BT comments on phone slamming

29 Jul 2013

It took a while, but BT has finally come back with some comments on my recent bout of erroneous line transfer, a form of phone slamming.

A spokesman conceded there had been a failure in the industry process for identifying and taking over working lines, and that my neighbor's order was incorrectly amended when he contacted them, meaning the billing address was changed but not the order address.

Given that I’m not perfect and also make mistakes, I can accept all of this. It does, though, leave the question of what happens to the victim of this kind of error.

You see, I’m still waiting for my line and broadband service to be reconnected, while my neighbor was up and running at the start of last week. The BT spokesman explained the reconnection order must come from my provider, and that the telco is “happy to contact them to give any assistance to ensure this is done as quickly as possible,” only they don’t know who my provider is.

This raises another question. How can BT, the incumbent operator with the wholesale division that works with other operators, not know who my provider is?

It would explain why my operator didn’t contact me to tell me the line was due to be changed, as Ofcom explained it is obliged to do in its response to my problem – and, indeed, the BT spokesman reiterated. If BT can’t identify the firm, how can it get in touch?

My biggest gripe, though, is that there appears to be no process for quickly reconnecting lines that have been wrongly taken over. Why should the victim be left high and dry, with no service and no meaningful way of claiming back any costs incurred or income lost, or just for the sheer inconvenience of it all?

It’s something that needs to be addressed, and quickly. Figures supplied by Ofcom show the average number of erroneous line transfer complaints it receives grew to 100 per month in 1H13, compared to 69 per month in 2012, and 87 per month in 2011, though the regulator did caveat the numbers by pointing out it has beefed up the way it logs and categorizes complaints. The changes began to have an effect on the figures from November 2012, a spokeswoman explained.

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