Sticks and Stones – BT & OneTel Share the Brickbats

The Smarties seem to be all over the floor as BT and OneTel go hammer and tongs at each other.

According to BT, more customers complain about OneTel’s sales tactics than any other telco. The war of words between the two companies even though BT has just won an out of court settlement from Centrica, which owns OneTel, that it will not mislead punters when signing them up to its telephone service.

It is understood that BT claim that one in five of the 21,000 complaints BT receives each month about mis-selling relates to OneTel.
BT say they have evidence that OneTel sales staff have told customers that OneTel “was definitely part of BT” and that signing up to OneTel was “signing up to a BT service”. But OneTel hit back hit back claiming BT’s decision to publicise the agreement was done not to protect consumers but to “damage the OneTel name”.

OneTel managing director Ian El-Mokadem: “By publicising our signing of undertakings in regard to IP Infringement BT are attempting to infer that OneTel has not had controls in place previously. Clearly, their desire is to damage the OneTel name.

“One has to ask why, having co-operated in this way, BT insisted on publicising this matter.

BT responded with BT Retail boss Ian Livingston pleading: “Can this be about customers, not smokescreens”.

He went on: “BT has acted because customers were contacting us to say they had been misled. Customers have repeatedly asked us what we are doing and why we let companies get away with certain practices.

“Companies like Centrica and their OneTel telecoms arm do not sign legal undertakings like this easily. We made it very clear to them that we would not guarantee confidentiality.

“The fact is we lodged legal complaints about OneTel back in March and we get more complaints about the switching process where OneTel is concerned than any other company. OneTel could help put customers out of their misery by stopping practices like door to door selling. Are they prepared to?” he said.