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BT contract and billing guide

By Paul France | Thursday, October 29th 2020

BT is the UK's biggest phone and broadband provider and often tempts new customers in with introductory offers such as gift cards and free tech. BT broadband customers can also take advantage of BT TV and BT Sport, the home of Champions League football in the UK. But before you sign up to any of this, it's good to know what to expect.

In this guide we're going to take a look at what is included in a BT contract, what information is going to be on your monthly bills and what happens if you ever want to leave. We'll also look at the options and rights you have as a BT customer, including making payments and managing your account.

What is in a BT contract?

The contract you sign with BT is important as it will form the basis of the relationship between you as the customer and BT as your provider. This contract is known as a Service Level Agreement (SLA) because it sets out exactly what each party should expect from the deal. The devil is, of course, in the detail, so let's get into specifics.

Contract length

All BT broadband deals come with a 24-month contract. After 24 months, you'll still receive the same services from BT but will no longer receive an introductory discount. This means your monthly price is going to increase and it may be time to think about switching again.

Your package

Your contract will set out exactly what services BT will provide to you, for the agreed monthly fee. You'll have either signed up for broadband and phone, or broadband, phone and TV. BT doesn't offer a broadband-only package as it delivers its broadband over your phone line. It doesn't do a TV-only package either – BT TV is only available to BT broadband customers.

BT offers four standard broadband packages, each offering a different maximum download speed. Your contract will tell you your estimated average download speed based on the package you've chosen and your postcode, as well as your estimated average upload speed.

If you've chosen to add BT TV to your broadband package, your contract will give you information on the channels you'll be able to watch. It will also detail any additional services you've decided to take advantage of, such as BT Sport or BoxNation.

Your BT contract will tell you what your BT phone number will be. This may be one you've carried over from your previous provider or a new one that BT has assigned to you. During the set-up process, BT asks you whether you'd like your number included in the phone book or listed as ex-directory.

Most BT contracts now come with Pay As You Go calls as standard. This means you only pay for any calls you make from your landline. The Caller Display and BT Call Protect features are included as standard. If you use your landline quite a bit, you may want to upgrade to a calling plan such as Weekend and Evening calls or Anytime calls.

Stay Fast Guarantee

BT's broadband deals come with a Stay Fast Guarantee. This means that if your speed dips below an agreed minimum, BT will sort it out. If there's an issue, BT will reset your Hub remotely in the first instance and will send out an engineer if necessary. If your speed dips below your personalised minimum for 30 days, BT will give you £20 for the inconvenience and you'll have the right to walk away from your contract without paying a cancellation charge.

Installation

When you sign up to a BT deal, you'll be asked to choose a timeslot for an engineer visit. This is when your broadband (and TV) will be installed and activated. Any equipment needed to get your services up and running, such as a router or set-top box, should arrive in the post in the days leading up to your engineer appointment, along with set-up instructions.

My BT

My BT is the portal through which you'll be able to manage your BT account. You sign in with your BT ID, which you will have been asked to create as part of the sign-up process. You can also use your BT ID to sign into the BT Sport app and to connect to one of BT's five million wifi hotspots.

Price changes

As we said earlier, the price of your BT package will go up after the initial 24-month period. Your contract sets out the full price of your package before your discount is applied, so don't let this come as a shock in two years' time. The monthly price of your package will also increase every year in line with the Consumer Price Index rate of inflation.

Cooling-off period

We are all human and so will change our minds from time to time. That's why you have a 14-day cooling-off period in which you can cancel your contract without paying any additional fees. You will, however, have to pay for any services you've already used. The 14 days starts from the day your service starts or the day your kit arrives, whichever is later. The cooling-off period doesn't apply to BT Sport or any BT TV add-ons.

What is on a BT bill?

Once your BT broadband is all up and running, you'll start receiving bills. Your first bill will arrive in your inbox (and on your doorstep, if you've chosen to pay for paper bills) within 10 days of your service starting. BT will take payment about a week after that.

This is what you can expect to find on your BT bill.

  • Bill total – This is the amount that needs to be paid. It can be found at the end of online bills and at the top of paper or PDF bills. Next to the bill total you'll find the due date. If you pay by Direct Debit, this is when payment will be taken. If you don't, this is when you'll need to pay your bill by
  • Price breakdown – Your bill will detail all the things that add up to make your bill total. These include regular charges – your basic package price, minus any discounts that may apply, and any add-ons such as BT Sport – and charges for any usage outside of what's included in your basic plan. This includes phone calls to premium numbers and films or TV series bought on demand. You'll also see account charges, which are one-off fees for equipment, engineer visits or late payment
  • BT account number – This can be found at the top of your My BT homepage and will also appear on your bank statement as your Direct Debit payment reference

Paying your BT bill

There are a number of ways to pay your BT bill. You can choose to pay by Direct Debit, by credit or debit card either over the phone or via My BT, by sending BT a cheque or postal order in the post, or by cash at a PayPoint outlet. BT recommends paying by Direct Debit as you're guaranteed not to get stung by a late payment fee, as long as there's enough money in your account.

If you are paying manually each month, you could be charged a £7.50 late payment fee if you don't do it on time. If you're struggling to pay your bill, get in touch with BT on 0800 800 150.

Cancelling your BT contract or moving home

If you're unhappy with your BT broadband or if you've simply found a better offer from someone else, then it's time to leave. What you'll have to pay depends on when and why you're leaving.

Cancellation charges

If you want to leave BT during your initial 24-month minimum term, you'll be charged an early termination fee. How much you'll be charged depends on how long you have left to run on your contract and BT requires 30 days' notice to cancel your contract.

If you're leaving BT outside of your minimum term, there are no cancellation charges to worry about. If you are switching to another broadband provider, they will tell BT that you're leaving and a 14-day notice period will apply. Cancellation charges also do not apply if you're leaving within your initial 14-day cooling-off period or because your broadband speed has been consistently slower than the guaranteed minimum.

Moving home

You're going to have to tell your broadband provider if you're moving home. BT asks that you give them at two weeks' notice so they can get things ready at your new place. The good news is that there's no need to set up a new Direct Debit and you'll be able to continue on your current contract with the same account. If you're staying in the same telephone exchange area, you'll probably be able to keep your phone number, too.

Managing your BT account

The best place to manage your BT account is My BT. You can access My BT via the BT website or by downloading the app. You sign in with your BT ID, which is usually your email address and the password you created.

My BT allows you to view your bills, check your usage, change your personal details and to upgrade your package should you want to add a calling plan, BT TV, BT Sport or anything else that BT has to offer. There's also all sorts of help and support on there, so hopefully any questions you have for BT will be answered without you having to call customer services.

Frequently asked questions

Will I pay more with BT out of contract?

Yes, a discount is applied to your bill for the first 24 months of your contract. After this minimum term, the monthly cost of your broadband will go up.

How do I pay my final BT bill?

If you pay by Whole Bill Direct Debit, the full amount will be taken as usual and you won't have to cancel the Direct Debit. If you pay by Monthly Payment Plan, you'll find details on how to pay included in your final bill. If you don't pay by Direct Debit, you can pay as you usually do.

What if my account is in credit when I leave BT?

BT will pay you back any money it owes you within 14 days of you leaving. It will do this via your last payment method, whether that's by Direct Debit, debit card or cheque.

When do I pay the one-off installation charge?

If there's a one-off charge to pay for delivery of your equipment or installation, you can choose to pay this when you first sign up online, or to have this added to your first bill.

How can I speak to BT about my bill?

To pay your bill over the phone, you can call 0800 443311 and use a debit or credit card. To speak to BT customer services, call 0800 800 150.

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