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The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
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Registered: 05-04-2007

The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

(N.B. I've posted this here rather than in Rants & Raves as it's more of a moan about my bad luck than a complaint directed towards Plusnet.)
A little while ago I caught wind of various increases BT were planning to make to their line rental and call charges. My mother and I had always stuck with BT as it was generally cost-effective to do so (mainly because we need both 1571 and caller display), but, some time earlier I'd read about a special offer Plusnet were doing, where the recipient would get Home Phone Evenings & Weekends plus BBYW1 with 10GB for £5.50 for three months, then £19.50 thereafter. I was at the time a BBYW2 user, but I'd never used over 10GB, so I did some calculations and it became very clear that my mother and I could save a considerable portion of money by moving our phone line to Plusnet and taking up the special deal.
Alas, things didn't quite go to plan. On the 26th of January I put in a request to move to the special offer, and here's what happened next...
8 Feb.: Dave Tomlinson sends me a PM to tell me that there's a cease order showing on my broadband (!), due to take place on the 19th when my phone line is due to move. Thankfully though, because he spotted it he was able to get in touch with BT and tell them to come to their senses.
20 Feb.: Plusnet, after confirming that my phone line is now in their ownership, set me up for the offer. Except, it's applied on the wrong date: I'm told in my ticket that the offer will commence on my account from the beginning of my next bill (the 1st of March), but instead I'm changed over that day. As a result, I effectively lose 5GB that I'd already paid for (as we pay in advance for our broadband, and I had 15GB with BBYW2 but now only 10GB with the offer).
1 Mar.: This is the day that I should be billed for a new month but... I'm not. I subsequently do a bit of nosing around the portal, and find that my billing date's mysteriously changed to the 6th of each month without warning. This means that my February usage - which was already now 5GB less than it should be - had to stretch an extra five days too. Though thankfully I obviously 'saved' a couple of days from the fact February was a short month.
3 Mar.: I get an e-mail telling me I've failed a direct debit payment from the 6th of February - a date for which no bill existed. Unhelpfully, this blocked all of my member centre access (who on Earth thought of that? I couldn't even check my closed tickets to see if there were any service notices that could explain what'd happened). I moaned a lot on IRC and Phil Richardson stepped in to see what he could find; it transpired that the failed payment was actually one from the 25th - a pro-rata Home Phone payment which I did know about (as my HP service began a few days before the beginning of my next billing period). He tells me that it failed with an error saying the bank had no direct debit instruction, so my mother and I make a payment by debit card to get our member centre access back. Except Phil then tells me that PN's systems think I've now redeemed one of my three £14 discounts, so he has to spend a while fiddling with things to fix that. My mother checks her online statement to find that PN's money was taken from her account the day before, then credited back that same day, so...
4 Mar.: Today my mother phones up the bank - Barclays - to be told that whilst the direct debit was set up correctly from Plusnet's end, Barclays have no direct debit instruction so won't honour any payments. I report this to Phil, who then tells me that Plusnet received authorisation from Barclays for the direct debit so they'd clearly received the instruction. The only solution therefore is to cancel the current direct debit on my account and set up a new one, hoping that this time, Barclays don't forget about the instruction. Except, of course, I'm due to be billed on the 6th, which is before the new direct debit will be set up... meaning a card payment is the only option, which will incur a surcharge - which will then need to be refunded.
Later on during the day, my mother realises that we've not heard from BT since our phone line was switched across to Plusnet. We were supposed to have received a final bill from them by now, which would effectively amount to a refund, as we'd just paid in advance for three months' line rental before moving to Plusnet, owing to the timing of BT billing us. So, perturbed by the lack of a refund, we check our BT account online - to find that they seem to have completely failed to realise that we're no longer using their services, as the site still seems to think it's going to bill us at the beginning of next quarter. So we need to chase that up now...
In sum, therefore, our decision to move to the offer resulted in...

