BT sold me broadband but I don’t own a PC! How firms are flogging expensive online deals to pensioners who can’t use them
Elderly people who don’t own computers or mobile phones are being signed up to broadband packages.
Telecoms firms and price comparison websites are flogging expensive internet deals to pensioners who can’t even use them, a Money Mail investigation has found.
Broadband packages are typically at least ?5 a month more than landline-only deals — but we found companies don’t always check customers need the extra service.
Experts say baffling pricing and confusing terms and conditions contribute to the problem. And some customers are being hit by basic administrative errors.
Colin Porter discovered that he had been signed up for BT broadband without his permission
Pensioners have complained to Money Mail just as the telecoms watchdog reveals plans to make BT cut line rental costs by ?5 for customers who don’t use the internet.
Changes announced by Ofcom yesterday should benefit 2.3 million customers with phone-only deals, who will pay ?13.99 instead of ?18.99 in line rental.
Retired pet shop owner Colin Porter, 72, discovered in December that he had been signed up for BT broadband without his permission.
He has never owned a computer and does not have a mobile phone.
Colin, of Rustington, West Sussex, believes he was moved to a new deal without his permission after a cold call in September.
He says: ‘BT called and said they had a special offer on broadband. I told the woman on the phone that I wasn’t interested because I didn’t have a computer, and I thought that was the end of it.’
When he called with a billing inquiry three months later, he discovered he had been moved to broadband anyway.
Colin’s monthly bill was now ?26.74 instead of ?26.22 for a landline-only deal — not a lot, but more than he needed to pay.
He had also been signed up for a new 12-month contract with BT which he was locked in to until November 2017. His landline-only contract with BT had been due to end this month.
‘They couldn’t explain how I ended up on a broadband contract,’ he says. ‘If I hadn’t called them about my bill, I might never have known.’
Last month, Colin received a letter from David Currie, of the digital care team, who apologised and admitted ‘an order was lodged without your knowledge’.
A spokesman for BT says: ‘We’ve listened to the call and Mr Porter is quite correct. He didn’t want to sign up for broadband and the order shouldn’t have been placed.’
The bill for broadband has been refunded and he has received ?30 as a goodwill gesture.
Brian Norris, 78, was signed up to TalkTalk’s broadband when he called price comparison service SimplifyDigital to switch from BT.
He has not used a computer since he retired as manager of a menswear shop in Redditch six years ago.
Broadband packages are typically at least ?5 a month more than landline-only deals
TalkTalk does not offer landline-only packages — and has not done so for three years. Despite this, SimplifyDigital pointed the widower to a TalkTalk broadband deal for ?23.50 a month, even though he told them he doesn’t use a computer.
This was around ?4 a month less than he was paying with BT, but Mr Norris believes he could have secured a cheaper landline-only deal elsewhere.
Research shows landline-only packages start from ?16 with the Post Office, and ?18.99 from BT, with unlimited anytime calls.
A few days after switching to TalkTalk, a router arrived in the post. He assumed this was a mistake until he received a letter from them which mentioned broadband.
To add insult to injury, he was charged ?6.75 for delivery.
He has posted the router back to them.
Brian, from Malvern, Worcestershire, says: ‘I phoned them to protest.
I’ve never owned a computer and I made that clear on the phone to the company.’
TalkTalk has reduced Brian’s bill to ?18.70 a month as a ‘goodwill gesture’.
SimplifyDigital says Brian should have been advised it couldn’t offer landline-only packages, and adds it was made clear that the bundled package included broadband and remained good value as it included free calls to France, which was important to him.
Widow Frances Moffatt, 94, who does not have a computer and rarely watches television, ended up paying ?35 a month for superfast broadband and extra TV channels after a call with internet provider TalkTalk in December 2014.
There is no suggestion TalkTalk did anything wrong and the mistake has been put down to confusion.
A TalkTalk spokesman says: ‘We are sorry Mrs Moffatt was unhappy and have agreed to put her on a regular deal with no TV.’
James Walker, founder of free complaints website Resolver, says: ‘It’s vital that telecoms businesses recognise that not all of their customers need, want or understand developments in technology.’
