BT and its dysfunctional Customer Service

It starts with a text message telling you that someone wants to take over your line.  You reply, in accordance with the advice in the text.  You don’t want your line taken over; you haven’t asked for the line to be taken over.  And then you get the letter informing you that someone wants to take over your line.  The letter gives advice about what you should do if this is not the case.  You follow the advice, even going so far as to ring up and wait in an endless queue (because they are experiencing “unusually” high levels of calls – for this to be described as “unusually” means there must be times when call levels are substantially lower!  Funny, I’ve never called when this has been so – must be my bad luck, I suppose.

And then you get the email explaining that by allowing someone else to take over your line you will be breaking your contract with the company and that, in addition to all sorts of benefits which you will forfeit, you will have to pay an extortionate amount of money to break the contract.  This email is less friendly than the previous communications.

But you’ve made endless calls to the company trying to explain that you don’t want the line to be transferred and you spoken with probably spoken with the majority of the customer services department.  And when you do get through to someone they take down the details, lament the dreadful situation that you find yourself in and assure you that they will get it sorted out for you.  Except, they don’t and the whole charade rumbles on.

And what is the basis of the problem?  It seems the company has two addresses for me – the first one is the correct one that they use to bill me; the second is the address where they persist in believing the telephone line is sited.

So how did it start, and how long has a major company been experiencing such problems?

When I moved to my previous house in 1984 I was given a telephone number.  Everything was fine at this stage.  When I moved across to the other side of town in 1988 it seemed sensible to transfer the telephone number across, to save having to contact everyone about a new telephone number etc.  The company assured me this was fine and, accordingly, the telephone number for my new house was altered and my old number transferred. Bills came and were paid and everything was fine.  This was at a time before internet service and “choice” of provider.

With the advent of internet, and being in an IT related business, I shopped around to find the best “dial up provider”, not the same one as provided my line rental.  Between them they offered a reasonable service but “choice”, the government’s key word in its de-regulation period, meant that I was constantly on the look out for a “better deal”.  With the appearance of “broadband” in our rural area, I decided to swap providers. It was at this moment, almost certainly 10 years ago at least, that I should have detected that there was a problem.

I filled in all the transfer forms and sent them off and then rang up BT asking them to switch my line to broadband, as they said they would.  “We’ll send round an engineer to assess the work,” they said.  “But there is no work to be done!” I responded.  “Oh there is; we’ll have to install the new broadband line.”  “No you wont.  You just need to adjust the switches at the exchange.  I don’t need another telephone line – I’m speaking to you on the line I want switched to broadband.”

There now ensued an almost “Monty Python” like exchange along the lines of, “Yes you do need a new line.  “No, I don’t; I’m speaking to you on that line.”  “No you’re not.  We haven’t got a line going into your house.”  “Yes, you have; I am speaking to you on it.”

Eventually the situation was resolved of sorts and the broadband to my home was switched on.  The bills came and went and were paid on time and everything seemed OK except when I logged into my new BT account and tried to order anything extra.  Each time the screen would change and I would be asked to wait while my details were checked.  And each time a message would follow to the effect that my post code did not match the data base entry and my request was declined.

I almost certainly followed these situations up with a telephone call, but being a busy person and not in the habit of logging every call I make, I don’t have records of the exchanges.

It has been in the last couple of years that the situation has become almost intolerable.  We’ll pass on all of the broken promises about sorting the matter out and ensuring that the address for my telephone line matched that for my house (and my BT billing).

Fast forward to 3rd January 2017.  I don’t recall if my contact with the company was about someone wanting to take over my line again, but it did end with my trying to re-negotiate my contract.  I was unable to do this because, somehow, my address didn’t match the one BT had for me.  But I was not to worry; someone would sort it all out and all would be fine and “dandy”.

