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Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

Where do I begin!
Ring PN to cancel.
Issue 1:
I've got a number of active referrals on my account, understood they could be kept - told my account will be closed so pretty much tough.
Ask whether it's possible the referrals can be moved to another account, told they have no idea.
It's my understanding that the Referrals can certainly be kept by my account being "downgraded" to a PAYG account.

Issue 2:
Told there's a £30 "Cease Fee", this is despite being out of contract and told it's to remove the "Tag" from the line...
Have a long discussion with the operator, and his manager.... The manager seems to have difficulty with plain English.. Despite me saying I'm leaving as PN cannot provide me with an adequate service <It's less than 1mb again... but at best is 1.5mb> (it's BT's inability to provide suitable network infrastructure and I'm now in a Virgin area as they've just cabled our area up) He insisted on going through tickets... then lambasted me for not responding to the automated closure one... and clearly failed to read the rest of the ticket...
Never mid...
However, I'll be damned if I'm paying a £30 "Cease Fee" - ESPECIALLY given the following:
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/addcharges/pes_statement
Quote
7.'Cease' charges
If a customer decides to cancel a broadband service (and doesn't plan to switch to a new company which also uses BT's network) they may receive a 'cease' charge. This even applies if they have completed their contract. The company is passing on a charge which it has to pay, to BT Openreach.
Ofcom's final guidance is that a cease charge is probably fair, provided:
the charge is made clear to customers before they sign on the line; and
it's based only on the actual costs that come with ceasing a service.

Now yes... I cannot ever recall a "Cease Fee" ever being mentioned... however your Options Manager kept insisting it's in my T&C's - You know in the "small print"....
It appears the "actual cost" of the Cease Fee is far from "fair"...
Not only that but:
https://www.btwholesale.com/pages/static/Library/Pricing_and_Contractual_Information/Part_7_BT_Whole...
Market 1 Cost: £5.41
Market 2 Cost: £6.71
Market 3 Cost: £31.12
Interestingly enough...
The recent OFCOM WBA review refers to Cease Charges
http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/wba-review-update/summary
change the definition of cease charges that are to be set to £0. In our 2013 WBA Consultation we proposed cease charges for only IPstream Connect Max and Max Premium should be set to £0. Here we propose to extend this proposal to cover all cease charges in Market A;
BT's response is:
Question Eight - Do you agree with Ofcom’s proposal to change the definition of cease charges that are to be set to £0?
8.1. BT accepts Ofcom’s proposal to change the definition of cease charges that are to be set to zero,
but is concerned that no provision has been made for the recovery of efficiently incurred “left in jumper” costs.
It is essential that these are included in the connection charge.

So BT agree....
I will remind you of what OFCOM state in relation to Unfair Contract Terms and Charges....
it's based only on the actual costs that come with ceasing a service.
OFCOM's Review States quite correctly:
Costs incurred to cease WBA services (regardless of the product being ceased) are generally only data changes to BT’s systems. These will require minimal or no marginal activity on the part of BT, although in some cases Openreach may be required to remove some jumpers that support the underlying SMPF service. The costs incurred by BT, other than any charges levied by Openreach, will therefore also be minimal. In addition, any cease costs incurred by BT (other than charges levied by Openreach) may then be recovered through other charges inside the charge control basket.
Ironically enough... If I were moving to Hull - You'd let me out of contract, and apparently no charges at all..
I think If you don't sort it - I'll move to Hull.........

Oh, and Finally:
The response from your Customer "Options Team" on my ticket STINKS!
Ticket: #85148285
Quote
Dear Mr xxx,
Thank you for your enquiry. As per our earlier conversation I have arranged for your account to be ceased on the 23/05/2014. You will have to pay a cease charge of £30 this is to remove the broadband from the BT network. Please pay this in the next 10 days or we will start to chase this via our debit recovery agency.

Kind regards,
Mark xxxxxx

And:
Quote
Dear Mr xxxx,
if fees paid when ticket off hold then cancel for the 23/5/14 or let DR <Debt Recovery> deal as per ticket Ticket: 85148251
Kind regards,
Mark xxxx


Also See
Question #85148251
Question #85148397
I've been with PN for many many years now.... I think 6 to be precise, and have bought a number of referrals...
Based on this experience so far, I seriously doubt there'll be any further referrals.
If I'm forced to, I will pay the £30 fee - but I WILL take the matter further with OFCOM, and if required, as a point of principle - love using the county court....
Threaten me with Debt Collectors, after 6 years of never missed payments... It'd be a pleasure to issue proceedings....
I expect an answer shortly!
32 REPLIES
v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

