Telecommunications: Billing

Trade and Industry written question – answered on 27th April 2007.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Anne Snelgrove Anne Snelgrove PPS (Rt Hon Patricia Hewitt, Secretary of State), Department of Health

To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what discussions he has had with British Telecom on its additional charges for payment of bills by cheque or cash.

Photo of Margaret Hodge Margaret Hodge Minister of State (Industry and the Regions)

I have not held discussions with British Telecom on this issue. However, I have raised the matter with the chief executive officer of the independent regulator, the Office of Communications (Ofcom). Ofcom is considering whether any of the changes BT has recently made raise any regulatory issues and is coming back to me on this in May.

I understand that, BT has applied a price differential between customers who pay their accounts by direct debit and those who pay by other means for a number of years. This reflects the increased processing and debt management costs associated with payments not made by direct debit. Such differentials are common practice among communications providers and utility service providers.

From 1 May 2007, BT is changing how it presents this differential from a discount for those customers paying by direct debit, to a charge for those paying by other means for a number of years. BT has combined this change with an increase of £1.50 a quarter in the charge (from £3 to £4.50).

The Light User Scheme and In Contact Plus will not be affected by the increased charge. These are the special tariff schemes offered to vulnerable customers by BT as a result of the Universal Service Obligation placed on the company.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.