyCee

          Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

          I've only done this outside of the UK (NZ if it matters), and it's usually that someone has got something out of a budget that wasn't exactly intended for. In this case it was espresso machines that came out of the tea/coffee budget. Seems sensible to me, but not to an accounting bod.

          So the company had bought about 30 coffee machines, and a dozen of these where leased to a certain company. This company never paid the bills for them, so after 4 months they got taken back, and the bills sent to claims court. It appears that the companies legal department didn't notice (or care) so we won undefended (magistrate was a bit surprised too).

          So after 6 months, paying for machines and coffee ourselves, paying for a lawyer, we finally get contacted. They suggest the same "you're being nasty, don't you want us as a customer" to which the MD told them that they were thieves and that he didn't want custom from people he had to chase through court. He went on to point out that his company provided a very measurable service (physical product) but that they sold "services" and if their internal services where so crap, how could their products be any good.

          Of the big projects managed by the company, most have some real big screwups. There are even some still brewing on, one big 'un involves taking over payroll for a big government department, which last I checked was still partly fucked after 9 months or so of active service.

          In short, people who pay their bills late aren't customers, they are stealing cash flow from you. For a SME, that's pretty much driving you out of business. It's as dumb as saying "you could sell more goods if you reduced their price below cost".

      2. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

        "But it is fun when a big company gets the balifes arrive to lock the door because you've gone to a small claims court and they've ignored the mail......"

        Now that's the way the system is meant to work

        But it takes guts Thumbs up for some one using the system the right way.

        And note in this case BT is the supplier

      3. Mike Pellatt

        Bailiffs at big companies

        The episode of Bailiffs where they pitched up to enforce a debt against Fujitsu was a great laugh. They were very patient in explaining to the security man on the gate that he didn't have the right to prevent them entering and listing goods for seizure. The security guard was clearly very poorly trained as he didn't believe them <cough>. They were on the point of driving the van through the lowered barrier when senior management finally made the correct decision.....

    3. Skoorb

      Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

      It's not as bad as you might think. Go have a look at a site by Andrews and Arnold (AAISP) at It explains how they go about dealing with late payers and how you can too. It's highly effective!

      1. Skoorb

        Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

        A follow on from above. The Late Payment of Commercial Debts (Interest) Act 1998, Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2002 (SI 2002 No 1674) and now the Late Payment of Commercial Debts Regulations 2013 means you can apply interest and penalty payments for late payments, regardless of what you have written in your contract (you cannot 'agree' that these laws do not apply to you).

        These laws mean (amongst other things) you can charge interest at 8% over base rate and an additional fixed penalty charge of £40, £70 or £100 (depending on the size of the debt) as well as the 8% over base rate of interest. Note that these laws specifically apply to business to business contracts.

        Go read the information here as well. Even if you don't use it, you should know about it to at least protect yourself from other people using it on you if you pay late.

        1. slightly-pedantic

          Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

          8% over base rate is absolutely stupid. Very few small businesses have a cost of capital that low.

    4. Juan Inamillion

      Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

      A friend of mine in the music business (he ran a studio) used this method against Sony UK. I can't remember the size of the invoice - about £1,000 I think - He delivered the statutory notice and carefully pointed out that if they still didn't pay he had lawyers ready to ensure they cease trading.... Worked a treat!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time


      Do you run a business Tom?

      I'd guess not because while that's great in practice all it actually does is ensure said company never, ever deals with you again. Given that (in our experience and that of customers we regularly talk to) around 70-80+% of customers can be "poor payers" in the sense that the money turns up when it turns up and any relationship that has on the timescale you put on the invoices is coincidental.

      1. Tom7

        Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

        Although applying for liquidation is likely to piss off your customers, sending a statutory demand to the likes of BT is not unreasonable. The idea is to get the attention of people who can actually make things move. You're not being pushy or unreasonable - you're saying, "Hang on, the law is the law and it applies to you, too. You promised to pay on a given schedule; where is it?" As others have pointed out, there is considerable legal protection for companies making this sort of demand and statutory provision for penalties for late payment.

        If you're operating a business on the philosophy of, "Pay when you're ready, no worries mate," then you're not serving your shareholders as you have a duty to do. You need to insist on payment on time because your customer has a legal duty to pay. Do you really think that, when you're late paying BT, they'll just say, "No worries mate, pay when you're ready"? If so, you need to read the article again.

        1. Tom 38

          Re: How to make a big company pay their debts on time

          …sending a statutory demand to the likes of BT is not unreasonable. The idea is to get the attention of people who can actually make things move

          If your business is about to fail due to poor cash flow due to a single large client like BT paying late, then sure, hassling them with every legal avenue at your disposal is useful. However, if you are doing 'ok', then I wouldn't bother hassling BT immediately. A company like BT will always pay a valid invoice, and having you scamper around trying all kinds of tricks to get payment is counter-productive to actually running your business.

          If you have a choice of spending the day getting new business, or spending all day chasing a client who is very likely to pay in the next 20 days anyway, chasing new business will probably pay more.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    BT may own the internet connection. But not the staff time or their PCs, screens etc.

    They have no rights to your screen estate or staff time.

    When a staff member ( if not the accounts dept.) has to give time or attention to this hijack time, concentration etc. is being stolen from their employer.

  11. tony72

    I was shocked

    One of our users reported this message a few months ago, but he'd closed it by then, so I sort of dismissed it, but told him if he saw it again, to give me a call before closing it. Next time around I saw what it was, and managed to confirm that it was an authentic BT message. I don't know what determines who actually sees the message, because only two people in the company (of about 15 people) have actually had it. But personally I think this is completely out of order; our accounts people pay BT invoices as a matter of course, and as far as I can tell we've always payed on time within a day or two's margin. Send a friggin reminder like everybody else. I would drop BT in a flash if it was down to me, we only use them for broadband, and it's really just inertia keeping us with them.

    1. Mtech25

      Re: I was shocked

      Got to agree here, I can understand them doing this if you where say 4 weeks late in paying but on the same day payment is due.

  12. GordonJ

    BT has "senior managers responsible for ‘customer experience’"?

    Would these BT "senior managers responsible for ‘customer experience’" be the same ones that sent me a letter once saying that if I wanted cheap calls to continue, I'd need to be "loyal" and sign up for a 12 month contract? The same managers that, after 10 years with them, caused me to move everything I could from them?

    They wanted loyalty, so I demonstrated the loyalty I *had* had in the what I thought was the best possible way.

    They're total asshats - I get they impression they sit in meeting with everyone going "yeah, yeah, yeah..." and no-one actually *thinks* about how it looks from the other side of the message.

    1. Paul Shirley

      Re: BT has "senior managers responsible for ‘customer experience’"?

      In the far distant past I applied for a job at their Martlesham Heath research centre, duly trekked halfway across the country for a full days interviewing, then spent 30min being interviewed for the tech job, 60min getting the tour and the entire rest of the day being tested on my customer handling skills. For a job that would never see me meet a domestic customer and not involve business support at all.

      BT have always valued the ability to bullshit customers over ability to do the job of building working systems.

      [Another interview around the same time: I apply for a job in office automation, 1st question in the interview "are you happy to sign the official secrets act" and a rapid admission I'd actually be designing missile guidance systems. They at least had the decency to end the interview there and we just talked about beer for a while instead of really wasting my time]

      1. Alien8n

        Re: BT has "senior managers responsible for ‘customer experience’"?

        I remember one interview I had in London years ago.

        First question: "Are you married?"

        As soon as I answered "Yes" I was told I wouldn't be getting the job due to the fact it involved international travel to areas of the world with a very high chance of being shot at. They were very open about the fact that some of their employees have literally driven through the security fences at airports to race for a plane about to leave with bullets being fired at them. Still sounds safer than dealing with the bosses at my last place...

        (The job involved installing satellite uplink services for media outlets in 3rd world countries. Think Rwanda)

  13. theblackhand

    I find it useful....

    I won't argue about the short period between invoices and threatening letters, but ever since BT introduced this warning (I think I first saw it in late 2011) we have had a lot less surprises with backup lines at our small sites.

    Historically we would get an alarm to say a backup line was down and call the ISP and get no where for a few days before sending a tech on-site to run some tests, discover it was a billing issue and start to hunt down why the bill wasn't paid. Now we just work with an on-site person to redirect their traffic to the backup line, they see the error and we can start to track down why the account wasn't paid.