Wrong.  On the 6th I was back on the BT because it was clear that all was not right.  When I suggested moving everything to Sky because BT were clearly not fulfilling their side of the contract (“contracts” work in both directions) things started to happen quickly.  Prices dropped, extras were added in and I was assured that the address issue would be “addressed.”  Apparently, the change of postcode (it was a change of a single letter so not exactly “rocket science”) had failed so BT told me they’d have to swap my postcode back to the old “incorrect” one and then change it again the following day, but all would be well.

Meanwhile, Sky had offered me a better deal.  I decided to check to see if my “My BT” information had been changed, as promised.

8th January, back on the line to BT.

9th January Alicia at BT assured me that all my details were correct and, in a sudden rush of relief, I accepted the new terms.  Sky were brilliant when I rang to say I wouldn’t be taking up their offer.

Bills came and went and I paid, on time as usual.

In May 2018, with my mobile contract, with another company, up, I decided to investigate a BT SIM only deal on my “My BT” webpage. When I requested one it was refused because “my location did not match the address”.  I rang up BT.  Yes, there was a problem.  Yes, they’d get it sorted.  “But you’ve promised me that so many times in the past, why should I trust you to do it now?”  Jess changed the post code and opened up a complaint.  Vivek then confirmed that he would do it, when I had to ring up again to say that nothing had apparently happened.

When I was still unable to access the offer I gave up.

And then I started getting the texts, letters and emails about moving my line.  Each time I answered, as I was bidden to do, and pleaded that someone do something to end the nightmare.

All went quiet until 10th August 2018 and a text from BT.  “Another customer wants to take over your telephone line at your address …” and so it all began again.

The on line advice service was next to useless and after wasting 30 minutes trying to get a sensible answer I was told to ring BT.  Eventually I got through to Pauline.  She took my BT number and checked the details and even gave me a complaint reference number.  She assured me she’d get it sorted.

More calls to find out what was going on.  On the 14th Pauline rang me.  When I expressed my frustration and dissatisfaction with the dysfunctional customer care that I was experiencing she offered me £10 in compensation and an assurance that the address on the line would be the same as the one on the bill by the end of that day.  She tried to get someone who could master this change to talk to me but when I pushed her for this the mystery expert was no longer available and I’d have to re-join another endless queue (caused by the “unusually high call levels”) because I couldn’t jump the queue.

Later on the 14th I received not one, but two letters from  BT.  The one from Julie Etheridge at Customer Care informed me of price increases; the one from Libby Barr, also at Customer Care, informed me that “Someone wants to take over your line.”  He account numbers on the two letters were, in the main, identical; the addresses, however, weren’t.  The price change letter was correctly addresses; the “taking over the line” letter was incorrect.

On the 15th I received the email telling me about the consequences of breaking my contract with BT.  Loss of lots of services and an £88.81 bill for breaking the contract.

Angered and frustrated beyond belief, I resorted to the only place where I felt my questions could be addressed quickly – BT’s social media Facebook page.

What follows is the detail of the exchanges, and still nothing has been resolved as far as I am aware.  I use the word “dysfunctional” carefully but I believe accurately.  A casual read through of what follows shows this all too clearly.

Graham Cooke All well and good offering new and upgraded services – no dam good if, as a company, you can’t get basic details correct after over 10 years! For the third time this year, and countless times before that, I’ve had problems with BT and my address, specifically my post code. For the third time this year I’ve had to spend hours on the phone trying to get them to correct their data base – the post code is correct for their billing service but is still incorrect for the actual telephone line. The upshot of this is that I keep on getting text messages to tell me that some else wants to take over my line, that I’ve been unable to order a SIM card for a mobile because my account does not match the telephone details they have and I keep on having to ring up and complain. For the third time this year I have been told that the matter will be fixed withinh 24 hours. The derisory £10 compensation for all of my time and effort in correcting this is almost an insult. I now have in my possession two letters from BT – one telling me the prices are changing, the other telling me that someone wants to take over my line. And the addresses are subtly different! Unless this farce is corrected I’m moving everything to Sky.

