BT Customer Service is totally dysfunctional and wholly out of touch with the modern age

British TelecomBTBT BroadbandBT Customer ServicesBT InfinityBT Line FaultCustomer SatisfactionCustomer ServicesWarren Buckley+-

I have had two run-ins with BT this year, both so unsavoury that I thought it best to share the experience to encourage BT to sort itself out for once and for all.


The first episode started in March of this year.


After Talk Talk discontinued their Broadband TV service, I decided to switch back to BT. There had been a problem with line quality throughout that contract - with Talk Talk blaming BT for service failures and vice versa (typically issues with connectivity, speed and packet loss). A complete move to BT would have seemed to have been the answer - as there would be a single party responsible for the service.


On March 6th I phoned up and ordered Unlimited Broadband plus Unlimited TV from BT - I had to obtain a MAC Code (service transfer code) from Talk Talk and put in and order to have a digital aerial installed. BT guaranteed a switchover / activation date of March 26th (circa 3 weeks later).


Two days before this date, the BT aerial install engineer sent an SMS to confirm that he would be there on the morning of the 26th. On the actual day of the 26th, I became concerned when no engineer had turned up in the AM, so I phoned BT to find out what had happened to my order. "Your order has been cancelled" they said - "because of an unspecified internal systems error" - "we need to put you through to ’Order Management’". ’Order Management’ happens to be based in India, and I was informed there that Order Management were indeed cancelling my order and that I needed to phone up BT Sales to place my order again.


I spent half the day on the phone - talking to nearly a dozen individuals, before finally being passed through to a Monica Price - who took ownership and guaranteed that I would have an install on the 4th of April now. I had to explain my whole story to every single of the nearly dozen individuals I spoke to, as there were no notes on the system. And since my order had been cancelled, BT had no way of knowing what I had ordered initially - so I was read through the terms etc. several times again, and was made to repeat my specifics ad nauseam.


Two days before the install was due, I was again contacted by an aerial engineer who told me he would be there on the morning of the switchower. The 4th rolled up, as did a quite superb aerial engineer who got HD Digital TV working brilliantly through my Samsung TV set tuner. Just before he had arrived though, I finally received my BT Broadband Router and YouView box for Unlimited TV. However, when I phoned to enquire what the status of my Broadband activation was - I was told that there had been another mix up with my order. Once more I was put through to Order Management in India where they told me they would be cancelling my order and I would have to place it yet again. "What about the boxes I have received?" I enquired? - "Those are on the wrong order, and need to be returned" they replied - "We will send out a return kit". At this time I highlighted that my MAC code would expire on the 4th (it only lasts 30 days!) and I asked if I would need to get another - I was told that BT had it all in-hand, and someone would phone me the following day to finally sort it all out.


By the following day I had received a smallish plastic envelope - which was totally inadequate to contain the boxes I was meant to return. Around 15:00 on Friday the 5th, an Alistair McRobbie rang up from BT Sales to take my order. Of course he had no details on the system about what I had already ordered twice, and so I had to go through the whole thing again! I mentioned the inadequacy of the returns kit, and asked why I was being asked to carry a bulky 5KG collection of boxes to my local post office - to rectify a mistake that BT had made - surely someone could pick up the package from the door - in the same way they had delivered it? Apparently no, no and no again. The amount of times I heard ’this or that can’t be done!’ would have sent any customer services manager into an apoplectic fit, yet in real terms, BT has no proper customer service - that sub-department comes under the purview of ’Residential Billing’.


In any case, to try and cut a long story somewhat shorter, the first thing Alistair Robbie said to me was that my MAC code had expired and I would need a new one!!! Moreover, if I tried to place an order without having a MAC Code, BT would automatically add a fortnight to the target date, which is obviously what happened the first time I ordered, even though I got the MAC code the day after I placed that initial order. Someone should have told me that right at the start of the process!


So the date has now rolled forward to the 8th of April, I have my second MAC Code from Talk Talk, and I am placing the same order for the zillionth time - target date on this occasion is the 15th. I am informed initially that Broadband activation can happen any time up til midnight on the day of the transfer, some BT individuals tell me that this won’t actually happen until midnight.