It would appear my account is already with Debt Recovery!
Cheeky b*****ds
The Question 85148251 has been released from hold and sent back to Debt Management - Debt Recovery Requests
This is despite apparently having 10 days to pay the fee.... The Questions were raised on Saturday the 3rd May..... And the threat was pay by the time the call comes off hold on the 10th May... Someone can't count either...
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,699
Thanks: 919
Fixes: 10
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

I can't remember when BT Wholesale started charging the cease fee but all customers were notified at the time and, as it was an adverse change in T&Cs, given the opportunity to cancel without any charge.
Plusnet just pass on the fee charged by BT Wholesale.
If you migrate to another non-LLU ISP using a MAC the fee does not apply.
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
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Registered: 27-10-2012

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

The OFCOM links you've posted are consultations - they are not yet implemented.
I think the upcoming wholesale broadband access review (due July 2014) should deal with the cessation charge.
v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

I'm aware of that, and I've referred to BT's response to the "consultation"...
But interestingly BT state:
Quote
The current control on IPStream prices concludes on 31st March and we understand that the WBA
Statement is unlikely to be published before June, with the next control commencing on 1st July
2014. In order to provide continuity and remove uncertainty for our customers, BT Wholesale will
leave prices unchanged between 1st April and the 30th June 2014.
The overall principle is for BT Wholesale and its customers to be in the same position as if the
control had started on 1st April 2014 rather than 1st July 2014
.

Therefore... PN will want the £30 charge... They'll pay it to BT... BT will then refund it to them....
Superuser
Superuser
Posts: 2,838
Thanks: 546
Fixes: 5
Registered: 06-04-2007

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

But your contract (with Plusnet) says that the fee is payable for your situation.  If those changes go ahead (which I don't think is 100% guaranteed at the moment), then Plusnet may decide to refund you then, though you would most likely need to ask them at the time, though that would be at their discretion since the T&Cs say it is, and don't make any reference connecting it to a BT charge.
v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

And further:
<Removed bill bit as I got the date wrong  Roll eyes >
But it's still likely to be classed as an Unfair Charge - Certainly it doesn't reflect the actual cost (as per OFCOMS requirement), and BT already agree....
The changes are highly likely to go ahead - specially as BT have already stated on their response that agree with OFCOM on the Consultation to remove them...
Community Veteran
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Registered: 27-10-2012

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

But it's in the T&Cs that a cessation charge applies (irrespective of what might or might not happen in the future).
There are lots of things (like failed engineer appointments) that PN receive from their suppliers which do not get passed directly back to the customer.
What notice period did you give?
v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

And on the subject of Referrals:
Quote
user902 Plusnet Extra 18/10/11 08/06/14 N/A £0.50 30 £15.00 active
user902 Talk Anytime 18/10/11 08/06/14 08/05/14 £0.50 30 £15.00 active
user57 Talk Anytime 21/12/10 20/05/14 20/04/14 £0.50 40 £20.00 active
user57 Plusnet Value 12/08/10 20/05/14 N/A £0.50 44 £22.00 active
userson Plusnet Value 21/11/09 01/06/14 N/A £0.50 53 £13.25 active
userson Talk Evenings & Weekends 01/12/09 01/06/14 01/05/14 £0.50 53 £26.50 active

From my bill:
Quote
1  Total redemption of referral token (12665573) earned from workplace - manual association - - -£0.25
1  Total redemption of referral token (12665574) earned from workplace - manual association - - -£0.50
1  Total redemption of referral token (12709637) earned from new_signup - - -£0.50
1  Total redemption of referral token (1270963Cool earned from new_signup - - -£0.50
1  Total redemption of referral token (1277934Cool earned from users@gmail.com - - -£0.50
1  Total redemption of referral token (12779349) earned from users@gmail.com - - -£0.50

How long have PN been "top slicing" off  £0.25p a month...?
Appears to have been quite a while..


Notice period was given on the 3rd of May, with a final date of the 22/05 (I said I wanted it finished before the next billing period) which is well within the 14 days required according to the operative.


v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

And despite it being "In the T&C's" - it doesn't actually make it enforceable should it be classed as an Unfair Term... And OFCOM have said that it's likely to be unfair should the cost not meet the actual cost.. As for PN just "passing it along" - that's no defence.
That's why the Regulations exist you know... to prevent Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts by people in position of Market Power for non-individually negotiated contracts...
Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

1. I've looked back and the cessation charge was introduced 29th October 2008.
2. Since that date there has been a line about this in https://portal.plus.net/my.html?s=0&action=account_summary
3. If you are unhappy about this why haven't you objected to it before? If you joined after that date it was in the T&Cs you agreed to.
For the T&C see https://portal.plus.net/info2/legal/index.html#broadband_family paragraph 18. Because you have agreed to those T&Cs you haven't a hope in hell of avoiding the charge.
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
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Registered: 27-10-2012

