Dear British Telecom “services”,

So, to me funny is defined as something like the line, “That is some f***ed up s**t,” said by Nathan Fillion in Slither upon viewing a strange, grotesque, body-compiling monster-type squid-thing. Funny is not paying a ridiculous amount of money for a broadband connection that decided to disconnect itself, thus putting the promotional push of ‘always connected’ to sleep. It’s also not being told it could take six days to sort it out…six days? Six days is something like walking to London from home, or walking the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall non-stop, or falling through the Earth to the other side – minus the magma and that murderous core problem. Six days is not a short ride in a car to a green phone box at the end of a road in a small city that is only 4 miles long.

Five days it’s been since my stupid connection became temperamental. Day 1 I thought, I’ll leave it until tomorrow it’ll sort itself out. Day 2 was, right, I’ll phone them up, see what’s happening. This is when I was told, there’s a problem with my line – just my single line – and that it could take 6 days to sort out. I argued that I needed the internet to be on asap and asked what the hell I was meant to do for six days and what were they going to do about it? When the broadband comes back on, phone them up, tell them the date it went off and a rebate will be arranged. Right. Great. Still doesn’t help me right now. I’d rather have the internet thank you.

After a 45 minute “conversation”, various wire rearrangements and various other pointless exercises, I got off the phone. 6 minutes later the broadband came back on. The next morning it had gone again. On the phone. Half an hour – and repeating the stupid exercises that I knew weren’t going to work – and I was off the phone. I was told to wait 24-48 hours in case it was fixed. Was it? No. Then I get awoken at 9:30 today saying an engineer will be on site in half an hour. Great. Loads of notice, BT. It’s lucky I work at night. Or not, after my five hours sleep.

Apparently there was a “crackle” on my line that was caused by the wire in the little green box practically falling apart. Broadband can’t handle errors, it just turns itself off. You’d think when they connected my phone line two years ago they would have noticed a wire – and just mine, remember – on the brink of death. Apparently not. Maybe I’ve just used my phone so much I frazzled it. Surely not. Maybe they’re just remarkably incompetent/lazy and couldn’t be bothered to sort it out when I signed up. So today, I phone up, explain the internet’s back on and I’d like to order my rebate. It should be simple right? RIGHT?

Oh, no. Don’t be silly. A twenty minute phone call trying to explain to them my service was interrupted on the 9th April, not the tenth when I reported it because I had to go to work and couldn’t phone the stupid company, was not what I expected – although in hindsight it really should have been.

“We’ll process the rebate from the tenth,”
“No, you’ll process it from the ninth, please.”
“We can’t process it from the ninth, we have to process it from the day you reported it.”
“I had to phone up the day after because I had to go to work when your equipment failed and you didn’t have any operators working past 6pm on the Bank Holiday and some of us actually work unsociable hours.”
BT presumes we mere mortals don’t have lives.
“We’ll have to process it from the tenth.”
“Process it from the ninth.” was the gist of the conversation.

I tried so hard not to get angry at the guy on the end of the phone. Yes, he just works for the company, he doesn’t make the equipment, or have any practical input – which I informed him I understood perfectly well – but he wasn’t about to fiddle me out of that entire extra days rubbish service rebate, on principle. I threatened cancellation, complaint and was put on hold about five times. I can almost hum that entire stupid tune.
Finally, “OK, I’ll put in a request from the ninth.” Ta-da! Consumer power prevails.

I was inspired recently by a friend who haggled with her broadband/TV/Phone provider for a better rate and got it so I thought companies really are just big bullies. Counting on the afraid, or the free-time-less customers to just accept this crap they feed them and still get the full payment is unacceptable. Which just reminded me one of the exchanges with the phone advisor –

“It’s not my fault your equipment failed,” to which the reply was-
“It’s not our fault -”
Nipped that in the bud. You what? Not their fault?
“Well it is your fault, it’s your equipment, it’s your phone line, and I’m not paying this money for an unacceptable service!” Strike two.

Now, I can be an angry person when it comes to getting what I want, but I was very diplomatic, and completely within my rights, when it came to this ridiculous display from a company that deals in technical service. Shockingly enough, BT, people would think you’d have staff who understood technical issues for one. People would think you’d accept your wrongs and just sort it out with your thousands of engineers. I suppose your engineers wouldn’t be so busy though, if your equipment wasn’t so damn faulty. It is the ‘only fix it when it needs replacing’ attitude that prevails in companies in this day and age. The 21st century, the digital revolution, HD technology, Windows Vista (don’t get me started) I thought technology was meant to be advancing and making our lives easier. Instead things, or gadgets, are released that are only half finished – I recall a version of those iPod things, apparently thousands had to be returned for failing after a few months, how surprising. I can accept human error. I couldn’t program a computer from scratch. I can barely work all those gadgets on Photoshop. I couldn’t wire a building. Things glitch, fair enough. But fix them, dammit! Pay attention! That’s what we pay you for! Technology does implement the opportunity to moan about it to millions of people across the world, though. So, kudos for that.

So BT…is the technology you create for ease of life making it inadvertently harder? Or purposefully difficult…

Yours very sincerely in annoyance,

Jessica O’Toole