British Telecom apologises for confusion

British Telecom has apologised for any confusion caused by the imposition of a late payment fine. BT decided in December to impose a 5 fine if a customer is more than 26 days late in paying their bill, and the January bill is the first to carry a warning.

A number of customers began contacting the International Charter to complain that their bills gave the impression the fine would be imposed within days.

BT has now apologised for the "error" in the wording on the bill which it said it is "urgently correcting", but has defended the fine, saying it is standard practice across other utilities companies.

However, it has said it would look to waive the fine on one occasion for customers with a good reason for paying late, such as a holiday, bereavement or illness.

Gavin Patterson, Managing Director of BT's Consumer Division has now apologised for the confusion, and admitted:

"We have made an error. We realise the wording is confusing and we are urgently correcting that message. Anybody that pays their bill within 26 days will not be charged the late payment charge."

But he defended the charging policy, saying: "Late payment charges are standard practice, not just in the telecoms industry but across other utilities, such as water, gas and electricity."

He said the company had introduced the policy in response to customer feedback, to make sure "that customers who are good payers, and pay on time, do not subsidise the customers who are late payers".