Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Has BT Ever Heard of the Concept of 'Customer Service'?

Our office move has gone very smoothly (thank you for asking). Apart from one thing. Yup, you've guessed it, BT. They were due to come to install our phone lines today between 8am and 1pm. Our phone company was here setting up our network and waited patiently ... and waited ... and waited. At 1.15 they rang BT to be told that they had indeed turned up but there was no one here. ******** Rubbish. Someone was here from 8am and the whole office was here from 9. Funny how they didn't put a "sorry we missed you" card through the door.

And guess what? We're now told it will be at least five days before they will come back, even though they have lied to us about coming in the first place. I reckon I have undertaken about 10 office moves over the last 20 years. And each time, the weak link in the chain has been BT. Sometimes I think they should be privatised. And then I remember they have been. Trouble is, they still act like a state monopoly when it comes to customer service.


Anonymous said...

It will not surprise you to know that they still have the same 'union demarcation' rules in place. Things may be slightly different now, but I remember an office relocation [only from Phase 1 to a new building Phase 2 which had been added on] and various BT engineers were in to do the work on overtime at night. Each had stop/start points of what they could and could not do, even though I suspect it would have been an easy job for one person to do.

Does anyone else have experience of this ? Perhaps Iain would like to do a 'Dock Labour Scheme' on BT as a celebration ?

Simon said...

I started a new business 10 years ago and the first cheque I banked was for £900. It was compensation from BT for installing the lines late.

I moved offices after 18 months and the first cheque I banked in the new office was for for £5500. It was compensation from BT for installing the lines late (more lines this time and longer wait.

2 years later I moved again and... you've guessed it, another compensation cheque for being late.

I moved again at the start of this year and had no broadband for SEVEN weeks despite the fact I only moved 100yds up the road and stayed on the same exchange.

BT really are the most useless shower of incompetent shite it has ever been my misfortune to encounter.

You have my sympathy Iain.

Mark Hendy said...

When my small family owned business moved BT failed to give us our business broadband service for 6 months. Then they threatened to sue us for not paying for the service they hadn't supplied. I/we will NEVER use them again.

Anonymous said...

Do tell us if this blog post makes a difference. With your big political audience it'll be fun to scare their public affairs and media people!

Adrian said...

You have my total sympathy Iain.

The catalogue of mayhem and disaster that BT has inflicted on my business is beyond parody.

They cancelled the broadband line that runs our email (time for restoration was 10 days, losing us £1000 per day. They offered us a month free as compensation).

They were two weeks late installing the lines when we moved in, and the best was taking six weeks to move our phone lines to our new office...next door! Seriously, same building, different suite, should have taken ten days max, could have been done remotely, but was totally screwed up.

Their inability to perform never ceases to amaze me.

Keith Elliott said...

BT leave everyone else behind (including the banks their atrocious call centres) when it comes to the awfulness of their customer service.

Well done the Tories for another successful privatisation!

Richard said...

I worked for BT, man and boy.

The problem is not union demarcation, it's just general incompetence. Before leaving, I was involved in a customer's office move job. This didn't involve phones, just unplugging two routers, moving them across town and plugging them in at the new office. Job could have been done by a taxi driver. We took six weeks just to provide a quote. 14 managers spread from Calafornia to Bombay were involved.

The problem is exacerbated by BT's policy of bringing low cost staff into the UK from India to replace experienced, British staff who have been made redundant.

In my experience, the Indians are intelligent, well educated and extraordinarily hard working. However, they tend to be very young and they don't have the experience to get the job done.

BT, of course, don't care. They have an effective monopoly. The Indians are paid a 'salary' that's less than a single person's tax allowance. They take the bulk of their income in 'allowances' for food, travel, housing etc.

HMRC generously gives the Indians a dispensation from UK benefit in kind rules so no tax is paid on the allowances either. Because they work through offshore contracting agencies, BT can forget about paid leave, pensions, unions and working time directive too.

Bottom line? An Indian worker costs a little over half as much as a Brit on the same take home pay. Needless to say, BT are now printing P45s for British staff faster than the Bank of England is printing fifty pound notes for Gordon Brown.

Anonymous said...

Bored? Nothing to do? Just ring BT for hours of fun.

Revel in the delight of speaking individually to every one of their call handlers as each in turn says "I'm sorry I can't help you with that, I'm going to transfer you to one of my colleagues". Enjoy the challenge of talking with someone (for whom English isn't the first language) across a poor quality 'phone line. Laugh as you recite your name and address 'for security purposes' for the 27th time. Chuckle as they hang up on you yet again. Sit back and see how many times you can validly use the phrase "you're not listening to me, that's not what I said".

