About 2 weeks ago, my phone line failed. One online report and several days later, an engineer arrived unexpectedly on a Sunday morning.

So far, imperfect but fine.

He restored voice calls but not Infinity broadband. There was apparently something up with a cable in their junction box. He was to report it to another engineer for a repair the next day. There were 2 days until BT’s self-imposed, sluggish deadline.

Five days later, broadband was still not up. Irritatingly, they had closed the fault. On Twitter, “BTCare” had taken an interest, but filling in a form as requested had no discernible affect. By that time, I had reported the fault three times.

Yesterday, I took the plunge and called, dialling 100 to ask for an engineer to fix the fault in BT’s equipment.

A miserable experience then ensued, including three separate systems of dialling menus, two holds and a transfer. The two people with whom I spoke stuck to the script mechanically. I felt sorry for them. Eventually, the last Indian lady understood the situation and confirmed that a BT engineer was required to fix an Infinity broadband fault in their equipment. It seemed an awful lot of effort to go around in a circle.

A local technician duly arrived yesterday and repaired the fault briskly, professionally and with courtesy. Like last week’s engineer, he was excellent. What a pity I couldn’t just ring the local depot and report the line down.

Why BT think it is in their interests to run these diabolical menu systems and call centres is a mystery. Perhaps a great many frivolous faults are reported. I can’t know. I do know I was without broadband for about 2 weeks, that I had to report the fault 4 times thanks to systematic error and incompetence, that reporting the fault so that it was finally fixed was annoying and that a local man just got on with it once he was here.

How these big firms come to be so out of touch with their customers, I do not know. Can their present, woeful, customer care systems be worth the money? Do managers test them? To what extent does OFCOM help or hinder customer service? I hope one of the many people employed at customer or taxpayer expense is thinking seriously about it.

And just when I thought it was over, both my wife and I received calls to check how they had done. On a Sunday. Against a script. Technology is of fabulous benefit to mankind, but not when used without humanity: people are more than just a source of revenue.


  1. Like most things, the obvious answer is: More Competition. I had a similar situation when requesting United Utilities to fit a water meter to my house. Filled in an online form, the next available slot they had was for 7 weeks’ time. The plumber was on-time and courteous, but apparently was only there to inspect the system and someone would call me to arrange a new appointment to fit the meter. Weeks later and no-one had called, so I had to ring up to make a new appointment. A few more weeks later, the same chap turned up to fit the meter, and five minutes later he was gone, meter installed.

    Why could I not just call a plumber myself, ask him to fit a water meter, and then tell United Utilities I had a water meter fitted?

  2. A month or so back it took me about 8 phone calls to get a direct debit set up (my flat mate moved out and I needed to put the account into my name), including 2 occasions where the BT call centre employee hung up on me…

    About a week later, I got a phone call from BT asking if I wanted to take up internet with them too, needless to say I declined and remain with my current provider…

    You’re not alone in this one!