Wednesday, 12 August 2015

We fixed your FTTC - that'll be £25,200.00 please

I go on about SFI charges, but the latest scam is BT charging "Time Related Charges" for work (mainly on FTTC line faults).

We had a customer with a fault on an FTTC line, constantly dropping, many times a day. We had, of course, replaced all of the equipment and had it connected to the master socket test port (so no extension wiring), so proving the issue was with BT.

BT's tests said: "Impairment in copper joint detected most likely in local network. Please continue to submit a trouble report" so we reported a fault. BT then asked us to "arrange an appointment" (not, as is more usual, a case of saying there is nothing wrong and "offering" an SFI service).

So, at BT's request, we arranged an appointment, and the engineer went out. The line was off for around an hour while he worked on it. Now it is all working - no more drops. Thank you BT.

To our surprise we now have a bill from BT for "Time Related Charges" for this fault report, as BT had closed it as "Customers Equipment, Error or Misoperation;Fault found on customer sited non BT maintained equipment". Somewhat odd as BT's own tests said to report a fault, and we had not approved any "Time Related Charges", and we had already eliminated all customer equipment (the same equipment still in use and working). In fact it was BT who asked us to report a fault and BT who asked us for an appointment. They took this upon themselves all the way.

This is, in itself, typical of the hassle we have every day from BT.

Except this time BT have charged for 350 hours of time related charges on the fault. The entire fault report end to end was only 7 days (168 hours), most of which was waiting for BT to actually go out and do something. From point of no return at start of day, to closed job, was under 7 hours. They would have had to have had 50 engineers working for that whole 7 hour period to justify this charge!

The charge for this one fault repair?


And BT are actually meant to be double checking our bills before we get them because of the number of incorrect charges. Odd for that one to have slipped through. Well done BT.

Needless to say that this will be added to the disputes!

P.S. It is probably worth explaining one of the underlying issues here. TRCs are for engineering work. Now, either the engineer did work on BT's side of the NTE (to fix a fault), in which case we do not have to pay, or they did work on the customers side of the NTE, in which case we did not request or agree the work, so again, we do not have to pay. Unless we specifically order work to be done, and pre-agree a TRC budget, and it is not work to fix a BT fault, we should never get a TRC charge whether it is £252 or £25,200.

P.P.S. Three FTTC faults on the bill with TRCs total £39,744.00


  1. I recently got a new account and line from BT. Due to not fitting into any of the options available I rang up rather than applying online.

    To view (and pay) your bill you need to register with myBT. To do that you need your account number which is on your bill. To view your bill...

    I _thought_ I had arranged to pay by direct debit so I didn't really worry about this too much.

    Fortunately, I did find the bit on the website where you can request them to post your account number to you.

    Because early on the morning of the first I got an email saying that I needed to pay my bill now to avoid extra charges.

    I also got a phone call on my answer phone that I assume was probably related telling me (repeatedly) that if I was the account holder then I should press 1, if I was acting on behalf of the account holder I should press 2 or otherwise press 3. I will admit to not actually trying to press 1 (or 2 or 3) but I'm pretty sure they would have had no effect except possibly deleting the message! There was no number to call them back.

    So a communications company that understands the idea of out of band communication but doesn't actually implement it properly and a telephone company that is unable to cope with answer machines and in both cases leaving the recipient with no idea how to proceed so I can well believe that their billing systems are in even more of a shambles.

    1. Quite. What's the betting that they *did* have a chargeable job with exactly that cost -- but that they accidentally charged an entirely different customer? (And now, somewhere, a customer expecting £25k in expensive fault repair is finding that it cost nothing...)

    2. It has all the references for that fault - we thing they billed 350 hours and meant 3.50 hours, or something.

  2. They say never attribute something to malice that can be explained with incompetence. BT are without doubt the most incompetent organisation I have ever dealt with, the only thing that amazes me is that their incompetence somehow extends across the separate retail and commercial sides, how on earth can such segregated organisations both be so bad?

    It's a massive shame really BT should be a powerful player on the world stage instead it drags down the whole sector in this country, stifles innovation and is a source of embarrassment! Shame on BT!

  3. Yes, but this is the same BT who charge us for an SFI when they spent 6 hours working on a customers line, the same BT who send me a bill for an abortive visit as "customer refused access" when it was ME who was there, when the reality is THEY didn't read the notes and sent an engineer despite knowing they'd need a cherry picker, traffic management and so on, and the same BT who continue to send me a bill for a line over which I have never had in my life.

  4. The same BT that sent me an email containing just the words, "Error in Getting the content".

  5. It strikes me that the billing system needs a sanity check in place - it knows that the fault was raised 7 days ago, it knows that this type of fault rarely has multiple engineers working on it continuously, ergo anything more than 168 hours is an obvious error by the engineer entering it, and it needs special verification in case this is an odd case where you really did have multiple engineers working on it.

    It could do even better if it has more data - if each engineer enters their time spent separately, and you know when they were assigned, you can refuse time entries where the engineer has spent more time on the fault than physically possible.