BT I’m sorry this is dragging on have you a team now looking into things Graham? ^Nuala – BTCareTeam

Graham Cooke All well and good offering new and upgraded services – no dam good if, as a company, you can’t get basic details correct after over 10 years! For the third time this year, and countless times before that, I’ve had problems with BT and my address, speci…See more

Graham Cooke I now have two letters vfrom you, addressed to me, one telling me prices are going up (correct address), the other telling me that someone wants to take over my line (incorrect address). This is farcical!

BT Something isn’t right here Graham chat our guys here and they will look into this for you https://bt.custhelp.com/…/cont…/queue_id/275/c/7619,7622<https://bt.custhelp.com/…/queue_id/275/c/7619%2c7622> ^LauraS – BTCare

Graham Cooke Tried that. Waited and waited for a response and ended up having to leave to do something else. Just seen the delightfully unhelpful “Hi Graham, sure we will help you, yes our services prices is about to increase from 16-09-2018 and for line take ove…See more

BT The link Laura provided is for our help team to get this raised so that the address discrepency can be addressed and fixed Graham. ^Dee – BTCare

Graham Cooke Thank you Dee. I look forward to the matter being sorted asap. Can I have your firm assurance that my line will not be transferred to anyone else on the 23rd August, as stated on your erroneously addressed letter of the 9th August (received today (14th))?

BT The team on the link will make sure this doesn’t happen Graham, just send them a message and asked that this is kept open until fully resolved for you. ^Nuala – BTCareTeam

Graham Cooke There is a “typo” in your response: “The team on the link will make sure this doesn’t happen Graham, just send them a message and asked that this is kept open until fully resolved for you. ^Nuala – BTCareTeam”. Is it “just send them them a message and ask …” or “just sent them a message and asked …”? The former suggests I contact them; the latter that you have contacted them. Which is it?

Graham Cooke It gets even better; this morning I opened my emails to discover an email sent last night from BT telling me the consequences of “my decision” to move my phone line to another company. This latest missive, sent after all the exchanges and excuses and run arounds of the last three days, tells me that BT will charge me over £88 for breaking the contract if I go ahead with the move. How many more times do I have to tell you people, I don’t want to move my phone line (although you are giving me plenty of reasons to consider it now). Get your act together BT.

 

Yours sincerely,Nick Lane
Managing Director, Customer Care

We’re sorry you’re leaving us

Our reference: WLRSC

Hello Mr Cooke,

We’re sorry to hear you’re thinking of moving your phone line and broadband to another provider.

This email has everything you need to know about leaving us. We know there’s a lot here, so if you have any questions or you’d like to talk about something, you can give us a call on 0800 028 3098. Just make sure it’s before 2pm on 28-Aug-2018 as that’s the latest we can change things before you move. If we don’t hear from you by then, your services will automatically move on 30-Aug-2018.

Move date
30-Aug-2018

 

Changed your mind?
Tell us by 2pm,
28-Aug-2018

 

Questions? Call us
0800 028 3098

 

Your outstanding charges

As you’re still within the minimum term of your contract, you’ll have to pay a charge for each month you’ve got left. We expect this to be £88.61 by the time you move.

If these charges don’t look right, call us on 0800 028 3098. Please do that by 2pm on 28-Aug-2018.

If we don’t hear from you by then, we’ll make these changes on 30-Aug-2018. You’ll then see the charges for stopping your phone line and broadband on your next bill. And we’ll keep billing you for: these services as normal (unless you ask us to cancel them):

·         BT Sport on Sky

·         BT Sport on the BT Sport app.

 

You’ll lose BT Sport

You’ve got discounted BT Sport on Sky at the moment because you’ve got broadband with us. But if you move your broadband to a new provider, BT Sport will stop working.

Once BT Sport stops, if you want to start watching it on Sky again, you’ll be able to reorder it at bt.com/sport

Other things you’ll miss out on

If you move, you won’t be able to use the extras that come with your broadband, like:

·         Wi-Fi – so you might need to start using and paying for more mobile data when out and about

·         Web Protect – so you might need to start using and paying for more mobile data when out and about

·         Web Protect and Parental Controls – so you might be more vulnerable when browsing the web

·         Virus Protect – so you might not be so safe using external storage, like USB sticks

·         Cloud storage – any files you’ve uploaded (like photos) will disappear after 90 days. You need to save them to a device or you might not get them back.

