Breaking up is hard to do, so they say. I’d agree, especially if your unreliable boyfriend is a telecoms giant like BT. We’ve been in a long-term relationship for about seven years and I’ve put up with all sorts of bad behaviour: poor service, slow broadband, line crackle and so on. The final straw was an email saying my bill was going up £2.50 in January to reach the heady heights of £49.99 a month. An inflation-busting 5.3%! It was obvious that Something Had to Be Done.
At the same time I hit on what I thought was a brilliant idea: get rid of the landline! Nobody in our house uses it because we all have mobiles. Even the mice are surgically attached to their phones. The only people who call the house are scammers or marketing drones. Consequently, when the landline does ring, no-one answers it. And anyway, who speaks on the phone these days? I never use up the free minutes on my mobile so why am I paying for landline minutes?
Resolute, I called BT and was put through to the ‘retention team’. I should’ve realised from the name that I wasn’t going to wriggle out of my contract easily. Sure enough, I was told I couldn’t cancel my landline because I needed the line rental for my broadband. Nor could I cut the call function because I was already on the cheapest package and, well, BT doesn’t provide that option. I was offered a special deal of £42.99 a month for 18 months. Better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, I thought, and signed up on the spot.
Contemplating how the saving would swell the Aperol fund, it did cross my mind that 43 quid a month is still a lot of cash. I thought I’d just have a little look on uSwitch* to see what deals I could get. And guess what – there was my own BT deal available at £29.99 a month with a £59.99 set-up cost. I don’t need to do the back-of-envelope calculation to know that’s a lot less than the arrangement I’ve got.
Fortunately I’ve got a 14-day cooling off period to sort it all out. But it does make me angry. Why does everything have to be so complicated? Energy companies, insurers and phone firms specialise in putting different bills in different places. The only way to stay ahead is to get on the comparison sites and be constantly switching to the deals targeting new customers. This is all fine if you have the time and the expertise. Those of us who aren’t so penny-pinching or tech-minded are going to be ripped off and it isn’t fair. Who’s going to make the call on that?
For more info on living without a landline see here.