BT charges to pay by cheque 'rip off Britain' says local MP

July 11, 2008 3:54 PM
Chamber

Mark asked for a debate on "Rip Off Britain" in Parliament

This week in the House of Commons Cheadle MP Mark Hunter asked for a debate on the new charges imposed by companies on customers who choose to pay their utility bills by other than the companies preferred methods.

Mr Hunter asked the Leader of the House, Harriet Harman MP if she would consider making time for an urgent debate on 'Rip Off Britain" and in particular the charges that companies such as BT are now imposing on customers who choose to pay their bill by more traditional methods such as cheque or cash. Utility companies such as BT prefer their customers to pay by methods such as direct debit, so 'encourage' customers to pay by these means by imposing a premium on other methods of payment. For BT this charge is £1.50 per month, or £18 per year.

Speaking after the question Mr Hunter said "I have had many letters from constituents who are outraged by this latest manifestation of "Rip off Britain". The BT customers who have contacted me obviously have very strong feelings about this issue - and quite rightly.

"People who choose to pay by more traditional methods shouldn't be punished for that decision. Individuals and families often have very valid reasons for paying by cheque or cash - they may not feel comfortable setting up a direct debit or may have to juggle paying bills from different accounts.

"Often it is the elderly or families with young children who choose to pay their bills by cheque or cash, so these new charges will penalise families on lower incomes who can least afford to pay them. In the current economic climate I believe utility companies shouldn't be looking punish these individuals but instead be looking to find ways to make paying their bills easier.

The Government doesn't seem to be very sympathetic to the problems these charges might cause families, but I will continue to raise the issue with the Government and BT in the hope that they will reconsider the detrimental impact these new charges have on local residents."

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