BT is ‘taking advantage’ of older people’s loyalty

Charges vary and customers aren’t being offered the best deals when they have to renew

I volunteer with a local charity which helps older people get to grips with new technology. I’ve come across a worrying number of people who, in my opinion, are being taken advantage of by BT.

Some are reluctant to change phone/broadband supplier and mistakenly think BT will repay their loyalty. Many pay quarterly and contact BT by post or telephone rather than online. Moreover, no two people seem to be paying the same for equivalent services.

A straw poll of clients revealed that standard broadband with Anytime calls varies from £30 to £65 a month and BT is not giving advice about what could suit them better.

One lady received a bill of some £230 for three months’ standard broadband and evening and weekend calls. BT told her it was correct. No attempt was made to offer her one of its superior products at £32 a month. Others are paying for services they did not want or even know they had.

GC, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire

Last year, regulator Ofcom, which says it is “very concerned that many people are paying more than they need”, consulted on plans to force telecoms companies to notify customers when they are nearing the end of their contract and to inform them of better tariffs. It will publish its final decision in the summer and new obligations should be in place by the end of the year.

Researchers found that more than 20 million people are outside their minimum contract period, and more than 10 million on deals with an automatic price increase leaving them paying up to 20% more.

BT says it writes to customers regularly about deals and upgrades, although such mailshots tend to encourage customers to spend more, not less.

It also points to helpline 0800 919 591. “We’re working to provide even clearer information and have specialist teams for those who would prefer to talk through their options in detail and may need additional help to make sure they’re on the plan that best suits them,” it says.

If you need help email Anna Tims at or write to Your Problems, The Observer, Kings Place, 90 York Way, London N1 9GU. Include an address and phone number. Submission and publication are subject to our terms and conditions


Anna Tims

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Household bills: loyalty doesn’t pay … and it’s the elderly who pay the price
Switching supplier after years seems counterintuitive. But that can cost the most vulnerable customers £200 or more a year

Harvey Jones

24, Mar, 2019 @8:00 AM

Article image
TalkTalk, BT and Mr Jones have a thing going on with my account
Someone used my address to set up a TalkTalk account and then BT cut off my broadband service without warning

Anna Tims

06, Jul, 2017 @6:00 AM

Article image
A put-down for BT, as it charges us £83 for a one-minute phone call
It says I didn’t hang up the receiver correctly, but why isn’t there a warning?

Anna Tims

27, Apr, 2016 @6:00 AM

Article image
No phone, no internet and a £20,000 bill from BT to connect us
We had moved to a rented cottage and need to run a business

Anna Tims

16, Jun, 2015 @6:00 AM

Article image
Openreach and BT errors see customers charged tens of thousands to connect
Householders in some rural areas are being told they must hand over vast sums of money if they want broadband to be installed

Anna Tims

25, Jan, 2016 @7:01 AM

Article image
TalkTalk told me it would terminate my contract – and I couldn’t stop it
It said a third party had requested the service to be cut off … but it was all news to me

Anna Tims

27, Mar, 2019 @7:00 AM

Article image
I paid £3,600 to a fraudster with a Lloyds account, but the bank won’t help
Comsumer advice: I’m sure I’m not the only person to be caught by this scam – can’t the bank do anything?

Anna Tims

04, Dec, 2014 @7:00 AM

Article image
When is BT’s ‘penalty free’ leaving offer, not penalty free?
When it’s explained to a customer by its own staff

Miles Brignall

20, Aug, 2015 @6:00 AM

Article image
Digging the dirt on BT Openreach
Broadband and phone line faults are plaguing our road and BT Openreach seems unable to find the problem

Anna Tims

13, Oct, 2013 @6:00 AM

Article image
BT’s still failing to deliver on its promises over fibre optic
Consumer advice: I renewed my contract and feel it was mis-sold as I still haven’t got the service

Anna Tims

16, Sep, 2014 @6:00 AM