BT Featureline - have you been sold the right product?

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It is a little known fact that what many business people believe to be 'BT' is not BT at all, but a privately run licensee operating as 'BT Local Business'. However, BT Local Business is NOT actually BT, but a private and independently-owned separate company in your local area, who pay a fee to BT plc and can then call themselves 'BT Local Business' - in return for this, they receive sales leads from people who thought they were actually calling BT to arrange the installation of new lines....................ask yourself why this is........

Firstly, the vast majority of new start-up businesses which need a landline will contact what they believe to be 'BT' as a matter of course, to have their new telephone lines installed. Several years ago, BT Retail disposed of a significant proportion of its sales staff and came up with the superb idea of licencing out the name ‘BT Local Business’. Please note: We are not allowed to use the word 'franchise' when referring to 'BT Local Business'.

Now, a call that is put in to BT Retail on 0800 800152 by a new start-up (or even well established, but nonetheless naiive) business that is simply looking for new lines to be installed, is forwarded to the caller’s local licensee of 'BT Local Business', which is not part of BT but simply sells BT’s products, services and contracts to the end user as an agent.

However, in recent years they have been pro-actively selling (we believe, mis-selling) a product called BT 'Featureline'. Invariably this is sold to the end-user on a 3-year contract. The idea of Featureline is that it provides the customer with all of the benefits of having their own PBX without the cost. However, in instances where there is only 1 telephone line and 1 fax line, there is absolutely no need for the end user to have Featureline at all, but BT Local Business will sell it to the end user on the basis that it is the only service that they can have.

It is our firm belief that the reason BT Local Business do this is not to help the customer, but to earn the maximum commission possible from BT. For example, what possible reason would there be to have Featureline on a fax number? When would you ever want to transfer an incoming fax call to another line, or divert it to your mobile? The answer is ‘never’. So why do they do it? The answer is simply that they can, because the end user knows no different. In addition, it ties that customer in to using BT Retail for 3 years, without the flexibility afforded by the Telecommunications Act 1984 which enables customers to choose competitors over BT Retail.

You may be aware that every landline telephone service in this country that is not a cable or LLU service is actually now provided by Openreach - a BT Group company ( who have over 450 resellers, including BT Retail and ourselves. Under Ofcom regulations, Openreach charge all of us the same wholesale price as they charge BT Retail to ensure a level playing field.

The only difference between suppliers is the price they charge.

All lines are still maintained by Openreach so it is the same service. However, the only specific product which is unique to BT is the rental of the Featureline product.

This is of course why we believe that BT Local Business pro-actively mis-sell Featureline to the end-user, because it ties them in for the rental of the service for 3 years. This is clearly anti-competitive practice, but Ofcom do not seem to be in the least bit bothered.

We currently resell Openreach services at a 40% discount to the very best BT Business Plan/One Plan that BT Retail offer.

Since we also provide fax-2-email TOTALLY FREE OF RENTAL why would you ever need Featureline for a fax-line?

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