17 November, 2007

British Telecom: the good the bad and the ugly

I've been a bit quiet for a while. No fault of mine. And here begins the telling of the saga of how to get a phone line and broadband.

Having moved to Wales, to a large barn in the Brecon Beacons, we were hoping to have a phone line installed before we got here. Wishful thinking. We had told them that we needed a line and that if they needed to gain access to the house, they should contact our landlady, details provided. But of course they didn't contact Sue, turned up, couldn't get in and left a card from Open Reach, who are impossible to reach as they don't leave any contact details. And then the fun begins.

If you try to get through to BT at the moment you can wait for hours. Listening to a series of options which don't apply to you. And a woman who keeps telling you how important you are to them but that they are very busy. They are very busy whatever time of day you phone. As Tom was setting up the account, he did most of the calling at first. This involved sitting for hours in various locations waiting for someone to answer the phone and tell him that they couldn't help, or worse that they would transfer us and then leaving him sitting for yet more hours for someone who never did answer the phone.

Now ordinarily I would have been quite philosophical about how impossible it was to get through and how long it would take them to reorder an engineer for us. (Okay that's a fib, I'm quite impatient but still.) But right now my life is not ordinary. My sister is dangerously ill in hospital and I am in a house with little or no mobile reception. Tom told numerous people this but no one deviated from the script "I am very sorry, sir, but there isn't anything I can do" blah blah blah.

Finally, after I don't know how many failed calls and having been told that I would have to wait another two and a half weeks for an engineer, I broke. I waited 40 minutes and spent 12 pounds on my mobile (because calls to BT on a mobile cost lots of money) and when I got through to the customer services man I burst into tears. Thank you Brian McCann for listening to me and for following the problem up and for staying in touch. You were the first BT person to help us and it made a big difference to how I felt during a terrible week.

And thank you to the Open Reach engineers, in particular, Martyn and Daniel, who sorted out the line in the next day or so, and later sorted out broadband for us.

But here's the thing. It shouldn't take at least 40 minutes to get through to customer services. If it does, then you don't have enough customer services staff. BT aren't busy, they are under-resourced and frankly it isn't fair on the customers or on their staff who get cross people to talk to whatever the problem.

And Open Reach, who apparently are no longer linked to BT because it was a monopoly and the regulator didn't like it, shouldn't be driving around in vans with BT emblazoned all over them and leaving cards with no contact details also emblazoned with BT.

1 comment:

stafford said...

I have the exact same problem with BT, but I don't have these engineers to help me. I've been on hold 5 times for at least 40 min each...and we never get past the stage "we'll call u back later to set an appointment".... this was 3 weeks ago. In meantime, I havent had a good conversation with my mother (who had a stroke recently) because I have no phone line.

It's so sad, you start crying then laughing. BT is The Worst customer experience of my life.