Thursday, 13 November 2014

You are not alone...BT (Bloody Terrible)

There are few negative things about living here in France but early on, getting to grips with their bureaucracy was a bit of a challenge and sometimes the service industry can let you down. We have had a few problems over the years with first, France Telecom and then Orange as they became. They just could not get their head around us having two separate phone numbers,one at each house and insisted on only charging us for one! Pauline eventually convinced them we owed them money - at the time our French neighbour pointed out that she was probably the only person in France chasing a bill!

 Jeans posts re BT reminded us that France is not the only country with communication problems and it was driven home by our own recent experience with trying to deal with them from over here - a nightmare.

Lets start from the very beginning...

Pauline's mum has had to go into a nursing home to get the nursing care she needs. One of the things that was important to us and her was to have her old number she'd had for 48 years transferred to her room in the home. We wanted to keep the existing package at the house but with a new number applied. Now that should not have difficult should it? Especially as there was an existing working phone in her nursing home room.
We made the request (contact No 1) on the 2nd of October and were told that the new number would be applied next day and the transfer by the 13th.
We tried the old number on the 13th with no success.The new number was working at the house however. Phoned helpline again where our 2nd contact told us that it could take up until midnight to connect so we should try the next day.
Did this but still no joy. Phoned helpline again, this time a charming young lady (contact No3 ) in Belfast told us that there did not seem to be an order number applied to transfer the number as there was no line there.So an engineer would have to go out and check if there was a phone and line in the nursing home room. I assured her there was in fact a phone and line as Pauline had seen it herself but this made no difference as she insisted that her information was telling her there was no line.She said it would be the 28th before an engineer could go out!  I suggested that I could  contact the home to check it out. The only problem was that if there was a line I would not be able to get back to the same contact and have to start the process over again. So she would not apply an order number but leave it for the next contact.
I phoned the nursing home who went to the room and phoned me back with the number. I used it and actually got to speak to Ann (Pauline's mum).
So I contacted  the helpline again - different place and contact ( No 5 ) had to go through everything again, by this time we had spent hours between talking and holding. He then checked for a line at the nursing home room address and said there was none. I let him know that I had actually spoken on it - he was floundering and said he would have to speak with a supervisor, put me on hold and eventually cut me off!!!!
So I had to phone back and speak to contact No 6. Let him know that I was not a happy chappy but he seemed the most helpful contact so far and managed to 'talk me down' calmly by saying he was the man to fix the it really shouldn't be that difficult a task (?). He checked for the line again and said there was in fact one there and he would raise an order for a 'working line transfer'. I explained to him that the fact that you are not able to get back to a particular contact is such a bad way to handle enquiries and it also allows the BT employees to avoid taking ownership of any problems - he agreed. He said that as we were in France they could not contact us by phone and actually went out on a limb and gave me his personnel e-mail address and said we should let him know if nothing had happened by the following Monday( 20th). This was actually the weekend we were off to Brittany . While we were there Pauline received a email from her sister Eileen to say she had received a text on her mobile to say that they had tried to phone her (why her?) on Monday the 20th but as they could not get her they cancelled the order and.would phone her on Wednesday morning to discuss the 'order'.She phoned them and was told that there was no line at the nursing home room and they would have to send out an engineer!!!! Pauline e-mailed our contact on the Sunday to let him know this but he said he was sorry but because of this we would have to phone in again to restart the 'order'.

So we phoned them on our return on the 23rd. I then had to go through the complete history yet again with another very charming lady ( No7) who was sympathetic but...I actually told her about the BT employee who had wantes to take ownership and in a call centre of over 500 people he was sitting in front of her. He actually spoke to me through her and wanted to try and help. I told him Eileen had been given a pin number which should get us on to 'special help' away from the phones.. She said she would pass me through to them but I got an Asian chap who said that he could fix it without going to any special department but first I would have to give him the complete history...after I did he put me on hold and I disappeared into a void. I was not going to give up so phoned back - contact No8  didn't  get much history but a demand to speak to a supervisor ( is the manager in?)  He ( No 9 ) needed the whole story and after getting it said he could not understand what the problem was and he would get it sorted but it would take until November 7th!!! We again highlighted what we had said all along - thet the main thing is for Ann to get her old number,to which he said he totally understood.
Surprise surprise she had a number by the 7th but it was not her old number. So I had to phone yet again this time the contact (No 10) got NO history but a demand to speak to whoever was in charge. He ( No11 ) said that it would be fixed by the next day as it was easy, couldn't understand why there had been a problem. I asked him why he thought he could do it when all others had failed.He repeated the problem with regards to getting back to him but gave me his name Allan Sutherland (I have all the other names and I am considering starting a football team with them) and he let me know he was in the Doncaster call centre so that if he failed to live up to his promises he could be held responsible - yes he had listened very patiently to my now rant.

What do you know, next day we spoke to Ann on her old number. So it had taken from the 2nd of October until the 12th of November to transfer a number but it only took them 3 days to send us a bill - even though we had been told that because of the hassle and lost hours there would be none. Oh and by the way they have applied the wrong 'package' to the number. Oh and had set up a standing order with someone in Norwich to pay the bills, we thought that was a nice gesture!

Pauline had coined the description for the blogpost heading but she was not the first nor I'm sure the last to use it...check out this letter:BT-Bloody Terrible 


  1. In our experience BT are better than Orange, but that isn't saying much!

    Hope all finally works out. Just imagine if you weren't able to do this on Ann's behalf. Bon courage...

    1. That's a thought!! Sure we will get there in the end though so frustrating! Have a safe journey back to the UK

  2. BT must spend ten times as much on not doing their job as they do on actually getting things done.
    The most maddening part is the having to start all over again with each phone call to chase them up.
    I'm glad you got sorted out.
    I can't help thinking that if everyone ran their business like this they wouldn't have any customers at all.

    1. Don't know why they don't let their employees take ownership of a problem as see it through to customer satisfaction...surely this would also improve internal morale and through arriving at solutions would make it easier going forward for them to fix problems based on previous experiences...must be dreadful place to work!!!

  3. Hi Jim. We have had similar issues with BT, Orange, managing letting agents in the UK, etc etc. we are either fobbed off or our calls and emails are ignored. It is very frustrating and you just wish it could be resolved so that you can forget about it and move on - usually to the next problem! Hardly anyone seems to take responsibility for anything these days. But now I sound like an old moaning fogey.

    1. Whatever happened to customer service...