BT customer service…or lack of it

July 10, 2008

A week ago my phone line and broadband connection went down. I’d overheard someone in the local Sainsbury say that there was a problem in the area as it had affected the lottery machines so wasn’t too concerned as I figured BT would sort it out pretty soon. The following day I used http://www.bt.com to do a line test – it recorded a fault and opened a fault case with their system. Later that day I checked the fault online and saw that the initial tests suggested that the actual fault was inside my house and that they would be sending an engineer on the morning of the 9th to fix it. I arranged time off work for the 9th after muttering something along the lines of “how come it takes 5 days to send an engineer out”.

The morning of the 9th came, I got a text from BT to say that my fault would be fixed that day. All good so far. At 12:42, I figured the morning was over and called BT’s fault line. I got a nice automated message saying my fault would be fixed today and I could press 9 to speak to someone about progress. The subsequent call went something like this….

Me: I’m expecting an engineer to visit to fix my fault and no-one turned up this morning
BT: You don’t have an appointment for an engineer
Me: Yes I do. Your online system says that you need to send an engineer, that it would be this morning and I got a text to say my fault would be fixed today.
BT: We’d need access to your property so you need an appointment
Me: I know you need access. Your online system said that. That’s why I’ve taken the day off to be here.
BT: But you don’t have an appointment. I can make one for this afternoon between 1 and 5. You’re lucky to get one today, otherwise it would have been tomorrow.
Me: But your system told me that you’d need access and you’d be sending an engineer this morning.
BT: Not without an appointment
Me: My phone and broadband are down. I logged the fault from work. I used the online system to check on the fault and on the basis of what it told me I took the day off. If I hadn’t phoned you to find out why you hadn’t sent an engineer how would I have ever known that I needed an appointment?
BT: We’d have put a card through your door
Me: Who would?
BT: The engineer
Me: But I wouldn’t get an engineer until I had an appointment
BT: You have an appointment this afternoon.
Me: Thank you. Goodbye

I hung up cursing BT and waited for the engineer. Guess what? 5 o’clock came and went without any sign of an engineer. I called the fault line again. The automated system told me I had an appointment booked for between 1 and 6. Thinking I must have misheard the earlier conversation I gave them another hour. Still no engineer. I am by now livid that I’ve been at home all day and still have no phone line and no broadband connection. Another call to the fault line. This time the automated system tells me that they’re sorry but they appear to have missed the arranged appointment. No shit sherlock! I press 9 to speak to a person and get routed to a call centre in India. The line is lousy. They promise to call engineering, find out why they didn’t turn up and call me back. When they call back they tell me that the engineering office is now closed, there are no notes to say why they missed the appointment and can I call back in the morning to rearrange it. Let’s get this straight…they missed the appointment and I have to call them to rearrange it. My lividness went off the scale. Somehow I politely expressed my utter frustration in having to deal with BT to get this resolved. To her credit the person on the other end of the phone empathised with my anger but that’s the system.

This morning I called the fault line ready to rant. The guy who answered promised to look into it and call me back. When he did he explained that the problem was an area wide one. Someone had stolen some cables and 1200 people had been without phones and broadband for the last week. Most were now back on but 400 or so, including me, were still waiting but the replacement of the cable should be complete by Monday. He had no idea why an appointment was made for me as there would have been nothing the engineer could have done anyway. I thanked him for finally explaining what had happened. He apologised for leaving me sitting around at home the previous day for an engineer that was never going to come.

BT – you suck. Your staff are inept, your online systems are inaccurate which makes them useless and if cable was a viable option for me I would be dumping you and your lousy service in a heartbeat. If there was an area wide problem why couldn’t that have been made clear when I reported the initial fault? It would have prevented so much aggrevation.

If you have a problem with BT, call them and speak to a person and hope you get to the one that actually cares about what they do and will look into it. Don’t rely on their online systems as they’re rubbish, don’t believe the text messages they send you and if the engineer fails to turn up call them before 6.

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