BT. Bloody Terrible.

Bill Quango MP said...

BT. Came to fix the phone..disconnected the broadband instead.
7 days to fix.
Have switched elsewhere long ago. You should do the same Iain. There are plenty of other outfits who although only a little better, are generally a little cheaper.

RE the privatisation..It was gifting BT the infrastructure that lets them behave like a monopoly.

http://moralorder.mediumisthemess.com/blog said...

The company is too big. The left buttock doesn't know what the right buttock is doing

HF said...

There were more than a dozen houses in a small Close of 40 Houses that lost their BT Broad band service.

Did BT notice? No. Did BT notice when each house individually reported the fault? No, each was asked to reload software by Mumbai and some even got sent new boxes!

How long did this go on for? More than 2 weeks. Finally after quasi legal threats to their PR dept they finally sent an engineer to check the common cable and the fault was traced and fixed....

disillusioned Dale blog reader said...

BT recently cut my phone off. It has taken me weeks to get my broadband reconnected even though I have paid them in full for all the money they say I owe them. The reason I got in a dispute with them was that they sent me overinflated bills.

I hate them with a vengeance. Each time you ring them, you get put through to India. What is wrong with the concept that if you live and pay a bill in the UK, then if you ring their customer services, it should be answered in the UK? How difficult a concept is that for them to grasp?

I understand there are mutterings that they are in danger of going bust. GOOD. They deserve it. Hopefully, another company will buy up the corpse and get it to work properly.

skeptic said...

BT are a mess. I switched to a competitor 2 years ago...cheaper calls plus free broadband. Excellent service. During the last 2 years EVERY week I receive a mail shot from BT telling me of the latest "offer" and will I rejoin! In addition every 2 weeks I have received a phone call from them...I have told them to stop the mail and phone calls and use the savings to provide a competitive service instead. They must have a limitles, uncontrolled advertising budget...To date no luck. They will eventually go bankrupt.

disillusioned Dale blog reader said...

"Trouble is, they still act like a state monopoly when it comes to customer service." Oh no they don't Iain. They do not offer ANY customer service whatsoever.

Lord Rassilon of Gallifrey said...

Yes BT are crap . Period .

Won't go bust 'cause mandelson will nationalise it .

Anonymous said...

Don't get me started about BT, our experience and that of countless of my colleagues is that the old ''oh we turned up but there was no one in''is the default position when they can't be a**d. They are obviously taught it at their Customer Focus Seminars. Our engineer also pitched up 5 days later with no wires , no tools and no instructions. He spent the hours waiting for a colleague with the equipment bemoaning the cost of private nursery care.

It's 3rd world stuff and they should be broken up and sold off by Ofcom if they had any balls

AnthonyV said...

I think in general they've been rubbish in my encounters with them on the phone. You're never quite sure you're understood when dealing with Mumbai etc. However their engineers on the ground are pretty good. One fixed a problem on my line which should have been charged to me and wasn't. Can't complain there.
Besides, if you complain about BT then I give you NTL. Quite possible the worst telecomms company ever!

Ruth@VS said...

They are rubbish, aren't they? My telephone line broke after a storm - I did point out that if they had taken the precaution of pruning the tree obstructing all the lines it wouldn't have happened, but wasted by breath on that one. As it turned out, they spent the next few weeks here repairing all the broken lines, still haven't pruned the tree.

Anyway, when they eventually turned up they told me they couldn't give me a new line as my house was too low - yes really. According to EU legislation, phone lines have to be a certain height from the ground. So I asked what they were going to do since there was small chance that I could jack up my 200 year old house to the right height.

3 days later they sent an engineer who again told me my house was too low and there solution was to put a brand new telegraph pole against the front wall of the house. I told them I was not having such a thing, and didn't think the council would be so keen since the house and area are listed. They went away to think (not) about it. In the meantime I went past a similarly low house nearby and saw an attachment which appeared to be raising the height of the wire above the roof line.

I suggested this solution. "I didn't think of that" was the answer from the BT man. But it still wouldn't be high enough. At this stage, over a week without a line, I didn't know whether to laugh or cry. On the next visit two men turned up, one of whom (finally) had a brain. He produced the required attachment from his van, looked at the house and said "We can put it on the front and run the wire round to the side, then it will be high enough". And so it was. Two weeks , four men, several phone calls and a hefty compensation claim.

MikeyP said...

Been a cable phone user ever since Nynex appeared on the scene. Been through several entities since, but even Cable and Wireless, who got a bit of a reputation, were not as bad as our dealings with BT.

