November 20th 2006

BT minus minus

Wow, BT suck. In case anyone has been wondering why I haven't regularly been on MSN or IRC in the past few months, it's because I've been without internet. I blame BT.

It started alright. We moved into our shiny new flat and immediately started investigating the options for broadband. We figured we didn't mind waiting a couple of weeks – I can easily live without internet: have done so at home until June of this year.

Anyway, the first bad news was that NTL wasn't going to be available as it would take many many months for them to make the 1.5 metre trench in the road required to join their street gromets to ours, thus making all the shiny coaxial cable the builders had put throughout the building totally useless. Not to worry, I thought, I'll get straight onto BT.

I say 'straight' — in reality I was put on hold for 20 minutes or so (remember 0800 numbers are rather dear on mobiles) before being answered by someone who immediately said "Oh, you're on a mobile, let me call you back." who then didn't for another ten. To add injury to their insult, whilst on hold I was being serenaded repeatedly (read: molested repeatedly) by a version of the first movement of Eine Kleine Nachtmusik in which someone decided that Mozart had made the faux pas of adopting sonata form for the work and consequently edited the development section out.

This returned phone call was somewhat productive until I was passed to their Ireland office for my credit check – a polite Dubliner greeted me with a polite "Hello Sir" before politely (yet abruptly) hanging up on me. Feck it. Anyway, back to their queue and more canned Mozart (I was spotting poor intonation in the second violin section by this point). After much explanation and little callback I was sent to Ireland again where they told me that I had already passed my credit check, thus fueling my paranoia that the polite Dubliner really had pressed my STFU button on purpose. Now they just needed to check my address which—being a sparkling new property—did not exist on any map. Le sigh.

A few more phone frolics later, I was assigned an account, phone and job number and was told I would have to wait a shade over a month for installation. Adding a conservative week on top of that to actually get an actual truck of internets pulling up outside my door would mean I could begin pinging out in week 4 of term. Hurrah, I think not.

Anyway, the date of the installation came and went and I was on the phone to BT again (the C major Romance, if you are interested). I was told that the engineer had visited a couple of weeks ago but could not do anything for some unspecified reason. We had been unknowingly given another date for installation which was in another week or so. Great, thanks for keeping us informed.

This day came and I was left an answerphone message early in the morning from "Dave from BT" who said that they couldn't install due to a "cabling problem". No indication of whose cables were at fault, so I am assuming it was theirs. This happened a second, third, AND fourth time, with the excuses including parked cars on the road (instead of what?), storm damage (err, where?) and the ever-classic "Oh that'll be our dodgy contractors ho-ho-ho have a joke with us because it's not our fault." I'm sorry, but how is that an acceptable excuse to give to customers? They're the ones who chose hired those contractors in the first place, so it doesn't reflect very well on them at all.

Anyway, after I had been talking to their installations department after their latest attempt (direct line now: no musak) I was given another date 8 days into the future, but after just a few days I was woken by a lady (on the phone, on the phone!) who told me an engineer had done his business the previous day (not like that, not like that!) and was wondering whether my line was working. Wow, progress! Of course, I had not tempted fate and actually purchased a landline telephone yet so I had to wait until that evening to found out that it was still broken.

So here's the gem: As the suspense had not killed me, I called back on Thursday morning to ask what was going on and I was told—after a few diagnostics had been run—that the engineer had indeed activated my line, and it was indeed working, and indeed one could actually call it.. Apart from the slight snag of it being swapped with the local Ladbrokes just down the road. WTF!? Popping over to Ladbrokes itself confirmed this story although he declined my enquiry to investigate odds on them fixing it by the weekend.

(And the only reason we weren't getting their line and calls was because the previous day Ladbrokes had politely asked BT to resume operation of a rather large revenue stream of theirs, and as BT were unable to divert the calls for another unspecified reason, they decided to cut just ours off. Again, WTF?)

Anyway, the story isn't even over yet. I was promised more return calls after Ladbrokes, but they haven't happened, despite Ladbrokes's business contract. In addition, ISPs are reporting my landline number's postcode to be registered somewhere in Hertfordshire and as this doesn't match the target property's postcode (conveniently located locally in Warwickshire) they have refused to even start ADSL provisioning.

BT minus minus.