Tuesday, 27 August 2013

British Telecom ~ what a Fiasco!

Please help me with this BT fiasco!  

Here I am on my weekly internet update using my friend Carol's connection - thank God for friends.

This post concerns, again, BT's terrible "customer service" by which I do not mean that of the 17 sympathetic and helpful (as far as they do anything) individuals who I've spoken to trying to get this sorted out, I mean the supervisors, managers etc who are supposed to actually get the work done.

Please Help!

Does anyone know of any good places to rant, complain, campaign etc to get the ??? out in the open.  If you do please let me know in a comment or on Facebook Link, Twitter Link etc.  It will of course take me a while to see your ideas due to the problem but all ideas would be welcome.  

Just to let you know we still have no phone or internet even though it is now over a month after the line was disconnected and the work not done.  My two or three previous posts will give more detail.

Having received no reply from Warren Buckley or his office to my letter sent on 12th August I am now re-sending it with the following Addenda giving an update on what has (or mostly hasn't) happened since then.


~ Addenda to previously sent letter which is attached ~
19th August

A guy called to say BT would be putting traffic lights up outside our house on 22nd August although he couldn't say when the work would actually be done. Naively and hopefully I thought that if traffic lights are put up on a Thursday the work might be completed by the weekend, especially if that weekend is to be a Bank Holiday.

22nd August

We kept looking to see if the traffic lights were there and when none had appeared by about 5.30 pm I rang 0800 800 150 and bugger me if I didn't get through within minutes to a sensible girl in England!!!  She was very helpful indeed and got in touch with the engineers who told her that the lights were scheduled to be assembled at 7.00 pm.  They also said that the distribution box was full and so they needed to split the line or something before completing the work.  Bearing in mind that all we are asking for is an extension of our existing line 20 yards down the garden and in fact first asked for this a couple of months ago I was (and am) surprised this hadn't been done by now..

I said to the lady on the phone how very helpful she had been and she said that to tell the truth this had been a learning curve for her too, she was surprised about the traffic lights, the line being disconnected, the delay in getting on with the work and the lack of communication herself.

At 7.00 there was a Traffic Lights van outside and bollards had been placed for some way along the road. 

We had dinner, looked out again, all gone!!!

23rd August

BT called on my mobile to say that they needed to do some work at the exchange first and would update us by 8.00 pm that day.  They didn't.  I tried called the number given on the mobile and got a recorded message which said ...

"We tried to call you but there was no answer ... you have not been charged for this call."

... which is utter rubbish as they had called me and spoken to me and I was just trying to speak to them again!  The number in this case was 0888 0285085.

24th August

I called 0800 800 150 and spoke to guy in India who, again, was sympathetic and helpful.  He said he could see the matter was in the hands of a facilitator (he said this was to speed things up!) but couldn't say who this was.  He said he would put a note on the file saying how disgusted I am not only at having no phone or internet for so very long but at the total lack of courtesy in BT's way of dealing with the matter.  He said

"Having heard your story, believe me, it won't be a polite note!

He also said that as it is now a bank holiday he would try to ensure that someone calls me by 8.00 pm on Tuesday 27th August but that he would not lie to me, this did not mean the work would be done then!

27th August

Having received no reply from Warren Buckley or his office to my letter (above) sent on 12th August I am now re-sending it with this addenda to update you/him/them on what has (or rather mostly hasn't) happened since last I wrote.

So that's 17 people now, another un-returned call, a phone number which it is unable to contact and now more than a month since the work was due to be completed.  It is also 15 days since I wrote to you but no reply - perhaps this lack of communication is company policy!  
Any Thoughts? 

If you can think of any way of going public and letting people know how bad this "service" is (and as BT is huge and almost a monopoly I realise it is difficult to fight or even do without it) please either let me know, or them!!

I thank you,

PS.  BT have just called me to say that they couldn't do the work on Friday "as there was a car parked in t he way" which is, of course, utter rubbish and probably a lie!  Firstly because why did they take down the traffic lights on Thursday evening if they had intended to do the work Friday and, secondly, surely "engineers" have the brains to knock on our door to see if we own or know who owns the car so that it can be moved.

I am incandescent.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013

I never realised how important Twitter etc. are!

