BT could be forced to pay out £600 million in compensation after it was accused of overcharging millions of loyal customers. Those affected could soon find themselves with an extra £500 in their pockets, provided that a successful class action case is brought against the telecoms firm. The issue, which affected customers with a landline managed by BT, was first highlighted back in January. The case is being brought by law firm Mischon de Reya and telecoms consultant Justin Le Patourel, who have collectively accused BT of anti-competitive behaviour.
Regulator Ofcom has already found BT guilty of overcharging landline customers between 2015 and 2018, with the company agreeing to reduce future bills. However, it stopped short of issuing refunds for those deemed to have paid too much for calls and telephone services.
When first presented with the claim for compensation from law firm Mischon de Reya and telecoms consultant Justin Le Patourel, BT had argued that it was not suitable to be brought in “collective proceedings”, often known as class actions. However, that all changed today. The Tribunal has granted Le Patourel with permission to bring the claim on behalf some 2.3million BT customers.
READ MORE: TalkTalk is giving away FREE broadband for 6 months, are YOU eligible?
In its judgment, the Tribunal states “[Mr Le Patourel’s] application for a CPO succeeds [..]. This Judgment is unanimous”
So, what’s next? Well, the ruling from the Tribunal shows the case can proceed to full trial and, if successful, the 2.31 million BT customers who are believed to have been overcharged by as much as £84 per year could receive up to £500 each in compensation.
Speaking about the action, Le Patourel said: “We think that these customers could be entitled to a substantial repayment of up to £500 each. This decision is a great step in the right direction and we look forward to the full trial, where we will continue fighting for BTs loyal and mistreated customers.”
Speaking earlier this year, a spokesperson for BT said: “We strongly disagree with the claim being brought against us. We take our responsibilities to older and more vulnerable customers very seriously and will defend ourselves against any claim that suggests otherwise.
“For many years we’ve offered discounted landline and broadband packages in what is a competitive market with competing options available, and we take pride in our work with elderly and vulnerable groups, as well as our work on the Customer Fairness agenda.
“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. We will continue to offer a variety of packages to support our customers through the pandemic.”
If you’re a BT customer who has held a landline with the company between 2015 and 2018, you could be eligible for a payout – provided the class-action lawsuit is successful when it heads to court. You do not need to do anything at this stage to be entered as part of the claim.
If you would like to find out more information or register for updates, contact the Collective Action on Land Lines (CALL).