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Friday, December 23, 2011

You have to try really hard to get it this wrong

One of the benefits of blogging is that every once in a while you can just have a rant. Get things off your chest. This is one of those posts so you can look away if you've already had enough bile for this Christmas.

About seven months ago when I left full time employment and began to freelance I had to let BT know that my employer was no longer going to pay for my broadband and could I please transfer it to a domestic account. At the same time I decided to investigate bundling my telephone, broadband and TV services and after talking to a delightful BT sales lady (funny how the nice, seemingly competent people always work in sales and never in service delivery...) I decided to give notice to Sky TV (I never really watched enough sport or movies to justify the price) and switched to BT vision.

At the same time I commented to the nice sales lady that the presentation of service to my house was a bit ratty (there seemed to be three telephone lines in to the property) but no live master socket. I asked if I could have an engineer visit my house and tidy up the mess and represent the service. She said that would be fine she would sort it all out and once my contract had transferred an engineer would visit. I never spoke to her again...

After hearing nothing for the best part of a month, I rang to check on the status of my order. Unsurprisingly BT had tripped over its own internal Chinese walls. BT can't talk to BT business and vice versa (it's not their fault it's OfCom trying to limit the risk of monopoly power by forcing BT to adopt the bureaucratic processes of the medieval Byzantine empire).

There was no record of my order. So I started again. Went through the whole rigmarole again and got a date for the engineers visit (the day before I was due to go on holiday). The day before the engineer's visit I rang BT to check he was still coming (notice the beginning of learned helplessness...) and guess what no record. So I rebooked and arranged for my fiancé's mother to be in to meet him/her but he never showed.

On my return from my holiday, I took up the cudgels again spent several hours on hold being passed from pillar to post before I decided that it was a pathological inability to take notes and post them on the CRM system (or just the inability to speak English) that was hampering my cause. So I looked up the contact details for BT's managing director of customer service and sent him a letter. To which I had no response. So I resent the letter in email form to the contact centre and I got a few phone calls from friendly but ineffectual people. Decided I would live with the poor service and gave up because it was just too soul destroying to actually get them to provide the service I was paying for.

I gave up because the system was just too oppressive... Anyone for Kafka?

Then a few days ago after three more months of my broadband dropping and crashing on a daily basis and a phone line which sounds like a mobile call from a fast train I decided to try again...

It was as if BT had been keeping their star player back for just this moment. I don't know from which swamp they dragged this barely sentient being but she was something special. She achieved olympic levels of incomprehension. And just kept reading her script. Even before I got to her I obeyed all the instructions on the automated phone service (check there are no electrical devices in the vicinity of the router, change the ADSL filter etc.) but she made me repeat them. She made me describe the phone socket (although I had told her it wasn't a master) she made me plug the router into a defunct socket (even though I told her it was dead).

I just kept asking her to book an engineers visit to represent the service.

So she told me she was going to perform a line check and hung up on me. Then she rang me back only to put me on hold for fifteen minutes. By this point in time I have probably spent about two days on the phone to this useless company. Still no apology by the way. I kept asking her if she would book an engineers visit she kept reading her script like some demented automaton. So I hung up.

Give her some credit, she rang me back... And I said if you can't book an engineer to audit and represent my service then I don't have anything more to say. She promised to arrange this and ring me back. Needless to say I heard nothing more from her.

So I rang again this morning and explained the whole story to another friendly and initially helpful person. She booked an engineer to visit today.I asked explicitly that she add the history to the notes for the job so that the engineer audits and represents the service of both voice and data.

The engineer showed up early, checked the line and told me that there were no notes on the job card about auditing the service and representing it. He was just there to check for a fault which he couldn't find. He was sympathetic but said it happens all the time.

So there you have it seven months of abject and pathetic failure to meet a simple request. How difficult is it to send a competent engineer to update and reinstall my voice and data service? How difficult would it have been to apologise and offer some form of compensation?

Clearly, too difficult.

Congratulations BT you have driven me into the arms of Virgin (which is no mean feat given that Virgin was once Ntl who were globally renowned for their crap customer service - I hope they've changed) whom I shall ring next week. I should stay and fight my corner, demand compensation for the days of work that I have lost, not to mention the will to live which I have also lost.

But I just haven't got the energy.

Merry bloody Christmas BT. What happened to you?