Osama the Nazarene said...

If there is no monopoly I;d have thought you would have learnt your lesson? Only asking...

Anonymous said...


Why bother with BT and landlines? Get a decent broadband supplier and transfer all your telephony over to VOIP. Gradwell are great, offer a reliable service and are very helpful. They'll even text/email you if your equipment drops the connection. My only connection is that I'm an existing and happy customer.

JMB said...

You can get free redirection to a mobile phone for telephone faults so it could be worth seeing if they will do that.

Most of their competitors seem to be even worse. One person was saying recently that she had to pay a local electrician about £100 to come and prove that her line was dead before one of the other companies would accept that it was faulty and pass on to BT for repair.

We used to deal with line faults at work on various types of circuits and always found BT far superior to the (cheaper) telecom company that took over the main contract. We had a complete shutdown of all services for over 24 hours at one place because of the complete incompetence of one of their engineers.

Matt Wardman said...

Try Tiscali if you need convincing that BT have heard of Customer Service...

Daniel1979 said...

One of the happiest days of my life came this year when I was finally able to sever all connections with BT forever... I will never, ever go back to BT they are are terrible.

Disco Biscuit said...

"Has BT Ever Heard of the Concept of 'Customer Service'?"


Simon said...

To Bill Quango
BT don't have the infrastructure anymore - it's been split off into OpenReach which causes even more problems. If there is an exchange problem neither you, nor apparently even BT, can talk to anyone at OpenReach. Problems, however urgent or damaging to your business, are simply logged in the system and each week you get an automated text to your mobile saying they haven't fixed the problem yet but they'll text you again in a week with an update.

They are probably responsible for more business loss than any other single cause.

Batteredstrat said...

'Where are you?' asked the BT phone operator

'Norfolk' I replied.

'Is that in London?' he asked.

That is all I need to know. Will be changing phone provider as soon as humanly possible.

Ed the Shred said...

The BT person who lied about coming round but did not should be prosecuted for fraud, at the very least s/he should be fired.

BT have recently invited me to participate in their fibre optic broadband trial, and, with some reluctance, I have accepted. Lets see how they perform. I think however I will still keep my non BT braodband on my other line - just in case. The idea of not having broadband for days or weeks (as reported in some comments above) is not great.

Richard Taylor said...

Why can't we have Naked DSL like in Australia and the US? Naked DSL is where so long as you have a copper line (into your home or office) then you don't need to pay line rental to crap companies like BT.

ollybarratt said...

We moved office in november and asked bt to move our isdn lines for our live tv and radio broadcasting. The tv lines didn't work until april. The radio lines still don't work. I've been repeatedly lied to by them too and would happily see them go under. www.fsnreportersblog.com

strapworld said...

Sorry, Iain. How did the move go? Give me a ring.

JBW said...

Just google about "talktalk" and see how bad they are, BT might come top of the polls for bad service but there are others.

Plusnet have always served me well.

Lola said...

When we moved offices BT chopped off our broadband for about 2 weeks. Internet and email is critical for us.

They were absolutely useless and arrogant with it.

Bill Quango MP said...

Simon. Thankyou.
But remember OpenReach is actually "BT OPENREACH, a BT Group Business."

You can't get away from BT.

Lola said...

Just like to qualify my earlier post. In all my dealings with BT I have found the blokes on the ground in grey vans to be excellent, knowledgeable and helpful. They usually know just waht can be done to sort things out, technically. Where it all falls down is in awful admin and foreign call centres. The moment that anything has to be referred into the 'system' you can kiss service goodbye.

Simon said...

To Bill Quango
Thanks for the correction.
It would appear I can add bare faced lies to the delays and incompetence.

Anonymous said...

Not only is their customer service a disgrace, so is their treatment of suppliers.

I haven't got a good word to say for them.

Tom said...

Laydeez en genteelmen - I fankoo - boom - tish:

11.5 Subject to paragraph 7 and with the exception of the condition and warranties implied by Section 12 of the Sale of Goods Act 1979 or Section 2 of the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982, BT Business Direct excludes all conditions, warranties, terms and undertakings express or implied, statutory or otherwise in respect of the provision of Equipment.


Bill 'em - a pal of mine did - stared 'em out and got £1500 to cover his time....

Anonymous said...

Yup, BT are rubbish - as indeed are Virgin, as were NTL .... the concept of "actual" customer service is completely alien to them - they've got you on the books and you are handing over cash - customer service is inundating you with printed crud from the sales department to try and persuade you to spend more - oh and organising frankly pathetic TV ads, with the same aim. Keep the infrastructure maintained and deal with faults in a reasonable time - yer having a larf ....

