spare me from call centres


So, regular readers will recall that for simplicity’s sake we opted for an all-in package from Virgin media covering our tv, broadband and home phone service. We would probably have preferred to go with Sky but there are restrictions on the use of dishes on the front of our house. Life with Virgin has been a sorry affair right from the installation process (see posting, Customer Service, of 12 November 2009) and throughout our service history. There cannot be a single month that has gone by without us losing our broadband connection or occasionally the TV service. But the worst thing of all was their appalling customer care service  when they’d ask me to switch the computer off and on or try and fob us off with excuses or blame things on our Apple computer equipment or fail to deliver on their endless promises to send an engineer round to sort out our problems. My exasperated wife C called me when I was up with the kids last week to say that she had just endured one unhelpful and difficult conversation too many with the Virgin customer service team and had cancelled our service. It felt like such a relief. All we had to do was find another service provider…..

Well our choices were pretty limited because of the satellite dish problem so C opted for my old company BT and its combined phone, broadband and BT Vision TV service and placed the order last week, which we could even track online. What could be simpler? Solving the problems of the Middle East as it turned out.

We started to sense things were going wrong when C checked out the online order checker and found that our order wasn’t actually being processed. Upon checking with BT’s call centre order processing team, based in Doncaster, C was told that they coouldn’t process our order for the BT Vision TV service because our broadband wasn’t fast enough. Eh? I’d just got out of bed and was catching the back end of the conversation. I mee-mowed to C to put her on to me – it was my turn to get a rant on.I asked the lady to explain the problem. She had the broadest of Yorkshire accents (which always sounds the least accomplished to a Lancs lad like me) and she was just hopeless. She was just reading from a script and couldn’t really answer any of my questions. In fact I hadn’t a clue what she was talking about so I asked to speak to her manager, which is my default position now after dealing with VM’s advisors (ha!) for so long.

Her manager was, if anything, even less helpful. I eventually got her to say that it was the problem of our local BT exchange in Teddington which, apparently, couldn’t offer broadband service beyond 0.5Mg and therefore didn’t have the bandwidth to sustain the TV service. I told her that I found this hard to believe since Teddington was a really affluent area of SW London (it’s hardly on the extremity of the Gower peninsula) with places like the National Physical Laboratories, Twickenham Stadium, and Teddington Studios nearby. Surely it wasn’t a low BB priority area? Yes it was she told me. Well if that was true what was the point even of ordering basic BB service? She comfortingly advised me that many exchanges were being upgraded and we might be lucky and get the new high- value offering in the future. When I asked if she could say when that would be she just said ‘I dern’t rerrly knerr’. So helpful. F**kwit.

I thought  I’d do some checking around online and found out that our exchange is among the immediate 300 to be upgraded to offer BT’s Infinity (highest speed) BB service. Umm, which suggested it wasn’t a low priority area. I then went on to a number of BB comparison websites including Simplifydigital. This site indicated that we could expect  a minimum of  7Mg service and probably a lot more as we lived within 0.5km of the local exchange.  I called up to speak to one of their advisors and he was totally helpful. He established that we had no exchange problems in Teddington and he expected us to be able to get up to 17Mg speed – as good as it gets in London. And certainly more than good enough to give us BT Vision service. Umm.

He offered me a different BT number to call to check the status of the local exchange. A very helpful lady called Hayley answered and once I’d given her our address etc details she confirmed the advice that the Simplify guy gave me ie that we were certain to get great BB connectivity and TV service over it. When I asked her to explain why  BT’s Doncaster call centre had told me otherwise and had cancelled our order(!) she advised that BT’s BB exchange checker service was down and the operator (and her manager) had resorted to the default response which was basically not to offer a viable service. She said that BT would be losing hundreds of new customers over the w/e  because  of that. Unbelievable.

I asked her what we had to do to get our order back on   track and she said she’d follow developments all day and get back to us. Promise? I asked. Yep!  And two days and one night later we’ve heard nothing from Hayley and our  order is still showing declined. Just what the frig is wrong with BT? It makes me want to despair for a once great company. Now they just don’t rerrly knerr.

I’ve no idea how we resolve this to be honest. The prospect of more dopey conversations  wit t’BT girls at t’Donny call centre fills me with dismay. I’ll let you know if they want me as a customer or not.

pp

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