Thursday, 24 March 2011

Are BT trying to make my life difficult?

I have decided to have a rant about British Telecom on a day when we happen to be the only house within a radius of half a mile that has a telephone connection. Why? Because either BT has managed to cut our neighbours off, or failed to install a new line in anything less than 3 months. Quite honestly I have never dealt with a company with a worse standard of service.

In an age of the monopoly commission and illegal cartels, why is it that there is only one company who can install telephone cables to houses and businesses. If that supplier came up to scratch rather than making life impossibly difficult for all its customers then people like me would not be having a rant on his blog. The reality, however, is that whenever my family or I have anything to do with them, we end up with nails bitten down to the quick, sticking pins in our arms, and tearing out huge lumps of hair. So what on earth has been going on? Well.

My best mate Dave died of bowel cancer on 17th December last year, missed his daughter's wedding on 29th December, and left behind his lovely wife Debbi and 3 daughters, 1 of whom still lives at home. What did God do then? On 28th January this year one Friday night a fire started in the loft and burned the house to the ground. So what did we do? Well we put them up of course because they were homeless, then moved them into our brand new bungalow, we had just rebuilt in our top field. You are thinking what has this got to do with BT?

Because we live at the top of a hill the mobile reception is awful. No we can't blame that one on BT. Mind you Debbi has an O2 mobile, which is the only service provider that gives no reception at our farm. So what does she desparately need? A land line of course so that if there is another fire she can ring the fire brigade, and so that if any of her well meaning friend want to contact her to wish her well they can. So do you think BT have made that simple task easy? Oh go on. They're having a laugh at us.

We ordered a new line for the bungalow 6 weeks ago. Did it matter that there had been a line to the bungalow before? Of course not. Debbi took the day off for the new line. Did they turn up? Course not. We got on the phone. They said they weren't turning up because they had not done a survery. Why you may ask do you need a survey? We are not trying to guard against wet rot, dry rot or ring worm. We just want a new telephone line. That isn't the point, obviously. This is a new line. They maintained they had written to us. That was untrue but we couldn't prove it.

They said they had to put up a telegraph pole. How much? Go on have a guess? £900. Not a gold pole, or one made out of alibaster from the caverns of Bagdad? No, a pine one. We have one already we told them which was taken down when we built the bungalow. Our builder will do it for £200. No they said it is a "health and safety issue". They have to do it at over 3 times the price. Now you tell me if that is profitering. They also wanted to charge us an extra £350 for a survey. So the bill for a new line comes to about £1500.

If you have ever tried to get through to your telephone line suppliers you would think it was easy as it is their line. No. You need to take a day off and wait hours to get through. That is if someone answers the phone. When you finally get through, you find out that the person you spoke to about the new line has wiped your enquiry off the system marked "problem solved". Now if we were raving paranoid depressives, which by this time we were fast becoming, you might think there was a plot, and it had been done on purpose.

The joke is that, whilst we were trying to sort all this out, our next door neighbour came round to ask if she could borrow the phone, because BT had visited to repair their second business line. In the process they had swapped the neighbours lines over, so they were answering each other's lines, then cut all 5 of them off completely. When they complained, they were told that it was their fault and it would cost them £130 to repair. I ask you. When they were just pulling out their last clump of hair they were told that BT could not fix the problem for 5 days.

What are we going to do? Find an Open Reach van, box it in with vehicles, kidnap the engineers, tie them up, take them hostage, and contact the local papers. No not really, only joking. We wouldn't tie them up, obviously.

So what have they managed to balls up at work then? We have an ADSL line, which is meant to run at 8 megabytes. What speed does it run at? 2 megabytes if we are lucky, but with the added bonus of disconnecting between once an hour and 3 times a day? That would not be such problem, if it were not the fact that one of our staff dials into our server using a VPN connection from Brighton. She has pulled out all her hair in frustration, and we are paying for implants. Not really, but this problem has been going on since July last year.

So what has BT managed to do? First of all they sent about 4 different engineers out to attempt to solve the problem, each of whom had no idea what the last person had done. We wanted a Broadband engineer. What did we get? A systems engineer, several times. They changed the line 3 times and the problem has not improved. Then they said they were not allowed to tell us what the problem was, in case it was our neighbour causing the problem, and we fell out with him. Have you ever heard such tosh. It could, for example, apparently be our neighbour using his hair straighteners interfering with our Broadband signal. Well, not hair straighteners perhaps, but certainly a circular saw, or a fridge with an attitude.

What are BT doing about it? Well we are back with the REINS team who will try and find out what is causing the disconnection. How many times have they been? About 3 times so far. So we go round and round in circles. Why have the same engineers been back to look at the same fault over and over again? Because BT do not use human beings to organise their fault repairing service, but an automated system which is not controlled by human beings. That is why, when after waiting 6 weeks for our first installation at home we were told we had to wait another 6 weeks for them to come back again. That is what the computer organised in its wisdom for them.

What the moral of the story? If you want a telephone the best way is two baked bean cans and a piece of string you put together yourself. Don't ask BT to do it unless you want to spend at least £1000 and get a load of grief. I must go now because this rant has worn me out and the phone is ringing. It will be that nice man from the advert ringing to say he is in love with me. I hope not.

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