Alex said...

Do NTL Telewest Business or Colt Telecom install non-BT lines in your road?

Tidey Sum said...

Everytime I've interacted with the it's been an outright disaster. I've wanted to weep.

A lot of people are pointing out that other companies are no better - but in many circumstances the problem traces back to BT, they have to fix your line if there is a problem on it, even if Virgin etc are providing the service.

Fausty said...

BT is essentially still a state monopoly because many services depend on it in order to provide their own services. Zen, for instance.

The vast majority of BT's contracts are with government. Does that surprise you, given the way it was privatised?

Does it surprise you to learn that although Fujitsu provided an ace service WRT Connecting for Health (given budgetary constraints), the govt cancelled the contract by mistake and then had to pay BT more than double BT for the same service?

Do yourself a favour, Iain. Get a Zen account. I've been with them for over 10 years and have not had a second's downtime. Yes, it uses a BT line but when that goes wrong, it pulls out all stops. No buck-passing.

It simply works. Amen.

Anonymous said...

I had to call them last week. They offered me BT broadband option2 for around £15per month, about £5 per month off list price for a year. You guessed it. When I received the bill, I was charged full price. I told them that if they didnt let me have the correct price they could cancel and take all the equipment away as they had de facto cancelled their own contract by not giving me the price they offered. Within 5 days I received a credit for over £60 plus vat!

You need to stick it up them Iain, no holds barred and get compensation, I know I would.

microdave said...

"Richard" - Me likewise until I saw the writing on the wall, and took "Early Release". I could see there was no future for someone who complained to management if things weren't right. I DID try to see things from the customers perspective, but that often meant telling them the truth, which doesn't go down too well with the powers that be.

Here are some more accounts of dealing with them, mine included.


NakaYoshi said...

that is of BT by BT for BT. not so surprising.

Scottish Unionist said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DominicJ said...

Can anyone else connect your new building to the Telephone Grid?

Sounds like a government monopoly to me

Dial-up of Outer Hebrides said...

You think BT are bad? Really?

Try getting a reliable broadband in the Outer Hebrides. This is not an isolated example of what happens when an out-of-control monopoly are given the contract.

Plenty more here and here.

Brian E. said...

For our family's needs, I am seriously considering getting rid of the fixed line altogether. For the calls we make some of the deals would now cost us quite a bit less, and some of the mobile broadband deals are now very competitive if you only use the internet for e-mail and surfing. I just wonder how long it will be before fixed lines become a thing of the past.

Gonk said...

Oh the joy of BT Customer " care " . I live in a village called Llanfairfechan . Welsh, of course.
After spelling it laboriously to five different Indian callcentre operatives , several times to some of them , I felt suicidal. And my problem was unresolved . Very polite people but totally clueless.
BT Broadband and I parted company on the day my contract expired.

Thomas B said...

I am currently working my notice for BT - and this sort of rubbish really shouldn't happen - especially with the new company focus on Right First Time metrics. The problem of course is that your screw up is almost certainly logged in the system as your fault, so that's okay as the RFT test has still been passed.

This sort of issue illustrates why I'm going - the total inability on BT's part to seem to recognise the different market sectors have different requirements.

Anonymous said...


How did your office move go ?

AP said...

It does get worse. No matter who you use you can't escape BT if you are on copper.

All providers have to use BT openreach, the cable division of the business. The really frustrating bit is that BT Openreach do not take calls from the public. You have to talk to your carrier, i.e BT who then talk to BT Openreach and report back to you.

BT will point out that BT Openreach are a completely different company (since 2005 thank you NuLab) and nothing to do with them (Even though they are both owned by BT Group)

BT are the very worst company in the UK and a serious blight on business.

If only one of our MPs knew just how bad they were!

Neil A said...

Last year I moved house. I was renting one house temporarily and decided to buy the house next door. Because of the monthly tenancy, I ended up having control of both properties for about ten days. Excellent, I thought, I can arrange for BT to move my phoneline and broadband from one house to the other, without any loss of service. Ooooooh no, I wasn't allowed to request the move in advance. BT wouldn't set up the new broadband line until I had disconnected the old broadband line. Which meant that I was forced to spend 5 days without phone or internet access, despite the overlap in my move.

Mind you, Tiscali are almost as bad...

ollie said...

This story resonates with me very loudly.

They failed to turn up TWICE to install my new line, and were in the process of disconnecting my neighbours phone line until I stopped them. Lucky I was at home.

