Why did BT refuse to suspend a useless contract?

My parents’ house was recently gutted in a fire and they will be unable to live there for at least six months. However, BT refuses to suspend their landline and broadband contract for that period, even though they can’t access the services they are paying £50 a month for.

It offered to transfer them to their temporary accommodation, but since they are taking a long-term let of a holiday home which already has these services, this is useless.

PC, Kirkcudbright

Service providers are usually inflexible about contracts, but you’d hope that they would allow leeway in exceptional circumstances.

It took BT over a month to respond after I pointed this out. It then told me that it would credit your parents’ account to cover the period that their home is uninhabitable.

That’s not what it told your parents. In the same week they were told that they could either downgrade their contract to a cheaper, more restrictive option or cancel it, with no guarantee of reclaiming their old number when they’re in a position to start it again.

After further to-ing and fro-ing BT confirmed there will be no charges for eight months and the agreement will be reviewed if the house is still not habitable by then.

“While we don’t have a formal policy for customers in this situation, we are reviewing these policies and we always encourage customers to contact us to discuss any difficult situations or concerns they have around their service or account,” it says. “We apologise for the confusion and length of time it has taken to come to this solution.”

For those who don’t invoke the media and suffer such problems, a temporary transfer or restriction of services, or permanent cancellation, are, according to the company, the usual emergency options available.

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