BTopenwoe in the dock

Customer service - they've heard of it

Tony Holdstock works for Dial Solutions Ltd - a Leeds-based software development company.

Here he recounts his failed attempts to get BTopenwoe to install ADSL. El Reg receives stories like this every week. However, Tony's stood out as yet another example of BT failing to deliver.

I recently ordered an ADSL line and modem from BT Openworld. A new line was needed as (for reasons which may become apparent) my normal phone service is with NTL.

The engineer arrived to install the line two days before the letter making an appointment for this.

The letter was accompanied by a bill for installation and for a year's ADSL service. I queried this, saying that it is not normal practice to pay until the service has been provided. The billing date was delayed by a month.

Openworld asked me for a username and password. I then received a 'welcome pack' which included the wrong password and a statement that the username had been sent separately. It had not.

Yesterday, another engineer arrived with the ADSL modem. His first job was to test the line. This failed the Woosh test, which looks for a noise level less than 45 Db. The brand new line tested at 46Db. The engineer checked the distance to the exchange. At 2.8 km this is well inside the 3.5 km limit. He then checked the noise levels on other lines in the neighbourhood and swapped my line with another, which gave a better reading. Unfortunately, when he repeated the Woosh test, it tested at 45.5 Db. He was therefore unable to install the ADSL service.

This morning I have spent one-and-a-half hours fighting the BT Openworld and BT bureaucracies. Each claimed that the other was responsible, and that not only could they not deal with me direct, but that they would not communicate with each other about the problem.

(I should, at this point, make it clear that I have no quarrel with the engineers, or with the unfortunate people who take calls on the utterly misnamed help lines - they have, without exception, been pleasant and done their best to help. They are however hamstrung by a system which even 'Byzantine' cannot adequately describe. Helpline assistants appear to be programmed to say 'there is nothing we can do about this'.)

Eventually, by persevering and asking to speak to supervisors, I got through to a BT Business manager, who said "Oh yes, we should be able to fix that. I'll just change the gain balance on the line from 0Db to 3 Db. There, that's done."

I then rang Openworld again, to ask for the engineer to repeat the Woosh test. Oh no, they said, we can't do that. The first test failed, so your order has been cancelled. You'll have to start again.

I asked for confirmation that my company will not be billed for the previous abortive attempts, as the service has not been provided. While everyone is clear that the order has been cancelled, no-one can assure me that we won't receive bills relating to it. Just keep an eye on what comes in, they say.

I live in hopes of an ADSL connection, but in the meantime if anyone knows any pigeon breeders... ®

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