Oh, you want to pay? That’ll cost extra…

I sometimes feel the world has gone mad. At other times I know it has. Today I got my quarterly bill from British Telecom for telephone services. I’m rather tied to BT, since the company pay the line rental in order to keep me on the GPTS, so I tend to check my bill if for no other reason than to find out what I can claim back. I always pay the bill via Internet banking as soon as it comes in, so imagine my surprise and anger when I found on the bill : ‘Payment Charges’ £4.50 for processing my payment!

Imagine going into a shop and buying the weekly groceries, and at the checkout being told, ‘that’s seventy quid, and a fiver for the privilege of paying’… I’m not asking for or paying via Credit, in fact the service charges on the bill are in advance, for the next quarter. Am I the mad one, to feel that this is wholly dishonourable, underhand and dishonest? I phoned the ‘helpline’, which appears to be on the other side of the world, and they pointed out that my service charge had been reduced – by £2.50.

Ah, now it all makes sense. BT are able to show that the cost of the line rental has fallen, and at the same time they can hike their charges by another two quid! Wow, someone must surely have got a bonus for thinking that one up.

So, it appears I can lose the payment charge by arranging payment by Direct Debit (but we won’t actually tell you that, it’s buried in the junk mail we know you chuck in the recycling bin if you are interested). The payment is a punishment for not letting them have free access to my bank account… In the meantime, how many folk will continue to pay for paying their bill?

Interestingly, when I went online to set up the Direct Debit, thus saving myself from the £4.50 rip-off, I found that the Calling Feature I have (CLI) and am being charged £4.50 per month (plus VAT) is currently a free option. I, however, was still being charged £4.50 per month for it… Effectively, BT were ripping me a tenner every quarter. Bless ’em.

You could always skype me instead.

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