Does Your BT Bill Add Up? Mine Doesn’t, and BT Can’t Fix It!

Posted: 9th July 2020

If you’re a BT customer, do you actually know what BT are charging you for their service? In other words, have you ever tried to decipher a BT bill to see how much you are actually paying for each service? I guess the answer is no, and I suspect this for two reasons: firstly, their bills are far too complicated, so it is almost impossible to untangle which charges are attributable to which service; and secondly, I have found that since the introduction of their new bill layout last autumn, the figures on my bill just don’t add up. BT tell me that I am the only person who has complained about this, but I can’t believe I am the only person in the country with an irreconcilable bill, so I can therefore only conclude that nobody else checks their BT bill to see if it is correct.

Here’s how I discovered that my BT bill does not add up.

Prior to September 2019, I had always been able to reconcile my BT bill, which was a feat in itself requiring a spreadsheet and considerable time and effort to unravel the mysteries of their system of charges and discounts. Then for some months after the introduction of the new bill format, late last year, I became aware that the figures on the bill did not add up. After numerous hours trying to reconcile the figures, I finally gave up and attempted to contact BT by phone. After explaining the situation to the operator, I was informed that I was receiving an extra discount, which was not shown on the bill, but which accounted for the discrepancy that I had noticed. The operator said that the extra discount appeared on the copy of my bill which he could view, but it certainly did not appear on my PDF copies which I download every month from the BT website. When I asked if this situation could be corrected, the operator said that he would have to transfer me to the billing department. When he attempted to do so, I was cut off. As I didn’t wish to endure another long phone call to BT, with the likelihood of being cut off again, I resorted to contacting them in writing to explain the situation.

Here is a snapshot of the portion of my bill to illustrate the problem.

As you can see, the charge before discounts for Broadband and Calls is quoted as £46.08. Below this is shown, in green, a discount of £19.99 for Line Rental Saver (this is not really a discount at all, but a pre-payment - but that is another story). Beneath this, there should be a second discount of £5.07 (I’m not entirely sure why, but BT assured me this was the case), but this is not shown on the bill. If this second discount were shown, then (46.08 - 19.99 - 5.07) would equal the sub-total of £21.02 as shown on the right. But without this second discount, the figure on the right should be (46.08 - 19.99) which is £26.09, not £21.02: hence without showing the second discount, it is impossible to reconcile the figures on the bill.

There are probably millions of BT customers up and down the country who are receiving similar bills where discounts (or maybe even charges) are not shown, so I am puzzled as to why this anomaly has not previously been brought to BT’s attention. At a rough guess, I would surmise that it is because their bills are generally not the easiest of documents to understand.

After writing to BT to point out the problem, about 3 weeks went by, then I received a phone call from them. The nice BT lady on the phone was very apologetic, and said that they hoped to correct the situation in a month or two. In the future all relevant discounts would be shown on the bill, so that I could look forward to receiving bills from BT which added up correctly.

Another couple of weeks went by, then I received a second phone call from the same nice lady at BT. This time she was even more apologetic, as she gave me the shocking news that BT were unable to correct the faulty bill after all. Upon hearing this I immediately had what I can only describe as a Victor Meldrew moment. Was she really saying that a company the size of BT were producing bills on which the figures did not add up, and they were unable to fix it? Were they really going to continue sending out such bills, whilst being aware that they were faulty? Apparently so. And that is how the situation remains.

I am now not sure which I find more astonishing: the fact that BT are continuing to send out bills with a known fault after this fault has been brought to their attention; or the fact that, if BT are to be believed, none of their other customers have noticed a similar fault with their bill.
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