‘I’ll go direct to jail over BT bill’

Date published: 11 November 2008

Pensioner John makes a stand over £4.50 charge

A 75-YEAR-OLD disabled man said he is prepared to go to prison over a £4.50 phone charge.

John Slater, of Boston Close, Failsworth, said he is being penalised for not having a direct debit to pay his bills.

Mr Slater, who has diabetes and arthritis, is charged £4.50 extra every time he receives a bill through the post.

As a result of him refusing to pay the charge, BT has cut him off and is set to pass the bill on to debt collectors if he does not pay by tomorrow.

He said: “I now owe BT £13.50 but I’ve been on to them and said they are not getting it.

“I’ve paid my actual phone bill but I’m not paying the £13.50 charge as it’s not right.”

Mr Slater, who stood as a Conservative candidate in Hollinwood during the 1970s, said he is prepared to go to court.

He said: “It’s very wrong to charge me.

“There are people worse off than me facing this charge as well and for some people, the telephone is their lifeline.

“I’m not worried about what will happen, I’ve told them straight if they want to take me to court they can.

“If they put me in prison, they’ll have to pay for my four meals a day.”

A spokeswoman for BT said: “BT believes it is fair and reasonable for there to be a price differential between customers paying by direct debit and those who don’t.

“BT maintains a differential because it costs more to process non-direct debit payments.

“Other companies charge £5 a month or refuse altogether to accept customers who won’t pay by direct debit.

“Importantly, we have been very careful to ensure that customers on low income, light usage and special schemes will see their bills remain the same — or in some cases fall.

“Other companies do not offer such safety nets.”