    The web page is infinitely more informative than BT broadband support....

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That's nothing.

    I've watch BT you view, and there was this horrendous foul, and so I paused it, to see it again.

    But you can't. Half the screen is occupied by a big sign, telling you you've paused it, and it won't go away.

    What a terrible UI. I hope the person who did it has been sacked.

  15. Trollslayer

    Bye bye BT

    Awful company - like the sneaky 12 month automatic renewal.

    I ended 3 months early and told them to shove the whole thing.

    It was worth it and am very happy with Sky,great support.

    One time the ADSL wasn't working when I got home, rang them up and as soon as they saw my phone number said that a power supply had failed in their equipment at the exchange, the ADSL would be back in service within a few hours. It was.

    No messing about or excuses.

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Bye bye BT

      Sky "Support".. Ha!

      Had intermittent sync. Despite persistent emails to them and persistedn reponses saying "We're looking into it" no movement, and didn't even offer even an basic explanation as to where the problem was just "We're looking into it, please don't leave".

      Moved to BT as they were the only company who'd take away that nasty sky connection without £150-ish in engineer fees (LLU connections are great... Until you want to move to someone else to provide a connection and get hit with that exit fee....

      Never had to contact BT support thankfully, and am fearing having to do so.

  16. Jerky Jerk face

    Thanks for bringing this up.

    im sure there will be a virus page created that looks the same as the BT warning now, thanks for that

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      you think there isn't one already?

  17. davenewman

    Report them to the Information Commissioner

    for interception of your communications.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    We are fighting them on this

    They cannot stop your service because of an unpaid bill until 28 days after the invoice date - not that that really concerns them.

    We don't actually get that message - I think it maybe because we don't use their DNS. I would suggest if BT are using DNS spoofing that NO-ONE should use their DNS services.

    We have been told by BT that you can phone them up and ask that the message be removed - dont let them setup a direct debit - just waiting till the beginning of next month now...

    1. Loyal Commenter Silver badge

      Re: We are fighting them on this

      Absolutely. Not only should you not use your ISP's DNS in favour of a free service like Google's ( and IIRC), but I'd avoid using their supplied routers in favour of a cheapo model from Maplins. I'd rather have Google (via my DNS) and the Chinese (potentially via on-board malware) intercept and analyse my communications than my ISP. BT are not the only ones I wouldn't trust on this, others such as (s)Talk-(s)Talk are just as bad.

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: We are fighting them on this

        Even better, set up your own DNS resolvers.

        I don't know why more people don't do this - it's easy, more secure, and more efficient.. You also potentially benefit from being returned IP addresses of servers more local to you - a task that is more difficult (though not impossible) if you use a generic service such as Google DNS or OpenDNS.

        You also aren't relying on a single point of failure outside of your control.

  19. Warm Braw

    Might vs right

    When I once resorted to a similar tactic in order to try to persuade a government agency (that theoretically had a policy of paying small business invoices within 30 days) to pay bills more than 4 months overdue, I got an immediate call from their lawyers threatening legal action for defamation.

    Large organisations can do what they want and small organisations can do what large organisations want as well, that's the law (well, the law in practice).

    The malware-style pop-up is of course insane, but are you really surprised that BT revenue collection takes precedence over customer security?

    1. Chad H.

      Re: Might vs right

      >>When I once resorted to a similar tactic in order to try to persuade a government agency (that theoretically had a policy of paying small business invoices within 30 days) to pay bills more than 4 months overdue, I got an immediate call from their lawyers threatening legal action for defamation.

      Tell em to bring it on. Shortest court case in history.

      lawyer: So what did they say?

      Witness: They said we hadn't paid our bill

      lawyer: had you?

      Witness: No

      Judge: And my time is being wasted..... Why?

    2. John Smith 19 Gold badge

      Re: Might vs right

      "I got an immediate call from their lawyers threatening legal action for defamation."

      I've had some indirect involvement with lawyers

      You need to be aware of 2 things.

      A)Lawyers are paid to take their clients protestations of innocence at face value

      B)Lawyers bluff if they think they can get away with it.

      I suspect you're perfectly reasonable request got kicked up the food chain and some PHB equivalent automatically assumed his dept had already paid it, without checking, and reached immediately for Messrs Sue Grabbit and Runne for immediate restoration of their reputation.

      If you're evidence is strong (don't send originals to them and make sure everything is registered to avoid them "losing" it in the post :) ) They will come round.

  20. Anonymous Coward

    No change - BT pathologially does the wrong thing

    Over an horrific number of years of having to deal with BT in various guises, the only thing that keeps you sane is that from time to time some really helpful engineers are allowed to talk to the customer. Almost uniformly, from non-engineering types, there is a sense of corporate condescension from them. My experience has not been isolated cases, but in various companies in various places throughout the UK. So I learnt my lesson. At one place, where I had no alternative to BT, I even paid a third party to manage the BT account, as life can become Kafka-esque when dealing with them.

    And they're like any big corporate. They have their spinners, in this case the alleged senior managers in charge of "customer experience", but these, you will soon find, will come back to say their hands are tied because "policy" or some such corporate excuse prevents them from making any improvements.

    I always thought they know their arrogance gets customers backs up, which is why they're constantly trying to lock you into long term contacts. If they wanted to compete on customer service, they'd trust their customers to want to stay with them rather than being handcuffed.

    Honestly, for your own peace of mind, choose anyone else and migrate as soon as you can.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Terrible Idea. But...

    I agree that this is a terrible idea, mainly because of how long they wait before showing you the message. I have to defend BT here however in terms of their Business Broadband division. I have had nightmare scenarios (admittedly due to their incompetence) where we've had connections down for a couple of days, BUT the team that looks after BT Business Broadband customers is far superior to most other ISP's, primarily because they don't expect you to be an idiot who doesn't know what they're doing.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Terrible Idea. But...

      " I have had nightmare scenarios (admittedly due to their incompetence)" But you still say they're OK, _you_ are part of the problem. Junk the connection, don't use them again, don't be they're apologist.

    2. Mike Pellatt

      Re: Terrible Idea. But...

      If what you're saying is true, then there must have been dramatic changes in BT Business Broadband support in the last 4 years. Which I don't believe.

      I thought I'd got a result when someone promised me that he'd take personal responsibility for resolving an ongoing issue my client had. He gave me his name. I asked him what number I could contact him on, and he told me I could get him on the standard 0845 number.

      So when the problem wasn't resolved, I called that number and asked for him. I was told he worked in another office (there were, apparently, three offices that calls to the number were distributed to). Could you transfer me, then, please ?? No, they couldn't. That was the final straw. To use the "I'll take personal responsibility for the issue" line as a tactic to get the caller off the line is despicable beyond belief. And for BT to be unable to transfer calls between offices when that's a service they sell...... (Yes, I know they can but just wouldn't)

      On the basis of that as the lowest point of (many) low points I will never, ever, ever use BT as an end-user customer if there is an alternative. Ever again. Never. Is that clear ??

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Can't transfer calls.

        I used to help run a CRM who handled a lot of BT's calls (I've posted about this elsewhere on this thread too). The failure-to-transfer-calls thing was truly exasperating.

        What happens is, BT hire a number of different CRMs concurrently to compare them. Nothing wrong with that. But BT are also obsessively secretive, and refuse to tell any of the CRMs anything about each other. We were a professional customer service company so were well aware that transferring a customer's call to the right department is one of those little things that make a big difference and that failing to do it really pisses people off. We asked BT again and again for the relevant numbers to be able to do this, and we informed them that our not being able to transfer calls was royally pissing off their customers. They refused. For them, not letting any of their CRM providers know anything about each other -- even just their bloody phone numbers -- was more important than being helpful to their customers. So we had to tell our staff to tell customers, "You'll need to call back on the same number again, but this time press 2 then 4 when you get through."

        So you're half right. Yes, BT could of course allow the transfer of calls between offices if they wanted, but the people you're talking to on the phone, who are working on behalf of BT but actually employed by someone else, literally can't, because BT won't let them.

  22. rhydian

    Does this still happen if your not on BTInterwebs DNS?

    Usually when we forget the bill on one of our TT business accounts it simply stops shifting data and we have to call up finance to double check.

    Does this warning show up if your not using BT's DNS? I know you can't change that particular setting on a domestic BT router but I would think you could on a business one?

