Why I Love BT



  • So my mum has just moved to a new flat, and asked BT to connect up her land line. This they did, surprisingly promptly, but there was a problem. The phone wouldn't ring, wouldn't take incoming calls. Outgoing calls worked just dandy. She tried three different phones, one brand new, all with the same result. So, she rang BT and asked them to fix it. They ran a line test, claimed to find no fault, and informed her that if they sent an engineer, and the problem turned out to be with her equipment, there would be a £110 call out fee. They told her this enough times that she freaked out, and declined the engineer.

     She rang me up, and I said I couldn't conceive of any way it could be down to her own handset or wiring, so she eventually asked for an engineer to visit. The engineer was dead helpful, and told her there was a well known problem with her exchange. The engineers had told Sales to stop connecting new customers to the wonky exchange, but Sales didn't pay any attention, or the memo got "filed" wherever they normally file the deranged rantings of the blokes with the toolboxes and Dagenham Smiles.
     



  • Yep, they do that on this side of the pond, too.  They don't really want to dispatch a tech, so they try to scare the bejeezus out of you by warning you about the fee if it turns out to be your problem.

    Mind you, it is appropriate to pay such a fee if it is your problem.  It is not, however, in my opinion, appropriate for them to bludgeon you with it.

    Let me ask, since I'm naturally curious, do they do that thing on your side of the pond where they tell you they'll be there sometime between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM so you have to take a day off work, and then not show?

     



  • @Critter said:

    Let me ask, since I'm naturally curious, do they do that thing on your side of the pond where they tell you they'll be there sometime between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM so you have to take a day off work, and then not show?

     

     
    I've certainly had that experience, but they've switched to a slightly less-worse tactic: They tell you they'll contact you to let you know when the engineer will call. Then the tech arrives at 8am while you are still in bed or the shower or something. The message that the tech is on their way arrives about 10:30am. Of course, this may be down to the crappyness of SMS delivery, which is the fault of an entirely different telco.

     

    You do remind me of another WTF, in the banking industry. I move home. I phone my bank to register a change of address, and am told I have to do it in person, at my new branch. No, I can't do it at another branch in my lunch break.

    My local branch is open 9am - 4:30pm. I leave for work about 8:30am. I finish at 6pm. Explaining this to the banking droid on the phone cuts no ice. So I take the morning off, go in, fill out forms etc. As I hand them back to the cashier she says "You know, you could have done this all over the phone - I'm sure that would have been much easier..."



  • @misha said:

    You do remind me of another WTF, in the banking industry. I move home. I phone my bank to register a change of address, and am told I have to do it in person, at my new branch. No, I can't do it at another branch in my lunch break.

    Do you get to pick what branch is "your new branch", or is it assigned based on your address? 



  • @misha said:

    She rang me up, and I said I couldn't conceive of any way it could be down to her own handset or wiring, so she eventually asked for an engineer to visit. The engineer was dead helpful, and told her there was a well known problem with her exchange. The engineers had told Sales to stop connecting new customers to the wonky exchange, but Sales didn't pay any attention, or the memo got "filed" wherever they normally file the deranged rantings of the blokes with the toolboxes and Dagenham Smiles.

    She has been extremely lucky. SOP for BT is as follows:

    You call the help desk, get the usual badgering about how it's really all your fault, and agree for them to send out an engineer. The engineer never shows up; when you call back, there is no trace of you ever having requested one.

    You tell them to really send one this time, so the flunkie on the phone actually bothers to fill out the relevant form to order an engineer. When the engineer shows up, he peers at your line for five minutes, then declares that you have an underground line and he is an overhead engineer (apparently, BT don't keep records of which parts of the country go overhead and which parts go underground), so he'll have to go back to the office and tell them to send somebody else.

    Naturally, nobody else ever shows up.

    When you eventually manage to get the right engineer to arrive, it turns out that everybody else in your town has had the exact same fault with their line, the engineers know exactly how to fix it, and nobody at BT really cares so it never gets fixed.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @misha said:

    @Critter said:

    Let me ask, since I'm naturally curious, do they do that thing on your side of the pond where they tell you they'll be there sometime between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM so you have to take a day off work, and then not show?

     


    I've certainly had that experience, but they've switched to a slightly less-worse tactic: They tell you they'll contact you to let you know when the engineer will call. Then the tech arrives at 8am while you are still in bed or the shower or something. The message that the tech is on their way arrives about 10:30am. Of course, this may be down to the crappyness of SMS delivery, which is the fault of an entirely different telco.

    The contract I signed when I got iDSL, years back, was interesting.  It stated that a technician would visit between 11:30AM and 12:00 noon.  If I missed the appointment, I'd be fined $100; however, if the technician missed the appointment, they would pay me $100 (presumably taken right out of his pay.)  That was the only time I ever wished the technician would be no-show.  Sadly, he was right on time.



