Ms R.P. writes: I own a beauty salon and rely on my phone for appointments, card transactions, and the day-to-day running of the business.
In November, BT disconnected my phone line without my consent. I have had the same number for nine years and it is a busy line.
I was left with no phone for three weeks and no broadband for four weeks at my busiest time of the year.
BT admitted liability but has already given my number to another customer. It offered me a derisory two months of free broadband, since increased to six, but at the same time charged me hundreds of pounds for a new line.
I own a beauty salon and rely on my phone for appointments, card transactions, and the day-to-day running of the business but in November, BT disconnected my phone line
It is staggering to think that BT can simply give away a phone number. Even more bewildering is that it can charge for a replacement. It took me weeks just to get BT to agree to investigate and comment.
When BT did comment, it blamed a ‘technical error’ and said it had diverted incoming calls so they reached you – and it had credited back the money it charged for your new line. You had complained to Ombudsman Services but BT told it you had been warned in advance of the disconnection and had not objected.
I asked BT for a copy of the warning letter and after a few more weeks of delay I was given it. This shows the name of your brother – not you – but no address.
You have told me that in the past your brother did speak to BT on your behalf to sort out a problem, but it is not his phone line and every bill has always been in your name and sent to your business address. Your brother says he knows nothing about any such letter.
The letter is absurd. It says your brother has asked BT to cancel the broadband connection. It adds: ‘We’re sorry you’ve decided to leave us.’
But at the same time it says: ‘Another customer has asked to take over the telephone line at your address.’
The address, of course, is nowhere on the letter so heaven knows where it was sent, if it was sent at all. So, back to BT to ask repeatedly what the technical error was that sparked all this off?
BT finally told me: ‘The error came about when another customer requested a new phone line. Instead of generating a new number the system sought to take over Ms P’s line which led to the generation of the incorrect order and jumbled letter.’
In the early days of this disaster, BT offered you a dongle to replace your landline-based broadband, but it was of little or no use because of the weak signal in your area.
BT has now managed to reconnect your phone number and it has increased its offer of £277 compensation by saying it will also pay for whatever system you installed so that you could continue taking card payments when your broadband was down.
In November, BT disconnected my phone line without my consent. I have had the same number for nine years and it is a busy line
Frankly, I think this is too little, too late. You could not be blamed for dumping BT and switching to another phone company.
J.C. writes: Capital City Holdings rang me about recovering a carbon credit investment, but the paperwork I was sent shows that an up-front fee of about £2,700 is required. I would guess this is a scam. What do you think?
Yes, it is a scam. Last week, I warned that crooks had stolen the name of a genuine company called Portland Investment Group and were offering a land deal that involved an up-front fee of the same £2,700. Other companies have had their names misused in the same way and the fraudsters even use the same paperwork. It is hard not to conclude that this is an organised crime.
This week’s crooks have a website at capital-cityholdings.com, where they claim to be financial advisers, in business for 35 years, dealing with mortgages, insurance and investments.
They say their registered office is at an address in London’s Covent Garden. The paperwork they sent you is signed by Albert Hay. But all this is lies.
They are not financial advisers and the address belongs to a genuine company, Capital & City Holdings Limited. This is a major property development business headed by the real Albert Hay whose signature has been forged. He has been contacted by people who have lost money to the crooks so he decided to speak to his fake ‘twin’.
He told me: ‘I phoned them up. They asked me who was speaking and I said it’s Albert Hay and I want to speak to Albert Hay because I am Albert Hay. They accused me of being a nuisance caller.’
The crooks give their phone number as 020 7041 8018. My own files show that a year ago this same number was used in a fraud called Clear Legal Escrow Services. It told victims they were due a payment from an escrow account, but – of course – they had to pay an up-front fee before the cash could be released.
The fraudsters stole the company details of a genuine business, Clear Legal Limited, and used the name of its accountant. Coincidence? Not likely.
Clear Legal reported this to the police. Last week’s scam was also reported to the police. Albert Hay has told me that he has also contacted the police, though he is disappointed at the lack of action by them. Third time lucky, perhaps?
THIS IS MONEY’S FIVE OF THE BEST CREDIT CARDS