March 18, 2007

Don't let BT grind you down

This is a moan. You've been warned :)

In January, Charlie, my daughter moved out of her house and gave BT my address for
her final settlement bill.

BT sent us a letter to say someone else had requested our phone number (Charlie?!). She contacted them and said this was not so. They told Charlie to ignore it but she told them what had happened anyway to make sure nothing happened to the line.

We thought that was that until last Monday 5th March when my phone went off. I called BT and they were very apologetic and put it straight back on.

Their words were “a bit of a glitch.” They were happy to admit it was their fault as if that makes it all somehow better. It stops you getting cross with anyone.

When the line was back on they called and suggested I contact my ISP (Virgin Media) as they would no doubt be preparing to disconnect broadband.

Virgin emailed to say we’re going to cut you off in 30 days unless you call this magic number and stop us. I did everything I was advised to do including ignoring one bit of Virgin advice which was to, “ignore it all, nothing will happen.”

I was told that the only thing that would happen was that our bill would go down as the broadband packages were now cheaper since they became Virgin Media.

Long story cut very short - despite BT and Virgin assuring all would be well it wasn’t.

BT had put a cease on the line and broadband was cut off on the 9th. Not after 30 days but then nothing meant anything any more.

Virgin insisted it was a BT issue as it was up to BT to remove the cease and allow Virgin to supply me with their product.

BT insisted it was a Virgin issue da de da.

In time-scale - various replies ranging from 7-10 days after the cease lifts on the 14th March to 7-10 days after the cease lifts on the 4th April. Each person that told me anything assured me they were correct and everyone else was wrong.

As an act of goodwill BT aren’t charging (or at least have said they won’t - we’ll see) for steam driven dial-up ...

At any other time I would not have wasted several hours making lots of lovely new friends at BT and Virgin or been stressed about managing on dial-up but I needed to be able to research online and write in real-time for my book.

Fortunately I have lovely friends in the form of Sue and Steve who loaned me their office. Thank you.

I’m pretty sure I spoke to every employee at BT and Virgin. One poor girl at Virgin was so unfortunate she spoke to me twice. They were all very sweet except the one grump at BT who wasn’t interested or helpful and cut me off while getting a supervisor.

If it was an unpaid bill although it would still be annoying to be cut off I wouldn't tell anyone and certainly wouldn’t keep pestering them.

It seems that If a line is disconnected, for whatever reason, BT automatically put a cease on broadband for a varying amount of time. Pretty sure it’s a mood thing!

The emails from Virgin suggest that you can stop it happening but in reality once it's in motion you've had it.
And, despite Virgin wanting to supply their product BT wouldn’t let them and despite BT being very sorry about their cock-up it was now a Virgin issue.

On Friday I waited about 40 minutes to speak to someone at BT and randomly ended up in residential billing to be told that loads of people were ending up there in error because there was a problem with the exchange. Course there was: as if we’d expect anything less!

A lovely girl then told me there was absolutely no reason for it to be off anyway as it’s been OK since the 6th.

Wall head - head wall!

But then I heard the angels singing; I was in the tunnel of light although not holding my breath as it was all very familiar. BT and Virgin said it would be back on on the 22nd. It was impossible to happen sooner as BT have to do some kind of voodoo to get the line ready and Virgin have to sell their soul to BT to push their product down the line.
It could not under any circumstances happen sooner. Never no never not ever - I was told that by 5 different people.

Imagine then my surprise when it pinged back to life yesterday, the 17th.

I am rather cross about the dependence I have on needing access to the virtual world and very very cross that companies are allowed to do whatever they like especially when it was their muck-up.

In the midst of this I did an interview on anger management. Now that is irony!

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