  • @misha said:

    I phone my bank to register a change of address, and am told I have to do it in person, at my new branch. So I take the morning off, go in, fill out forms etc. As I hand them back to the cashier she says "You know, you could have done this all over the phone - I'm sure that would have been much easier..."

    I did my change via mail. 



  • @Critter said:

    Let me ask, since I'm naturally curious, do they do that thing on your side of the pond where they tell you they'll be there sometime between 8:00 AM and 5:00 PM so you have to take a day off work, and then not show?

    Only 8am - 5pm, the most recent ones I've had for gas in the UK are all sometime between 8am-8pm, its as if they think we've got nothing better to do than wait around for a whopping 12 hours. I asked them to phone 15 minutes before they were due to call; but of course they didn't bother.

     In the past I've had an old telephone line reconnected, which BT said it might require an engineer to visit. Waited in all day, no engineer showed, plus no call to say a visit wasn't needed. Annoying but sadly the norm it would appear when I called to report a fault with the new line as it didn't even work!
     



  • Having done a stint inside BT (Actually several, in different departments) I can at least point out that it isn't that simple. It shouldn't be much of a surprise to learn that the engineers can "tell Sales to connecting new customers to the wonky exchange" but that there is no way for Sales to know who they are connecting to what: Customer Services just hit the buttons on the application and the order gets entered and sent off. Even if the phone monkeys could see which exchange would be used and that the engineers had asked them not to connect people to it, what are they supposed to say to the punter? "I'm sorry, your house is in an area with a dodgy exchange. No 'phone for you!"

    I'm not going to defend BT, but doesn't it seem like the logical thing to do would be for the engineers to actually test the line correctly when they punch it down, and for Engineering to actually fix the dodgy exchange and make everyone happy?



  • @dhromed said:

    @misha said:

    I phone my bank to register a change of address, and am told I have to do it in person, at my new branch. So I take the morning off, go in, fill out forms etc. As I hand them back to the cashier she says "You know, you could have done this all over the phone - I'm sure that would have been much easier..."

    I did my change via mail. 

    Would that be Snail or E?

    (I'm in the process of doing this, and none have yet offered the option of email. Some enlightened banks accept the change after logging into the account via a change address link, one accepted it after I was in-branch paying in a cheque ["I'm moving, what do I do?", "fill in this form"...] - the rest require dead tree submissions.)



  • @dhromed said:

    @misha said:

    I phone my bank to register a change of address, and am told I have to do it in person, at my new branch. So I take the morning off, go in, fill out forms etc. As I hand them back to the cashier she says "You know, you could have done this all over the phone - I'm sure that would have been much easier..."

    I did my change via mail. 

     

    bastard 



  • @misha said:

    I phone my bank to register a change of address, and am told I have to do it in person, at my new branch. So I take the morning off, go in, fill out forms etc. As I hand them back to the cashier she says "You know, you could have done this all over the phone - I'm sure that would have been much easier..."

    I got so fed up I changed banks.  It was easier to rearrange all my direct debits, bills & standing orders than to get Barclays to change my address.  Six times I told them; three over the phone, two in writing, and one by e-mail.  Six months later my postal redirection was about to run out and they still had stuff going to my old address, so I switched to HSBC and closed my account.

    Now all they do is send me occasional statements for an account they've been told to close three times...



  • Telwest (Virgin now) are equally hopeless. A few weeks ago the power in my house flickered. Not enough to make my PC go off, but it killed my broadband and my cable TV. I rang my father-in-law who lives across the street and his had gone off too. I did a few ping tests, definately their end - my cable modem is fine. So I call them up and it went like this:

    Me "Hi my broadband and TV stopped working."

    TW "Well I can't help you with the broadband - you have to pay for that call - but I can help you with the TV."

    Me "I think it's an area fault. The power just flickered and both went out, and so did my father in law's across the road"

    TW "Well I'm not showing any area faults. Let's try some troubleshooting.

    Me <waits to be told to turn the box off and on again> "Perhaps I'm the first to call about the fault?"

    TW "No, it'd be on my system. Now, can you turn the box off and on again?"

    Me "Ok..... <does it> nope, still doesn't work."

    TW "We'll have to send an engineer out."

    Me "But it's an area fault - you don't need to!"

    TW "Yes we do, but unfortunately no engineer can come for 3 weeks."

    Me <forgetting he doesn't actually need to come> "3 weeks - are you mad?!"

    TW "Sorry. But I'll credit you a month's TV service for the inconvenience."

    Me "Uh, ok then! Bye!"

    It was fixed the following morning... the day before my engineer appointment I called them and said it had started working again so he didn't need to come and still got my free month's TV! 



  • @valerion said:

    Telwest (Virgin now) are equally hopeless.

