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Customers of UK ISP Plusnet Face Several Months of Backdate Bills

Sunday, September 15th, 2019 (5:23 pm) - Score 2,328

The fallout from last year’s troubled migration to a new billing platform has continued after broadband ISP Plusnet confirmed that, in yet another blunder, their system failed to take payments from hundreds of customers for a period of several months. As a result some subscribers are about to be hit with a large backdated bill.

Over the past year we’ve reported on various billing problems at the provider, all of which seem to stem from last September’s troubled effort to migrate their old billing system to a “brand-new” platform (here). Some of the gripes we’ve seen since earlier this year also involved customers who noticed that they had not been billed correctly or were not being billed at all, although clearly this issue hasn’t been fully resolved for some.. until now.

The good news, according to MSE, is that customers’ will not receive a negative mark on their credit files for Plusnet’s mistake and if a customer’s payments weren’t taken for more than three months, then the rest of their unpaid bills should be written off (effectively giving some subscribers a period of free service).

NOTE: Ofcom suggests that a backdated bill may only include a maximum of four months’ worth of charges (here), hence Plusnet’s position above.

A Spokesperson for Plusnet said:

“We’ve worked hard to fix the issues and during this time we haven’t billed these customers.

We are now contacting these customers to let them know we will be restarting their bills. We want to reassure customers their first bill from us will only contain backdated charges for a maximum of the last three months, and any charges for periods longer than this have been written off free of charge.

We’re sorry for any inconvenience we have caused these customers.”

A quick look at Ofcom’s most recent consumer complaints data shows the impact that the billing fiasco has had on Plusnet, which between Q4 2018 and Q1 2019 was the most complained about of all the largest broadband and phone providers (here). In Q1 2019 almost four in ten of Plusnet’s complaints were about billing, pricing and charges (38% of complaints).

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar PN says:

    The bill should be written off completed never mind backdated to the last 90 days because it not the customers own fault.

    1. Avatar Stephen Wakeman says:

      That isn’t how law works in the provision of goods and services. For example, if you went to a petrol station and filled up with £60 quid and then went to pay on your card and their machine stopped working due to a technical fault, you would still be liable to pay for the fuel. They might allow you a holding period where you can go back and pay but they aren’t obliged to let you have it free just because it’s not your fault.

      You sign a contract that says the monthly price and pay it. If the payment is not requested from your bank and it’s not your fault you’re still liable to pay a charge, it just means that if the amount builds up you cannot be forced to pay it all in one lump sum or, if it’s prolonged, the entire bill might not be valid.

      If it worked the way you suggest then there would be no small businesses in operation as they would not be able to survive a technical fault.

  2. Avatar AnotherTim says:

    This story comes from an e-mail sent out to affected customers, some of which have presumably contacted MSE. As an affected customer myself (no bills for a year) I’m not aware of any imminent fix for the billing problems. Plusnet have said they will only bill for a maximum of 3 months (90 days in some reports), but as MSE states if the eventual billing date coincides with the monthly advance billing date, 4 months may become due. Plusnet have said they will arrange payment plans for anyone that finds that a problem. Personally I’m enjoying free broadband while it lasts…

  3. Avatar Dave says:

    The article says that Ofcom only allow back billing for a maximum of 4 months. Is there a citation for this?

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I’ve perhaps oversimplified it a bit above, although it actually stems from several points under Ofcom’s General Conditions (Billing section). Primarily a combination of a regulatory viewpoint under ‘4.8.3 Extraordinary Performance Failure’ and the rules set out for ‘4.8.4 Delayed Events’.

      https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0022/116365/Metering-and-Billing-Direction.pdf

      Note that these GCs were revised in 2019 and so may not apply to older cases.

    2. Avatar Dave says:

      Thanks mark, this is very interesting.

      We had around 8k worth of premium rate calls appear on our bill some time back and checking into the details showed they had been made 6 months or so before and had only just appeared on the bill. We got a 50% reduction even though I insisted at the time they must have some kind of obligation to present the charges in a reasonable time. I couldn’t find any solid info on the subject though.

      I shall now check the GC’s in force at the time to see whether this rule applied and maybe fight to get some money back if so.

  4. Avatar Christopher Hughes says:

    They are still having issues. My parents have been with Plusnet for years and recently had to signup again with them as the account was broken, forcing them onto another 18 month contract. They have managed to take 1 months payment and the new account is now broken.

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