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Barmy Plusnet Emails

EnglishMohican
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Barmy Plusnet Emails

My mother is 92 and I manage her account (Airlee) for her. Thats not very relevant except to explain why I am writing this rather than her.
You recently sent her Email ref: E0672 demanding that she supply card details or you would restrict her service. She has been with Plusnet for several years paying by direct debit. We changed the details for her bank account last Monday (14th).  That should have given you plenty of time to set up the new direct debit.
Why are you sending her irrelevant emails demanding card details? Pull you fingers out, use the direct debit mandate and take the money. Stop sending her irrelevant emails. Get your computer systems sorted so that they do raise stupid emails because the programming is so poor.
Why am I raising this on the forums rather than with a ticket. 72 hours turnround for a ticket and too many of the responses are thoughtless gibberish about apologies and how you are escalating the problem to the right group. Some tickets I have raised must have reached God the number of times they were escalated - and with not much of an outcome even then. Generally I believe the forum staff do better.
31 REPLIES
Mattz0r
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

Quote from: EnglishMohican
We changed the details for her bank account last Monday (14th).  That should have given you plenty of time to set up the new direct debit.

When is the billing date though? It does take quite some time (especially with the Plusnet system) to activate a Direct Debit. You'd need to give it at least 7-10 days.
I don't think the email would "demand" that you put details onto the account, more suggest, really. This email is usually sent if the invoice is generated, and no payment method was available, or if there are no active payment details at all.
When you update a Direct Debit, the old details are removed, which creates a gap of "no details" being held in the system.
Also, with billing queries, you're much better raising a support ticket for it, though in this instance, I'm not sure what the support team can do for you.
Cheers,
Matt
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

You are being totally unrealistic in your expectations.
When you enter details for a new direct debit Plusnet have to send the details to the bank, the bank then have to send a confirmation back to Plusnet and then Plusnet have to update their system. All this has to happen BEFORE the billing run.
Have you obtained confirmation from the bank if and when they sent the confirmation back to Plusnet?
If there is no validated DD on the system when the billing run is done it will request payment by card. Once the billing run has been done the only way Plusnet can take payment is by card. You can have the card details removed after this single payment has been taken.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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JamesM
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

I can fully understand your frustration EnglishMohican, I know what it is like when my Mum receives e-mails that are out of the ordinary. No matter how nice the e-mail might be worded, it is still very upsetting and causes panick for elderly people who were not brought up with all this automated non personal contact.
No wonder people are too afraid to change things, because as soon as you change anything, the computers stick to what they are programmed to do and show no human common sense whatsoever. Still this is the world we now live in, where a computer can basically make someone's life a living hell for weeks or months because it cannot factor in a change from what it has been programmed to do.
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

The ONLY fault Plusnet have made (and this has been raised before) is not to put a big warning on the page where you set up the direct debit that at least 10 working days must be allowed for the DD to be set up and that any bills raised before it is fully set up will need to be paid by card.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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EnglishMohican
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

Quote from: Mattz0r
When is the billing date though?  It does take quite some time (especially with the Plusnet system) to activate a Direct Debit. You'd need to give it at least 7-10 days.

Billing date is the 21st.  - so 7 full days.
"especially with the Plusnet system"  You imply Plusnet are different and less adequate than normal companies. Given their email as evidence, I agree.
Quote from: Mattz0r
I don't think the email would "demand" that you put details onto the account, more suggest, really.

Quote from: Plusnets
It's very important that you update your card details now. .....lead to restrictions on your service.

I call that more demand than suggestion - but then I am a gentle soul not used to the burly tactics of high power businesses.
Quote from: jelv
You are being totally unrealistic in your expectations.
When you enter details for a new direct debit Plusnet have to send the details to the bank, the bank then have to send a confirmation back to Plusnet and then Plusnet have to update their system. All this has to happen BEFORE the billing run.

I am unrealisticHuh  Nothing in Plusnet's system says it will take 10 days - you seem to have this information based on the topic being raised previously and I assume it's you interpretation rather than a clear statement from Plusnet.
Do they use 2cd class post to communicate with the bank that it takes so long - or might they possibly be the sort of company that uses the internet for communications? Banks can validate transactions and authorisations in seconds as online banking proves. It can be done. Are you seriously telling me Plusnet do not do these things electronically.? Perhaps they should move into the 20th centuary and aim for the 21st centuary sometime soon.
I entered the direct debit data into Plusnet's system for them. Their computer could code up a secure transaction and send it to the bank without human intevention. The bank could confirm by secure transaction that the account exists and that the name is correct for that account. That is all the information available and the whole thing could be done within seconds of me entering the data. Where does 10 days come into it? There is no teller checking a signature anymore because there is no signature.
Quote from: Mattz0r
Also, with billing queries, you're much better raising a support ticket for it, though in this instance, I'm not sure what the support team can do for you.