  23. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    So you paid a bill late...

    It used to be you' get a reminder email or letter.

    Still, it's understandable they'd resort to this as they need to recoup ASAP the cash they spunked so their customers can watch for "free" some overpaid idiots kick a ball around a pitch.

    1. Lottie

      Re: So you paid a bill late...

      I thought the article said that the payment was due on the day, meaning it wouldn't be overdue until close of business play.

      So not really late.

  24. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

    Technically, malware imitates genuine alerts,

    not the other way around.

    However, this case does look quite like the genuine "Web site has been found to contain illegal content and closed down by the U.S. government" message, and of course the malware "You are being fined for looking at porn" one.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well BT are not the only one,

    Since T-Mobile merged with Orange to become EE The moment my bill is one day overdue, rather than email me or send me a letter what do they do?

    Send the account to Moorcroft Debt Management company who then send me a message that unless I pay the £32 bill + their fee of £25 I will be taken to court forthwith....

    Instead I pick up the phone Pay T-Mobile/EE and then a week later get a FINAL DEMAND from Moorcroft.

    Needless to say I have Cancelled said contract and will not use them again...

    1. tkioz

      Reminds me of Telco here in Australia that sent me a threatening letter over 70 cents. Yes, I under paid my final bill on a mobile account by 70 blood cents. I couldn't believe it, I honestly thought it was a prank, but none of my friends would admit to it, it wasn't until I got the second letter threatening to send it to a debt collection agency that I rang them and asked "are you bloody serious?". I paid them and made a note to never purchase from that company ever again, people that stupid don't need my money.

      1. Yet Another Commentard

        My favourite

        Was a Court Action nearly taken against me for the non-payment of a credit note. That's right, the company owed me money and demanded I paid -£150 and when I said "can't you send me a cheque?" they threatened to take me to Court. I said "Go ahead!" thinking it could be a laugh, but sadly someone there saw sense and stopped the whole thing.

      2. Vic

        > sent me a threatening letter over 70 cents.

        That's nothing.

        I got threatening letters, including a threat of court action, over an alleged debt of £0.00. Yep - nothing.

        I was *really* hoping they'd follow through with their court action, because that would have been the funniest thing I'd ever been to court[1] over :-)


        [1] Not normally as a defendant, you understand...

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    business couldn't do business with itself

    I used to work for a company that insisted on no more than 30 days credit for all customers, and no less than 60 days credit from suppliers. Needless to say, many of our customers were also suppliers, and soon spotted the discrepancy.

  27. Why Not?

    You have to admire them, they are that arrogant they think they can do anything to their customers & suppliers.

    180 day terms BT? oh sorry that is only when you are paying the bill.

    Business line - it has to be down for 7 days before we pay compensation of less than one months line rental.

    Oh we don't fix residential lines at the weekend? But you broke it by replacing the telegraph pole on Wednesday.

    Hopefully Bangalore Telecom will soon be replaced by someone who can do the job.

  28. Mark Wilson


    I used to have a client who were with E-On and they would get reminders saying their bill was late just ten days after the meter was read threatening extra charges if the debt wasn't paid promptly. These companies don't like you paying when it suits you and would rather shift you on to direct debit so they make life as difficult as possible for those who pay by other methods.

  29. JimmyPage

    Plus ca change ...

    GPO -> British Telecom -> BT did nothing to improve customer service.

  30. Lottie

    Common procedure

    I think lots of companies are trying the scary hammer tactics for customers. I get regular "your payment is due, you haven't paid yet, where is it? If you ignore this, all manner of evils will befall you" type texts from a bank that I pay a direct debit in to. It pisses me off because a) it loooks like a phishing txt and b) it's usually after the agreed payment date, when my records always show that payment has gone through.

  31. mal7921

    Good old BT...

    In my days as a consultant in Managed Services, we used to use BT leased lines and had a dedicated account manager to getthse put through. We went through 6 account managers in 4 months as they could not cope with our orders. It wasn't an issue with the orders, but the problems they had with the BT internal processes that made their own account managers quit.

    In my previous job to my current role, we used to get Blackberry's through BT and while ordering new handsets was pretty simple, the hoops we had to jump through regarding faulty handsets was just plain stupid.

    However... In my current role, BT supply the lines and the telephone system in our office, it has taken 2 years of my life that I will never get back to get the system replaced due to a persistent fault. In the meantime we started looking at new systems and aked BT to quote on a system among other vendors supplying similar products. Well BT's prices were stupidly high, one line of the quote was £750 for racking the system... 4 cage nuts and 4 screws, a bit of cable routing equates to £750??? I'm in the wrong bloody job!

    Needless to say, they are not getting the contract, or the line renewal.

    Shame as the support guys I talk to are great people, just the company they work for is too big and too complacent

    1. mal7921

      Re: Good old BT...

      I should add that in my consultancy days, we went to Colt. Same lines from BT, installed by BT in half the time, 2/3 the cost and none of the hassle.

      They won't change, they are just too big to die.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Good old BT...

      Been there, done that:

      Office move, system in the old office was a Norstar so old that the only entries in the speed dial were God, Noah and Bruce Forsyth.

      So, quote on a nice new IP office system, 2x ISDN and 1x normal phone line. BT very competitive on price and free installation. Docs signed start of July, BT quoting 6-8 week lead times.

      Come the end of July, BT actually give us the install date. 24th and 25th of SEPTEMBER. 12 weeks after ordering. Ask BT for a better date, non available. I find a good local contractor who can supply and fit by the middle of August. BT are then somehow magically able to move the date a whole month closer but they've missed their chance. BT still doing the ISDN install.

      Come the day of the ISDN install, there is a distinct lack of anything Openreach van shaped in the vicinity. Call up BT and finally get told that the job was on the system, but no engineer was assigned to it...

      I then proceed to (in a not personal, but not quiet way) bellow down the line that this needs to be sorted as soon as possible. The first date offered for this missed appointment was 3 weeks away. After a lot of shouting and threats to move our five figure annual telecoms spend from BT we finally got an engineer out the next day.

      Our firm's run out of patience with BT, and I doubt we'll be buying any services from them come renewal time.

      1. Number6

        Re: Good old BT...

        I know someone who had ISDN installed and the compensation he got from BT for them being late paid for the installation cost and the first year's line rental. I bet they aren't that generous now.

  32. vilemeister

    Not just broadband...

    I must have spent a good few days on the phone to BT support only for them to tell me that the reason for my business voicemail not working was because no-one had actually told the exchange we wanted it. We were paying all this time! Useless, but we had signed a contact so we have to stay with them.

    1. Mike Pellatt

      Re: Not just broadband...

      You had signed a contract, but BT breached it, rendering it void.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    14 days to pay?? How lucky!!

    My BT phone bill arrived just as I was leaving the house for a 12 day holiday, "12 days will be fine" I said to myself, the reminder is usually delivered after 14 days.

    So imagine my surprise on returning home to find they had cut off my phone while I was away!!!

    On inspecting the mail I discovered the reminder had arrived the day after I left for the holiday (Friday), and the "Red Letter" on the following Monday, with my line being suspended the day after (day 10 of my holiday).

    I raised a complaint with BT that lasted 6 months and refused point blank to pay the reconnection fee, until finally I paid the "phone bill" part and switched to a mobile phone.

    Strangely, BT failed to disconnect my internet throughout this time, so I had 6 months of free, unlimited internet usage (and VOIP phone calls) out of them.

    I have a phone line again now, but not through BT, and I will continue to NEVER PAY THEM ANOTHER PENNY.

    1. Nick Ryan Silver badge

      Re: 14 days to pay?? How lucky!!

      Don't forget the other lie / trick that many companies use. They put an arbitrary date on their letter, e.g. "6th of the month" to you where they write to inform you that your account is overdue and that you must pay within 10 days of the letter... and you will inevitably receive this letter on the 15th of the month. Letters like this are never postmarked or any other coding so you can see when they were actually dispatched.

  34. jzlondon

    Two words to fix all your woes:

    Andrews & Arnold.

  35. AndrueC Silver badge

    Odd. We have a BT backup line and in the past we've often gone a week or more overdue (we are also a large corporate and as our bills are subsidised by the American division that adds an extra delay). We've only once been cut off and that was after a cock-up that meant the bill was nearly two months overdue.

