BT faces £600m class-action lawsuit for 'overcharging'

The telecoms giant is accused of failing to compensate customers who were overcharged for landlines between 2009 and 2017

BT is facing a £600 million class-action lawsuit for allegedly failing to compensate elderly customers who were overcharged for landlines between 2009 and 2017.

The 2.3 million affected BT customers are now being represented in a claim filed by law firm Mishcon de Reya. If successful, the lawsuit could result in BT having to pay out £500 to each affected customer.

BT had allegedly been overcharging its elderly customers for eight years, only agreeing to lower its landline prices by £7 per month following a 2017 review by Ofcom. According to the regulator, UK landline providers increased the costs of line rental by 28-41% despite wholesale costs falling by 25%. The company was strongly criticised for raising the prices and for providing customers who had "been with BT for decades" with "poor value" for money.

Collective Action on Landlines (CALL) founder Justin Le Patourel said that, despite Ofcom's action, the telecoms giant never reimbursed the affected customers.

“Ofcom made it very clear that BT had spent years overcharging landline customers but did not order it to repay the money it made from this. We think millions of BT’s most loyal landline customers could be entitled to compensation of up to £500 each, and the filing of this claim starts that process,” he said.

BT issued a statement on the matter, saying that “Ofcom’s final statement made no finding of excessive pricing or breach of competition law more generally”.

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“We strongly disagree with the claim being brought against us,” said a spokesperson for the company. “We take our responsibilities to older and more vulnerable customers very seriously and will defend ourselves against any claim that suggests otherwise.

"We assure our customers, including the elderly and vulnerable, that we will not let this claim disrupt the relationship BT has with them particularly at this critical time, when our people have been working so hard to keep them connected with their loved ones.”

The spokesperson added that the BT “will continue to offer a variety of packages to support [its] customers through the pandemic” and that it will “defend itself vigorously” against the claim.

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