Over three weeks ago I ordered broadband from BT. More fool me. Twenty-six years ago BT was privatised, changing it from a publicly-owned monopoly. We were promised this was going to bring more competition. Better service. Trickle-down. If you see Sid, tell him.
All of it was one big con. Twenty-six years later BT is still to all intents and purposes a private monopoly. If you don’t believe that, try getting a line to your house installed by anyone else. If you live somewhere Virgin operates you might be lucky. If you live anywhere else it’s BT or nothing. But surely, the service is better?
Here’s what happened this week. When BT eventually turned up on Friday they couldn’t find out where the junction for the phone line was. Maybe it was on top of a pole. Maybe it was in a box up to two miles away. “The system’ eventually tracked it down to a box somewhere outside Such-And-Such house. Where was that then, the BT man asked?
Here’s the neat little BT logic-loop.
The only way he was able to find the BT junction box was for me to go on the web on my iPhone (O2) to get a map image of where the address was. Luckily the address was the same as a house for sale on Rightmove, so I could even give him a picture of the address he was looking for. Which was just as well because BT couldn’t or wouldn’t help him with this at all. Still, they were only going on as they started – they didn’t tell him how to find my house after I’d given them detailed instructions even down to where to park.
It’s Good To Talk
After two hours on Friday the BT man announced he’d connected it. Great! Er, no, not really. There’s something wrong with the line. Not here. Somewhere. Can’t do anything about it today. Have to log it on Monday. They’ll probably do something about it Wednesday-ish.
But no. Today at about three o’clock I got a text. The phone line is connected. It wasn’t. half an hour later I got another text. Broadband is connected. Make sure you use it, and be aware that of course (of course!) it might be slow or just stop at any time in the next three days. Oh and if it’s like really slow, do make sure you complain up to three months later, but obviously after the cancellation period.
So a pack of lies so far. I called them on the phone. It’s good to talk, Bob Hoskins used to say. Except BT don’t like talking. First they charge you to talk to them on an 0800 number. Because they can. Then a woman with a Scottish voice (which in this house hasn’t always been a mark of harmony and accord but that’s another story) asks you what you want. For example. You might say ‘I haven’t got a phone after you said I had.” And if you do say that she’s very sorry but that isn’t what she’s going to rpely to.
Will you be wanting a phone?
Aye, that’s right enough, hen.
“Well which number are yi calling aboot, ye havering English och sorry, ah fair fergot fer a mumment?”
I don’t know the number. The text said I should dial XXXX (redacted) to get the number, but the line disnae work seh ah cannet.
Och weeel, if ye don’t have a number you’ll no be having a BT connection, so talk tae yer ain provider. See you.
Three times. Then I thought maybe I could fool her. A slim chance, trying to fool a Scottish girl but worth a try. I was desperate now anyway. Maybe if I say I want a phone, that’ll dae ut right enough. Sorry. That might be the answer to this conundrum.
People Who Speak English
I get through. To a call centre. English people. Thousands of them in a tin hut, by the sound of it. “Thank-you for calling BT, the UK’s favourite broadband provider.”
Well it isn’t with me.
I can’t hear you. Is it your phone?
No, I wanted half a hundredweight of Saxon potatoes. Of course it’s my phone.
I can’t hear you. Is it your phone?
No, it’s your call centre.
Explain the problem.
Five calls. Two texts. BT don’t answer texts. Mind you, to be fair they weren’t answering calls either. They have a novel new way of dealing with complaints now. If they don’t like them they just put the phone down. Twice. Would I like to spend two more minutes on my phone bill to explain exactly how satisfied with BT I am? No, actually, thanks awfully for asking. But I do recognise a rigged customer satisfaction survey when I see one. And a third-world service basking in the cosy glow of its protected monopoly, happy in the knowledge it can do as it likes because for all the lying nonsense we were fed when a pubic company was sold off cheap to make money for the government’s chums in banks at the taxpayer’s expense, there actually isn’t any competition at all. If you see Sid, tell him.
And in a little postscript, the next day I phoned again. I got an Indian man on the end of the phone and winced, waiting for his half-English excuses. He fixed the whole problem of no phone connection courteously and politely, in fifteen minutes, most of which was me running up and down stairs. As I’d just swum a kilometre I had already got my quota of exercise for the day. That’ll make up for my birthday tomorrow then. If it works like that.