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Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

TLM
Grafter
Posts: 29
Thanks: 3
Registered: ‎13-06-2017

Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

I see someone else has had a near identical problem, but I believe it requires PN intervention to fix, so I'm posting it as a new topic.

Yesterday my Plusnet payment failed due to an expired payment card. Plusnet immediately started imposing punitive connectivity restrictions so that certain sites won't load but come up with an error message about the failed payment instead. But the best(!) bit is that among the sites they've denied access to is...Plus.net.

So how am I meant to remedy the situation?

Responses to the other post on this subject indicate there should in any case be a grace period before any usage restrictions are imposed so (a) Why am I experiencing this at all? and (b) Isn't it a bit of an own goal by PN if the sanction for 'not paying' (even by accident) involves preventing a person from paying?

12 REPLIES 12
smiffy1
Pro
Posts: 245
Thanks: 91
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Registered: ‎23-09-2018

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

Unfortunately its all to often 🤔 and they seam unable to fix it

TLM
Grafter
Posts: 29
Thanks: 3
Registered: ‎13-06-2017

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

This is still not fixed. I spoke to a young lady at Plusnet at about 4 p.m. yesterday, who acknowledged the restrictions were erroneously applied, and said she would email the right team to remove them. But if anything, the number of denied sites has since increased. Sites that were initially OK have now become inaccessible. I can't access any of the materials for an online course I'm doing, and it's starting to have a real impact on everyday activities. And of course I still can't log in to update my credit card details, to let PN take the payment - which was what it was all about in the first place. It seems from other posts that this issue has been occurring for at least a couple of years.

 

I've power-cycled the router, just in case it was fixed but I hadn't noticed yet. No good. I'm still on a restricted service.

jgb
Aspiring Champion
Posts: 675
Thanks: 445
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

This is sounding terribly familiar! 

This morning I got an email from Plusnet to say my direct debit request had failed and directing me to my billing page on my account. That page showed that there was no direct debit set up, but the last time I looked a day or so ago my correct direct debit details were showing as active. The only options were to set up anew payment method either by card or direct debit. There was no link to pay this month's bill. Anyway I set up another direct debit but, as I said, there was no way to pay this months bill.

A little bit of the history might help here. There have been several ongoing issues with my billing since October 2019 (yes 2019) which meant that Plusnet have not tried to take money by direct debit since then. Things have slowly been sorted via my complaints handler who has been doing a sterling job in spite of Plusnet's systems. He is monitoring the account and was checking to see if there would be any issues with this first direct debit request in 19 months as I had expressed my fears that something would go wrong after such a long gap..

This morning after that email I could still access my account and add to the on-going complaints ticket regarding this latest glitch. He responded saying, in paraphrase, that failed billing was not showing on his systems and that nothing would happen to restrict access. I could not fully understand what he was telling me as it seemed to me that as the direct debit had failed I need to be directed to another way to pay to avoid the failed billing elephant trap. Therefore I added another comment to the ticket asking for clarification.

This afternoon, I find that I cannot access my Member Centre - login page just says username or password not recognised. On a tablet I have had pages flashed up to say "Failed billing" but can still access other websites so far.

I rang the direct line I have to my complaints handler to find out what is going on . He has left for the day but spoke to one of his colleagues who checked and says that I should not be in failed billing as my handler has sorted things out. I said I had seen no response to my latest ticket by email and could not check any comments added to the ticket as I cannot get in to the account. He has emailed my handler to get back to me asap. Meanwhile he is checking to try to ensure that all is OK with my account, and, if not, hopefully sort it..

I have been with Plusnet for 16 years or so and have never failed to pay the monthly bill as soon as it has been raised. Plusnet's staff are generally helpful and, in particular, my complaints handler has tried very hard to sort out 19 months worth of billing errors. In fact there have been other errors on my account even before that 19 month period starting when the billing system was "upgraded" in 2018. Basically, shambolic!

All I ask is that Plusnet provide the service I have agreed a contract for, and bill me accurately and correctly for that service while having appropriate systems in place to do so and to take payment. I think that is, in fact, an Ofcom requirement on communication providers. Is this too much to ask? - seemingly yes as far as Plusnet are concerned.

I now await contact from Plusnet to tell me exactly what is the state of my account. However, my faith in Plusnet is steadliy diminishing, despite the seemingly best efforts of their staff, and I am getting increasingly frustrated with the time I am having to waste due to their inadequate billing systems.

adamwalker
Plusnet Help Team
Plusnet Help Team
Posts: 15,956
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Registered: ‎27-04-2007

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

Hi jgb, 

 

I'm really sorry to read about the issue with your billing, especially after we were unable to take payments for so long. I've passed a ticket through to the right team to get the restrictions removed from the account for you. That should get picked up within the next couple of hours. 

If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button
 Adam Walker
 Plusnet Help Team
jgb
Aspiring Champion
Posts: 675
Thanks: 445
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

@adamwalker 

Thank you for your efforts.

Three of your colleagues in the complaints team (my particular complaint handler) and two of his team colleagues have tried earlier today or are trying now to resolve this but the Plusnet system does not seem to want to play ball. Presently I am waiting two hours to see if the Billing System refreshes to remove the failed billing from my account. If not I shall be getting back to the complaints team.

