MORE than two million BT customers are one step closer to getting a £500 compensation pay out.
A £600 million class action claim against BT is alleging that elderly and low-income customers were overcharged by the firm.
The class action was given the go-ahead in September 2021, but BT lodged an appeal against it.
The telecoms giant wanted the legal action to be an opt-in process.
That means the 2.3million customers who are thought to have been affected would have to manually sign up to be involved.
It was feared that an opt-in process would mean many eligible customers would not sign up and would miss out on hundreds of pounds in compensation as a result.
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Today that appeal was dismissed, and it is now hoped the claim will go ahead on an opt-out basis instead.
That means all customers who are eligible for compensation will be automatically signed up to the claim, but will have the choice to opt-out if they don’t wish to be involved.
The issue relates to historic prices that BT charged for its landline-only tariff between 2015 e 2018.
The company cut the cost of its line rental from £18.99 to £11.99 a month in 2018 after a review by the regulator found “serious concerns about soaring bill”.
BT made the £84-a-year price cut to reduce future bills for customers, but did not compensate them for what they had paid to that point.
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Justin Le Patourel, founder of Collective Action of Land Lines (CHIAMATA), who is leading the claim, disse: “I am grateful the Court of Appeal has found in our favour and we can now proceed to a full trial.
“Asking people to sign up to a legal process, which they don’t understand and which has an uncertain outcome, would almost certainly have led to low levels of engagement.
“This would have made it impossible to secure redress for those affected.”
It is estimated a total of £600million is owed to customers.
Who could get compensation?
A class action is when a group of people come together to make the same legal claim.
Le Patourel will be able to claim on behalf of BT’s “Voice Only Customers” who had a landline service between October 2015 e aprile 2018, who did not also receive a broadband service from BT or any other provider.
He can also claim for “Split Purchase Customers” who had BT landline service and broadband in a separate deal from either BT or another provider any time since October 2015.
The next step is for the case to go to trial. If it’s successful, some 2.3million BT customers could be set to receive compensation of up to £500 each.
All eligible customers should now be automatically represented and you do not nee to do anything. But you can opt-out if you don’t want to be involved.
You can find out more or register for updates on the CALL website. You can also contact CALL by calling 0333 212 1617.
A BT spokesperson said: “We strongly disagree with the speculative claim being brought against us. We take our responsibilities to customers very seriously and will defend ourselves against any claim that suggests otherwise.
“We take pride in our work on the Customer Fairness agenda. For many years we’ve offered a discounted social tariff in what is a competitive market with competing options available, e, last year we extended that to help a potential four million households on low incomes save on bills and stay connected to vital services now available to access online, on the phone or via our nationwide retail stores.
“We assure our customers that we will not let this claim disrupt the relationship BT has with them.”
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