    Guess it's just BT being inconsistent. Different billing regions perhaps? We're South Midlands.

  36. Peter Galbavy

    They don't care about *you*

    They really don't*. BTs concern is month-on-month numbers and churn. They will only ever change anything if a minor percentage KPI moves the wrong way. Individual customers that aren't FTSE (or equiv) listed? You can ride the train to hell for all they care.

    * Yes, the engineers who do the work on the ground (and under and over it) are usually great. The problem is that they aren't the ones you get to interact with.

  37. tkioz

    Telco behaving stupidly? Say it isn't so!

    Honestly I've seen stuff like this before, and it just ticks me off, they really need to pull their heads in.

  38. NickFitz

    I've seen this screen pop up on my phone when connecting to the free WiFi in a pub. As this was in Cambridge, which isn't exactly short of tech-savvy pubgoers, I would imagine quite a few other punters saw it too. It doesn't exactly give a good impression to the customers.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Isn't what BT did illegal?

    Firstly you are looking at harrasement because BT are taking penalty action before a debt is due.

    Secondly BT are effectively taking your PC's hostage until the payment is made.

    Thirdly it would be theft as you've paid for the service and BT is removing that service.

  40. Velv

    That's what happens when you privatise national infrastructure services.

    Now, where did we put that IPO for Royal Mail ...

    1. Polyphonic

      Noooooo, not the GPO

      For those of us old enough to remember, the last thing you want is an revived nationalised GPO providing telecoms. If the GPO were still in charge you wouldn't have to worry about bills, you'd be unlikely to have a line. The one thing the privatising of the British Telecom did was introduce competition and choice. At least you can leave BT if you don't like them.

      Privatisation opened up the market and while BT have, and will continue to have, the majority of the infrastructure, it is open to other operators.

      It is unlikely that we would have the mobile operators we have today if the BT had remained a government company.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why not ask the good people of Kingston-upon-Hull....

      ...How they enjoy their monopoly telecoms experience

  41. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not all big companies are bad...

    ... We have a couple of big multi-nationals as customers who pay within 1-4 days of receiving an invoice provided the correct PO number is attached - and the terms allow them 60 days to pay. So they aren't all bad.

  42. Jim 59


    This popup and its deployment on the due date seems like a thuggish tactic calculated to cause distress and embarrassment to the recipients. Normal practice is to send a letter some time after payment has become overdue. This is what BT should do. They should not be sending peremptory broadcast threats to individuals who have nothing to do with it.

    there appeared to be a will to do the ‘right thing'

    Please write again if they change anything.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I used to work for a CRM that handled quite a lot of BT's customer service lines for them. Firstly, they make it unnecessarily difficult for outsourced customer service staff to do their jobs. We had well trained staff who were good at their jobs and took pride in helping customers, and BT insisted on putting systems and procedures in place that made it impossible for the staff to do that properly.

    Secondly, they didn't pay. They would scour through every detail of our invoices and reports -- and this is a call centre, so you're looking at detailed reports showing every single second of every bloody call -- looking for any tiny detail they could query and use as an excuse not to pay. They didn't pay their bills for at least two years.

  44. Squander Two


    I am frankly shocked that The Register would use BT. I think you should add this as a disclaimer to all your tech reviews: "We recommend this gadget -- but remember, we also buy broadband from BT."

  45. no_RS

    BT = Bully Tactics

    I am not impressed with them either, I used to get bill payment reminders when picking up the phone but what annoys me the most is geting clobbered with a £4.50 charge for not paying by direct debit.

    I choose to pay online but at a time of my choosing not theirs as they cannot be trusted not to empty your bank acocunt, so how does 3 transactions when convenient to them a quarter cost more than 1 transaction convenient to me. I think I am being punished for not bending over and taking it!!!

    1. Squander Two

      Re: BT = Bully Tactics

      Actually, no, that's just because direct debit is unbelievably cheap. When I worked with DD systems, 12 monthly direct debits were cheaper to process than one annual cheque.

      Incidentally, if you don't trust direct debit, you should read the direct debit guarantee. It's somewhat undermined by bank staff not understanding it or even believing it when it's explained to them, but it is actually quite brilliant. If you have any query at all about a direct debit leaving your account, you can tell your bank to refund the money and they have to do so instantly. Every time some eejit at your bank tells you you need to contact the payees, ask to talk to a manager. The reality is that your bank are supposed to put the money straight back into your account and then it's up to them to chase the refund from the payee. It is, after all, your money. It states this clearly on every direct debit form, but no-one ever reads them so it's still pretty esoteric knowledge. Banks don't like the hassle, but that's the price they're supposed to pay for being allowed to run such an incredibly convenient and cheap operation in the first place.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: BT = Bully Tactics

        Can't believe some fool downvoted you for explaining the DD guarantee. Keep banging those rocks together guys!

        1. Squander Two

          Re: BT = Bully Tactics

          Oh, I'm pretty sure someone round here knows me from elsewhere and just downvotes everything I say on principle.

          1. Squander Two

            Re: BT = Bully Tactics


  46. Martin Chandler

    I can't believe...

    you kowtowed to this poor excuse for a Service Provider!!

    "During my discussions with BT, I agreed not to publish any of the specific responses that were provided to me"

    Perhaps you thought you were doing a broader service to the public by working with these people to address these issues and thought sacrificing your journalistic freedom was a worthy price to pay ...But it is this journalistic freedom that (usually) works best at holding companies like these to account. If BT had any common decency, they would correct these issues regardless of what you do or do not print, therefore you should have honoured your 'customers', the reading public and published what is clearly in their interest.

  47. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "During my discussions with BT, I agreed not to publish any of the specific responses that were provided to me." But I tried to make an article out of it anyway. Some reporting here "stop the presses, an important article with inbuilt nda coming in pronto, contains absolutely no useful information"

    First mistake using BT broadband, second mistake using the provided router, third mistake thinking BT would care about _your_ business (phorm, net neutrality, site blocking, spyware), fourth mistake not realising it made a crap news/tech article.

    1. Bernard M. Orwell

      Yeah, you're right, but this....

      "In the meantime, given that BT is in a unique position to use this kind of alerting mechanism, I would be interested in the views of Reg readers on things the BT customer experience team should think about as it further considers what’s appropriate in this area. "

      ....surely amounts to "Unleash the Hounds!"

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Verizon did the same thing

    A few months ago I canceled the phone portion of my Verizon FIOS Triple Play package (phone, TV, internet) because I switched over to Google Voice. About a week after the phone portion was canceled out automatically due to porting the phone number out, my wife tried to pull up a web page one night and received a similar warning page from Verizon stating that I needed to set up some sort of automatic payment on my account to reactivate it. Needless to say, I was highly skeptical that Verizon would actually block internet access and request account information for payment arrangements (there wasn't even a bill due). They literally were overriding all web requests and redirecting them to their servers. I can't remember whether it was a DNS override or just a port 80 redirect, but it was suspicious at best.

    Luckily since I work in IT, I had the understanding to run some basic checks and confirm that it really was legit and went ahead and set things up, although I still don't see the reason behind them *requiring* that I set up automatic payments just because I didn't have phone service through them anymore.

  49. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    1 day, 14 days, 60 days, whatever. Did you order it? Did you receive it? Is the bill correct? F*cking pay it already.

    (is owned ££££ in unpaid wages and will soon be suing the bastards, not that it's likely to do any good)

    1. Squander Two

      You clearly didn't read the article. The number of days you're looking for is zero.

  50. Snar

    Bastard Telecom

    I hate BT with a pure passion. Rolling out xDSL and PLT - utter, utter, utter bastards.

  51. bag o' spanners

    BT may well treat its customers like shit, but they treat competitors' customers with complete contempt. Especially when noob engineers are allowed near the switching kit at the exchange without a responsible adult in attendance.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Had Openreach outside my house fixing my neighbours phone. Thank goodness I check our line before they left the site as in the process of fixing my neighbours line they'd taken down ours. Doh!

      1. Z Ippy

        Same here

        >>>Had Openreach outside my house fixing my neighbours phone. Thank goodness I check our line before they left the site as in the process of fixing my neighbours line they'd taken down ours. Doh!

        Was working at home on a dedicated broadband connection. The connection went down so I walked to the phone to call the office and saw the BT man in their man hole. I asked him if he had cut my connection, which he denied!

        1 week later a different engineer turns up and I happen to catch him, says my line was cut!

