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BT – Writer-insighter

Customer Service

It’s BT. Obviously

“Thank-you for holding. We are very busy at the moment and your call will be answered as soon as possible.”

I don’t have a choice. I have to hold. I don’t need thanks for it. It’s pointless. I have no option. I can’t phone anyone else about this. And after waiting 24 hours for a call back to explain what I have to do to fix your fault, thanks don’t come into it.

It’s BT. I have no broadband. It’s been patchy but I’ve been told well, you live in Suffolk, what do you expect? Same as mobile phones. Let’s face it; it’s all retirees, the kind of people who make their own wooden folding chairs to go to the Snape Poetry Prom. Do you think they give a shit about no broadband? Only once a year, when the Saga car insurance comes due.

I am clearly not very busy, because I am expected to sympathise with the other, better people who are. You can tell they’re better. They’re busy. They’ve not sitting around complaining about things, shirking. They’re getting on, busily, with their tidy hair and their clean white shirts. Not like the slackers and shirkers and Moaning Minnies who frankly are just a drain on things with all their negative attitudes, as customer service may as well be called now.

So far it’s taken one entire day for my call to be answered. When I ask why this is, or what BT intend to do about it, I’m simply put in another queue, the one for people who ask difficult and therefore stupid questions. Like, why did I have to wait a day for a callback? Why when I re-structured my day to be at the house (essential according to BT) between 5pm and 6pm, notified to me by three separate texts and not really that convenient, especially considering I phoned at 20:00 the day before) was there, how shall we say, no phone call at all?

Why, given it’s obviously possible to answer my call at once if you had enough staff and gave a shit, wasn’t it answered for over half an hour? Why, BT, don’t you know how English works? Why when you were privatised in what, 1986 or something, and people have been born, had children and died in that time, when privatising your useless service was supposed to increase competition, as every parliamentarian will swear on a stack of Bibles, is it next to impossible to get any broadband connection that doesn’t use your useless service? Why?

Here’s what happened.

Dear BT, I realise you don’t give a shit about it because last time I mentioned it you put me on hold until my mobile battery ran out, but I’ll tell you anyway.

Yesterday I had to do something online. Quite an important thing, because I’d said I would so I had to. But no Internet. I phoned BT to see if there was anything wrong with the line. Everyone here knows you get slower Internet when it rains but BT say you don’t so that’s that and you’re a liar, but this wasn’t slow, it was not happening. BT, or the irritating Scottish voice BT thinks calms people down who wouldn’t have needed calming down if BT’s shit monopoly service wasn’t so utterly shit, told me there was nothing wrong with the line. Oddly, for a Scottish voice, it didn’t say ‘pal,’ when it told me there wisnae anything wrang, but if youse keep on there med well be.

So I got in the car and drove half an hour to go and buy a new modem. The old one was at least eight years old and I measured that by moving houses, so it might have been older. There’s nothing in a modem I can see how it could break, exactly, but maybe it just gets bored, or there’s a flesh tone counter or something. So anyway. New modem. It probably wasn’t BT’s fault that when I left Staples and got into the car and turned the key it just went click so I had to read Angela’s Ashes (really, hasn’t this all been done a bit, you know, before? Really? Sure and Catholicly begorrah it’s the drink and the rain to be sure and the past is another country and besoides, the pig was dead?) for two hours while Ipswich’s finest sashayed out to get chips and come back again until the AA turned up to sell me a new car battery, one of those things guv, that’s how it goes.

Get home. Install new modem. Still nothing. Phone BT. It’s not the line. It’s the exchange. We’ll call you. Tomorrow, when it would suit you. You can stay in all day or we can call you in the evening, let’s say five o’clock. So let’s say that indeed. Cycle to Aldeburgh. Buy a book and cheese and bread and tomatoes and lie on the beach in the sun for three hours, dozing and reading and then interrupt what has been a fairly lovely Saturday so far to get back for BT. But it’s hot and I’m thirsty so maybe as I’m literally cycling past the door anyway time to drop into a friend’s pub where there’s been perhaps the teensiest misunderstanding this morning but that’s nothing to do with BT to have a pint of wheat beer, but my army friend is there with his mother, so three pints down before I’m told it makes my other friend, the not army one who runs the place, feel ‘a bit weird’ if I’m there as a customer so would I mind not being, call you later, let’s go out after the lunch service tomorrow. Get home.

Nothing on the mobile. Nothing on the landline. Phone BT. Same message. Hang on for forty minutes until I eventually get through to someone. Who asks all of the questions I’ve dutifully tapped into the set of menus I needed to go through to get to talk to her, then can’t answer the question I want answering, when BT are going to sort this out and why after 28 years is their service still so utterly shit and there isn’t any competition? I’d settle for just the answer to the first one, to be honest, but of course, she doesn’t know. It’s not her job to know. I don’t know what her job is, but it isn’t to help customers. Because she can’t. It’s not her fault. She’s got no way of helping the customers. That’s why it can’t be any part of her job specification. What her job seems to be is winding up customers who are stupid enough to pay BT to phone BT to complain about BT so that they pay BT more to stay on the line having more things to complain about BT to BT about.

BT’s service, to use a technical term, is a pile of shit. And because this is a free market and nothing to do with the government, and because it’s such a free market that every single broadband provider in the UK has to use BT’s lines unless they live in Hull, tough. See above.

 

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Customer Satisfaction

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.

 

 

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