I don’t use this blog for rants or grievances. I think it’s unprofessional, and who’s interested anyway? But I’ve just experienced a home worker’s nightmare at the hands of BT, and I think this is unfortunately such a common occurrence among the small and home business community that it’s a valid topic to write about.
For about six months we have had an erratic connection that slows down or goes off of its own accord. A used to work for BT many moons ago, understands their language and systems, and so always deals with our telecomms issues. All this time he has been speaking to a very helpful and patient individual in BT Retail, Niall Murdoch, who has been trying to get to the bottom of the problem. Lately we have probably been speaking to Niall as often as we do family and friends.
The trouble appears to be that BT Wholesale and Openreach, who actually do the work, completely ignore Niall’s requests and careful instructions and do whatever they feel like. Just one example – we had a recurring problem at the same time early evening. Niall asked them to come out at that time to check the problem when it was occurring. They rang up at 1 pm to say they were on their way. Andy explained there was no point and asked them to stick to the time Niall requested. Nobody turned up, probably because it’s after the time they go home.
On Friday afternoon our connection had disappeared when we came back from our afternoon break. It just happened to be 5 pm so BT’s weekend had started. But home business owners don’t necessarily stop at the weekend, and we had jobs we needed to complete by Monday. We tried to use Openzone – it throws you off when it feels like it and doesn’t come back for hours and hours. We made a special trip to Bath for dongles – one didn’t work at all, and the other was painfully slow and slowed our computers right down too.
And on Monday morning when Niall was back in the office we discovered that BT Wholesale had ignored his request to carry out the latest potential fix when we are away in July and opened up the order on Friday. The work was scheduled to take three days. Did that mean it would be finished on Monday and our connection back, or don’t weekends count so we were only just starting the three days? Nobody in Wholesale was telling.
We spent Monday trudging round Bath to find a cafe that provided sockets as well as wifi (thank you, Starbucks) and miserably waiting to hear when we could expect our own connection back. I’m glad to say we were back on when we got home, but with lingering doubts about the lasting effects of this intervention, and the level of service available to home workers.
Doesn’t Ofcom exist in order to ensure a good level of service? Why does such a huge company apparently have a split between those who handle customers and those who do the work? How can the UK expect to pull itself out of this recession when small and home businesses can’t rely on the essential tool to keep them trading?
The whole experience induces rage andfrustration, blows concentration to bits, wastes time, and is totally unnecessary. Every time this has happened before I have vowed to write to the Chairman, Ofcom, the Prime Minister, you name it, but then once I can actually work again, there’s a backlog to clear, I’m utterly exhausted, and the whole thing takes too much energy. I’m also well aware that the offices of these people are probably already sinking under the weight of existing complaints, and yet the situation is allowed to continue.
I’d love to hear I’m being unnecessarily cynical and my experience is an isolated one. Have you got any positive stories to cheer me up?