I first started using Facebook when a friend of mine got married in Perth, Australia and posted her wedding pics on FB (hello Telly Tubby x) and since then it has been a very useful way to keep in touch with far away friends that we miss in the Caribbean .

When Twitter first started at first it sounded a bit silly to me and you know it, or some of the Tweople who use it, are Very Silly Indeed or worse.  Nevertheless I joined up, started tweeting and have a little over 1,000 followers.  Sometimes it is quite fun and sometimes useful and informative. 

I find Pinterest a great way to store photos, both mine and other people's, in the cloud - a kind of online scrapbook and also a way to publicise my work. My book "The Leftovers Handbook", the publishers felt, is so full of information there is no room for photos so I put them on Pinterest just in case anyone is interested.

Stumble upon can be a great timewaster and I used to get stuck on it for hours, in fact one day a very spooky thing happened to me on Stumble Upon see here LINK

Blogging has become a regular and enjoyable habit for me and I am trying to keep it going during this troublesome time

I did not realise, however, until my recent (and continuing)BT Fiasco quite how useful a marketing tool networking is.

Since publication sales of my book The Leftovers Handbook have generally hovered in Amazon's rank at about 30,000 (the lower the number the better the sales) give or take a few thousand until BT disconnected our phone line.  See how sales immediately dropped soon after I stopped networking and then how they shot up again after I spent a day online at my friend's house.

I thought this might just be a fluke but it happened again the following week rather more spectacularly ...

... and I fully expect the same thing to happen in the next few days (fingers etc. crossed).

Of course when I am fully operational I don't just promote my own books and blogs I comment on other people's thoughts and ideas, make suggestions, joke, retweet things I find interesting, have conversations and generally post things I think funny haha or funny peculiar.  This is all very well but sometimes I've been doing it for hours and have to remind myself to get on with "important" things and stop playing!

Hopefully I shall be back online on or around or just after the weekend, perhaps, and can get back to my tweeting and in the meantime here is a bit of heartfelt networking I saw from the bus recently ...

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

“Without promotion something terrible happens… Nothing!” ~ P.T. Barnum

Sadly, thanks to BT, this is exactly the situation I now find myself in.  The story so far ... (I'm sorry if you read some of this in my last post!)

Back story ...

  1. We live in a house with a barn at the end of the garden.  We have converted the barn and are moving into it for the next year (or maybe for ever) whilst we gut and renovate the house. 
  2. My book "The Leftovers Handbook" has recently been published and I both urgently and constantly need phone and internet access for marketing it. I have sent out press releases and magazine pitches via email and need to respond immediately to replies. I tweet and use Facebook, Linkedin and other social media, all of which have a positive effect on sales and keeping my name and my book in people's minds.  My agent, publishers and publicist communicate via a joint Dropbox in the cloud which now, of course, is not available to me.
  3. Even more importantly we have a family member with terminal cancer and need to be in touch with him (so far he is still living alone in his own home in Newcastle) on a daily basis.
The transfer of the line was arranged for Friday 26th July between 8.00 am and 1.00 pm.

Friday 26th July

                     No-one showed up all morning but in good faith we completed moving our home into the barn. At 12.55 pm our phone line was disconnected and about 15 minutes later I received a text message on my mobile thus ...

"We are really apologize (sic) that the engineer could not visit your new address to activate the telephone line.  Reason for Delay: Job Delayed with TRAFFIC MANAGEMENT.  Next Update Friday 16 /08/13.  We will keep you updated so that you needn't call us back.  Thank You Bt (sic)"

                     We borrowed our neighbours' phone to call the 0800 number (0800 800 150) and were held in a line for about 20 minutes. I then spoke to a very helpful and sympathetic girl in India who gave me the number to call. It was 0800 800 150! 
                     I called again and got to talk to a guy in Birmingham who was also very helpful and he got in touch with the engineers who told him that the work could not be done because "it is a very busy road" and they need clearance from the council.  Seemingly they assume a road is quiet till proved otherwise! 
                     I asked, of course, for the line to be switched on again but was told this is not possible and I would be updated (just updated mark you, not transferred and connected) on 16th August.
                     I asked if there was anyone in charge I could talk to and was told I could write to someone called Warren Buckley or something similar, I think.  I said it was more urgent than that and was told a manager would call me back on my mobile within the hour.  He/she didn't.
                     Just after 4.00 pm I called again and spoke to another sympathetic and helpful girl who said she would do her best to arrange for the service to be switched back on sometime Monday (although transferring the line would still not happen till at least the 16th) and would call me back to let me know how she got on.  She didn't. 

