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BT Direct Payment Charges Unfair - Sinn Féin

20 April, 2007

Sinn Féin Economic spokesperson, Mitchel McLaughlin MLA has called on BT to reverse its proposal to surcharge those customers who do not make payments by direct debit.

Mitchel McLaughlin said,

"This charge is a penalty on those people who cannot pay by direct debit and another instance of big business following the policy of government agencies in forcing people to deal with banks rather than the Post Office or Credit Unions. Once more the banks will be the only beneficiaries of this proposal affording them another opportunity to top up their profits through additional Direct Debit, unauthorised overdraft and missed payment charges. This will mostly affect those low income families and elderly who are unfamiliar with Direct Debit procedures or cannot guarantee enough cash flow to be sure that the money will be in the account at the proper time.

"Only in the last few days we had a report from the Consumer Council highlighting the magnitude of unauthorised overcharge payments made to banks by consumers over the last six years - an estimated £210 million. This proposal by BT will only provide the banks with an opportunity to further increase these charges.

"This surcharge on those most vulnerable people who struggle month by month to pay their utility bills will lead to more hardship for the elderly and low income families. BT should display a sense of social conscience and scrap this unfair surcharge." ENDS

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