        Was it malicious?

      2. chrishansenhome

        The same thing happened to me. One of their engineers was "fixing" a neighbour's line in our block of flats. My line went dead while he was there. I went out to the utility room and asked him to fix mine. Of course, he said he couldn't and that I should call BT. I had to shout. He fixed it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          The Openreach Merry-Go-Round

          These stories remind me of the GPO/BT/Openreach merry-go-round, a fun game that Openreach like to play, especially in rural areas.

          Say you have 8 houses in a row. These are fed from a pole/poles with a 10-pair cable running to them, leaving 2 spare.

          Now, one pair on this cable goes faulty, subscriber reports it, gets put on one of the spares. Few years later, someone else reports a fault, and gets put on the other spare. So you now have 8 houses and 8 working lines.

          The next faulty line means your out of spare pairs. No bother, simply move the 3rd fault on to one of the remaining good pairs, giving another subscriber the dodgy one.

          When they complain, do the same again.

          Well, it saves buying a new length of cable...

  52. Avatar of They

    BT generally are very poor.

    Over a three year period I contacted them 4 times.

    Tried to transfer paying the account from elderly father in law to me. 3 x 1 hour conversations to an Indian call centre to explain I wanted my email addresses to be moved across as well. They didn't understand it.

    They have 3 call centres cold calling to sell BT infinity. I wasn't interested at the time, asked them to stop it. They said they would but the toher 2 call centres would carry on.

    I gave in as I wanted faster broadband, I asked them If I could port forward, they put me onto an English speaking Sales Dept, who couldn't answer me, They put me onto there Tech centre and helpdesk, (Now an Indian call centre) they didn't understand what port forwarding was, or if it could do and put me back to Sales.

    When I got BT infinity (I checked a relatives router and found out what you can actually do, so I now know more than their IT technical team) It died after a day. Another lengthy phone call with threats about the problem being at my house and I would be charged for the call out. Engineer came out and said I had the dodgy cable modem they ship out to new customers and he was surprised it had worked this long, it broke as expected and I needed a new one. That new one didn't work so he went to the junction box and voila, the cables were dud. 2 hours to fix that and I was back upto speed.

    I considered BT for my new house. 40 Minutes waiting to a scottish call centre and they said I had an appointment with an Engineer. Heard nothing else. Few days before I asked their website contact email because I had heard nothing. I got an email reply to my query saying "BT Sport was on it's way, but they were too busy to reply to my email query". (Which was nice)

    I waited 5 hours for the engineer anyway on the off chance it was booked. He never arrived. I contacted them again and was told they had created an account for me, and hadn't assigned any products to that account. Needless to say I am not with BT now, the only issue is why it too me so long to get out.

    1. Rasczak

      Re: BT generally are very poor.


      Another lengthy phone call with threats about the problem being at my house and I would be charged for the call out.


      What threats are these ? There are no threats, you are being helped to avoid any charges by making sure the parts you don't pay maintenance for have been ruled out. Would you rather they said nothing at all, and then charged you a call out fee that you had no warning about ?

  53. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My step-son had something like this on a BT residential service, except they had left it so long that the only internet they could get was a similar message, except it gave a link to pay on line, which he (somewhat foolishly) did. Sure enough, the internet sprung back alive.

    Great attack vector: persuade someone to hit a web page that installs a virus that changes your proxy settings... viola.

  54. Spogfrawn

    mmm BT customer service

    I had voice and BB from BT. I lost the BB connection when it rained heavily, every time, - the street cabinet floods in heavy rain and kills the BB, locals know it, BT engineers know it, everyone except helpdesk in India knows it. After a week of callbacks from helpdesk telling me to try various things while ignoring my explanation of exactly what was wrong they finally managed to call when I was out. SWMBO answered so they took advantage. It turned out their equipment wasn't at fault at all, oh no, nothing was wrong with the connection, the street cabinet wasn't flooded, the router was faultless - according to the technical support geniuses at BT my broadband was failing because the BIOS battery on my motherboard was flat! (it wasn't).

    I rang them back explained one more time what was wrong and cancelled my service, went to Virgin cable. Goodbye BT. That felt so good

    I would never go back voluntarily

  55. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Paying your bill by cheque?

    Didn't even know they still let you pay by cheque. I use Zen for my internet and they simply Direct Debit me quarterly and then send me the invoice marked as paid. No fuss, no bother and far better than messing around with relics from the last century (both BT and cheques!).

  56. We're all in it together

    Some useful tips when dealing with BT.

    Where I live and work we have no choice other than BT. So here's what I've learnt....

    1. Adopt a zen like state. Nothing will bother you then when they get it wrong.

    2. When ordering any product give them minimum instruction. Less for them to get wrong.

    3. Never attempt an urgent install. They'll treble the lead time and fail to turn up.

    4. Always plan for the worst. Any improvement is a bonus.

    5. Item 2. Never tell them the day you're closed as they'll turn up then.

    6. When dealing with Mumbai or the Phillipines say you can't hear them - they'll transfer you back to the UK.

    7. Email them jobs CC your managers in. That way you won't be sacked when nothing gets done.

    8. The person that designed their back office has a tiny todger. It's his way of letting you feel his pain.

    1. hairydog

      Re: Some useful tips when dealing with BT.

      I don't think there is anywhere in the UK where you can't avoid dealing with BT.

      At the very least you could go to a BT reseller such as ICUK.

  57. Rasczak

    Unique Position


    In the meantime, given that BT is in a unique position to use this kind of alerting mechanism,


    What makes the article author think that only BT can put in an interstitial page when there is an issue with an account ? Given the lack of knowledge on this simple point, why should we believe any other part of the article ?

  58. h3

    Can I get native ipv6 / static ip / the fastest FTTC from BT yet ?

    (I want something that they can never use carrier grade NAT on).

    Presume I need business but I dunno the other details.

    (As long as it is less than the about £120 total I pay Virgin then it will be fine. BT Sport has the only thing I want to watch live on it).

  59. Matthew 3

    Another tale of woe - that's in the customer's favour

    My parents recently moved house and had BT transfer phone and broadband to the new address.

    Then a 'sorry to hear you're leaving us' letter arrived. They weren't changing providers.

    BT investigated. Apparently. The conclusion was that they'd been 'slammed'. But, after weeks, it turns out they hadn't. They're still with BT and always were. But all this cocking around means that nobody has asked for any money. So my parents have the wonderful situation of free telephony and broadband until BT realise that they're the ones providing the service.

    A letter to the chairman's office saying 'I'd like to pay for my services' finally elicited a response but still -four months on - they won't take any money...

  60. king_tut

    RIPA and/or CMA?

    Have they not just broken the law, under either RIPA or the Computer Misuse Act? IANAL but I've recently scanned through the legislation and they may have done so unless you gave them permission.

    They appear to have intercepted your communications. Under RIPA ( ), section 2,

    "(2)For the purposes of this Act, but subject to the following provisions of this section, a person intercepts a communication in the course of its transmission by means of a telecommunication system if, and only if, he—

    (a)so modifies or interferes with the system, or its operation,"

    From section 1(5), a user has lawful authority: "...if, and only if—

    (a)it is authorised by or under section 3 or 4;

    (b)it takes place in accordance with a warrant under section 5 (“an interception warrant”); or

    (c)it is in exercise, in relation to any stored communication, of any statutory power that is exercised (apart from this section) for the purpose of obtaining information or of taking possession of any document or other property;and conduct (whether or not prohibited by this section) which has lawful authority for the purposes of this section by virtue of paragraph (a) or (b) shall also be taken to be lawful for all other purposes."

    So unless you've given permission for them to do this (the reference to section 3), then that's a no/no.

    Under the Computer Misuse Act, there's a specific offence to do with "acts with intent to impair" - see This also seems to apply. Section (1) may also apply - while the language talks about "caus[ing] a computer to perform any action with intent to secure access to any program with intent to secure access.." which doesn't seem applicable until you look at section 17 (2), which defines "secures access" as "uses it" and this is further defined in 17 (3). Arguably they caused your browser to perform a function (show the popup) which you did not give consent to.

    Of course, there's no chance of the police actually doing anything. And all the language in RIPA and CMA talk about "a person" so I'm not sure how that applies to a corporation in the UK.