I explained why I raised a forum post rather than a ticket in my original post. Tickets seem to be handled by amateurs, forum posts by staff who at least try to be helpful. In this instance, I expect somebody to check my mothers account and email her saying, "Please ignore our emails about entering your credit card details. I have checked the direct debit and it is fine. We will take the money the way our systems arranged with you (direct debit) without asking you to jump through any hoops that we did not tell you about at the time. I am very sorry that our poor systems have caused you unnecessary upset and worry and will raise it with our CEO as a shocking example of our  shoddy software at its worst"
I will dream on. Thank you all for your replies.
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

Have you had confirmation from the bank when they sent the instruction back to Plusnet authorising them to take payments by DD? That part of the process is obviously totally outside of Plusnet's control?
I've seen another example of just these circumstances recently. Once the billing run has been done there is no way the payment can be made by direct debit - it has to be made by card. If there is a debit card on the account being used for the new DD then obviously that is the one to use and it will make no financial difference whatsoever. If I recall correctly when this happened last time Plusnet credited the card payment charge of £1.50.
Edit: Found the topic I was thinking of: http://community.plus.net/forum/index.php/topic,118905.0.html
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

Quote from: EnglishMohican
Billing date is the 21st.  - so 7 full days.

Just realised something doesn't stack up. Is the 21st the billing date or the date the payment is normally taken from the bank? I'm puzzled why you should have had emails when billing hasn't been run yet. If the billing date is 21st DD payment would normally be taken around 26/27th.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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Superuser
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

Where no DD exists on an account aren't bills provided 3 days in advance of billing date with the debit occurring automatically on billing date? In this case presumably a valid card is not on the account so the email advises to add one so automatic billing does not fail.
David
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

That would make sense as the OP posted on the 18th. Today will be the significant day then. If the DD had been set up fully by the billing run they'll get the "Advance notice of your Direct Debit payment" email and all will be well. If it has not they will presumable get a message to say billing has failed and they need to contact Plusnet to make a payment by card.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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EnglishMohican
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

Quote from: EnglishMohican
Billing date is the 21st.  - so 7 full days.

My apologies - I was muddled - Plusnet expect to take the money on the 21st - not send the bill.
Reading your comments above it is clear that the emails received on the 18th were the bill - though it does not say "bill" anywhere, just that payment is due to be taken and that the card details are incorrect or expired - which is a half truth - there have not been card details on there for years.
Mum has already received the emails telling her that Plusnet could not take payment - and it is still early on the 21st.
However, on the 14th, Mum received an email from Plusnet the vital bits of which I have copied in below (my bold).
Quote from: Plusnet
Having accepted your Direct Debit details, we would like you to confirm
that they are correct.,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,. However, if your details are correct you need do
nothing
and your Direct Debit will be processed as normal.

The details were correct so I did nothing. Reading further down the email, it does say that it can take up to 5 working days for a direct debit to become active. 5 days still seems a long time but there are 5 working days between Monday when I made the change and Monday when they could reasonably have expected to take the money. But how stupid is it to tell me it takes 5 days after I have made the change and when I cannot undo it or delay it and after they have told me they have accepted the details.
I now gather from your replies that it is not even the date when they normally take the money that counts - it is the date when they choose to run their internal system that picks up the direct debit or card details and presumably generates the billing emails.  So now I have to understand Plusnet's internal systems to avoid falling foul of them when I follow a workflow that Plusnet have defined and been told that I have done so acceptably.
Furthermore, the amount of money mentioned on the "payment has failed" email is more than I think it should be even allowing for the price increase. If this turns out to be a surcharge for a failed payment, then I shall be writing formal complaints about the whole affair. To penalise a customer for Plusnet's own utter incompetence is unacceptable.
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

I do wonder how often this sort of problem occurs and why they haven't done anything about:
Quote from: jelv
The ONLY fault Plusnet have made (and this has been raised before) is not to put a big warning on the page where you set up the direct debit that at least 10 working days must be allowed for the DD to be set up and that any bills raised before it is fully set up will need to be paid by card.

If you go to https://portal.plus.net/my.html?action=view_transactions&s=0 the Invoice Date will be your billing date - I'm guessing it will be the 18th (you can also tell from https://portal.plus.net/view_my_broadband_usage/index.php?&strAction=PERIOD where it shows the billing periods).
It's not the time between when you set up the DD and when the money will be taken that is significant, it's the time between setting up the DD and the billing run which is fairly early in the day (my last DD notification email was timed 8:54). If the billing date is 18th that's less than 4 working days.
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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EnglishMohican
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

