A BEREAVED son was horrified to discover that BT was still taking money out of his mum’s account 10 months after she died.
Steve Bird, 52, found out that the telecoms giant had taken £800 from the bank account of his dead mother months after she passed.
BT was still taking money out of June Bird’s (pictured right) 10 months after she died
It comes at a time when companies have been urged to do more to help customers battling to sort out the finances of loved ones who have passed away.
Thousands of bereaved relatives have reported issues with the process, according to the UK Commission on Bereavement.
June Bird, a lifelong BT customer and florist, passed away in July 2022 following a lengthy cancer battle after losing her husband Bob months before.
At the time, the 78-year-old paid BT £80 a month for broadband and mobile services.
Her son Steve, a broadcast engineer and IT manager, sought to close her account following her death in July 2022.
After being told by a BT operator that the account had been closed in July of last year, Steve was gobsmacked to see that money was still being taken out of her bank account 10 months later.
Steve from Epsom, Surrey, told HOAR: “I phoned BT on July 27, 2022, to let them know I was my mother’s next of kin and asked for her account to be closed.
“I was categorically told that this was all good and that BT would indeed shut down the account.
“But fast-forward to April 2023 and when filling in the probate paperwork I was shocked to discover from her bank statements that BT had taken over £800 worth of payments since her death.”
Steve said he was absolutely “fuming” to discover that the monthly direct debits had still been active with BT even though he was reassured multiple times on the phone that the account would be closed last year.
To make matters worse, because Steve was still completing the probate documents he had no access to his mother’s bank account and couldn’t simply cancel the direct debit agreement with BT.
Direct debit rules give companies the right to withdraw funds from customer bank accounts until they receive letters of administration or a grant of probate.
Instead, Steve phoned the telecom giant only to be told that it hadn’t received notification of June’s death back in July.
Steve said: “It was absolutely ridiculous to be told that I hadn’t notified BT of my mother’s death.
“I keep notes of every conversation I have with customer service agents and I have notes for the exact call that I made.
“I kept insisting that I’d already notified BT and wanted the cash refunded but the conversation stalled and eventually the operator conveniently hung up on me.”
Unhappy with this, Steve formally complained to the telecom giant.
BT apologised for the issue last month and offered Steve a goodwill gesture – but it fell short of offering a full refund of the £800 payments.
Instead, the telecom giant offered just three months of June’s bill worth over £190.
But BT is well within its right to not backdate a full refund.
Ofcom rules state that a provider is not required to backdate the closure or refund any money paid, although some may choose to do so.
However, providers are encouraged to close the accounts of deceased customers as quickly as possible when notified by a next of kin – something Steve claims BT failed to do.
Unhappy with this response, Steve took his complaint to the Communications Ombudsman which initially got rejected.
But after discovering that he could request a phone log which shows that he spoke to BT days after his mother’s death, the Ombudsman has decided to reconsider his case.
BT declined to comment on the matter.
How do I complain to my telecom provider?
If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received, you’ll first need to contact your provider’s customer services department and explain the problem.
If this doesn’t resolve the issue, you can make a formal complaint to the company.
Details of how to do this will be on the back of your bill and on the company’s website.
Depending on your complaint type, you’ll be able to contact our team by web chat, telephone or by post.
You’ll need to let the company know what has happened and what you want it to do to put things right.
If a formal complaint gets you nowhere, after eight weeks you can ask for a “deadlock letter” and take your dispute to the appropriate Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.
How do I take my complaint to an ADR scheme?
ADR schemes are free to use and will act as an independent middleman between yourself and the service provider when an initial complaint cannot be resolved.
There are two ADR schemes in the UK – Ombudsman Services: Communication and CISAS.
Your provider is required to be a member of one of these and you can find out which one your provider is covered by on the Ofcom website.
Before you can submit your complaint to it, you must have logged a formal complaint with your provider and worked with the firm to resolve it.
You must also have received a so-called deadlock letter, where the provider refers your complaint to the appropriate ADR.
You can also complain if you haven’t had a satisfactory solution to your problem within eight weeks.
To make a complaint fill in the ADR scheme claims form on its website – or write a letter if you’d prefer.
The ADR scheme then bases its decision on the evidence you and the company submit.
If you choose to accept its decision, your supplier will then have 28 days to comply.
But if an individual chooses not to accept the ADR’s final decision, they lose the right to the resolution offer.
Customers still have the right to take their complaints further through the courts.
But remember this can be a costly and lengthy exercise, so it’s worth thinking carefully before taking this step.