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Oops BT Tries to Charge ISP GBP25K for Fixing a Broadband Line

Wednesday, August 12th, 2015 (2:13 pm) - Score 3,091

As mistake go, this could be a comical whopper. BTOpenreach has handed Internet provider Andrews & Arnold (AAISP) a staggering bill of £25,200 and all for fixing a single customer’s faulty Fibre-to-the-Cabinet (FTTC) broadband line.

It’s fair to say that incorrect charges from Openreach are a more common occurrence in this industry than some ISPs would like. In theory Openreach shouldn’t charge for fixing faults when they’re found to be within their own realm, although in practice mistakes are often made and this can result in end-users and ISPs having to dispute the bills.

In this instance one of AAISP’s customers appeared to be suffering from a faulty FTTCfibre broadband” line, which would drop its connection several times a day. The ISP had tried everything it could, such as replacing all of the equipment and connecting directly into the MasterSocket’s test port (ruling out extension wiring and some other common causes), but the problem continued.

At this point the fault looked more and more likely to be within Openreach’s realm and the operators own test report appeared to agree: “Impairment in copper joint detected, most likely in local network. Please continue to submit a trouble report.”

BT then asked the ISP to “arrange an appointment” and the provider duly booked an engineer, but this is where it starts to get interesting. The line went off for an hour or so and when it returned the fault had been fixed, excellent job, except for the bill.

Adrian Kennard, Director of Andrews & Arnold, said:

To our surprise we now have a bill from BT for “Time Related Charges” for this fault report, as BT had closed it as “Customers Equipment, Error or Misoperation;Fault found on customer sited non BT maintained equipment”. Somewhat odd as BT’s own tests said to report a fault, and we had not approved any “Time Related Charges”, and we had already eliminated all customer equipment (the same equipment still in use and working). In fact it was BT who asked us to report a fault and BT who asked us for an appointment. They took this upon themselves all the way.

This is, in itself, typical of the hassle we have every day from BT. Except this time BT have charged for 350 hours of time related charges on the fault (the entire fault report end to end was only 7 days (168 hours), most of which was waiting for BT to actually go out and do something. From point of no return at start of day, to closed job, was under 7 hours. They would have had to have had 50 engineers working for that whole 7 hour period to justify this charge!

The charge itself.. an excitable £25,200.00! Yes that’s £25k to fix one ordinary FTTC line and for roughly the same money the customer could have had a Gigabit capable leased line with dedicated Ethernet capacity installed right to their property.

This is almost certainly a terribly embarrassing mistake on Openreach’s part, although it’s perhaps indicative of an all too familiar trend for some ISPs. We have asked Openreach to comment and are awaiting their reply. Normally TRCs would be agreed with the ISP beforehand and we suspect they wouldn’t have agreed a bill of £25k.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. adslmax Real says:

    This is a joke! Not a funny matter!

  2. NeilM says:

    I wonder if this is the most screwed up bill Adrian has ever had from Openreach. From my understanding its quite common for them to bill incorrectly but surely this has to be a new record.

  3. Hull_lad says:

    I’m sure it is, as stated, just a mistake. I’m not sure what AAISP are achieving by running to ISPreview and reporting it, and I would be absolutely staggered if AAISP themselves had never distributed a few incorrect bills in their time.

    1. Big Geoff Mitchell says:

      ISPReview love giving coverage to AAISP and the loudmouth in charge of them.

      You wonder if they would be so willing to write an article if AAISP were to overcharge a customer?

      It is almost as embarrassing as the time Virgin phoned him and he claimed to have received poor customer service when his own ISP said that poor customer service does not constitute a valid dispute.

    2. Technical Vault says:

      The problem with this is twofold: the lack of a sanity check in BT’s billing system and Openreach’s habit of resolving issues as customer equipment when it’s on their side.

      The lack of a sanity check is excusable but sad. The workflow for a bill over a certain threshold for a residential line should include a quick review to avoid embarrassing themselves like this. It’s normal business practice and BT only gets away with it because they have a monopoly.

      Knowingly writing work up in a way which makes it chargeable when you know it shouldn’t be isn’t a mistake it is attempting to extract money on false pretences and given that BT is unlikely to be prosecuted for it bad publicity is the only remedy. The difference between AAISP misbilling and BT misbilling is that you can talk to someone at AAISP and get it resolved, whereas with BT navigating your way around the corporation to find someone with the power to cancel a charge of this size will be a challenge. The other difference is of course that you can leave AAISP if you dislike the service, whereas outside of the cities you can’t leave BT if you want any kind of laneline (unless you live in Hull where you get Kingston Communications instead).

    3. Lauren says:

      “ISPReview love giving coverage to AAISP and the loudmouth in charge of them”

      There does not appear to have been a news item relating to AAISP on here for months so dunno where you get that idea.

      AAISP is a respect internet provider and Adrian often goes above and beyond in customer service. Far from a loud mouth except when justified, which is often when dealing with stupid people and organisations.

      “You wonder if they would be so willing to write an article if AAISP were to overcharge a customer?”

      Im sure ISPreview would, not that AAISP are dumb enough to bill anyone £25,000+ wrongly. Its not AAISP or Adrains fault that BT obviously has stupid people that can not count working for them.

  4. DTMark says:

    Can anyone come up with an example of where an ISP would be charged “time related charges” to get BT to fix the product they’re selling to the ISP?

    Under what circumstances would an ISP pay BT to repair their old line plant, either willingly, or otherwise – surely, the answer is “none”; you don’t normally pay someone twice to provide something.

    1. Robert says:

      “Under what circumstances would an ISP pay BT to repair their old line plant, either willingly, or otherwise – surely, the answer is “none”; you don’t normally pay someone twice to provide something.”

      The answer is where and when ever BT can get away with it. I suspect if it were the likes of Sky and Talk Talk the bill would had just been automatically paid. Unfortunately for the rip off merchants named BT that obviously does not work when you are dealing with a smaller ISP who believes things should be done right.

  5. Kits says:

    What has me worried is why they didn’t do a comparison check with all equipment removed, to see if the imbalance is till there. If it was then it was on BT’s side if not it is the customers.

    What I read said local network which could mean local to the customer as well as from cabinet to the customer

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