@jelv
I find it hard to be sure whether you are being constructive or not!
Yes, I think it is probably high time Plusnet did something about it but there is plenty of evidence in the forums that they do not try to update things very hard. You link to their portal but that is a confusing nightmare for anyone who does not use it every day. Compared to every other web portal I use, Plusnet's is the most obscure and unhelpful.
Yes, I can also work out that the 14th to the 18th can be interpreted as 4 days though logically it depends on when the activity takes place on the day.  If I had changed the direct debit details on the 14th at one minute passed midnight and Plusnet did their billing run on the 18th at 23:55 then for all practical purposes there is 5 working days between the two and if the times are the other way around, then it could be 3 working days. Which is why people use terms like "5 clear days" rather than just 5 days. Even then, I do not understand why Plusnet take 5 days(according to Plusnet rather than the 10 you quote)  to validate a set of numbers. There is no way that they or the bank can know anything more than that the account exists and the account  name matches. It can all be done electronically over the internet. The bank do not come back and check with the account holder that they have authorised the direct debit so the circle does not get completed in any case.
Yes, it is easy with hindsight but you have still not suggested why or how I should know that Plusnet choose to generate their direct debit file/tapes on the billing day. There is no mandatory reason for doing so. If they gave the 14 day notice that many organisations give, then they would almost certainly not generate the file/tape at the same time and I am sure all sorts of intermediate cases exist.
Yes, if Plusnet's systems were competent, then when I started to change the direct debit details it could have said "BEWARE, we cannot change these details in time for your next bill, please wait until after the 18th or phone us before you do this". But it did not. Plusnet run unfriendly, out of date software that does a totally incompetent job and Plusnet expect the customer to jump through hoops that Plusnet have created and have not told us about until it's too late.
To say "Only" in your quote is unreal. They should put up a notice as discussed. They should also not send emails saying everything is just dandy when it is not. They could also operate a more efficient direct debit authorisation system. They could reply to the telephone is much less than 20 minutes which would make phoning them about this tolerable. They could reply to tickets in something less that 72 hours and they could ensure that those tickets complete the information exchange, not just put it on hold for another 72 hours. They could organise their ticket system so that updating a ticket does not restart the 72 hour countdown. They could respond on the forums. But they don't. Plusnet have become a cheapjack outfit that is barely fit for purpose. It has become a very sad thing to see the once quality Plusnet layed so low.
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

I can't disagree with a lot of what you've said. I didn't expect anyone from Plusnet to respond over the weekend as the Digital Care team who monitor these forums work standard Mon-Fri office hours. I'm disappointed nobody has responded today! I think it's pretty fair to say that their advertising has attracted more new users than they have support staff to cope with. In the past I've suggested they ease off the advertising until sufficient support staff are trained - they never have before and I doubt they will now.
I don't know if you noticed but a while back they changed the target time to respond to tickets from 8 hours to 24 hours*. Their pathetic excuse was to set a more realistic expectation for users - well excuse me the Average Closure Time shown at https://portal.plus.net/supportpages.html?a=212&helpheader=rhmcallstats did that. No doubt for a while somebody got paid bonuses for meeting the 24 hour target when they should be measured against the 8 hour target we were used to.
I spotted the other day that the average was up to 48 hours so I anticipate that instead of resolving the situation by holding back on the advertising and/or getting more staff trained they will increase the target again.
Enough beefing - back to your situation. I've tried to give you an accurate picture of how the system works so that you can sort things out. Perhaps ONLY was the wrong choice - MAJOR might have been better as everything stems from you not being alerted to the possible consequences when you went to change the DD. They don't do themselves any favours by putting an optimistic estimate of how long it takes to set up the DD; it would be far better to estimate high, then people would be pleased when it took less time.
Have you managed to find out from the bank when they sent the confirmation back to Plusnet? It is silly of Plusnet to not make clear that they can't fully control the process as they have to wait from a response from the bank. I'm wondering if the response from the bank raises a ticket and there's a delay in processing that because of the ticket situation. I still do think that you were being optimistic and even if you didn't think of it before it went wrong, when it did have a somewhat milder "oh drat that's gone wrong" reaction when you thought about it.
I believe that a major revamp of the billing system is under way. I sincerely hope it will bring significant improvements to the DD process. One of the major failings of the current system is that even if you respond to them within seconds of them sending the DD notification to complain that the DD is for the wrong amount it is already too late for them to pull the file - it makes a farce of the 3 day notice period!

* What made this even worse was that they tried to sneak this change out without anyone spotting it - not even the Digital care Team were told it was being changed!
jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
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EnglishMohican
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Re: Barmy Plusnet Emails

@ jelv = Thank you for your efforts. I am now much clearer about the process - and yes I saw the original thread about Plusnet increasing the ticket response time to 24 hours - and the note that it was originally  4 hours before it became 8 hours.  I am afraid Plusnet's concept of a proper level of service is sinking fast.
Yes, I can confirm that the direct debit has been approved by the bank.  The bank's website gives a start date from which Plusnet could have taken the money as the 17th, one day before Plusnet did their billing run.
It will be interesting to see whether the other direct debits that I am transferring at the moment (EDF and Zen) have the same problems. Looking at their websites, it appears that EDF can change a direct debit right up to 3 days before the money is due to disappear from the account. They have a notice specifically saying that up to the 3 day point they can make changes to amount or bank details but once the three day point is passed they prefer to take the money (but will do something to help if it is totally impossible). Zen appear not to have any restrictions - but of course - neither did Plusnet at that point in the process.
Maybe the staff members on the forums are averse to answering too many posts rapidly in case everybody gives up using tickets and just comes straight to the forums. I did not expect a reply over the weekend but it's not that many months since a reply would have appeared by 9:30 or 10 am on the Monday at the latest. Seems to be more standards are slipping than ever.