  61. Andrew Jones 2

    My Aunty has had a telephone line for a good 25 years in my hometown, she pays for the phone bill by getting stamps at the post office. There has never been a problem with payment in the 25 years she has been with them. Recently she experienced a problem with the phone line and BT agreed to come out and have a look at what was going on - and gave the usual speech about "if the problem is found to be your fault you need to pay us" - so they come out and determine the issue to be with the Master Socket - which apparently has been getting damp because it is screwed to the window frame, so they fix the issue by relocating and replacing the master socket, about a week later she gets a bill for £92 because according to BT the problem was her fault. She still paid the phone bill but refused to pay the charge for the engineer and wanted to speak to someone about it, apparently this prompted a payment query to be raised with the advice that someone would get back to her. After another few weeks BT informed my 76 year old Aunty that she had been cut off for non-payment. So there you have it - 25 years of being a loyal customer and paying promptly means diddly squat. A family member eventually paid the engineer charge and her service has been reconnected - but she is still trying to fight the charge. As far as I know - the Master Socket is deemed as BT property and therefore if something goes wrong with it - it is not a customer problem, if the problem with the socket was due to it's position - then they should never have mounted the socket in that location 25 years ago :/ In short - the problem was on BT's side of the system.

  62. Jamie Jones Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    A potentially serious consequence I haven't seen mentioned yet...

    ... is the fact that they are rerouting comms, seemingly based on the assumption that all internet use is web traffic.

    Of course, they could just be intercepting port 80, but that is still an assumption they have no right to make.

    And if this is done by a wildcard DNS record override, the potential consequences could be much worse

  63. Dr Gerard Bulger

    Try Telstra

    You think BT is bad.

    You dunno noffink

    Come to OZ and enjoy the pleasures of Telstra service calls

    They have not stooped to malware messages yet but things UK have a habit of blowing over here eventually.

  64. david willis

    Bad payers

    Many years ago I was visited by an agent offering the servioes of factoring. This is where a company collects all your invoices for you, but you only receive a percentage of the invoice (a high percentage). As part of her sales speil she gave us an idea of teh worst payers in britain. From her list (going by turnover) - BT with a multi billion pound turnover had literally thousands of outstanding CCJs, through non payment of bills.

  65. VulcanV5

    What the BT Customer Experience Team should do . . .

    "In the meantime, given that BT is in a unique position to use this kind of alerting mechanism, I would be interested in the views of Reg readers on things the BT customer experience team should think about as it further considers what’s appropriate in this area. . ."

    The main thing for these people to focus upon is that without customers, they'll have no Employee Experience. Anyone believing it is in any way acceptable to behave towards a customer in the way chronicled in the article is an arrogant moron. Or from BT.

  66. Abot13

    telling an untruth to third parties is defamation isnt it? since the payment is not due on the day they use the pop up to disturb the services, And the pop up is used on anyone using your side of the services a third party reading it constitutes BT breaking defaation law. Just file a criminal complaint and sue for extra costs

  67. Marco van Beek

    Bastard Tossers

    I have a couple of clients who have had their http access cut off for non payment when they didn't actually owe any money. Email, ssh, etc was fine. Problem was that if you do not use BT's DNS (or maybe their router, not sure) you don't get the notice so it just seems to be a very weird broadband problem. Wasted hours on that one the first time it happened.

    And yes, Openreach will always bill, and the ISP will always make you go through hoops to avoid sending an engineer out, even when you are happy to pay because some arse in the workshop has cut a cable somewhere...

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If you think BT broadband is bad, try dealing with their number porting operations.

    Recently we've had two ranges of numbers re-claimed by BT from active customers, with no notice, and allocated to other businesses.

    They refused to even talk to us on the phone about the issue, and every time the issue was "escalated" in an e-mail the SLA was reset (which is bonkers).

    Additionally we were told 6 months for an RFO. Absolute nightmare.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      BT number porting

      OMFG. That's horrendous. Surely even the toothless wonder known as OFCOM should have something to say about that ??

      I had fun trying to get a number ported once. Well, many times, but this was the best. Port rejected for incorrect postcode. After some blagging, I finally got a friendly person in OpenRetch to tell me what the postcode they had on their database was.

      It was totally wrong. In a location that could not possibly be served from the exchange that the line was on (even though the code was the same). Apparently there is absolutely no process available to correct the postcode on the line location database.

      So you damn well better keep a record of any postcode changes that Royal Mail have made to your address, as the line may well be listed under an obsolete postcode. I guessed this at another location where I had a port request rejected. Resubmitted with the superseded postcode, and through it went.

      This whole number porting mess so needs fixing, but since Voda took Ofcom to court over their mobile number portability proposal, I think OFCOM have decided they just ain't interested.

      I'm just waiting for the next Ionica event to shaft the consumers. Royally.

  69. Pugwash69

    I have to contact BT so often. I don't even get the browser warning, I usually find no web pages will open like the DNS server has failed. It's only when I try the BT web site I realise what's up. I try to pay it online straight away, but of course I can't use my card because the "verified by visa" site is also blocked.

    If I phone them up it's usually a circus of passing-the-buck whilst they decide who will take the block off my account.

  70. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Still no response from BT, why am I not surprised.

    Anonymous for a reasonable reason...

  71. WargRider

    Large Company Fun

    Pay your bill on time but with 50 pence extra, if enough do this it takes ages to work out what is happening.

    Creative Anarchy for Fun and Profit

  72. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    Adding my two penn'orth

    One of my clients rang me one day with a problem - they could access their home page, but very little else on the web. Talked them through a few things and went down to see them as this sounded strange.

    On-site I established there was nothing wrong with their broadband: Their emails were working fine, Google was working fine, click into a link: "This page could not be displayed". Spoke to BT who said there was nothing wrong at their end - spoke to a knowledgeable techy who agreed with me that the behaviour was strange. After a lot of discussion, he said he would put me on hold to check something. Came back to me and said that it was an administrative issue rather than technical.

    It turned out that the telephone bill was due in 3 days time (no less than that), certainly, and that BT had pulled the plug on web access to remind the account-holder!! He gave them a good blasting and normal service was resumed.

    Lots of wrongs in here:-

    (1) The bill was not even due, let alone overdue.

    (2) The technical department do not have any warning flag on their screen to indicate an administrative problem.

    (3) The technical department are not even trained up to recognize this as a potential problem. Just in case Data Protection legislation is a sticking point -can't have BT's helpdesk knowing that the customer hasn't yet paid.

    (4) The selective nature of the restriction means that a lot of time can be wasted at both ends (plus third-party costs if someone like me is called in).

    (5) At no time did we get the Landing Page mentioned in the article.

  73. MadMichaelJohn

    I'm in the US, and when I see BT, it is free = Bit Torrent, them I remember this is The Reg and you guys are Brit's so I think a bit and come up with British Telecom. I did make the right association?

    Thanks MadMichaelJohn

  74. TheOldFellow

    You use Bombay Terrorcom?

    I can never understand people, and businesses, who think that, just because the GPO used to be a nice quiet friendly reliable technically competent organisation, it's successors must be too.

  75. Fihart

    BT increasingly aggressive

    I normally pay my BT bill within a month of receipt so I was annoyed when after 14 days I got a robot phone call telling me to pay the bill or face (unspecified) consequences. Presumably this is cheaper than sending out a second printed bill but it is the opposite of good customer relations.

    In fact the last time they called like this my phone line malfunctioned the next day and, when restored, my first call was to BT for an assurance that this was nothing to do with the threatening phone call.

    I explained that my landline was of marginal use these days -- with public internet access and smartphones -- and had they cut off my service deliberately, I would be terminating the account unpaid on grounds of breach of contract. They assured me the disconnection was a coincidence, but as far as I am concerned, BT are on notice that their days of charging royally and adding a premium for not using direct debit are numbered in our household.

  76. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Can only access Google

    We had a call from a client the other day, and they said they could only access Google and Youtube. Nothing.

    We checked EVERYTHING - DNS was fine, names were being resolved, but you just couldn't access any websites except Google. w....t.....f.......

    Anyway, at the end of the day, we thought, could it be BT!? No, surely, because we can access Google?

    WELLLLL, as it turns out, it WAS BT - they hadn't paid their bill so they "limited" access to the internet. The limit was you can access Google and any of the Google services, but nothing else.