·         BT Mail – you won’t be able to use your free BT email address. If you want to keep it, let us know by calling 0800 028 3098 and we can start billing you for it. It’s £5 a month (changing to £7.50 from 22 August 2018) by Direct Debit.

 

We’re here to help

If you have any questions, you can call us on 0800 028 3098. This will get you through to the team that’s best placed to help with the information in this email, so please don’t hesitate to call.

Thanks for being with us.

BT Hi Graham, sorry for all the confusion. When you spoke with the team yesterday what did they say? ^Aisling – BT Care Team (Wednesday 10am)

 

Graham Cooke I would suggest you contact Nuala at the BTCareTeam. Her last response: The team on the link will make sure this doesn’t happen Graham, just send them a message and asked that this is kept open until fully resolved for you. ^Nuala – BTCareTeam : makes no sense, as I pointed out, and she has not come back to clarify the situation. Just tired of the whole thing; perhaps I should be charging you £88 for all the inconvenience, stress and time you have caused me. I think it’s about time the Ombudsman was contacted about this!  (Wednesday 1.22pm)

 

BT I’m really sorry Graham, I can understand your frustration. I’ve sent an email over to the team manager for them to contact you asap to get this all sorted out. ^Lesley BT Care Team (Wednesday 2pm)

Graham Cooke Hello Lesley, Still waiting for that email from the team manager. Please make sure it’s sent to my hotmail email and not my BT email (I don’t use the latter for pretty obvious reasons.) Wednesday 3.45pm)

BT My colleague has chased this up Graham although I’m afraid we’re not aware of what the teams work load schedule is like. Once this has been picked up they will be in touch. ^Dale – BTCare  (Wednesday 5.30pm)

 

It’s 6.30pm on Friday 17th August.  BT has my email address and my telephone number – I know this because they’ve contacted me about this several times – but I still haven’t heard anything.

I am now left with the prospect of sending all this to the Ombudsman and posting it on line for all to see.

BT, it is you, not me, that is breaking the “contract” which we have.  I have fulfilled, and gone far beyond what is required of me; you have singularly failed to honour your promises and your side of the agreement.  It is you who should be paying me for breaking the contract, and not the other way round.

 

Saturday 25th August.  Excitement because another letter has arrived from BT addressed to my correct address.  Libby Barr, Managing Director of Customer Care at BT tells me that they have cancelled the order to transfer the telephone line and broadband.  She offers numbers to phone if there is anything else I would like and suggest that I contact the company who requested the change of services for more information, except, of course, BT haven’t told me who initiated the request to change noir the name of the company who made the request!  But there is scant apology for the years of messing me about nor any suggestion of compensation for the hours and hours I have spent trying to sort out a problem entirely not of my making.

On Tuesday 28th August I get a call from Aman at BT at 8.20am.  He informed me that the installation  address for my line and my billing address have been synchronised and the problem will no longer occur.  He tells me that now the reason for my complaint against BT has been resolved the matter is at an end.  I disagree and point out that there has been no compensation offered to cover my costs in this matter.  He asks me to wait and then ends the call suddenly, only to ring back 5 minutes later with an offer of £12.50.  He seems genuinely taken aback that I am not rolling around in delight at this offer.  After all, this situation has been bubbling away since I moved to this address in 1988 and each time there is an issue with either someone else requesting a change with my line or me being unable to take up an offer with BT because my details don’t tally with their records, I have to spend hours trying to get the issue sorted out and then are fobbed off with assurances that all is well, until it happens all over again.

I refuse the offer and ask to speak to Libby Barr personally!  Of course, she is way out of my league, me being a mere customer.  Nevertheless, Aman asks if I’d like the complaint escalated.  I agree and so we rumble on, and will continue to do so until I get satisfaction from BT.  After all, they were only to ready to take £88.50 from me for “breaking my contract” with them!