Now that’s what I call customer service – NOT!

Now that’s not strictly true I had a perfectly pleasant chat conversation with a BT Broadband person. It’s just that they operate in such constrained manner they can’t actually help you. They are rigidly controlled and are dictated to as to what they can do – they have a list of tests they must undertake – even if they’re completely useless and provide absolutely no valid data to support any hypothesis they might want to propose.

They really don’t (perhaps can’t is a better word) help you solve problems they just waste your time – unless like me you decide to run with it and just see how far it can go… I’ll hold my hands up and say that I may be completely wrong on some of the technical specifics but I’m fairly confident that the overall argument I’m outlining is sound! Oh and I apologise for some of the typos – I was multi-tasking, playing with my new Jolla phone, downloading some Frank Zappa music as well… All in all time well spent I thought 🙂

Ok here it comes: first off I enter details about the problem – slow broadband speed over the holiday period and my personal details into their chat service – I only had to wait for a couple of minutes before the session started – pretty good I thought!!

SRIJITA : Hello. I’m SRIJITA . Thanks for that information, I’ll check it and get back to you in a moment.
paul west: Personally I think that in today’s technological world being unable to watch small youtube video without it stopping every couple of seconds is unacceptable and therefore you should be providing me with compensation. I’m paying a premium price for a crap service!
paul west: You’re advertising Infinity and half he price I pay for a service which has been well below 0.5 meg for most of this holiday period – that’s poor.
SRIJITA : Pau I am really very sorry for the inconvenience .. Please give me a moment while I look into the issue..
paul west: There have been no reports on your website about the bad weathr affecting broadband performance anywhere where near here – so that’s not an excuse
SRIJITA : Paul I do understand your concern please give me few minutes so that I can retrieve the account.
SRIJITA : Thank You for your patience Paul
SRIJITA : Paul is the connection slow for all the websites ?
paul west: Yes.
SRIJITA : Could you please confirm are you using a wired or wireless connection?
paul west: inside the house it’s wireless but the problem is outside the house – your service is shockingly poor the internal wirelss network is performing perfectly.
paul west: I suggest that the problem is that you simply don’t have enough bandwidth to cope with people being at home and using the internet conection at the same time – but you won’t admit that
SRIJITA : Paul is it possible for you to connect an ethernet cable from the device to the hub so that I can do the checks from my end?
paul west: No because that won’t help you – it will just waste my time – the problem is outside the house I have told you this already. I’ve gone through this waste of time with you before. So don’t waste my time get your engineers to laod test the cable from the exchange to the village I live in = that’s where the issue lies
SRIJITA : Paul I am sorry for all the issue you are experiencing however if you won’t allow me to do the checks I will not be able to book an engineer if required.
paul west: We’ve been down this route before – the problem is outside the house – it’s a capacity issue on the network – but you won’t admit it. Why not? My kit is working perfectly well – I know that because I use it every day and the performance inside the house has not changed – but the connection to the internet has suffered recently – because – your network can’t cope with the demand – just admit it
paul west: You would expect me to believe you if you said there was no problem with your network – so why don’t you believe me when I say there’s no problem with the kit at my end?
SRIJITA : Paul I do undrstand your concern however I need to do the checks before getting into any conclusion.
paul west: No you don’t – I’ve given you the information that the kit at my end is working fine – we’ve been down this route many times since I’ve been a BT customer – you’re wasting both your and my time with these checks on my kit. I have used broadband speed checkers to test te spee dof the line – it is the line thta is not performing to my expectations, not my router, that’s fine, not my pc, that’s fine – the problem is with your line in fact the problem is probably that the exchange has really old kit in it which you aren’t likely to update soon as we’re out in the sticks here and you’d yya it wasn’t cost effective. But if I change to another provider , using your kit you throttle their service so it’s worse that yours ALL OF THE TIME!
paul west: My router – actually your router – is connected to your telephone line already – that should be enough for you to conduct any speed tests yourself.
SRIJITA : Paul may I know the Operating system installed in the laptop?
paul west: Why? That bears no relevance does it
SRIJITA : Paul for the checks I need to know the OS. If you could please tell me that.
paul west: Windows 8.1
SRIJITA : Thank You
paul west: As you aren’t connecting to my pc why did you need that information?
SRIJITA : Paul please let me do the line test and for that I need to know this information.
paul west: I really don’t understand why you need the os of my pc to run a test on your line?
SRIJITA : Paul there is certain procedures which we need to follow that is the reason I ma asking you about this information.
SRIJITA : Paul could you please connect an ether net cable from the laptop till the home hub so that I can run the line test?
SRIJITA : To check the connection from the exchange till the hub?
paul west: OK but what are those procedures? If your tests is “touching” my pc I need to understand what it is doing – my pc is my private properrty and you do not have the right to access it
SRIJITA : Paul it is not touching your PC I need to know the OS as we need to put in the information to run the check
paul west: Really what impact does my operating system have on he performance of your line? If different os’s affected broadband speed over time I’d think that would be public knowledge
SRIJITA : Paul as I can see from te previous test that there is no Major Service Outage in your area
paul west: Yes I could have told you that
paul west: So wjhat is your explanation for the very klow speed thta I have been seeing. I should add that a friend of mine in a different village, connected to a different exchange also reports that his BT broadband line speed has declined dramatically – I believe he called it a”a new low”
SRIJITA : Paul if you wont allow me to run the line test I will not be able to escalate this case to our next Level
paul west: You’re free to run the line test as that is your property – what you are not free to do is to access my personal computer as you have not given me an explanation of why you need to do this and what exactly you want to do to it – as I have previously expressed to you it is working fine – there are no issues with it – all the evidence points to a demand based problem for your network….which has rsulted in poor performance for me as a consumer and for which you should be seeking to improve performance and provide compensation
