Questions of Cash: I ended the call but the line stayed open. BT charged me for six days

 

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Q. I connected to a conference call through my home BT line. I hung up at the end of the call, but the line connection did not close. The next day I realised and informed BT – but it took five days to close the connection.

I have now been charged £134.34 for the first day, £124.20 each for the second and third days, £124.36 for the fourth day and £129.76 each for the fifth and sixth days. In all, BT took £865.95 from our account.

It accepted it was at fault and promised a refund within five working days. It is now over five days. What is more, I never seemed to receive my online bill and so I had no idea about the charge until my partner noticed it. CW, London.

A. Following our intervention, BT has refunded the charges for the call not being closed properly. A spokesman says: "We have apologised to [the reader] for the problem and the delay in refunding him. He was charged £766.62 in error and we have arranged to credit this back to his bank account." We assume the balance of the charge relates to properly levied charges.

But BT disputes that you did not receive an online bill. Its spokesman says: "Every customer with online billing receives an email the day the bill is produced to advise them [it] is available to view if they log into My BT."

But you insist: "I have no trace of the email – BT's call operative was actually unaware of whether customers get emails until I prompted her."

There is a broader issue. We have seen a noticeable rise in complaints about BT in recent weeks and this shows no signs of abating.

Q. In March 2002 I took out a consolidation loan with FirstPlus, which I believe is now owned by Barclays. As part of the consolidation, FirstPlus sent a cheque to First National (now GE Money Home Lending) for the sum of £17,191.59 in full settlement of an unsecured loan. GE Money claims no lump sum was paid to settle the account.

However, First National corresponded with FirstPlus about the removal of a legal charge over my property following settlement. My loan was unsecured and amounted to £6,653 in 2002. There was an extremely high settlement figure of over £17,000, but I was told that this is often the case with early redemption. This appears a calamitous case of mistaken identity. The Financial Ombudsman Service tells me that it cannot consider complaints about events prior to 6 April 2007. MY, Edinburgh.

A. We have spent months investigating the matter, with the help of Barclays and GE Money, but we can't be sure we have gathered all the information.

As far as we can tell, you took out two loans – one secured on your property, the other unsecured. This seems to explain why the charge on your property was released, as well as the large discrepancy you report between the amount borrowed and the cost of discharging the loan. A Barclays spokesman says: "We know that in 2002 [the reader] informed FirstPlus, part of Barclays, that she wanted to consolidate a loan with First National. [The reader] was advised to arrange for First National to provide a settlement figure. The figure [was] £17,191.59. FirstPlus sent a cheque for £17,191.59 to First National quoting the details provided. The cheque was cashed in March 2002."

GE Money says it is confident that its loan was correctly issued, though you continue to express scepticism. However, you have paid the balance as you are unable to prove that the debt is not valid. You comment kindly: "You've made more progress with GE in a short time than I've made in years."

Questions of Cash cannot give individual advice. But we'll do our best to help if you have a financial dilemma. Email us at: questionsofcash@independent.co.uk

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