Taking a stand?

This one is aimed at other ISPs using BT services.

All of you spend a lot of time on disputes, I am sure, not just SFI charges but mistakes, though I suspect SFI charges are the main one. It is very time consuming.

So, we are taking a stand (what a surprise).

We have told them that we will check the bill and advise them of errors (i.e. what the error is and why), but only the once. We will then withhold the payment of the disputed charges, as per the contract. We believe that this is all we have to do as per the contract.

When they come back later asking why the invoice was under paid (even though we told them), we will only reply if they agree to pay a consultancy fee, probably £75/hour or part.

We might reply confirming once again our offer of consultancy to help them identify their mistakes, and that the withheld amount is "as per previously advised disputes" but no more work than that.

We might even make an automated reply stating that, and stating an alternative email address for "purchase of consultancy services" specifically. If they email that, we help them our and invoice for our time.

To be quite frank I am sick and tired of having staff spend hours and hours fixing BT errors on their bill. They should have no errors. It is simply not acceptable.

Any other ISPs got similar approaches? Please do post a follow up...

P.S. Examples :-

I just looked at a small batch of SFI charge disputes BT resolved, 9 of them, totalling £1,500. They are all cases of an SFI or SFI2 charge often with extra modules, disputed because BT did in fact find and fix a fault on the network, so should have been free. Simple disputes, usually quoting the BT engineer notes back at BT.

With no explanation BT have chosen to only partly credit 4 of then, fully crediting the remaining 5. This means we still have £214 in dispute.

So, we now have another round of "why is this invoice under paid" where we have to explain the dispute again, and that they only partly credited us, and that the balance remains in dispute.

Just an example of the total stupidity here - one of the disputes resolved this month dates back to last December. The charge was the standard cost for an SFI, £144.00. The credit we have received is £137.80, so £6.20 still in dispute. Why do that? How do they do that? It makes no sense at all - but it means more work for us in handling the disputes.

Update: Apparently this has got as far as Ian Livingstone!


  1. A client of mine had their telephony on multiple ISDN30s disconnected yesterday after a dispute with BT. A year ago BT Business Services negotiated a contract with them which was a very good deal for the customer. BT called up recently to basically say, "oi! you're getting too good a deal — you're not paying for any calls! and there's still ages on this contract to go!"

    I pity the client's account manger who is going to have hell untangling the service credits they'll have been given as BT effectively bought themselves out of the contract.

    Part of the problem here seems to be the many-headed nature of the BT beast: the BT Business Services who sold the deal isn't the same BT Business Services whose figures are now showing a loss.

  2. …and I should have added that this client's usual approach for dealing with BT billing problems is to bounce it back to them with, "well, that's our position... shall we see who Court agrees with?"

  3. Ahh, a very good idea, which I will try to implement in the office tomorrow. I hope that other ISP’s read your blog, but if they don’t I’ll personally email them in the morning quoting your post.

    Cheers A.


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