SRIJITA : I am sorry Paul. Unfortunately, we are unable to help any further as we can only support a speed test based on results while connected via Ether net.
paul west: So after this lengthy conversation you havbe still not given me a good reason why you need to connect to my private computer, despite the fact that I have said that the router is connected to your line and that all the evidence points to the fact that the issue is external to my (and other customers) properties.
paul west: You are am multi-billion pound company with a monopoly stranglehold on broadband – particularly rural broadband supply in this country and perhaps this is why the level of service both broadband speed and customer service is so low.
paul west: I am surprised that n oprganisation of the scale of BT is unable to arrange a simple ping test to a router they must know the IP address of – I’m pretty sure I could organise that remotely using open source and freely available services.
SRIJITA : Paul the fault could be anywhere and I can only find out where the actual fault is and why this is happening only if you could help me to do the checks.
SRIJITA : A ping test or finding your IP is not going to help finding out the line fault.
paul west: I think the issue is that you have a script – a set of rigid instructions that you are required to follow by senior management which attempt to push the “blame” for the fault, poor performance or whatever the issue onto the customer rather than your organisation or your infrastructure.
paul west: It will provide the detail of time it takes for the packet to travel along the route from your location to the router – that in itself is a valuable tool. The other tests I’m surprised you haven’t picked up on are the load tests which are probably the most significant ones to be focussing on as you have already said there is no serious fault – something I fully accept.
paul west: As I have repeatedly stated there is no issue with the kit at my end – the issue – and here I refer you back to other supporting evidence form my friend in the next village – that the issue lies squarely outside of our houses and in the realm of the limited bandwidth that can be delivered over our creaking copper wires and at increased differences from the exchange. We understand that performance decreases in relatino to the distance away rom the exchnage, we understand that performance decreases when you get more user son the line – why can’t you see this? Surely checking the load logs on your network form our exchange is a simple issue – any good IT service will be able to d this.
SRIJITA : Paul what I can see from the previous tests that the hub is in sync with the exchange and the minimum guaranteed speed offered to you at the point of sale is 512 K.
paul west: I appreciate that you personally may not have this capability so I think it is better that you refer this issue (verging on a customer complaint no…) to a higher and more technical authority/
SRIJITA : And result shows the speed is higher than the minimum guaranteed speed offered to you at the point of sale.
SRIJITA : Paul if you are initiating a chat session I can do the checks only with the connection provided to you
paul west: Aha we get to the knub of the matter – the minimum speed guaranteed is only 512k. I think you’ll find the paperwork expressly suggested I should be able to receive over 2meg. So are we now talking about a marketing issue – one where I know you have already had your knuckles rapped for advertising what fantastic speeds you can get when in fact you don’t deliver anywhere near that.
paul west: I go back to my previous comment that you have a script, you can’t solve my problem so please refer me not a higher authority who can assist me me please.
SRIJITA : Paul if you want you can speak with my supervisor.
SRIJITA : Paul is it ok if my supervisor calls you on ladling?
paul west: That’s a kind offer but I don’t believe that he or she will be best placed to resolve this matter – i need to speak to someone on your network services team who has access to the traffic logs over the past week or so and who can analyse the performance you have delivered in light of my, and my friend’s comments on poor delivery.
SRIJITA : Paul I am sorry however it wont be possible for anyone to do what you are asking for un till you cooperate and allow us to do the basic steps.
paul west: Well I’m rather afraid that we’ve reached an impasse. I’ve provided you with a good amount of evidence on the issues I’m facing at my end and good reasons why I’m not prepared to go through a series of un-necessary (from my end) tests which will tell you nothing of use – unless you use the data you gain from being connected to my computer for things I’m not currently aware of. You have not been able to offer me any reason for needing to be connected to my personal and private computer to run these tests.
paul west: Using the claim of me not cooperating is rather unpleasant and not customer focussed and it really doesn’t sit well with me. I am therefore copying this entire conversation into a blog post which I will publish online in a few minutes. While my broadband speed my remain at it’s very low level until the holiday is over the futility of the process by which you claim to help us solve our broadband problems will at least be revealed in its full futility. It really is a shame that my time has been wasted- well mostly wasted!
SRIJITA : I am sorry to hear that you feel this way however Paul asking for OS does not mean I am accessing your computer, and I am not connected to your computer and not accessing anyof your personal and private details.
paul west: Why then did you not ask why you needed to know my os? It has no impact on the speed of your broadband service.
SRIJITA : OS has impact on speed to let you know.
SRIJITA : And I am afraid there is nothing more I can do apart from ask my supervisor to talk to you.
paul west: Please provide me with te evidence to support your claim that the OS of a personal computer has an impact on the speed of broadband that it is possible to delvier down a copper cable
SRIJITA : But I am sure that he is going to inform you the same.
SRIJITA : If you talk to any computer expert then you will come to know the details of the impact.If you have an old OS which has a browser with a lot of add on services on it then that will make the computer performance slow.
paul west: But as I have said on number of occasions the peformance of my computer is excellent – the poor performance is coming form your network. I’ve provided you with evidence of that – it’s not just me that is suffering
SRIJITA : Paul the fact is BT can not give you a resolution until you help BT to perform the basic trouble shooting steps.
SRIJITA : And I have given you all the information I could and I am afraid there is nothing more I can do for you if you do nto allow me to perform the tests.
SRIJITA : So I will have to end the chat here as in the last 1.5 hours we have not got anywhere.

