Monday, 1 December 2014

Sneaky change of BT terms that affects BT infinity

BT have terms and conditions which cover the Fibre To The Cabinet (FTTC) services we buy. Until recently there was a very useful term that said that if the install did not reach the forecast speed, then BT would tell us and give us the option to cancel the install (re-instating ADSL if necessary, and refunding costs), or re-appoint to try and get a better speed, or to accept the lower speed.

In practice BT seem to have no means to ask us that question, and so complete the install at the lower speed and we have to complain and dispute the billing if it is cancelled, and so on.

However, it has come to light that a couple of months ago BT changed these terms!

Now, they only have to meet the 10th percentile of the forecast, which is, oddly, below the "Minimum" they state on their forecast, so is some new definition of "Minimum" of which I was previously unaware. They do have a spreadsheet to tell us what the 10th percentile is from that.

They have also changed it so that the only option is to cease the service if we don't accept the lower speed.

This is a nasty change - previously it was clear cut and also very easy to explain to customers. Now we have a much more complex scenario to explain to customers.

What is also annoying is that BT made this change with no specific notice to us that I can find, and I think against their own terms. The terms allow changes if they are to "improve the quality of the Service" or "do not have material adverse effect on performance or provision of the Service". Well, clearly this does not meet those criteria, so I am not sure the change of terms is even valid!

Changes are page 17, over version 9, 10, 11 and 12 of the BTW FTTC handbook. We've written to BT plc to say these changes are contrary of clause 3.8 of our contract.

Update: I have to question the 10th percentile as well, on the basis that it would mean 1 in 10 lines fail to meet this extra low (below minimum) speed, which seems somewhat unlikely.


  1. Bloody Terrible don't even seem to treat Corporate customers with respect....

  2. Failing to meet the 10th percentile clause doesnt mean that 10% of lines will fail to meet this speed.

    This isnt based on falling in the bottom 10% of sync speed across all lines, but based on being within 90% of the estimated speed for a line with your characteristics.

    1. Well, the meaning of a percentile on a forecast is not clear to me, but it is percentile, not percentage, so should be 1 in 10.

    2. I'd guess this is related to the dumb "10% of your lines must be faulty" requirement from the Ofcom ISP code, so that when those 10% are allowed to leave the ISP without penalty, the ISP can pass that problem on to BT?

      Maybe ADSL-from-the-cabinet will make reverting easier, in cases where that applies, as well as giving better performance on long lines?

    3. I didn't know "ADSL from the cabinet" is possible once you have an FTTC cabinet. That would be so much better than my current ADSL over 4 miles of former fenland swamp. My cabinet is 50 yards from my house, so ADSL from there would be so much of an upgrade the FTTC may not be necessary. All I want is half decent speed with reliability, I have neither at present but after 6 engineer visits I have given up on it ever being any better until we get the FTTC cabinets.