The service was utterly appalling, from start to finish. I spoke to probably 10 different people, and it took about 15 emails to get it sorted out.

I got a crappy £30 compensation - nowhere near enough for my time wasted waiting for them to turn up.

I'm stuck with them for a year now - as soon as that time is up, I'm off to Sky.

Richard said...

"Right First Time metrics"

I went through various attempts at this sort of thing over my 20 years at BT. Total Quality Management, BS5750, Mission Statements, Vision Statements, Putting the Customer First, Corporate Values - even a BT staff diary with a 'Thought for Today' on every page.

If your staff can't do their jobs, slogans are just so much bovine by product.

When I joined BT, they had more staff per exchange line than the state telecomms provider in the Soviet Union. Since privatisation, they've been under severe pressure from shareholders to reduce their headcount. They also operate a policy of no compulsory redundancies.

The result of this is that they're offering ever more generous payments to skilled staff they need to retain in order to persude them to leave while the meeting facilitators, coaching consultants, diversity champions and futurologists that will never work again post BT cling on like chewing gum on the sole of your shoe.

I know of cases where highly skilled staff have been paid years of salary to take redundancy then immediately re-employed as contractors on several times their old salary.

Meanwhile, the proportion of managers in BT rises while the proportion of technical staff drops.

In my last job at BT, I was part of a team of two engineers. On a weekly basis, we had to report to, and take instructions from 14 different managers working for 3 separate companies and we had to attend 15 - 20 meetings per week. Meanwhile the database we were supposed to be running was offering offering networking hardware for sale for less than it cost BT to buy the hardware from the manufacturer. Matrix management - the BT way.

Companies that behave like BT don't deserve to survive.

Anonymous said...

Do let us know about Gio when you have the result. Hope all is well.

canvas said...

dude, shop around. It's doesn't have a monopoly.

Unsworth said...

I, too, have suffered. Indeed such was/is the general level of aggravation and annoyance that the desktop symbol for Broadband connection on all our computers now bears the legend 'BT Bastards'.

I have yet to meet anyone who has a good word to say for them. The outsourcing to India has been a spectacular failure. No one East of Suez has any ability or authority to do anything at all. You might just as well engage a speak-your-weight machine in conversation - and you'd probably get a more useful response.

Ben said...

AP is correct, unfortunately.

Tell you what though, that IT guy you used to move the IT system over was very professional and efficient and in no way responsible for BTs short comings, I think you would agree?

I bet some of your readers (based in and around London) could benefit from his services ;-)

...are you going to let everyone know what happened after this post?

Red Rag said...

And here is me remembering being told by the Tories that when privatised all of BT's consumer problems would disappear as they would need to get competitive.

Victor, NW Kent said...

Try the competition. Virgin offer a far better service and much faster broadband.

We finished with BT 8 years ago and have never looked back.

We now get bills we can understand. I never understood a single bill that we got from BT.

Anonymous said...

BT are atrocious. When my dad died, mum wrote to them requesting they send the bill to Mrs, rather than Mr and Mrs. They cut her off, just as she was trying to arrange the funeral. It took four family members well over a week to get her line reinstated (which they did, on a 12 month minimum contract). The thing that really bothered me was the arrogance and dishonesty with which the operator I spoke to acted. She wrote to complain, but didn't get any kind of decent apology. I'm just trying out a VOIP / Cable solution to see if I can ditch them forever.

Stephen Hodgson said...

By strange coincidence I've had the exact same problem with BT today when moving home.

About two weeks ago I arranged for the BT phone line to be installed at my new flat. I was told it would happen today and I would need to be in between 8am and 1pm for the engineer to attend to connect the line. It got to 1pm, no one had visited, no one had called or e-mailed and the line wasn't working.

I've spent 40 minutes on the phone to BT today (costing me on my mobile) only to be told "there's been a delay for some reason but the person who knows why has gone home, we'll call you tomorrow".

Great - I had arranged the time off work (after already waiting two weeks from requesting the line transfer), patiently waited between 8am and 1pm and no one showed up and BT didn't even have the decency to contact me to let me know there "is a delay" - I had to call them! I suppose at least they didn't try to lie and tell me someone had been to the property.

nought.point.zero said...

Agreed 100%. I was royally screwed around by BT when I moved house. I ended up taking a whole load of days off for the privilege of sitting in my house, waiting for their incompetent staff to not turn up. The worst company I have ever dealt with.

Bryan Dunleavy said...

