Wednesday, September 24, 2008

[55 minutes] fulfilling conversation with bt

I know I promised a happy-clappy post next but I’m sorry – this one is crying out to be told. There’s a single mother I know who found herself with a problem this morning. She phoned up from a friend’s and basically, her internet has been cut off.

Well it happens, doesn’t it? At least it does until you look into it in detail.

Part 1 The Direct Debit

Basically, she had the internet set up via BT last year and she had a direct debit. OK so far. Then, one month, BT tried to take the money early and she had not had her money put in by that date. Don’t forget she’s a single mother here and is not au fait with these things.

All right. BT now refused to accept money from her via direct debit, as she was a debtor and so she had to go to the Post Office with baby in tow and skip her full time course she’s doing to get a job to get enough to pay people like BT.

She did that, paid and then tried to get back onto the direct debit. BT refused because she had a bad record. Then the worst thing possible happened. There was an issue with the baby or whatever, she did not pay the next bill at the PO on time but she did pay in the end and all seemed well.

Suddenly, months later, her phone line has been cut off because of her debt from last year – one payment [at the PO] which had not been on time.

Part 2 The Phone Conversation

I didn’t actually make the call but was privy to it and was given a blow by blow description as it went along. It went roughly like this:

09.48 Ring ring. Hello, all our operators are busy just now, would you hold? Piped musak and then someone comes online. “BT supports Woodland Creations, planting trees all over the damned place – aren’t we green?” Then back to the queue.

09:55 Recorded voice comes on – press 1 for this, press 2 for that. N1 is pressed, it rings and then a recorded voice says: “All our operators are busy just now, would the sheepnik hold?” In the meantime, they inform him that all conversations are being recorded “to provide a better service” and sent to KGBHQ for later use against him.

10:03 A man does eventually come on and my friend says he wants to pay first then complain. “Oh yes,” say BT, “would you care to tell us about the complaint?” “No, no, pay first,” the benefactor says. BT immediately switch him through to a number where someone actually does come on and speak. Success! “I’d like to pay by card number UR . …”

“Sorry sir, we can’t accept any payment with a card starting with that designation. I’ll switch you back.”

The queue begins again as my friend murmurs something along the lines of them being a bloody telecommunications online money receiver and they can’t accept payments?

10:12 A man in India comes on line, speaking some Indian dialect, doesn’t get the required response and then hangs up. The phone goes dead, meaning no signal at all, not even a cut off signal. Not a sausage. I mention that that happened to me yesterday with the government but that someone did eventually come on line.

10:18 My friend gives up, waits a few minutes and then tries again. “All our operators are busy, Woodland Creations etc.,” with one added touch: “At this current moment, there may be a delay in paying.”

10.23 A man comes online and my friend repeats what he tried to say at 10.03, making the payment now [which was not able to be made earlier because of the UK designation but obviously BT has now relaxed the stipulation] and now comes the complaint phase.

10.26 BT explain that my friend can’t complain to them because the problem was the Post Office’s for not sending the payment through on time. My friend hasn’t explained the situation yet so now he does … quietly yet forcefully. He demands to be able to complain and is told that what he is saying is being recorded anyway so he expresses dissatisfaction and exits the phone call, thereby granting him permission to contact Ofcom who are set up to handle this sort of thing.

10. 43 Three things came out of all this:

1. How quietly spoken, pleasant in manner and yet angry the whole thing was. It was not the call centre man who was at fault but the system and a certain lack of intelligence from the operatives;

2. There was almost an expectation that any exchange would automatically descend into a complaints procedure and they had therefore expended great energy in addressing this issue instead of getting the telecommunications issue resolved;

3. BT want £50 for reconnection.


tartetartan said...

Just helped someone out with a similar situation in France - what is this world coming too???

tartetartan said...

that'll be 'to' not 'too' - have lost the ability to write my own language it would seem!

James Higham said...

It happens to me all the time. Welcome.

Anonymous said...

Welcome to the mad hatter

CherryPie said...

Yes BT are notorious for such idiocies!

Anonymous said...

I have to say that I had a couple missed Direct debits with BT last year but phoned them and paid them at the post office and all was resolved they never cut me off and the DD was kept going. Don't understand why this happened to your friend. Very strange and unfair. Advise her to change provider if BT is been so mean.

Nunyaa said...

Don't they allow for delays when you pay at a post office? In Australia they do , you call them and give them the receipt number of payment. If more than one payment is late then it doesn't go in payers favor. Just have to keep complaining if payer thinks they are in the right.