BT cheque wrangle cuts off Sidmouth pensioner

PUBLISHED: 10:27 11 January 2009 | UPDATED: 12:11 17 June 2010

A SIDMOUTH pensioner s telephone was cut off for four days by BT because she deducted a £4.50 charge it made for cashing her cheque.

A SIDMOUTH pensioner's telephone was cut off for four days by BT because she deducted a £4.50 charge it made for cashing her cheque.

Bryony Kennard, who is in her 70s, from Woolbrook Road, has been "quarrelling" wrangling with BT for 15 months over £4.50 charges made on her quarterly bills because she pays by cheque, not direct debit.

On Friday, January 2, her phone was cut off, leaving those who rang hearing a message to say her number did not receive incoming calls.

"On principle I don't pay by direct debit," said Miss Kennard. "There is far more risk of fraud through direct debit than a cheque."

She pays her bill in full, deducting the charge, through Woolbrook Post Office.

She claims BT sent her "a threatening letter" last November warning she would be cut off unless she paid the £22.50 owed in charges. She waited until her normal bill arrived, then paid the full amount on December 31.

"On January 2 I went to the phone and every time I tried to dial out I was told the code was not recognised."

She asked a neighbour to try calling her who was told her number did not receive incoming calls.

"Sometimes they are more important than outgoing calls," said Miss Kennard, who believes many older people do not want to pay by direct debit and may suffer the same problems.

"It is not a lot of money but the principle is wrong, a lot of people have told me they have had trouble with BT."

BT spokesman Jason Mann, confirmed Miss Kennard's phone had been cut off between January 2 and Monday, January 5, when it was restored after receipt of her payment.

He said a letter was sent on December 3 from the chairman's office explaining BT's position. The charge is made to cover administrative costs incurred when dealing with cheque payments.

"Direct debits are the simplest way and are taken after the bill has been sent through to the customer. Everything is made transparent," he said.

"We have been in discussions with this customer for some time over the need to pay outstanding bills in full.

"Other telecom companies charge significantly more than we do and some will not accept anything other than a direct debit payment.

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