I recently bought a new pair of BT Esprit 1250 cordless DECT phones from the BT Shop. Good deal, I thought, at only £59.99 for two quite technologically advanced phones with answering machine. But, one week after receiving them one of the rechargeable AAA batteries in a handset failed. It won’t take a charge. It’s a duff battery. Seeing as the phones were only a week old I phoned BT asking for a replacement battery. The first person I spoke to couldn’t help me and gave me another number. That number rang and rang without being answered. I tried about 5 times. Finally a lady answered the phone, took my details, and explained that they would send me a new set phones and I could return the faulty set free of charge. "But I only needed a replacement AAA battery," I explained. "Sorry, we can only send you a new set of phones," the BT lady repeated.
Here’s my predicament. I know I can go out and buy a rechargeable AAA battery. It would probably cost me less than £1, but why should I when the battery’s failure is not my fault? Equally though it seems complete lunacy for BT to have to ship a complete set of new phones to me when I only need one common or garden battery. The cost to BT of this exercise, the time required by everyone involved and, more importantly, the environmental cost to the planet, just don’t make sense. Of course, I understand that BT cannot easily keep every spare part in stock, but surely finding me an AAA battery shouldn’t be an impossible feat. Or, why not just send me a voucher for £5 so I can buy my own batteries and not be out of pocket?
So what did I decide to do? Without any other offer of help forthcoming from BT, and completely against all forms of logic, I agreed to let BT send me a new phone set. They will also send me, under separate cover, a ‘returns kit’ so I have a prepaid bag to return the unwanted items. When the phones arrive I will open the box, remove one of the AAA batteries, then post everything else back to BT. How mad is that? The sad things is that this leaves me feeling guilty for inflicting so much damage to the environment and angry towards BT for having such an inflexible attitude to customer service. With more purchases being made online, companies like BT have a real responsibility to rethink their product returns policy. Online customers need and should demand flexible solutions that don’t place such a burden on the environment. And BT might even save some money into the bargain.