Monday 29th July

                     I spoke to a more useful sort of guy who set us up a temporary phone number to our house and suggested I get a dongle for temporary internet access.
                     As it happens I had a radio interview arranged for this day to be conducted over the 'phone and as I had to use my mobile with less than perfect reception the interview was cut from fifteen minutes to five. 

Tuesday 30th July

                     I spent the day at the home of a good friend willing to let me take over her internet connection for several hours contacting people saying that I would be out of action for day or two till I got a dongle.  Sadly this information was wrong.  My friend lives 16 miles away so this is not something I can do frequently especially as I don't drive.

Wednesday 31st July

                     I tried to get a dongle but without success as all suppliers say there is not sufficient reception where I live - PL26 7YH.
                     Although the account is actually in my name, as I was getting so very upset by this stage, my partner then rang 0800 800 150 and spoke to a girl in Durham who said we could cancel the order and have our old number back with 48 hours,  We could then rearrange the transfer for a later date. This seemed the best answer since I need the internet as soon as possible so, to enable us to do this, she said she'd transfer us to the correct department but unfortunately it was a wrong number!   
                     He re-dialled and got to talk to a guy in India who didn't really understand what he was saying but eventually decided he couldn't do what we were asking and indeed said no-one in India could deal with this problem and he couldn't transfer us to anyone who could. 
                     We tried again - same result. 
                     Third time lucky-ish he got a Scots guy who refused to say where he was but at least they understood each other.  After about half an hour of explanations and discussion he came up with the information that he couldn't deal with it - we needed to speak to Open Reach.  He said he was transferring us to ....
                     ... Open Reach, their Indian office, who after about 10 minutes pondering decided to transfer us to ...
                     ... Open Reach in Warrington I think  My partner went through the whole thing again, phone number, order number, address, what the problem is, etc. etc and they had a long chat and she was so helpful he asked to have her direct number in case he needed to speak to her again but she said there was no direct number. She did say, however, that in her opinion cancelling the order was not the right thing to do as it would take until at least Monday 5th August to reconnect and probably take our internet provider another 5 working days to reconnect us.  She also said there was no guarantee that we would get our original number back. 
                     He was then transferred to Order Management in India, the guy's English was not very good and he kept saying he would "do something to make" my partner speak to his supervisor which eventually he did.
                     The supervisor asked for my partner's name, Paul Clementson, and thereafter referred to him as Mr. Poll!   Asked if it would be possible to speed up the procedure and transfer the line within the next few days he said "no".

Thursday 1st August

I posted the above in a letter to the BT Correspondence Centre at an address given to me by one of the friendly folk above.

Saturday 3rd August

I received the following text ...

"Hello - this is a message from BT. This is to confirm we will contact you 20/08/13 by 20.00 to discuss the delay in activation of your services.  There is no need to contact us as we will not be able to provide you with any more information.  Thank you. Sender 2123001"

As you see they will call me on 20th August to "discuss the delay in activation of your services" but I may have self destructed with sheer rage and frustration by then!

So far we have spoken to about 12 different people being held in line over and over again for about 20 minutes per time, repeatedly giving all the details and telling our story.  In the end we heard so many different versions of what could or should happen that we don't know what to believe. 

The road we live on is fairly busy but nothing out of the ordinary just a single carriageway main road through a village in Cornwall, the telegraph pole is on our side of the road directly outside the house, the line needs to be extended for a few yards down our garden.  We own both properties. 

I am now going to contact everyone I can possibly think of that may be able to help.  If you have any ideas please ... WHAT?  I suppose comment and I'll ask a friend to keep an eye on this blog for me.  Also perhaps tweeting or posting on FB might help at least spread the word about BT's appalling service.


PS.  Sorry for being so moany and thank you for your comments so far. xx