 

TLM
Grafter
Posts: 29
Thanks: 3
Registered: ‎13-06-2017

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

I'm still stuck with it as well, jgb. Somebody named [CSA Removed] has responded to me via Trustpilot, to invite me to contact him on Facebook (what a ridiculously convoluted way to have to escalate). He says he has emailed the team to lift the restrictions, but that is exactly where I was left at close of business yesterday - another whole day has passed without a fix, and it's starting to gain some urgency, as I'm blocked from course materials, with an assignment coming up.

Moderator's note by Dick (Strat): CSA name(s) removed (to an area staff can see) as per Forum rules.

jgb
Aspiring Champion
Posts: 675
Thanks: 445
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

@TLM 

I think the problem is that whilst the Plusnet staff can make changes that should remove the failed billing state from an account, the Plusnet billing engine thinks differently and nothing happens. I do feel really sorry for the generally helpful staff having to work with such a monstrous system.

jgb
Aspiring Champion
Posts: 675
Thanks: 445
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

There seems to me to be at least two actions that Plusnet need to take to start to resolve these failed billing fiascos:

1. Change the internet routing to the failed billing payment page so that it is not caught in the lockout that seems to affect the members accounts etc. (Some internet pages seem to keep loading whist others do not. which seems to suggest that availability is based on routing - someone may know better))

2. Provide an alternative  direct phone line for payment - not the usual general number that can take ages to be answered if ever.

It is totally unacceptable that customers are adversely affected when, through no fault of their own, Plusnet's systems decide to cancel existing direct debit instructions (as is the case in my account) and so fail to take payment. It is even worse when the restrictions kick in immediately when the email etc., say that there is a14 day period before restrictions come in. That too needs to be addressed.

Plusnet's billing engine reminds me of the computer HAL in 2001 A Space Odyssey - totally out of control at times.

TLM
Grafter
Posts: 29
Thanks: 3
Registered: ‎13-06-2017

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

I freely admit the initial mistake was mine, but you know what it's like - the card expires and every damn place suddenly needs updating. It's my first missed or late payment in I don't know how many years - never would I have expected it to result in immediate service restrictions which are apparently so difficult to resolve.

Prior to this, I'd been about 90% likely to go for a product upgrade and new 18 month contract. Now I'm wondering whether it might be better to leave instead. Although I've experienced few problems over the years, I put it down to being a pretty undemanding customer. As long as I can browse, send email, and very occasionally watch iPlayer in SD, I don't ask a lot more.

But I've a!ways said the true test of a company is not when everything goes fine, but when it doesn't. Being fine for as long as nothing needs fixing can work out well for a long time. But sooner or later, something WILL need fixing.

jgb
Aspiring Champion
Posts: 675
Thanks: 445
Fixes: 19
Registered: ‎01-08-2007

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

Well, my account seems to have emerged from Failed Billing - the last action on my account by a complaints team member at around 1630 today seemed to clear through the billing engine at around 1820 and I now seem to be up and running.

I noted the intervention by the team here resulted in an internal ticket on my account  asking for the account to be unblocked as "it is only day 1 of FB". Says it all really...an uncontrollable system. One staff member said to me that because of the state (pending activation) of the new direct debit (which was only set up by me as Plusnet had lost / junked / abandoned the original direct debit which was active only a day or so ago) the system pushed the account into FB today rather than wait for day 14. If I had not set up the new direct debit today it seems that the computer would have waited until the allotted day! Well computers only do what they are programmed to do and so that needs to be sorted by a bit of smarter code writing.

The next issue will be next month - will the new direct debit work? I have little confidence. Like you @TLM  I am now reconsidering whether to recontract with Plusnet when my existing term ends in the Autumn. I have wasted too much time over the past 1-2 years with billing errors and issues. I just want the (basic) service provided that I selected and to receive accurate timely bills which I will pay on demand as I always have in the past. That should all be easy for Plusnet to provide, but evidently not so.

TLM
Grafter
Posts: 29
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Registered: ‎13-06-2017

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

Good news, and gives me hope at least, that there IS a fix, or at least a workaround, as I'm starting to worry it will impact upcoming deadlines I have.

At least in my case the initial error was mine - not that that excuses being left with restricted services for two days and counting over something I was ready and willing to correct.

I can't imagine how much more annoyed I'd be if Plusnet caused the failed billing to begin with.

I'm slightly concerned by reports that once this problem has arisen, it never really seems to go away.

Yes, it can be temporarily overridden (not that I've got that far yet), but the "system" seems to want it back.

As you say, what happens next month? If and when I'm "fixed", will it stick, or will HAL/Skynet be permanently convinced I'm in arrears? 😮

 

 

smiffy1
Pro
Posts: 245
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Registered: ‎23-09-2018

Re: Failed billing - connectivity restrictions stop me sorting it!

@TLM  I would not hold your breath with any hope of it working next month 😞 Failed billing has been with PN for about 5 years without a permanent fix .

Look at the forum there must be more threads on this subject than anything else