On the day in question - now the 15th, my second set of boxes arrive and everything is looking good; only at around mid-day, my main phone line goes down - with Internet and everything along with it. I phone BT of course who have always been responsible for said phone line, and after speaking to 4 individuals in various countries and departments we establish that there is a fault on the line. Although when being connected though to each one of those individuals the holding message is telling me to report my faults via the website, which is obviously inaccessible to me because of the line fault.


The line fault automatic messages try and frighten you off by threatening a £100 fine if you are somehow responsible for an external line fault. In any case BT finally accept they are liable, and give me a definitive resolution date of the 18th!!! "How can you say you are activating my broadband on the 15th if the line is down?" I enquire! The line fault turns out to be something to do with the broadband switchover- which actually happens at circa 15:00 - but no one at BT seems to know about it, and I get half a dozen follow up calls over the week from various different departments to see if everything is working satisfactorily.


The above is actually a heavily reduced account of what happened over 6 weeks. Never have I encountered such a dysfunctional company before! BT really is run in a totally shambolic fashion (at least BT Customer Services is). I was guaranteed 10-19 Mbps in terms of broadband speed - and I got 16.5 on the day of activation, this has since dwindled to a median of between 6 and 9 - which is marginally better than Talk Talk was, but still nowhere near as good as it should be!


Episode two occurred over yesterday and today.


When I came online at 08:30 Thursday 24th October, I noticed that it was taking forever for any screen to materialise - whatever the URL. As is customary, I then did a test to see what speed I was in fact getting - 0.13 Mbps. Over the day I measured the speed as low as 0.05 Mbps, it occasionally hit 9 Mbps but then decayed rapidly to nothing.


I of course got online to BT Help - via their online messaging app to report the line fault. A lovely Indian lady dealt with me, and went though the usual process of trying to blame me for the fault - have you checked all the wiring? Connection? Splitter? Reset Modem etc? I was told several times that if the fault was anything to do with me it would cost me £129. I replied there was obviously some kind of line / network fault happening, and the lady was indeed able to see something amiss and report the line fault - while I stayed on the phone for the best part of an hour. She reported the fault to engineering and they posted back that the issue was fixed - I was still on the phone so I checked again, but no - same decay in broadband speed back down to around 0.10 Mbps. Lady then said engineers had deemed issue fixed and were refusing to re-open case! The only course of action open to me was to book an onsite engineer visit.


Of course, in the interest of a rapid fix, I went about booking an unnecessary engineer visit - being warned all the time that the issue was likely my fault and I might be liable for a £129 fee. In any case engineer was booked for Saturday morning and I continued to experience issues throughout the day - recording download speeds at regular intervals and typically getting values below 0.3 Mbps.


I went out for a team dinner in the evening, and when I came back, I noticed that broadband was back to normal - speed tests I did on the night were in the region of 15 Mbps which is the most I’ve recorded here recently, I resolved that I would cancel the engineer call-out in the morning if everything was still functioning fine then.


So today rolls up and indeed broadband is still working fine so I phone through to cancel the engineer visit. Over the course of my many conversations yesterday I had learned that at last BT Infinity was available in my area - guaranteeing speeds of up to 60 Mbps. After I cancelled the engineer call-out, I asked to be put through to someone who could upgrade me to the Infinity service.


I was put through to some kind of sales department, where I was made to repeat all my details over again - on an internal redirect. This highlights the total dysfunctional nature of BT - where the Right Hand does not know what the Left Hand is doing - note-taking seems inconsistent, and the customer is made to repeat their details and case over and over again.


In any case, after re-checking my details on the system, the salesman reported that he was unable to do anything as there was already an order on the system! What order I enquired? Turns out this was the totally unnecessary engineering visit I had just cancelled.


"How is an engineering call-out an order?" say I - "In any case, it’s been cancelled already". Not really says the salesman, it takes 24 hours for an order to be cancelled on their system. I was told I needed to phone back tomorrow at the earliest, after the other order had gone from the system. I of course challenged this individual on total lack of customer service and he vehemently disagreed with me!


I have never in my life encountered such abysmally poor customer service from a supposedly Blue Chip organisation. Who would tell a customer that they could not buy a service today - but they should try again tomorrow??? The way the service is split across various hubs in UK and India - requiring customers to be reconnected several times or ’Phone Back’ even on a different number to repeat the same details over and again. I am calling you out Mr Warren Buckley (BT Managing Director, Customer Services) - your company is wholly dysfunctional, incompetent and unprofessional in the area of Customer Service - please sort it out!

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