  77. Robinson


    I've had BT broadband (ASDL, now BT Infinity) for seven years and the only problems I've ever had related to either the rooter needing a reboot, or the router dying. Both easily fixed and dealt with by BT Customer Services. I've NEVER had a problem with them or their customer services, or billing or anything at all.

    In this particular case however, they're definitely over-stepped the mark. In fact this BT pop-up is idiotic and I can't believe someone actually signed off on it. If they don't remove it, I would just change provider.

  78. Parax

    Because you can... usually the strongest reason that you really shouldn't.

    To many companies(and people) do too much 'because they can' without thinking through the consequences.

  79. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wot no BT?

    I was interested to read in the article that BT had asked for (and been given) the URL of the piece in order to contribute! As a result I just trawled through all four pages of commentardery (some of it rather interesting/intreguing but most just depressing) in the hope of having a good laugh at, and joining the group mockery of, some condescending, squirming, disingenuous PR splaff from some "deputy director of terribly important interpersonal relations" or somesuch... but alas... not a whiff. :(

    The bully has recoiled into its shell rather than attempt to defend the indefensible? Suppose the old wisdom is probably true: They're all just cowards inside - even the biggest (£multi-beeeeeeeeelion corporations) of them.

  80. rds

    Had some local hoodlums slice through two bundles of phone cables. OK not really BT's fault but trying to find out from their customer "service" people what the issue was... I raised a fault call online (yay for mobile broadband) and all I got back was an text with a resolution time and then a revised (later) resolution time. So I phoned customer service to find out what the issue was and how long it was going to be. Bearing in mind that this affected about two hundred lines on this exchange, you would think that they would say "Oh there is an issue with that exchange we are working on it". But no, they hadn't got a clue (this is about five days into the fault). Promised to call me back and never did. Called again, still no idea, promised to have a manager call me back, Nada. I only found out what the issue was by reading the weekly free paper.

  81. Alex Bailey

    Seriously... this is the same company that charges domestic customers an extra 50p per month on their phone bill if they refuse to pay by Direct Debit but also do not send out bills in good time so that those same customers can query a bill BEFORE the bank hands over their money.

    BT may not be the monopoly telecoms provider they once were but they still behave as though purely because a large part of it's customer base won't switch from something they've always known, especially given the reputation of some other company's customer service departments... and the fact that they still manage the network of cables that run into most people's homes.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You haven't looked at your bill lately have you? Actually it's £1.50 a month (six pounds a time) for having the effrontery not to give them your bank details. Given the technical incompetence and their dubious attitude to privacy, that's the last thing I want to do.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      If they send out the bills too late for it to be queried before the money is debited, then BT are violating the terms of the DD agreement. So immediately claim back the money from your bank under the terms of the DD guarantee. Take no shit from the bank's call centre and insist they do it.

      If everyone who had money debited from their accounts in violation of BT's agreement with the banks did this, they'd soon change their ways.

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It is not appropriate

    It is not appropriate dunning procedure in any case, ever. Billing notices should be sent to Accounts Payable, via whatever channels have been established. The service should not be tampered with until it is time to disconnect for non-payment. Period.

    A service provider with any sense of class will vigorously attempt to contact the customer confidentially, particularly if it is a customer with a long-standing relationship and good payment history.

    1. Vic

      Re: It is not appropriate

      > A service provider with any sense of class

      I fail to see the relevance of that to an article about BT...


  83. Moktu


    Today I'm taking great delight in telling BT that they're not getting our 55 mobile contract.

    They're at the current whiny "I must admit I'm surprised" stage.. However the boss won't let me reply with "yes but you're shit, and you insist I use BT Local business, and they're the only organisation that are shitter than you."

    Wait till i tell them they've lost the ISDN and landlines too.

    Happy days.

  84. planetzog

    BT guilty of harassment and intimidation

    Some contributors here seem to have missed the point. Mentioning their good experience with BT doesn't help The Register or those suffering from poor service. There's no balancing force in the universe, and those who experienced poor service are in no way heartened to hear about good experiences.

    This is harassment and intimidation, and BT have broken a number of express or implicit terms of their contract. First of all, if not expressly stated in the contract, any court would support the rules of engagement between two entities (rather than an individual) where each party should address a specific department for billing enquiries, and not send a broadcast message to all users.

    Next, by sending this message before monies are overdue, BT are not providing an unfetterd and uninterrupted service (that's within within their control).

    If my power or water company provided an interrupted service when a bill was due, the regulator would take a dim view. If my landlord shouted a reminder about my bill through my letterbox for all tenants, visitors and neighbours to hear, I could take him to court for harassment.

    In BT's favour, I cannot believe that this is corporate policy. There's a nerd somewhere in the basement who thought this would be a good idea because he could do it. However, because of the difficulties in engaging BT and finding the right (or any) warm bodies to deal with this, I'd go straight to Ofcom They'll descend on BT like a ton of bricks.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: BT guilty of harassment and intimidation

      Downvoted because you were doing so very well until the last sentence.

      Sorry, and all that.

  85. myhandlethat commentsareattributedto

    I know this isn't about hosting but dealing with BT hosting department and their mutlple websites for consumer/business/whatever is a nightmare.

    The webpages are a circle of 'click here to do this' and 5 clicks later you are back where you started.

    If you need anything slightly odd like webhost with someone else, while keeping email with BT, you have to send them account number, billing number, billing date, secret password, mother's maiden name - that is not an exaggeration.

    Once you get through to someone on the phone, after the 30 minute wait, they are helpful but not very technical - so you then have to write it all down on a special web page that they give you the secret address for...

    At least tech support is in Scotland not in India

  86. PeterM42

    Surely you know?

    That BT stands for "Bunch of Tossers".

  87. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Money with menaces

    Nice little business you've got 'ere... be a shame if something nasty was to happen to it... like some toe-rag cutting off yer communications... or humiliating you in front of your clients... we can stop that happening...

  88. Bigbird3141

    Clueless engineers

    BT are hopeless - I've found I get a better response if I tweet them.

    I had a good experience when I reported a cable drooping low over the road - fixed in under 3 hours - 3 vehicles and 4 men.

    On the other hand when I was getting dozens of disconnections a day and only 400kbps it took them 2 visits a week apart; a dug up road; 2 rewired telegraph poles and 2 new routers - before they decided to check _their_ wiring in _my_ house (all 3 feet of it). When they unscrewed the socket from the wall it just fell to the ground - the wires weren't fixed in the terminals, just brushing them. Since they attached the wires to the terminals and refixed the socket I haven't had a problem with broadband.

    1. Harman Mogul

      Re: Clueless engineers

      Wish I could agree with the several posters here who give a thumbs-up to BT's working engineers.

      This was my experience with Openreach working for BT.

      Decide, with heavy heart, to sack Virgin (had been with Cable London since 1996) on grounds of absurd congestion in street, and lamentable response time to US-based servers.

      Engage Zen, who arrange for BT to install (re-install) copper. Engineer lets me know he's dong me a favour by putting master socket 4 m from point of entry into building (3 m I think is the usual limit). All works, and website edits now possible without a 2-min delay.

      Months later, it is spring and the sun comes out. Time to open the windows! Oh dear, engineer has sent signal cable through window sash! Call tech support, get the usual Bangalore runaround. Eventually rep calls me back: "Good news sir, I can take ownership of your problem!" Goes on to explain, however, that the engineer call by Openreach will be chargeable, 120-something plus VAT. No, I don't think so, say I.

      So I explain my predicament to the nice people at Zen, who suggest that perhaps if I made it known to the chief executive's office, it might result in a speedy and satisfactory outcome. And so it proved. Within the hour of emailing that office, an executive complaints officer phoned and arranged all.

      And guess what? The Openreach engineer who came round to put it right was the same diamond geezer as made the original balls-up. It took him about 5 minutes, chuckling the while, to re-route the cable through the window sill, where of course it should have been in the first place.

      Let the sun shine in!

  89. hairydog

    This missed out the final irony

    BT *never* pay suppliers until at least 90 days after the invoice. BT Staff are not permitted to change that term in their T&Cs

    Quite why anyone would choose to do business with them baffles me..

  90. Ace Rimmer


    We had a BT sales call one Sunday afternoon (my gf was with Orange at the time). I had explained to my gf that Orange were a BT reseller in our area and therefore couldn't offer her the same deals BT could so we were in the market for a new ISP. When BT rang they offered my gf a great deal - switch to us today and you'll get unlimited broadband for an introductory price of £7.99 a mont, rising to I think £15 a month after 3 months. She passed the phone to me so I could confirm that it was unlimited, what likely speeds would be etc and once confirmed she signed up.

