Manchester-based telecoms company Unicom, which specialises in services for small business, says BT is failing its small business customers both on competitive pricing and customer service – and continuing to hide price increases in the small print.
“Nobody likes a price increase but when the notification is hidden in the depths of BT’s website or in the small print of their marketing literature, their customers will inevitably think they’ve been hoodwinked,” said Tony Eagleton of Unicom.
“Owner-managers in the frantically-busy UK small business sector simply do not have the time to be scouring the internet every day just to find out whether the cost of their basic essential services has increased.
Nor can they hang around trying to negotiate their way through a clunky automated call answering system that makes it virtually impossible to speak with a UK-based human being.
“At Unicom we believe these are major factors in the decision, made by one small business every 5 minutes, to switch to our services from BT.
These factors also explain why we are experiencing unprecedented loyalty levels – our customers like the fact that, whenever they need to, they can speak to a real person, based here in the UK, who will answer their call in six seconds or less.
“Our customer retention rate stands at an industry-beating 86% and, of the of the 14% churn, only a third go to competitors – the remainder being businesses that close or move premises for one reason or another, which is obviously beyond our control.”
Unicom believes that businesses are increasingly recognising how its combination of low, fixed prices and high quality customer service compares very favourably with that of BT.
“From April 2008, BT has increased its standard business prices for national calls from 8p per minute to 9p per minute, and local calls from 4p per minute to 4.5p per minute,” said Tony Eagleton.
“These new BT prices represent an increase of 12.5% for these calls. Unicom charges 1.8p per minute for these calls, meaning that we now offer a discount of 80% off national calls and 60% off local calls.
“BT’s latest increases follow on the back of those in February 2008, when an estimated nine million BT residential customers saw their line rental charge go up by 75p a month to £11.75. Other increases in existing prices and brand new ways to charge customers were announced at the same time”
“Every five minutes a small business is turning its back on BT and moving to Unicom because of price increases or contractual changes hidden in the depths of their website, or because of falling service standards,” said Tony Eagleton.