Late on Wednesday afternoon, CP’s billing departments received an e-mail from BT Phone Book which quietly withdrew the threat of six years’ worth of back billing charges for special entry listings that they had failed to bill.
Luckily, when BT announced their intent to do this in September last year, the collective memory of FCS members sprang into life and they reminded BTPB that they had been through a similar exercise in 2011. At that time the same threat reared its head and after protracted meetings and negotiations, the six year period was reduced to one year. Two further failures to bill that followed on quite quickly resulted in opt-in/opt-out with forward billing only, as it was recognised as a BT and Openreach failing.
A small working group of FCS members presented this history to the new team at BTPB and the end result has been what they asked for: all back billing to be dropped. The FCS have also offered to work with BT and Openreach to ensure that the circumstances that lead to these failures do not arise again.
Catherine Gerosa (Head of Regulatory Affairs) said “Although it was frustrating to have to revisit this issue again, we are delighted that the end result reflects the goal that we were aiming for. This is a great result for FCS members and the wider Industry.”
Clifford Norton, MD of Channel Telecom, commented “They have now agreed to drop all the back dated charges this is correct, but why would they just drop hundreds of thousands pounds of charges? Have they realised they have no chance, even though they had told us they had full backing of BT lawyers? If you read their email, they have left it very open to come back and charge later, and they have also not listened to any of our concerns about the processes, how poor they are, which do not work.
Its interesting as the last call we had with them, I told them I wanted to cancel ALL phone book entries we have with them, and Channel Telecom would not be paying ANY charges back dated, as we cannot claim these monies back from the customers, and we cannot become their debt collectors.”
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