     
    Telewest were so hopeless they managed to drive me to switch my telephone service to BT. The complete story is too long and boring to go into fully, but it went something like this:

    Me: Hello Telewest, I'm moving house. Please transfer my TV, broadband and 'phone to my new house.

    TW: You'll have to have a new 'phone number. We can't transfer that one to your new area.

    Me: But that number was given to me when I originally lived in that same area two years ago. It was transferred here, now I want to transfer it back.

    TW: Oh O.K then.

    When the engineer installed the cable & phone he handed me the paperwork with...our new 'phone number on it. Oh. Right.

    Me: We wanted our old number transferred.

    TW: Oh dear, I'm not sure why that happened. We'll fix it.

    Then we discover that my wifes mother had tried to call us and had instead spoken to a rather surprised couple who had just had their new Telewest 'phone installed. Apparently, Telewest gave them our number...

    That took about a week to sort out. After that it went downhill. We had cross-connections (in this day and age?) and the line would just die, repeatedly. Every single time we reported it they would take upto four days to fix it. Every single time we spoke with someone, they would make a different excuse for it: "Kids got into the box and ripped the wires out.", "You're cross-connected via. a BT exchange and a BT engineer disconnected you.", "There's a problem in the amplifier on your street." We must have been the unluckiest 'phone customers on the planet.

    When I'd finally had enough, even after all that they tried to pin me to the 12 month contract they claimed I had and tried to charge me for the remaining 10 months!

    Still got Virgin for broadband & TV though.



  • Interesting, I've only ever had cable broadband (no phone or tv with a cable company), and with the 3 different companies that are now all part of virgin media.

    The first was NTL, which was dog slow (300kbps!) until they finally upgraded their network and contracts. I had repeated problems with the modem overheating, but adding a custom fan to it solved that. Moved house and went with NTL again, this time trialling their 10Mbps service (quite an upgrade, huh?) and had no problem what-so-ever.

    Next was Telewest (at about the time of the NTL/telewest merger), at yet another house. Had a really old cable modem, again worked fine.

    Next was Virgin Media, though as it turns out I got a Blueyonder (Telewest) account (my email and login with them is @blueyonder). All perfect yet again.

     

    British gas on the other hand, are idiots. I get a discount for direct debit, but I still have to manually pay a bill. I think the direct-debit amount is fixed, where the bill varies, and I pay the difference. WTF?

    It also took them two months to correctly change the gas and electric into my name after I moved in, and cancel the old account from the person who no longer lived there. They were threatening to cut me off for his bill (which had been estimated based on someone living there while it was empty) while at the same time I was paying my bill...



  • Thief: Technically, there is no actual difference between NTL/Telewest and Virgin Media. Branson didn't buy up NTL, NTL bought Virgin Mobile and with it the right to use the Virgin branding. So they just rebranded themselves as Virgin Media.

     It is a little worrying though how rapidly the telecoms market in this country is consolidating. If it wasn't for LLU there would effectively only be 2 broadband providers. Oh, plus that one in Hull.
     



  • Kingston Communications, they're called.

    Their best internet connection is 2Mbps at £40/month. I think.

    One of my mates is unfortunate enough to live there.
     



  • Pah! That's nothing!

    I moved into a new flat and tried to get BT to flick the switch and turn my line on. The process works something like this:

    So you dial 150 from a BT phone... Get a list of options... Choose the right options...

    Get put through to broadband sales. Spend 30 minutes on hold. Tell them you actually wanted new connections.

    Get put through to new connections. Spend 1 hour on hold. Get told they can't process new connections because their computers aren't working. Get told they'll call you back within 5 days.

    5 days later (after they've not called you back), you dial 150 from a BT phone... Get a list of options... Choose the right options...

    Get put through to broadband sales. Spend 30 minutes on hold. Tell them you actually wanted new connections.

    Get put through to new connections. Spend 1 hour on hold. They tell you they'll have to send an engineer out to do it, and it'll cost £124.99. You say ok. They say they'll call you back within 3 days with a date for an engineer to come around.

    They leave a message on your mobile phone to say 'we can send an engineer round two weeks on Wednesday. If you need more, call them back...'

    So you dial 150 from a BT phone... Get a list of options... Choose the right options...

    Get put through to broadband sales. Spend 30 minutes on hold. Tell them you actually wanted new connections.

    Get put through to new connections. Spend 1 hour on hold. They say they'll call back with a sensible (weekend/evening) time.

    Phone line randomly starts working. Job done.



  • @Thief^ said:

    Kingston Communications, they're called.

    Their best internet connection is 2Mbps at £40/month. I think.

    One of my mates is unfortunate enough to live there.

    I'm surprised it's that bad - the KCOM Group (as they're now called ) own Eclipse Internet, who I'm with, and they offer pretty decent broadband.

    They still use "Kingston Communications" for their brand in Hull, I think. The reason I know this is that the company I work for is also part of the KCOM Group.


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