I think the poor service is in BT's genes.
In 1973 when I applied for a telephone (then the Post Office) I was told there was an 11 months waiting list.
I then moved to Canada, applied for a telephone, and they were most apologetic that installation might take up to four days! In the event the wait was only two.
On my return to the UK 20 years later I experienced all of the issues noted by other commenters. On the last go round, trying for over a month to get broadband to work I discovered "BT Openreach" which I was assured by each one of the engineers who came round was nothing to do with BT. Not that that made any difference - they were all equally incompetent.
Customer service? This is England!

Me said...

Completely agree, Iain. Phoning them up for services is an agonising process - and the heart sinks when you realise the person on the other end isn't even in your own country.
And they charge a packet.

The Shadow said...

So much for privatisation!!

Oh you Tory wankers make me laugh!!!

Profit before everything.

There is no such thing as service.

Go to a competitor, if you can find one. Surely that was what privatisation was all about. The introduction of competition. Well where is it. It's all stiched up!

Oh the irony!!!

Paul Halsall said...

Ask for a mercury number!

Of course, there are no natural monopolies, are there.

Anonymous said...

Too many BT managers chasing stats, who also have their staff chasing stats. You can bet the stats part of BT moving your office is 100% looking good.

With more and more staff chasing stats, there is less and less staff being able to do any work that might be helpful the customer. To get anywhere in BT you need to be able to play the stats game.

Stats = Happy Customers.... *sigh*

Raedwald said...

I ditched BT for my home phone and broadband service about a year ago. The divorce was painful and caused substantial disruption.

Last week I got a sales call from a charming Northern lass inviting me to return to BT at a third of the price I'd previously been paying.

"Not for at least three years" I said, "in punishment for the overcharging and excessive profit making you now freely admit".

"I understand, love" she said, wearily and unsurprised.

Jon Denison said...

Iain, I work for BT and am really sorry to hear about your experience, and the experience of the other people who have posted on here. I am happy to try and help get problems resolved where we can, the business as usual channels should work for you, but where they aren't, I would love to try and help. Can you tweet me and i'll follow you so we can DM each other details and I'll try and help get us delivering for you.

I'm @jpdenison on Twitter.

Emma Bee said...

Surely this monument to Thatcher's Britain reflects the true face of privitisation.

Employ call centre staff on low pay with atrocious conditions of service and then treat your customers with contempt because you can.

What about customer care?

What about competition?

Well neither exist in the Utopia of privatisation.

Just another profit driven monoply.

Just another way of screwing the customer and it's employees in the name of extortionate profit.

But all of you who voted for it surely knew what was coming?

Thatcher's legacy, along with the railways and the transport system. All heavily subsidised by the taxpayer so they can make vast profits.

Profit is king. Get used to it.

TomTom said...

Thatcher privatised BT wrongly leaving them in control of the network and should have split operations from fixed assets.

BT and Deutsche Telekom are still dominant, still public sector mentality, and far too inert.

Anonymous said...

Customer service via their BT's call centres is rubbish.

However, once you negotiate that the guys in the vans actually doing the work are fantastic and go out of their way to get the job done.

A big contrast with Sky - their customer service is pretty good but the guys in the van are lazy and unhelpful.

Don't understand how you equate this with 'like the public sector' though.

Many call-centres in the private sector are crap, staffed by offshore labour with no local knowledge who are paid a pittance and struggle with British accents. Procedures are weak because of all the "efficiency". It seems crap customer service is the natural outcome of the free market.

Gareth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cynic said...

BT is my ISP. This is an absolutely true account of an exchange with them last year.

One day the home internet (which I use for business) stopped working. After multiple calls to BT and 4 different excuses I got the truth.

"An engineer was running a test process on the network and it deleted you as a custiomer so your Internet servcie has been terminated. This has affected quite a large number of customers"

"OK, so can you please reinstate me?"

"I am sorry but I cannot discuss it with you as you are no longer a BT Internet customer"


"As you are no longer registered as a BT customer I cannot discuss this account with you. All you can do is go online and apply again for a new service"

"I cannot go online. You have cut me off."

"Then Phone this number and ask for a new service "

So then I call the number and explain what has happened. They seem quite helpful at first

"So can I get reconnected immediately/"

"No. You will have to join the queue for a new account. It takes 5 to 7 days"

"But BT cut me off!"

"That doesn't matter. It wouldn't be fair to allow you to queue jump sir. Tou have to wait like everyone else. So far as we are concerned you are a new customer"

Obsidian said...

@The Shadow

If you think BT are bad after privatization, you should've seen them before.

Party lines, waiting weeks for a piece of cack bakelite phone... It was horrific.

