Thursday, 17 March 2011

Debt or no Debt - a personal odyssey

Excuse me while I get something personal off my chest - BLOODY BT.

This behemoth of an organisation has succeeded in driving me, a loyal customer of too many years to the point of exasperation and annoyance, over an alleged debt of £78 from my previous home.

One month ago I received a letter from a Debt Recovery agency stating that they have tracked me down and that I should call the number below immediately. I have never had contact with such agencies in my entire life, and to be honest these letters can be quite frightening to any of us who have a horror of debt. As requested, I rang them immediately, gave the reference number, proved who I was and was told that BT had passed on my debt to them for collection, and how did I wish to pay. Now, I'm no shrinking violet when it comes to officialdom, but I can image many people just paying up without question.

I would not. I asked for details of this alleged debt, but they said that BT had not sent through any of the paperwork. I questioned the Debt agencies right to send out demands for an alleged debt without evidence to prove it. I would not pay without seeing that evidence. Not unreasonable is it? I could imagine the poor girl on the other end of the phone ticking the box on the computer screen "Difficult Customer". We finally agreed that they would request a copy of the bill from BT, and send it to me. In the meantime the account would be put on hold.

This morning I received a copy of that bill. It was for the period 24th March - 23rd June 2010. I left the property that the bill relates to at the end of January 2010. When I was cancelling that account, I also opened another account for my current address. Both previous and current addresses are recorded on official documentation from BT. In addition, a BT bill in January 2010 said that I was £53 in credit, and that they were giving me a months payment holiday. In my view they owe me money, rather than the other way around. I rang the Debt agency again today and explained all of the above. I might as well have been trying to explain the theory of quantum physics. There was silence on the other end of the phone, and for a moment I thought we'd been cut off.

I disputed the BT bill, as the evidence did not show that it related to me, even though my name was on it. I was not going to pay. What, I asked was the solution? If I sent them a copy of my current Tenancy Agreement proving when and where I was living at the period of the bill, they would discuss it with BT. This I did in the last post today, and in addition, because I get very petty under these circumstances, I copied them a load of other documents to keep them busy. The account would not be put on hold again, and the last thing said to me was that the documents must get to them before the 1st April. Or what? Silence again. Or the account will be placed before the courts. So, if there's a gap in my blogs of a few months in the future, you'll know that I lost the case and have been detained somewhere at Her Majesty's pleasure.

I don't attach too much blame to the Debt Agency, as they were only acting on instructions from BT, but they could have checked a few things before issuing letters. BT on the other hand I hold in withering contempt. They are inept, and I should have been more aware when they cocked-up the installation of my current contract. All I know is that once this current contract comes to an end, a divorce will occur and I'll be prepared to pay anything to a new provider, as there are plenty of them. No longer will my name be linked with that of being a BT customer.

There, I've got it off my chest. This has been very cathartic, but I'm sorry that you have been subjected to it.

14 comments:

  1. Can see exactly where you are coming from John. I would feel exactly the same way. I usually find that putting the phrase 'I am passing this on the national press unless I get a satisfactory resolution (in black and white) within 24/48 hours)' helps to concentrate the mind. I also find that saying, at then end of the phone conversation 'Oh by the way, this conversation has been recorded and a transcript is going to.........' also ensures a revised viewpoint from the other end. Have a glass of wine (or whatever is your tipple)- and if you disappear from the blogging circuit I'll bake a cake with a file inside it and send it to you in Wormwood Scrubs! keep smiling!

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  2. Thank you Tony. I wish I'd thought of your suggestions at the start of the process, but hey ho, there might be time yet. I have had a glass of 'tipple' though to help difuse the tension (which by the way is single malt). Good to know that a cake will be forthcoming!

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