Billing problems ... in their own words

Letter from CWC to AMS, 1 June 1998

It is our intention to offer all of our customers the highest level of service possible, and as part of our commitment to improve our service we have currently changed to a new customer database, and billing system. However on application of the initial billing cycle run, it appears that an error occurred as a result of the conversion of our systems. It was not possible to determine exactly which customers within the billing cycle had been effected [sic], therefor written notification was not sent. Instead our Customer Service Departments were immediately informed, to ensure that anyone calling in as a result of this issue had an explanation, an apology and a full refund of the incorrectly charged calls.

I can assure you that this error only occurred once and that corrective action took place as soon as it was discovered to ensure that this situation does not arise again.

I can confirm that all of the appropriate calls made on your line on the dates in question have been credited to your account, and this will be detailed on your next statement.

Click on the thumbnail above to see a copy of an enormously significant letter I was sent on 1 June 1998.

So CWC admit, in their own words, that there were billing problems and that they could not, and did not, tell people who did not notice the problems that there were problems. So those who did not complain and who were misbilled have not been refunded and, it would seem, will not be refunded.

I do not, and cannot, know the ratio of complainers to non-complainers. However, given that the only way people could know that there were problems was by checking their bill line by line, by reading this site or through word of mouth, there are probably more non-complainers than complainers. How many people check their bills thoroughly - or even at all?

Quite apart from such uncomfortable issues, there is another question of timing.

CWC first knew about the billing problems on or around 17 April 1998; I sent a letter, still unanswered, raising the problems on 12 May; The Times wrote on 18 May that:

There have been repeated rumours that CWC has had difficulties integrating its billing system for the entire group although the company insists that no unexpected problems have been experienced.

and the letter to me, which admits that there were problems, was written on 1 June.

So why was The Times told that there were no problems when CWC had been told that there were? It is hard to believe that the current misbilling was an expected problem ...
Text by Alastair Scott

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