Still, I have no broadband – and since reading Sally Whittle’s recent post of BT-related woes, I’ve taken the cruel and unusual step of blogging about it. Something must be said.
POST EDIT: This story has a (fairly) happy ending. I didn’t go back to Virgin Media in the end but I did manage to talk to them. See this post: Virgin Media is about to activate its social media.
About a month and a half ago I moved out into the countryside. It’s great – quiet, pretty, duck pond with ducks outside the church, etc etc – and after the initial kerfuffle (which I believe might be a Hobson/Holz favourite word judging by the ‘News that fits’ jingle), thought I was ready and able to get broadband sorted.
How very wrong I was. How very, very wrong I was.
The story I’m about to tell you is one of sweat, tears and blood. OK, not actually blood. And not really any sweat, and not actual tears either, but I’ve come very close. Read on only if you’re feeling robust.
A call to Virgin Media telling them I was moving house resulted in my account being deleted. I only found this out after a few days of inactivity, when I called asking what was going on.
So they initiated a new account – for which I naturally refused to pay the 30 pound charge having been a customer for three years previously – and sent me the wireless router and software. Oh, and told me that I couldn’t keep my blueyonder email address which I’ve used quite a lot in the past.
But still, no connection. It turned out there was a fault at the local BT exchange. This was eventually fixed, but I still could not log on.
Then the landlord asked me to change the telephone number. No idea why, perhaps they’ve murdered someone, who knows, but I duly did. Of course, after a week or so of still being unable to log on, a call to Virgin Media confirmed that, having changed the number, I needed to start again from square one – which, bizarrely, would entail having to receive another wireless router.
So, I gave up. I told Virgin Media to go away, and decided to take BT Broadband instead. Everything was going swimmingly until it emerged there was something called a ‘tag’ on the line. What is a ‘tag’? Is it hardware? Software? Is it the thing you put on a cadaver’s big toe? Whatever, it was a Virgin Media tag. So I couldn’t get BT broadband until the Virgin Media (from now, VM) tag was removed, and for that I needed to get a MAC code.
Back to VM. I explained everything to them. I think this involved about three separate calls, with each one a unique experience involving different telephone numbers and responses. The only constants were me having to explain the situation every time, quote my personal details, and remain calm. It wasn’t easy.
Then, finally, someone actually seemed to know what they were doing – or, rather, have some insight over and above the immediate scripts they were reading off a screen. They checked – and discovered that it wasn’t a VM tag. It was a BT tag. So VM couldn’t have done anything about this whatsoever for the preceding month and a half anyway. All that needed to have happened was for someone actually to have checked this at the outset.
So I told VM to go away again, and went back to BT. And this is where the fun really started. They told me it wasn’t a BT tag. It was possibly a Talk Talk or Tiscali tag. They were going to send an engineer out and I was to call on Tuesday – today – to find out whether the tag had been removed.
I just spent two hours on the phone to BT. In this time I’ve ascertained through their Tag Removal Team – who aren’t customer-facing and expressed surprise that I’d been routed through to them – that the tag is an LLU tag, and that it relates to the previous number. I sort of know what Local Loop Unbundling is, but apart from that, well, given that I still don’t really know what a tag is, they could have called it a Looby-Loo Tag and I would be none the wiser. It certainly isn’t a Tiscali or Talk Talk tag, which is what they’d told me previously.
This was after the very helpful guy spending quite some time going through things for me. Strange, how the non-customer-facing staff were more helpful.
Anyway, I was told to tell the next department I was about to be put through to, this: “There is an Open Stop Order in OneView for the PSTN on the old number, which needs to be closed off completely.” This means very little to me, but on being transferred, I duly said it. Like a robot (well, not actually, that would have freaked them out). After being kept on hold for quite some time I was told there was no open stop order. I told them I’d been told to tell them that there most definitely was.
After a few minutes of this impasse, I was passed to someone else. Again, I had to explain everything. Again, I was told there wasn’t an Open Stop Order. And it was at this point that something inside me died, or at least curled up in a tight ball in a dark corner and refused to come out. I’d had enough. I’d had enough of being routed from department to department, from group to group, reiterating the same story, being given contradictory information, and slowly becoming somewhat of an expert on VM and BT’s call queueing system, support setup and network infrastructure.
So I’ve just told BT to sort it out. Unbundle me no more unbundlings. I don’t want to hear about Open Stop Orders. And I still don’t know what a tag is. Frankly, I don’t care. It seems to me that something has gone very badly wrong, and that I’ve actually reached the point at which I cannot sort this out. BT have to. I want someone at BT to act as my agent, to do the rounds for me and talk to different departments and then, eventually, call me back and say “You can have broadband.”
That’s all I want.
And that, dear reader, is where we are at now. I’m waiting for the call. It might not come today but I’ve been assured it will come.
There are obviously lots of lessons to draw from this regarding customer service which I’ll leave to the customer service people to draw. But I do wonder this: will someone, anyone, from BT or Virgin Media pick up on this blog post and come back to me about it?
You could argue that I should be telling them about all these problems, but given their seeming inability to connect broadband lines up – given that it’s their speciality – I doubt they would do anything with any letter/email/phone call I make about this.
You see, I’m more inclined to tell consumers about this because they need to know too. I can imagine that people – perhaps you, you’re a person, you’re reading this, unless you’re a very talented cat – that people will be considering taking up broadband from one of these two companies and wondering what they’re like.
So, I’m telling you now, they suck.
But given that consumers will be looking online for brand recommendations, and (potential, but reluctant) consumers are writing about them, I wonder whether they’re listening out for mentions of them online? This could be a very interesting test, from a social media perspective.
So, here goes. I’m going to make it as easy as possible for them. Their names are both in the title of this blog post, for good SEO. I’m talking about Virgin Media and British Telecom (BT) – see, I’ve even linked to them, with full names. I’ve even added the logos from their respective websites – naughty, but it’s another link. In a few hours this will appear on my Twitterfeed, Friendfeed and Facebook pages. I’ve added their names as tags.
How much easier could I make it for them to find me?
Because if they don’t, then I would say their incompetency in the area of customer support, broadband provision and social media monitoring is equalled only by their incompetency in every other field.