BT Faces £600 Million Lawsuit for Overcharging Landlines

A class action suit could see 2.3 million BT landline customers entitled to compensation of up to £500.

A class action lawsuit has been filed against BT at the Competition Appeal Tribunal over allegations of historic overcharging of its users, particularly the elderly and vulnerable, who used its landline-only deal between 2015 and 2018.

The claim was lodged by consumer campaign group Collective Action on Land Lines (CALL) on Friday, who stated that BT failed to make up for significantly hiking prices for customers over several years even as the cost of providing the service had continued to fall since 2009. However, the claim can only go as far back as 2015 due to currently standing legal rules that were introduced that year.

In 2017, Ofcom discovered that BT had been overcharging millions of landline customers, prompting BT to reduce its prices by £7 each month, bringing costs down from £18.99 per month to £11.99. However, CALL said that BT had not properly addressed past overcharging.

Its claim seeks payments of between £200 and £500 for each of the 2.3 million BT customers who were affected by overcharging from 2015. The case is being brought by Justin Le Patourel, CALL founder and telecoms consultant who worked with Ofcom for 13 years, and law firm Mischon de Reya.

“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,” Patourel said in a statement. “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.”

In its own statement, BT said: “We strongly disagree with the claim being brought against us and will vigorously defend ourselves.

“We take our responsibilities to older and more vulnerable customers very seriously and will defend ourselves against any claim that suggests otherwise.”

Shares in BT fell almost 3% in early Monday trading after news of the lawsuit broke.

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