BT accused of ‘financial blackmail’ by MPs
BT has been accused of ‘financial blackmail’ by a group of MPs for charging customers who elect not to pay their bills by direct debit.
Around 35 MPs have signed a Commons motion initiated by David Hamilton, Labour MP for Midlothian, which criticises the charges as unfair and unwarranted.
From this May, BT customers who do not pay their bills every month by direct debit will be charged £4.50 a quarter, which the MPs say hurts poor customers the most. They want BT to withdraw the levy immediately.
The motion they have tabled ‘notes with concern the decision by BT to introduce a charge on customers who decide not to pay their bill by direct debit or monthly payment plan’.
It ‘acknowledges that these forms for payment may save BT some administrative costs but that consumers deserve to be able to make a free choice about the method they use without financial blackmail’.
Figures show that only 92% of households in the UK have bank accounts and this fact led the MPs to comment that ‘these charges would penalise the poorest more than other groups’.
Given that BT made profits of £1.4bn in the final quarter of 2006 alone, they have demanded that the company review the proposed charge ‘immediately’.