paul west: Goodbye
SRIJITA : Wish you and your family a very Happy New Year.
SRIJITA has disconnected.

A perfectly polite end to the conversation and merely indicative of the rigidity of the process that BT imposes on it’s staff whi I’m sue frustrates them as much as it frustrates us customers – think outside of the box guys, c’mon!

Now if this had been the first occasion I’d had to contact BT for assistance I’d be spitting blood, but it must be the oh I’ve lost count of the times I’ve tried to get them to help me. Which is why I carried it on to the death. I’ve gone through those tests on my computer many times before, I’ve checked wiring, ferrite rings, rebooted, been called back again and again and frankly it still boils down to the same issue. BT are not prepared to invest in small rural communities – despite what the papers and their PR may say – which means that as long as they have the monopoly on kit in local exchanges we’re ****ed!

What’s worrying is that we have a government championing small businesses, we have a programme of investment in rural broadband (which BT seems to be getting nigh on 100/% of), we are preparing to spend (waste) £40bn+ on HS2 to get us, sorry those of us who can afford it, to Birmingham 20 minutes faster.

We’re missing the point here.

It’s the information age, a digital world – I don’t need to be in Birmingham at all – if I had even a half-decent broadband service I could be anywhere I liked, I could be boosting the rural economy, I could be cutting down of the need for energy to get me and my chosen mode of transport from A to B, I could be enjoying a better quality of life.

So in conclusion (in the vain hope that you might actually have read this far!) I’d like to recommend something to BT, and indeed to those in charge of government budget decisions – and it’s not new advice, it’s been around for years. 2 things in fact: 1. Focus on delivering what the customer wants and 2. Work Smarter!

That is more than enough!

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