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

But, it's your interpretation that it's an unfair term. You agreed to it when joining PN and had the opportunity to dispute it then and when it was changed.
People can't just refuse to pay an amount set as a contractual term just because they perceive it as unfair.
If you want to fight it, then you have two options:
1) Argue your case with PN and hope for a gesture of goodwill;
2) Take legal action against PN.
Community Veteran
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Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

From your first post about cease charges
The proposals are to set it to zero from IPstream Connect, Max Premium and Market A Exchanges
Non of these apply to your exchange or your connection
v70ben
Grafter
Posts: 119
Registered: 19-11-2009

Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

Which makes the point entirely...
OFCOM Clearly state:
Quote
We will continue to enforce the UTCCRs, as necessary and appropriate, pending publication of any further guidance or other information in this area. Consumers who have concerns about the use of unfair terms in contracts for communications services should continue to raise them with Ofcom in the usual way

Quote
Update 05|03|10: We are reviewing and, if necessary, updating the Guidance on Additional Charges in light of the Supreme Court's judgment in the Bank Charges case, The Office of Fair Trading v Abbey National and others (http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/decided-cases/docs/UKSC_2009_0070_Judgment.pdf). This does not affect consumers' and service providers' continuing obligations under the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 (the "UTCCRs"). We will continue to enforce the UTCCRs, as necessary and appropriate, pending publication of any further guidance or other information in this area. Consumers who have concerns about the use of unfair terms in contracts for communications services should continue to raise them with Ofcom in the usual way.
Additional charges
No one likes surprises when it comes to bills and charges.
When you sign up for a service, you should have all the facts at your fingertips to know what it will cost you and what, if anything, might bump up those costs or change the rules.  And any extra charges in the small print must be fair.
For the last 18 months or so, Ofcom has been looking into the whole issue of extra charges made by phone, internet and pay-TV providers. We've looked into the issues, and heard both from the companies that provide these services and the customers who pay for them.
Now, Ofcom is issuing final guidance on what we believe is the fair way to go. This plain-English summary gives you the main points of that guidance, but for the full Statement document please see Related Items. 
Charges and the law
Ofcom's task has been to look at the law that's designed to protect consumers (the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contract Regulations 1999, or 'the Regulations') and say what we think it means.
The guidance we are now giving aims to make sure that the companies fully understand, and obey, the Regulations. If they don't, we can take action against them. This may include legal action, since the final decision on whether something is 'fair' is a question for the courts.
The small print, magnified.
We believe that healthy competition is the best way to make sure consumers enjoy the benefits of new services and lower prices. If, for example, you have a phone at home, a mobile, broadband or pay TV, you'll have seen their prices fall over recent years.
However, the main price you pay isn't always the only thing you pay. Sometimes, extra charges come into play, for a variety of reasons. Examples include:
if you choose to pay by cash or cheque, rather than using a Direct Debit from your bank ("non-Direct Debit charges");
if you want a fully itemised bill, not just a summary;
if you pay late, or if your payment doesn't go through (e.g. if your cheque bounces);
if you cancel a contract before the minimum period is up;
if you cancel a service even after the minimum period is up; or
if you stop taking a service, but still have to pay until the end of a notice period.
At Ofcom we've received many complaints about these small-print charges. For example, we've had many letters from MPs about extra charges for people who don't (or can't) use Direct Debit (DD), and there have been many articles in the papers as well. We've also received lots of complaints from people who have been charged for cancelling a contract early.
An extra charge isn't necessarily an unfair one. However, it's Ofcom's job to make sure that companies play fair, and that ordinary customers know what to look out for.

And at the bottom:
Quote
7.'Cease' charges
If a customer decides to cancel a broadband service (and doesn't plan to switch to a new company which also uses BT's network) they may receive a 'cease' charge. This even applies if they have completed their contract. The company is passing on a charge which it has to pay, to BT Openreach.
Ofcom's final guidance is that a cease charge is probably fair, provided:
the charge is made clear to customers before they sign on the line; and
it's based only on the actual costs that come with ceasing a service.

So the Cease Charge is PROBABLY FAIR....
Based on it being based upon actual costs... not those designed to punitively financially disadvantage and prevent those in Market 3 areas from ceasing... After all... The charge and work is exactly the same on WBC/21cn whether it be Market 1/2/3...
As for it being "on the dotted line/signed up" - Can't recall receiving any form of notification about any changes to that, or it being specifically pointed out..
Community Veteran
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Re: Well... Leaving - but Not very impressed with "Options Team"... - Complaint

On or about the 2nd August 2013 you will have received an email notification headed Important information about your Plusnet service. which included the following
Quote
We'll also be changing the cessation fee we charge if you decide to disconnect your contracted Plusnet broadband service without moving to another provider. This charge will increase from £25 to £30 - if you leave under these circumstances, you will see this charge as a one off cost of your final Plusnet bill.