Ofcom quizzed over BT charges

April 17, 2007 5:02 PM
BT criticised for new charges

BT criticised for new charges

The telecommunications regulator, Ofcom, today (17th April) came under fire from Cheadle MP, Mark Hunter, over its failure to act on BT's price differential for direct debit customers. The Chairman of Ofcom, Lord Currie and its Chief Executive Ed Richards, appeared before a joint meeting of the House of Commons Trade and Industry (of which Mr Hunter is a member), and the Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee, in order to give evidence on the Ofcom Annual Plan.

The Cheadle MP, quizzed Ofcom leaders about BT charges for non direct debit customers who are effectively being penalised for not conforming with BT's preferred method of payment. BT have announced plans to charge customer £18 per year premium (from 1st May 2007) if they do not pay their bills either by direct debit or through a monthly payment plan agreed in advance.

Speaking after the event, Mr Hunter said; "I find it scandalous that just because a customer does not choose the method of payment that BT prefer that they should be penalised for that decision. There are many situations in which paying by direct debit is not practical or simply is not preferred, and those customers who choose not to pay in that way should not be punished. Critics have argued that the charges are tantamount to financial blackmail and will penalise the poorest more than other groups, and I absolutely agree. I know that Ofcom are currently considering whether the changes raise any regulatory issues, I really hope that they do look into this matter thoroughly and stop BT from implementing this unfair charging scheme. I will certainly campaign on this matter to try and ensure that BT drops this unreasonable proposal."

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