Deals Of The Week
MORE than 4,500 households in east Hull can move into the internet fast lane as KCOM’s Lightstream superfast fibre broadband service becomes available to around 50 streets in the Holderness Road area. From today, residents in Holderness Road, Holland Street, Durham Street, Summergangs Road, Lee Street, Rosmead Street, Estcourt Street, Westcott Street and Newbridge Road, as well as several smaller streets around them, can order Lightstream, which delivers broadband speeds many times faster than standard copper broadband. It is already available to more than 75,000 properties across East Yorkshire and in March this year KCOM announced plans to speed up its roll-out2 of superfast fibre over the next 18 months.
Two men fighting for life after car hits tree and bursts into flames3
The additional investment means Lightstream will be available to around 150,000 properties approximately three quarters of KCOM’s network by December 2017. By that time KCOM’s total capital investment in installing fibre will have reached approximately 60m.
Sue Helmont, KCOM’s director of consumer services, said: “We’ve ramped up the pace of our fibre roll-out to make Lightstream available to more households sooner. As our customers spend more time online through their smartphones, tablets and internet TVs, they want faster speeds and we’re delighted to be able to give more of them the best possible online experience.
“Demand for the service is high so last week we offered priority booking to people who had registered their interested in Lightstream in advance before installation appointments became available to everyone.”
Hull is the only city in the UK where “ultrafast” broadband security © delivering download speeds of at least 100Mbps (megabits per second) is being rolled out as standard. KCOM is installing fibre cables all the way from its telephone exchanges to customers’ properties. Elsewhere in the UK, fibre cables are typically laid only as far as telecoms cabinets in the street, with copper cable forming the final connection to the customer. The result is slower download speeds6 that vary according to how far a customer lives from the street cabinet.
Where are these additional properties?
Lightstream is now available in 4,500 additional properties in these streets, below.
For technical reasons, the service may not be available at every property in every street.
- Ackworth Street
- Alaska Street
- Alexandra Dock
- Alston Avenue
- Arundel Street
- Barnsley Street
- Beech Avenue
- Belmont Street
- Berkshire Street
- Brecon Avenue
- Brecon Street
- Brodsworth Street
- Buckingham Street
- Byland Court
- Byron Street
- Chamberlain Gardens
- Chaucer Street
- Chestnut Grove
- Coleridge Street
- Cudworth Grove
- Dene Street
- Derwent Street
- Dryden Street
- Durham Street
- Endymion Street
- Estcourt Street
- Hatfield Walk
- Hickleton Close
- Holderness Road
- Holland Street
- Jalland Street
- Jesmond Gardens
- Lee Street
- Lilac Avenue
- Lime Tree Avenue
- Marlowe Street
- Mersey Street
- Middleburg Street
- Middleham Close
- Morrill Street
- New Bridge Road
- Nornabell Street
- Oakwell Grove
- Ossett Close
- Rensburg Street
- Rosmead Street
- Royston Grove
- Severn Street
- Sherburn Street
- Silkstone Walk
- Staxton Court
- Summergangs Road
- Sweet Dews Grove
- Swinburne Street
- Victor Street
- Wath Grove
- Westcott Street
- Wombwell Grove
- Wordsworth Street
This is a workshop aimed at those people who may be interested in finding out more about the Digital Connectivity Grant
Digital Connectivity Grant Programme
This capital grant scheme will support superfast connection for groups of businesses not planned for inclusion in either the commercial or publicly-funded rollouts of broadband infrastructure.
Business estates or clusters in West Sussex have until midnight on 17th April 2016 to apply to the new Digital Connectivity Grant Programme which will provide up to 40 per cent of the cost of getting connected.
This funding comes from Coast to Capital s Local Growth Fund under their Growth is Digital key project but is being managed by West Sussex County Council.
To be eligible you must not have current access to superfast broadband services or be included in the planned delivery of the publicly funded roll out by Better Connected, a partnership of West Sussex County Council, BT and BDUK (the government department responsible for broadband delivery). The grant programme has been developed by Rural West Sussex Partnership, Gatwick Diamond Initiative, Coastal West Sussex Partnership, West Sussex County Council and the South Downs National Park Authority.
There will be a workshop for potential applicants on the afternoon of Friday,11th March at the South Downs Centre in Midhurst. This is optional but recommended.
For more information, or to book a place at the workshop, please email