Changing from BT

Earlier today I was thinking that I must ring British Telecom to find out what broadband package they could offer along with the phone line. There are usually discounts for bundled services and I though I might as well stay with them.

Then I opened my post. Included was a letter from them which was not a bill and very nearly went into the bin (with about 75% of my post). Fortunately, I read the letter first. "We're automatically upgrading your line, at no extra cost, so you never miss a call wherever you are." Not terribly interested. If I'm out of the house, I usually can't answer the phone on account of teaching, seeing someone who needs to talk to me uninterrupted or saying a traditional Mass, that kind of thing. Even when I am on the train, diverting calls to my mobile will not usually help because I would need to be in the house to tell them whether they can hire the hall or were baptised in the parish or whatever.

Then I find that not only are BT "automatically" upgrading my line but they are also automatically sticking me on a 12 month "rolling contract". Taking out a magnifying glass to read the small print in light grey at the bottom of the reverse page, I find that this means that if I do nothing, they will sting me in month 13 for £100 for a service I don't want or need. To avoid this happening I have to ring them up. Not . Pleased . At . All. Well done, whichever fancy-pants loon thought up this scam: from loyal customer of BT, I instantly become implacable enemy. 13 months down the line, I expect that many other loyal customers will be snarling when they realise that they have been conned.

So I ring them up. When I eventually get through, I explain politely that I do not wish to receive this service. Since "calls may be recorded for monitoring and training purposes" I also explain (still politely) that this letter has motivated me to decide that I will change my telephone provider.

So back to square one. Anyone got good experience of a phone provider? I need one normal business line. I need to keep the same phone number. I want to get faster broadband. Currently I'm on half a megabyte which is nowadays pretty measly. A bundled deal with phone and broadband would be good.

And to lawyers out there - is this really a "contract"? Had I thrown this in the bin, would I be bound by its terms? Is it worth a quick email to the Office of Fair Trading?

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