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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 70708
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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I took out a eighteen month contract with BT i.e.expires in

Customer Question

I took out a eighteen month contract with BT i.e.expires in July 2015.but I was in Hospital For 3 months from being discharge in mid December but continued under medical care, I was too ill to bother to check and my E-mails and apparently BT had sent me a E-mail extending my contract a further 12 months on the 18th.March. On the 11th June I read in the Daily Mail that providers could no longer hold you to a contract So i immediately switched to Sky but BT stated as I broke the contract there would be a penalty charge of £166.BT also state that if I was satisfied I could not change, but in early 2015 I had a lot of trouble for which they refunded me £5 but still had a lot of problems and eventually an BT engineer had to change the Box -set. I'am 84years old on a very small pension and cannot aford this large amount.Plwase Help
Regards ***** *****
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Hi.
Thank you for your question. My name is ***** ***** I will try to help with this.
The Daily Mail is not a good source of legal advice I'm afraid.
Did you give BT any notice before renewal?
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The information in the DM was issued by Ofcom no notice to BT

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
The information in the Daily Mail is usually a wild exaggeration of reality.
In any event, Ofcom do not make law. They are no more than a regulatory agency.
If the Daily Mail did report that nobody could be held to a contract then that is a nonsense. A contract is binding as it always has been.
What changed about five years ago was that Ofcom criticised roll over contracts. That didn't change the fact that they were binding but imposed a general criticism upon the insurance industry largely.
As a result of that companies have a policy now of writing to people or phoning them at the time of renewal rather than just rolling over.
It depends what exactly has happened here. If your original contract agreed to a rolling over period unless you cancelled within a certain period then you are bound. If it demanded a certain notice period then you would be bound to something. You will need to get to the bottom of that.
Either way though, they are entitled to notice. You cannot just leave these things I'm afraid. They do not expire as a result of a natural end. Therefore some liability arises.
They cannot charge you penalties as that offends against UCTA but they do have a claim for either lost profits or the cost of administration. £166 is a little on the heavy side unless you are locked into a further 12 months and that amounts to the lost profits which will not be the case. It will almost certainly be a penalty which is challengeable.
They will not sue though. What they will do is add a default to your account. Whether that matters to you really depends on whether you want to borrow money in the next six years. If you do not then it will not have any effect.
Can I clarify anything for you?
Jo