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The curious case of deferred equipment charges ...

Bob2002

ULTIMATE Member
At the end of last year I signed up with BT and I was sent an order confirmation listing my financial contractual obligations -


Indeed, to use BT's own words, "Money matters" ...

So it's quite clear that I owe BT £29.49/month or £353.88/year and that if I terminated my contract immediately I'd have to pay £353.88 in early termination charges. Or rather it isn't, in fact that contract summary is missing an extra figure of £164 in deferred equipment liability(in my case for the "free" HomeHub router at £65, and the "free" YouView box at £99). Liabilities appear to be £353.88 but in fact they are £517.88, or 146% more - that's quite a difference.

Many people complete their contracts in full and never incur a deferred equipment charge, but other people do not for various reasons including dissatisfaction with the company or technical issues - it is important that when a member of the public signs a contract all financial obligations and liabilities are listed so that they know exactly where they stand. BT know exactly what the deferred equipment charge is when the contract is made but they do not list the liability in the e-mail document they send to the customer, it would seem to be common courtesy to mention the odd £164.

To get to the point of this post, I'm not complaining about the right of an ISP to have a deferred equipment charge, but I am complaining that the full liability is not listed in the sign-up documents. There really is no good reason not to list them so that the customer can see the complete financial position they are in when they purchase an ISP's product.

This is a fundamental issue of consumer transparency that ISPs like BT(and no doubt many others) seem to be deliberately avoiding and I'm surprised it hasn't been picked up by the press. :hrmph:
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
Surely if they dont list it as part of the contract, they cannot later try to charge you for it?

Or is it buried on page 94 of the T&Cs ??
 

Bob2002

ULTIMATE Member
What they do, and I've discussed this issue with BT staff, is mention that equipment may be chargeable in a section under the title "small print" and provide a hyperlink to a PDF called the "BT Consumer Price Guide". As you imply BT's approach is essentially to make the charges less obvious - I doubt many customers actually click on the price guide link and then search the PDF for the official equipment charges, and BT will know this. However the "read the small print" approach to customers doesn't really hold water in this instance.

It's a simple issue, the liability is known, can be significant, and can very,very, easily be displayed as part of the order confirmation - there is absolutely no need to make a customer search through the small print section - then search through a PDF.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
It's a fair point and one that could easily be solved by adding a bit of small text to the bottom of the window, which could mention the equipment liability.

However in practice there is the potential for confusion as what often happens if you exit a contract early is that the ISP will simply ask you to either return the router (postage is on you of course) and not charge you for it or they'll just forget you have it.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
Pure profiteering then, the same way as charging the customer 300% of the OR cost of a new line.
 

Bob2002

ULTIMATE Member
I'm not trying to reclaim any charges(I have left BT, but deferred equipment charges were covered by my new provider). I'm simply stating that they don't display the financial position of the customer, in full and clearly, in the documents they provide when somebody signs up.
 

Duncan

Member
Hi Bob, I'm having similar issues with BT as I want to cancel 3 weeks early so I can take advantage of another ISP offer that ends on 31st May.

Equipment charges
As you've got equipment from BT, you'll need to pay:

£65.00 for broadband equipment charges.
£12.71 for TV equipment charges.

You've paid up to £194.28 in advance for 12 months' line rental, but we can't refund any of it as it was a special discount for paying upfront.

Charges for ending your contract early
As you're moving before the end of your contract, you'll need to pay a charge for each month left of your minimum term. We expect this to be £18.78 by the time you move.

I may just take my chances and stay the further 3 weeks to see out my contract and avoid these charges and hope the ISP I was going to move to still has a decent offer on.

May I enquire who you moved to?
 
Last edited:

Bob2002

ULTIMATE Member
Hi Duncan,

I moved to Plusnet(they let you use your own router - so no possible equipment charges) who were offering £140 cashback(now paid) plus £10 discount for the first six months, at that time.
 

simplesim

Member
Hi Duncan
I am facing a similar issue with leaving BT early. Like you I have paid up front annual line rental and am leaving a couple of weeks early. I have no problem paying out the rest of the contract but that effectively means I haven't broken the contract (my side of the bargain is to pay the bills for a year)

So if I pay my way for the whole year (and that is the minimum term) how can they charge for the 'free' equipment?

Either let me out early and I pay for the hardware or make me pay for the full year and the free hardware is... well free!

Did you dispute?
 

Kits

Super Moderator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
One problem OFCOM not covered is if you are ceasing the contract there is also a cease charge which BT charge all ISPs. so moving house is ceasing this contract so contract outstanding plus the cease charge. What OFCOM needed to do was make BT allow house m,oves for all ISPs so a home move within same exchange could be allowed on contract outside the exchange perhaps a smalle admin to move the contract over allowing the customer freedom to move. Many homes are now rented and such rigid rules from BT openreach is no longer viable, as many can be less than 12 months contract for the home but BB is only 12 months.
 
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