Yes, their customer service is rubbish, but technologically they've improved amazingly.

All systems have their pros and cons, and I'd rather take cruddy service over cruddy technology.

The Lakelander said...

I've just had the first six months of our new office's phone and broadband bills cancelled, courtesy of BT.

You have my e-mail address. Send me an e-mail and I'll give you the e-mail address of the nice gentleman who sorted this out for me.

Good grief...I should be selling his e-mail address on Ebay!

Anonymous said...

Emma Bee and all the other leftie gloaters on here .

Privatised BT are a heap of shit

The GPO as was before privatisation couldn't even aspire to being shit. They didn't have a customer service department to ring. You had to put complaints in writing. In London minimum time for a new phone 11 months. A leased data circuit 2 years, all very low tech and years behind.

Post privatisation BT are still a monopoly as they control all the copper and exchanges. At the time of privatisation Cable and Wireless and others were poised to enter the market however at that time a new technology came along and they all went into that instead ( cellular/mobile).

Your beloved Labour party just produced a report called Digital Britain...didn't seem to mention any of this did it?

Roger said...

BT are amateurs at poor customer service when compared with the truly horrendous Telefonica, here in Spain.
These incompetent and arrogant fools are only beaten for sheer anti-customer chutzpah by the really,really,really, awful electricity supplier Endesa.
Even the Spanish - inured to a complete lack of interest in customer rights are moaning about their high handed implementation of changed billing methods involving defrauding their captive customers!

Anonymous said...

Iain - I find an email to Iain Livingston helps....obviously just one opf his lackeys sorts it, but it gets done quick!

No Society said...

2007 i moved 500yards. Submitted what had to be a purchase order, 1 week lead time, to "reconnect" broadband to my new address, same number. For 5 weeks it was my fault, router not BT etc etc ...6 weeks , later several new routers including BT one they told me the problem was at the exchange. And?.... the operative had replugged me into a dead line. Im still with them because of the word British...will be leaving soon with the key words hymen intact. Guess? ...Id wrap all these comments up in a nice letter to Mandy see if he cares Iain

Greg said...

Hi Iain
We had a similar problem when we moved a few years ago (we were a 9 person company at the time).
I emailed BT's then CEO - Ben Verwaayen. He responded from his blackberry within hours and the problem was fixed same day.
I suggest emailing their CEO - is it still ian.livingston@bt.com ? May well be the trump card still.
Good luck.

seebag said...

BT are doing their very best to stop me ordering Broadband. Passed from pillar to post, nobody accountable or accepting responsibility, wildly inconsistent knowledge of special offers, wildly inconsistent statements on matters of fact. Yesterday I was reduced to asking when will they be coming around to stick red hot needles in my eyes - it just seemed the next logical step for them.

Ollie C said...

We are about to move and because we're in rural England I fear our only choice will be BT for the internet - and very slow internet at that. The experiences of people here doesn't fill me with hope that I'll be working from home efficiently the moment we move in!

Anonymous said...

They must be listening to all of you!!!

I just phoned to report a fault, and spoke to a lovely lady, based in the UK. She rang me back within minutes to confirm actions to be taken.

First time ever I have been impressed by BT customer service! I had fully intended to put a whole sorry experience on here based on past encounters..but not this time!!!

Anonymous said...

When I rang BT engineering Centre to complain about the predictable non appearance of an engineer I was told that their computer showed that they had attended but there was no one in. Upon loudly disabusing them of that notion I was informed ''Mr ****** BT staff have the right to carry out their work wothout suffering abuse from the likes of you'' she then hung up. I rang another number to make a complaint about this and after recounting the details was told that this was not a bona fide complaint and as such there would be no further action. When asked who decided the rightness or otherwise of a complaint she replied ''I do''. I then said that I wanted to make a complaint about that decision and was told that that also was an invalid complaint.

You couldn't make such surreal nonsense up if you tried

talwin said...

BT home phone line went down. Nice chap in the sub-continent did a remote check and said it was a fault inside my house and therefore not BT's responsibility. BT engineer was £200 if turned out and fault was mine. Got a text next morning to confirm that fault was inside my house.

Engaged local ex-BT bod who charged me £60 for the two minutes it took him to tell me the fault was definitely outside & BT's responsibility.

Got BT engineer out (he was polite, efficient and helpful) who confirmed phone line was broken, underground, 130m away. Fixed same.