    Cut to 10 months later and I'm at home and there's a call from BT. Now, I have to say my gf is one of those people who hates looking at her bank statements. If the debit card still works then there can't be a problem. Except that she noticed she seemed to be running out of money near the end of the month, but assumed that as we'd recently started living together she was just spending more. Then the phone call comes and it's BT asking if I can speak on behalf of the account holder. I said I could (which really shouldn't have been enough to start giving me details of the account over the phone but that's another complaint) and asked if we were aware that we'd been paying £150+ per MONTH for the broadband connection.I assured her we had no sodding idea! It turns out that they had signed us up to a 10Gb per month limit and had charged her per fekking megabyte over that. I can do 10 gigs in a day on a good day! It took 2 months to get it resolved and BT flatly refused to refund any of the money. That's areswipe issue number 1.

    Issue number 2 was the broadband kept dropping out. I did some testing on the router, and also hooked up my own, nice and expensive router to the broadband and it didn't drop out once. I phoned customer support and got put through to an Indian fellow (could have just been an Indian guy in a British call center I guess). I explained that the router was faulty and we needed a replacement. He insisted there was nothing wrong with the router and it must be a fault on the line so I agreed to allow BT to do 3 days of extended tests on the line (I got assurances this cost would NOT be passed onto us before I agreed!), and thus 3 days of meaningless tests took place. After 3 days he rang back, told me they had finished their tests and found a fault and everything was now fixed. I told him that there was never a fault on the line as I could connect with my own router quite happily without losing connection even once, and anyway, how did a fault on the line cause the wireless signal to drop out every 10 mins or so. He then asked me to log into the router so he could "fix" the wireless. I did so, and then he asked me to "switch the channel from automatic to a selected channel because this would boost the power". I told him that the router was NEXT to the laptop and any increase in power would make no appreciable difference, that it was symptomatic of the router failing, as was the repeated dropouts on the line itself which I couldn't replicate when using a good and tested router, and that I was a network engineer who could tell he was just reading from a script and didn't have the first CLUE as to what might be wrong, as was evidenced by his insistence on doing 3 days of tests and then trying to claim the broadband dropping out was causing the wireless signal to drop off. He hung up and I couldn't get a conversation started with them again (and no, I didn't swear once in the whole conversation before you ask).

    My colleague at work is STILL waiting for his broadband to be connected after weeks of excuses and outright lies. We have now been with Sky for 2 years and not had a single issue. I'm pretty sure their customer services won't be much better (from listening to some horror stories some of my friends have related to me), but I will NEVER use BT again. They don't just try and shuffle out of things, they blatently lie, they try to treat you like a complete moron, and the moment it finally dawns on them that you actually DO know what the hell you're talking about and they have to admit it they hang up and you can't get another engineer to talk to you again. BT are truly the spawn of satan and regardless of how bad the others are, you need to have your head tested if you sign up with them.

  91. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    good experience?

    BT tends to leave me with a bad experience as a business customer. I know others echo the same.

    They may be ok at providing infrastructure for others to sell to ISPs - but there is a serious lack of competition - Virgin pls start a reseller programme for your fibre!

  92. MachDiamond Silver badge

    Use your position as a new provider

    Most large corporations are poorly run and this sort of thing is likely to continue. All of us that are technically adept can only persevere in our attempts to correct their deficiencies.

    I have and still do receive bank notices asking me to log in to my account and update some bit of information or read the new "privacy" policy that explains all of the ways they have thought up of selling my personal data since the last update a couple of months ago. The problem is that the notices, while being legitimate, are as poorly formatted, loaded with typesetting errors and with as horrible spelling as the phishing letters. Both versions tell me that I can visit my account by clicking the following link. I have tried to explain to bank VP's and IT departments that they appear to be sending out near carbon copies of the phishing attempts in a way that contradicts their tutorials listed on their web site about how to spot and avoid the bad guys. My usual advice to them is not to include a link in their email and that customers should log in to their accounts in the usual way or visit the bank's home page or a branch office to register for online access, again without providing a link. PayPal used to be the worst offender and I spent countless hours tracking down names and email addresses of management to forward a letter I wrote up. My biggest worry is that I click one of these links some early morning before I have fully engaged my brains and type in a password.

    My other advice for financial institutions is to maintain the same look on their home page and not to keep changing it around. If you get used to your bank changing its "look" every two weeks, you may not notice a rouge page that may otherwise give itself away with gross spelling, grammar and typesetting errors. Some companies also change the layout of their sign-in box frequently. I ask that if they must change their home page to send a picture of it in an email a week before to give customers a heads-up. It's strange that banks want to change their appearance so often as customers want stability in their financial institutions.

    If BT has a competent IT staff, they should consult them and pay attention to their comments. The popup notice they inflicted did indeed look like malware and there is nothing that they could put on it that could possibly confirm it as a real notice. If the Reg staff did not click on any button or link, they did the exactly correct thing. I might have gone as far as pulling the power on my computer if something like that popped up. The only people that could have correlated the account number on the notice would have had to fetch it from a file in accounting. There is no way that anybody else would have that information at their finger tips, so it fails as a check. I have no idea who the ISP was for my last employer. I was provisioned and if anything went wrong, the CTO got it fixed. I like to question anyone who gives me a reason for doing something as "it's always been done that way", but I am happy to go with the old way if the reason supplied is that "it works and nobody has come up with anything better". Sending a reminder to the person in charge of accounts payable is the old way of doing it that is perfectly acceptable. Not just acceptable but preferred as it is their job to handle payments. An outside vendor communicating company business to every employee might be an actionable offense. YLMV (Your laws may vary).

    As a purveyor of IT and technical news, it's in BT's best interest to be good to you for their own public image. It won't hurt to remind them of that in a tactful way and help them not screw up this bad again in future.

  93. Ben Benson 1

    BT hosts most of its competitors in its buildings (don't start about selling sweets in a competitors shop) The connections are made by BT. Talk Talk customer service is worse than BT which is abysmall, there equipment is also the cheapest quality you can find and poorly installed (i'm not their contractor) but another operators. BT tends to be slow because time is taken to install with quality ( I work faster so earn more) BT's main interest is profit and presentation like all USA driven companies you as a customer are an inconvenience! Without BT subsities the competitors would have have to buy their own infrastructure and the cost would rise. BT treats staff, customers, competitors and contractors (me) with arrogance and disdain so until the attitude of all telcos change don't expect too much.

  94. Bikespace


    Is this news? You got miffed because someone caught you out with a novel reminder when you didn't bother paying. I missed a parking payment last week. The payment was 3.20, the fine was £50. Fair cop?

    Seen too many mates done over by companies not paying their way, and on occasions going in to liquidisation still not having paid. And in Britain they're protected. Get over it, you messed up, you should be a little bit ashamed, but we'll forgive you. You heard of direct debit?

    1. Vic

      Re: Summary

      > on occasions going in to liquidisation still not having paid.

      If someone's truly gone through liquidisation, paying bills is probably the least of their worries...


  95. Sean 12

    BT C**p customer service

    Edited to pass the reg censors!

    I had the misfortune to have to ring BT over the weekend for an potential line fault after ZEN alerted me to a high SNR.

    Contacted Customer Support online, onhold for 45 mins. I explained the situation then was transfered from a "person not indigious or based in the UK" to another "person not indigious or based in the UK". Then to be told I must watch a video on common faults and cut me off.

    Emailed CEO of BT Retail to alert him of really poor service (This bounced which just about sums up how cr*p BT are). On the plus side contacted Zen Internet who looks after my broadband a UK guy helped me over a web session, explained everything. he checked the line remotely. Changed a couple of Secondary boxes at home myself instead of trying to get BT to do anything. Problem I hope is solved.

    How any company who outsources support to lower cost/quality locations, can expect to hang on to their customers is beyond me.

    I'm voting with my feet and extending my voice over to Zen (UK based!)as well. I strongly advise anyone with BT to dump them forthwith and choose a UK operation.

    If I wanted a deal with people based outside the UK for support I'd get a contract from a company based

    else where/overseas and expect the price point to match the cr*p service.

This topic is closed for new posts.