BT usage snafu leaves customers more suspicious than ever


BT has been forced to apologise after incorrectly billing users of their Fon wi-fi service for data they never used.

The blunder has left BT's customers even more suspicious of unusually high usage on their accounts, an ongoing problem for the ISP.

BT customers who exceed their 10GB, for standard broadband, and 20G, for fibre, limits are charged £5.30 for every 5GB extra they use.

They're also strongly encouraged to upgrade to one of BT's more expensive unlimited deals.

As you might imagine, those fees and suggestions are often unwelcome, especially when customers feel that they haven't actually used their connections all that much.

Customers are now concerned that usage billing 'mix ups' aren't as uncommon as BT would have us believe.

Wi-fi billing mix up

BT broadband customers share a small portion of their home broadband with other members of the community, in return for free access to thousands of wi-fi hotspots around the UK.

More on usage

It works by a special router splitting the connection: one part for a normal secure broadband connection and the other part is open to the public for Fon customers to use.

However, between 12th June and 10th July the connection wasn't split, meaning that some customers were charged for both their own usage and any wi-fi traffic from Fon users.

The telecoms giant refuses to give any details on how many have been affected by the error, but claims it was a "very small number".

BT has also tried to reassure concerned customers that this was a "one-off incident" that has since been fully rectified with refunds to those affected.

Just Fon customers?

Despite the constant reassurance from BT that this unprecedented error has been resolved and won't happen again, customers aren't convinced.

The BT Care Community Forums are littered with users complaining of high broadband usage dating back to 2011.

While BT has apologised and refunded customers for the error this time around, many believe that similar errors have occurred in the past, but simply been ignored.

This has not only resulted in wasted time, energy and money of the people affected and some particularly suspicious users suggest that it could be part of a sinister ploy by BT to get light users to upgrade.

"The first month we got BT broadband was option 1 the 10GB package, I left my house for 2 weeks and the monitor was at around 6/7GB and with no one in the house and no one with access to it I came back to find it was now at 12GB, thought this was a bit odd," BT forum member, brickharbor, said.

"For the last few years, BT have said my usage is half (approx 5 GB) my limit of 10 GB. This changed in September 2013 [when] BT said my usage increased to 23GB," another forum users with the handle hunterclarke said.

"The monitor says my average monthly allowance is 6.5GB. Imagine my horror getting an email today (5 Aug) saying that as at 23.59 on 4th Aug I have used 15.13GB in the last 4 days!" Rapide said in another post.

It's not clear from the forum whether the complainants are part of Fon scheme or not, but they do suggest that the problems are particular to BT, with many saying their usage soared since switching provider.

"To be honest with you i was with sky the free broadband package which was 2Gb and I haven't went over the limit once so I cant see how I have spent 7gb in 8 days," another user complained.

Suspicions on usage

These forum posts are just a small snapshot of the complaints about unusually high BT broadband usage.

BT say that their monitoring is accurate and that the users above are simply changing their internet use: watching more, or higher quality, video online; using voice over IP (VoIP) like Skype or simply spending more time browsing could all result in a jump in usage.

The problem, perhaps, is that there's no way to see which of those is really behind an increase

BT tend to direct anyone with a problem like this to their Connection Manager.

The service simply tells customers how much data they have used in the current month alongside a very subtle button allowing you to upgrade your broadband if you're nearing or have exceeded your allowance.

Sounds simple enough. Unfortunately, the forums are also full of complaints about the tool being constantly 'under maintenance'.

Consumers that are worried about their broadband usage and have had little help from BT can monitor their data with third party software, find out how with our guide to monitoring broadband usage, but the software tends to be complicated and technical and has to be installed on every device using the home wi-fi in order to get an accurate reading.

Ultimately, BT are making it incredibly difficult for customers to accurately measure their usage, and in turn, making angry customers even more suspicious about high bills.


25 January 2017
Stuart Devine

I joined a week ago on the 12gb package, imagine my horror that by friday was told I used 26gb so I turned everything on the WiFi in my home off, took screen shots of my usage, router is off and yet it's still increasing!



3 September 2015
David Blair

I just joined and got the email from BT saying that I have used 10.35GB so they say I need to upgrade at cost. But I have only 1Mb download speed and they are saying I have used all my time in 1 day. Thing is I was not in on that day, it's a con by BT watch out have bosses email if any of you need help I will give details of liby barr sales director.

2 September 2015
David Blair

Hi, I too have had warnings from BT I just joined up a month ago and they are saying my data is over 10.35GB. Help I have not used my broadband as I am very ill with a tumour in spine so I don't use the internet a lot. They want to charge me more I only have 1Mb download speed so how in a day have I used 10GB? What can I do I don't have lots of money that's why I got the basic phone and broadband.

30 July 2015
ann winter

Hi, I'm receiving warnings of high data usage as never before. I've unplugged my BT equipment and still my usage is going up! I'm using public service in local library for the week now. How can my usage go up when BT equipment isn't plugged in??

14 May 2015

Hi guys,
I am so glad that I saw this post - I've been paying £70 extra from my normal bill - our internet usage hasn't changed. Has anybody got any productive response or refund from BT?

2 May 2015
Nick Richmond

As far as I'm concerned BT are using scams to get more money in. I am on a basic user broadband 10GB a month, but the usage monitor never resets at the next month, it also sometimes puts your usage up late, so you can accidentally go over your limit which ups your bill. This is no accident, they must have set this system up solely to mislead customers, and send them over their limit. I am now thinking of not just cancelling my broadband, but also phone line, I don't like being ripped off, or fobbed off with excuses like, your monitor will be reset, only to once again find out it hasn't. Anyone thinking of having BT broadband who hasn't at the moment, check out other providers first, it may be better paying a little more for an honest reliable service.

19 April 2015

Shocking . This month I am being scammed I feel. I've used 50GB in 18 days when we never exceeded 40GB a month. Yesterday our usage was 8GB when we were out all day!! How can BT get away with this?

17 April 2015

I have an issue at present. My average monthly usage over 7 years is 6.08GB. I have never gone over. I haven't changed my usage no streaming downloading music or films etc. I live literally in the middle of nowhere so no one can use my service. Now its over 30GB in 10 days and could reach 90GB in a month at £5 per 5GB for going over 10GB. Contact with BT is like banging my head against a brick wall.

17 March 2015

Usual usage 2GB per month suddenly increased to 11GB which I have had to pay £5.60. Why when I have never downloaded music, films or watch TV only use is email, banking or search engines. No joy from BT. Their explanation was Sky downloading updates? They have agreed to update to 20GB see where we go from here, I am now carefully monitoring my account.

11 November 2014
William Nisbet

I had a problem with my broadband usage with BT a few months ago. My usage went up in one month from a normal average of 23GB to 118GB. BT insisted that someone else must be using my wireless key. I told them this was impossible and the wireless key was changed. My usage still jumped up about 2 months later. In the end they insisted that I must be using more broadband than normal. To use 118GB would be almost impossible for me! BT would not listen to me and I had to pay £53 extra. I will be leaving them when my contract is up!

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