Spoke to a myriad of BT staff but eventually, through grim determination and cussedness, got to speak to someone in the UK. Asked BT to pay the 60 quid I had spent unnecessarily owing to their inaccurate testing: got a formulaic reply that as I had engaged independent engineer from choice they wouldn't pay up. I just ignored what the chap was saying and refused point-blank to accept the decision: told the guy to get a further decision from a supervisor or manager & ring me back. He did so and no joy there. Told him to go back to a manager and say I would sack BT if I got no satisfaction. Manager rang me herself and said I couldn't be paid. I just steam-rollered her & said either they paid up or I sack BT. She cleared off for a few moments, returned and said "Not BT responsibility .......on this occasion.... gesture of good will......£60 credit. Hard work, but result.

AnthonyV is right BT's engineers seem competent & efficient. Free redirection to a mobile was offered and provided when I started to get stroppy. It's the infrastructure (sic), admin. and backroom which are crap.

Sorry to bang on (there were more phone calls than I have described!)but it has to be stressed (as an anonymous suggested here)you have to be patient, determined and bloody relentless with BT.

iainmac said...

Iain, I am responsible for the Business Movers unit in BT. I'm really sorry to hear about the problems with your move but I think it's only fair to point out that in this case BT Business are not your Communications Provider and were not responsible for handling your move.

Iain Dale said...

Iain, so BT OpenReach is not part of BT? Give me a break. They had to switch on the lines and they failed to turn up. Who else is responsible for that?

disillusioned Dale blog reader said...

@ iainmac 1121am ; If you are who you say you are, you sum up all that is wrong with BT. A total denial of responsibility.

I used to work for a large Blue Chip. I am aware what it is like to work in a very large organisation and to try to sort out problems for customers. But I would NEVER attempt to blame another part of that organisation when something goes wrong. You pull your bloody finger out, ring the department that is blocking the solution and tell them that they have to bloody help you otherwise all hell will break loose. If you have good people working there, they will help. And that is what is wrong with BT. You all blame each other and think that the customer will be satisfied to hear that it is not you but "some other bloke" who is causing the problem. As a customer, you are not interested in excuses - you just want your line or broadband reconnected!

iainmac said...

Iain, yes clearly Openreach are part of the BT Group and their remit is to provide "fair and equal access to the Network for all Communications Providers". As BT Business is not your CP, I am not in a position to comment on what went wrong with your move. What I do know is, in BTB we recognise that moving home or business can be a traumatic experience, which is why we provide a managed service to take all of the hassle out of moving your services. The BTB Movers Team would have escalated any issues with the network element of your move to Openreach in an effort to minimise any disruption to your business. Your current CP has the same access and escalation points within Openreach as BT Business does.

Anonymous said...

I posted an anonymous comment expressing surprise at the level of service...at 10:56. OMG...they have just been and fixed it!! BT Openreach, polite and efficient! AND I live in rural Lincolnshire!

I am astonished, given past experiences.

Infuriati said...

I once had a peculiar customer service experience with BT. At work, we were having a leased line installed by BT. BT phone me up to tell me they couldn't install the line for another 6 weeks.

I then asked who was in the COMMS room then? No-one they said....asked them to hold, went and got the engineer.

"Hello Dave" he said "You gave me this job this morning..."

North Wales said...

BT....my favourite subject. I tried to switch service providers last year for broadband, half way through theprocess BT suddenly decided I was too far away from the exchange to get service. Funny thing was that I had been getting over 2meg for a few years.

No matter what I said, it had no effect. I contacted local councillors, MP's and even Lord Tebbit (no joking). BT told me the best thing for me was to get a dongle, until I pointed out that there was no service (useless twats). I eventually signed up with O2, who had no problem getting me 2meg broadband.

I used to work for BT as a customer service operator, and I can catagorically state that they have no fucking clue for about 80% of the time.

All you MP's out there will know full well that I am telling the truth, maybe this time you will get off your arse.

David Farrer said...


You need a songwriter

That's how to deal with 'em...

Anonymous said...

When I worked for BT I had a business use line at home. Each month was sent an invoice totalling £0 as all my calls were credited out. Then they started charging for not paying by direct debit. Of course I never paid anything so didn't see the need for direct debit - but then got charged the £1.50 ish per month. After a couple of years, this amount built up, was sent to collections and I was threatened with legal proceedings for non payment. I really wanted to see how far it would go, but alas my manager told me to stop being silly, pay it and claim it on expenses.... Was looking forward to my time in court :o) Rgds.... Tim

Anonymous said...

i work for bt openreach and agree they are aload of shite, and the reason for this is that it's run by accountants who are only out to line their on pockets, don't give a shite about customer facing staff or the customers.