- Britain’s biggest telecoms company under spotlight over landline prices
- Campaign group won right to bring class action against BT
- But BT says it has done nothing wrong and will ‘vigorously defend itself’
Millions of BT landline customers could receive up to £400 in compensation as the company faces a trial over overcharging.
The class action, which begins today, aims to win £1.3 billion for more than 3 million BT customers, many of whom are elderly.
The group Collective Action on Land Lines (Call) claims BT has increased prices in the past even as its own costs fell.
Call has now taken BT to court over two groups of customers who he claims were overcharged.
Landline: BT accused of increasing customers’ landline bills without valid reason
1) Those who had a BT landline phone service between October 2015 and April 2018, but did not have broadband from BT or another provider.
2) Those who had a landline and BT broadband between October 2015 and December 2023, but did not bundle these services into a single discounted package.
The first group has more than 1.5 million affected customers and they have been overcharged by up to £84 a year each, Call said.
The second group is made up of more than 2 million customers, Call says.
The claim period is from February 2015 to October 2018 for landline customers only, and from February 2015 to December 2023 for landline and broadband customers.
Justin Le Patourel, founder of Call, said damages will vary depending on each customer’s case, but compensation is likely to be between £300 and £400 per person on average.
In 2017, watchdog Ofcom said BT had unfairly charged millions of landline customers from 2015.
At the time, BT agreed to reduce the price of its landline offers.
However, Le Patourel took the case to the Competition Appeal Tribunal as he believed the telecommunications provider was owed compensation, arguing that many customers were vulnerable and should be reimbursed.
Le Patourel said: “Time is really running out. More than 40 percent of our claimants are over the age of 70 and more than 150 of them die every day. It is really essential that BT repays each and every one of them as soon as possible.
More than 500,000 customers who only had a landline have already died.
However, if the lawsuit is successful, the estates of these deceased people will be able to seek compensation.
The trial is expected to last eight weeks and the plaintiffs hope to obtain a judgment in 2024.
A BT Group spokesperson said: “We take our responsibilities to our customers very seriously and are committed to keeping our customers connected, while helping those who need it most.
“This claim relates to a technical issue with landline pricing which was resolved by Ofcom in 2017. We do not accept that our prices were anti-competitive at the time and we undertake to vigorously defend our position at trial. “
How can I register?
If you think you have been affected, there is nothing you need to do now.
The matter is being run on an opt-out basis, so affected BT customers are included by default unless they choose otherwise.
If the claim is successful, BT customers will have to register with Appel to obtain any compensation.
Furthermore, a legal challenge against cell phone overload was launched in December 2023 against Vodafone, EE, Three and O2.
Millions of mobile phone users could face paying £3.3 billion after years of overcharging on their contracts, according to consumer champion and former Citizens Advice executive Justin Gutmann.
Gutmann thinks that these companies overcharged their customers on up to 28.2 million contracts.
Many are expected to have claims against multiple mobile carriers and could therefore receive even greater compensation, he says.