Monday 1 September 2014

Incompetent billing

I have billing disputes with no less than three separate companies at the moment.  Its depressing that this kind of thing is probably going to go completely unnoticed by a lot of customers and result in these companies actually making money out of their mistakes...


I switched my POTS line away from BT on July 25th.  My annual "line rental saver" contract expired on July 23rd so this should have been ok.  Except BT emailed me to say I was going to be billed £22.22 as an "early cancellation charge" because they thought I was still in contract.  I gave them a call and was assured by the call centre agent that the email had been sent by mistake and I wasn't actually going to be charged.  He said he had made a note on my account to that effect to ensure it got reviewed before actually billing.

Then they took that charge from my bank account by direct debit.  So I called them again and they refused to refund it, stating that the only note on my account stated something very generic such as "customer had a billing question, explained it to him" or words to that effect.  After about 45 minutes of shouting at them they finally agreed to review their call recording.

I got a call back a few days later saying they had reviewed the call recording.  They stated that I had never been told that it was a mistake, never told that I wouldn't be charged and never told that a note had been made on my account.

So I emailed them the recording that I had made of the call...  Suddenly they refund the charge, no questions asked.  (Ok, they miscalculated the refund and I had to tell them to fix it, but still...)

Originally I would've had no problem switching back to BT in the future, but now I've come to regard them as a company that will outright lie to make money fraudulently so long as the customer can't produce any evidence to prove they are lying...  Pretty bad.

(Yeah, I know I could've enacted the DD guarantee to get my money back, but they would've just recorded it as a default so best to get it sorted at the source).

FalconNet / Merula

When I switched away from BT, I moved my internet connection and POTS over to FalconNet (who are a trading name of Merula Ltd).  £22/month (inc. VAT) for the internet connection (40Mbps down, 10Mbps up, FTTC) and £9.50/month inc. VAT for the POTS line.

They are invoicing me £25 ex. VAT and £8.20 ex. VAT respectively.  Emailing them to point out that they're billing me incorrectly has resulted in a grand total of no response at all.  Not impressed.  We'll wait to see what they take by direct debit and possibly ask the bank to back charge the DD if I can't get any response.

Edit: All cleared up and a credit note has been applied to my account.


The troubles with Npower seem to be continuing, even after I have stopped being their customer.  Over an 18 month period I have received 13 separate bills from them (bearing in mind they are supposed to be billing twice a year...)  Most of the bills are wrong and the next bill (usually also wrong) starts by cancelling the previous bill.  On the whole I've ended up with a massively confusing mess of bills that has taken me a considerable amount of time to go through and understand exactly what they have billed me for.

The latest bill says I owe £144.07, but as far as I can tell they are actually about £166.30 out and they actually owe me £22.23.

Here's the message I just sent to them...  I'm through trying to sort this stuff out over the phone, it's just a complete waste of my time...

My latest bill states that I owe you £144.07.  As I have previously mentioned to you over the phone, I do not intend to pay you until you send me a correct bill - the bill you have sent is incorrect, just like numerous previous bills:

1. My direct debit discount is supposed to amount to £100/year.  In January 2014, the discount for 2013 did not appear on my bill, so I called you and was told that it would be credited to my next bill 6 months later.  This did not happen, so I called again on June 9th and was told the direct debit discount would be refunded.  I called again on June 25th and was told it was "still being handled".  My latest bill, received last week, still shows that this direct debit discount has not been refunded.

2. Although I was a customer until the middle of July this year, I have only received £21.09 as a pro-rata direct debit discount for 2014. It is true that my bill has largely not been paid by direct debit this year. That is your fault though - the direct debit was set up, you just didn't bother to charge it.  I still expect to receive a pro-rata discount of around £50.

3. The statement dated October 22 2013 states that my closing balance is £403.50.  The following statement, dated January 29 2014 lists the opening balance at £419.80.  The £16.30 difference appears to be unaccounted for.

On the whole, I have received an extremely confusing mess of bills, cancelled bills and amended bills since January 2013 - I have received no less than 13 separate bills over this period, most of them wrong in one way or another, and it has been very difficult and time consuming to piece together exactly what you've done.

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