BT has been hit by a major row after being accused of taking payments from a deceased customer’s bank account for ten months and then refusing to reimburse her family.
June Bird from Lancing, West Sussex, who was paying £80 a month for a broadband and mobile phone contract, died in July last year. Her son Steve Bird contacted BT to end the contract the same month and says he was assured it would be cancelled.
However, it seems that BT was true to its advertising strapline of “We connect for good” as when he was completing probate paperwork, Bird discovered the telecoms giant was still taking monthly payments from his mum’s account some ten months later.
He then contacted BT to remedy the issue but was told the company had no record of his call to cancel the contract.
Bird told The Argus: “No other organisation I have ever dealt with has behaved in such a way and caused me so much distress and upset. I keep records of everything and have the phone bill to prove the call was made. I had to send them my mum’s death certificate just to cancel the contract.
“By April this year they had taken £800 from her bank account and are now refusing to return it. They are preying on people’s grief. It’s their dirty little revenue stream. To say I’m frustrated is an extreme understatement.”
It is not known why Bird had not put a block on his mother’s bank account; by law companies are allowed to keep taking funds until they receive a death certificate, a letter of administration or probate forms.
BT undertook an investigation but has refused to refund the money, instead only offering him a “goodwill gesture” of £190. Ofcom rules state that a provider is not required to backdate the closure or refund any money paid, although some may choose to do so.
Bird has now filed a complaint with the communications ombudsman, after realising he had phone records “proving” he contacted BT to cancel the contract in July 2022.
BT has declined to comment on the case but it is not the first time the firm has been accused of dodgy data governance. Last year, it sent increasingly threatening letters to a dead customer in Newcastle, insisting he owed £763 for the early termination of his contract, despite acknowledging he was deceased and that no money was owing.
It was subsequently discovered the agent who terminated the service pressed the wrong button and logged him as a migrating customer, triggering the cancellation fee. On this occasion, BT did actually apologise.
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