  • BT feeling like placing a cease order on our broadband

  • Plusnet messing up my move to the offer and my account's billing

  • Barclays completely forgetting about the direct debit we'd set up

  • BT forgetting to refund us for two and a half months of unused line rental


And of course the 'ordeal' isn't over yet - we've now got to get that refund off BT, we've got to make sure Barclays have a working direct debit instruction in a few days, we've got to make sure that Plusnet's billing doesn't go haywire and start charging us incorrect amounts, we've got to make sure we're refunded the card payment surcharge...
Of course, you might be thinking 'Ok, that's bad, but it's just a one-off, hardly a curse'. Except... guess what happened when I moved from a PAYG 15GB offer to BBYW2 last summer? My entire broadband connection went down. I'm not kidding. I don't know exactly what happened; all I do know is that I disconnected the day I was moved over to BBYW2 (I think I needed to reboot the router for some reason), and... I couldn't reconnect. Something had gone wrong with my account which was preventing me from connecting to the exchange, and which meant Plusnet had to place some kind of reprovide order to get my broadband working again in a couple of days' time... which resulted in me losing my static IP that I'd had for the previous six years (although it must be said, Chris Parr did try to get it back for me, going as far as trying to phone up the person whom my old IP was now assigned to).
So... well, I do definitely feel I'm cursed. Many thanks must of course go to the various members of Plusnet staff I've mentioned who've helped sort out the many problems... but I do really wish that things wouldn't keep going wrong in the first place. Cry
9 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,099
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Registered: 31-08-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Cheer up, there's a gremlin in PN's billing system  Shocked, you aren't the only one affected.
Quote
He tells me that it failed with an error saying the bank had no direct debit instruction

This is the 2nd thread I've read tonight with exactly the same reason for failure.
Community Veteran
Posts: 19,099
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Registered: 31-08-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Thomas, I presume you read this http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,74641.msg594715.html#msg594715
I hope your situation is resolved soon.
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Thanks Chris - I have indeed seen it (I was the one who pointed Phil to it having noticed the similarity with my own direct debit problem) and am waiting with interest to see which bank the OP is using...
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,100
Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

yep, I agree that it sounds like the same problem. It would be worth checking with your bank exactly what mandates are set up on your account as instinct says the DD as been created under a different Plusnet company name, to the one they are claiming under.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

[me=jelv]wonders if the bank has a mandate set up for Madasafish[/me]
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
Community Veteran
Posts: 6,111
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Quote from: Spider
It would be worth checking with your bank exactly what mandates are set up on your account as instinct says the DD as been created under a different Plusnet company name, to the one they are claiming under.

We did this online back on the day I had the failed payment - we weren't looking for anything particular (i.e. we hadn't thought of the using-a-different-name issue), but thought we'd just see if anything obvious presented itself. Which it did: there was no DD mandate from anything to do with Plusnet showing on our account. Huh
Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Rather annoyingly, since I started this thread two further things have gone wrong - one of which is definitely Plusnet's fault, and the other of which looks like it is also probably their fault. Alas, I've been too busy until today to feel like bothering to sort out the latest mess. But now I've got some time, here's what's happened...
6 Mar.: My first billing day under the new offer arrives. My bill is for £7.46, which at first glance, seems just perfect - the £5.50 offer price plus £1.96 for the two extra Home Phone call features we've added. But then I twig: no referrals discount. Granted, the discount isn't much - only £0.25 - but it is still nevertheless an error with the billing (and one which could start mounting up in monetary value if it continues to fail), so I report it. Am told that it's already a known problem - which is good. But, twelve days later, it's still not been fixed - which makes me wonder what the betting is that it'll still be broken by the time of my next invoice.
12 Mar.: Eight days after being initiated, my new direct debit becomes active. Hoorah! Except... three minutes later, it's cancelled. I'm not kidding; at 2pm I get an e-mail to say that my direct debit is active, and literally a few minutes later I get another e-mail to say PN have no payment details for me on my account... so I dig in to my ticket history and find that at 2:03pm there's a service notice saying my direct debit has been cancelled. Eh? It certainly wasn't me inadvertently doing that (I was in a seminar at the time), and I can't see how a mistake by Barclays would somehow cause the direct debit to activate then immediately cancel itself... so I can assume that it's the result of yet another problem with Plusnet's billing system. So that's yet another problem to sort out.
Community Veteran
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Registered: 05-04-2007

Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

With regard to the DD it sounds like some one as entered an expiry date as well as an activation date. The DD should be still visible to the Bank but it will show as canceled. If memory serves they should be able to see if this is actually the case. Also they should be able to say who canceled the DD which can be either customer (online), bank or beneficiary (Plusnet).
Community Veteran
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Re: The curse of the Plusnet product change [v. long]

Thanks for that Spider; your post prompted me to check online banking to see if the DD was showing up there and it is, so it would appear that as far as the bank's concerned, the DD exists. Will add that to the long-running ticket and see what Plusnet make of it...