BT Customer Service – Nightmare still unresolved!

This is a complaint I received about an anonymous person who is obviously very angry and upset with BT Customer Service. Just one of many BT Complaints I have received over the past 6 months. This will go into the report I will send to BT and complaint companies later this year for investigation including Watchdog.

Dear Sir or Madam,
I’m writing to try and clear up an outstanding issue with BT that goes back to 2004.
Despite attempts in the past, I feel as if I’ve been fobbed off and a cursory look at the issue has not resolved it.

I was a BT customer during 2004 and a little before that when I moved back to Edinburgh from the Hebrides. I was waiting to move into a house in April 2004 and knew I would have to have the phone transferred to the new flat across town.

I gave BT several phonecalls, months in advance to make sure that there would be not loss of service. I checked that the new flat had a working BT landline and no fault was detected on it.

I was simply moving area by about two miles. This did mean having a new number but I was assured on several occasions that my new service would go on within an hour of leaving the first flat. Certainly, the same day. I checked to make sure that this would happen as told.

This was vitally important to me as I was having a life threatening operation and living alone, my close family were all living in Australia, and the only one normally resident in England, my mother was also in Australia for several months to help assist my sister with childcare.

The day for the telephone allocation to change to new flat came and there was no service. I was then hospitalised for my operation. When I came out of hospital I was extremely weak and was to rest with lots of bed rest for minimum three months. I could not leave the flat nor walk about in the flat because I had lost several expected pints of blood and would pass out frequently.

I was lucky to have someone – a volunteer to check on me every couple of days during workdays and although not in their remit they brought me in some groceries.
Normally I am a young fit woman. But without the access to the phone I would have starved and possibly died from an accident in the house, without the help of a volunteer charity organisation.

Before they started the few weeks support on my first morning in the new flat I tried to get up to answer an unexpected call from workmen – who should not have been trying to work on my flat at that time. I tried to get out of bed and blacked out fell off the end of the bed – cos I was disorientated and then unconscious and almost broke my collar bone, I gashed my arm, cut and bruised my face and cut and bruised my shoulder landing on a bare floor.

For three months I had no phone service, then someone tried to charge £190 to me for an engineer call that was not needed and never happened.

The distress of these months was so bad that instead of recovering from the operation within three months I did not heal up and was physically unwell for fourteen months and am now need counselling for depression brought on by my experience in 2004.

At first I was unable to talk and was too tired to sit up for long with postoperative pain & fatigue. I did not have the volunteer for long but for the first eight weeks of living in the new flat the volunteer tried to phone using a mobile phone on my behalf. Usually with me next to him.

He would try and get through for the hours allocated to help me (6 per week) without any success. And when he was connected to customer services they refused to deal with anyone other than the “bill payer” – even though he was authorised to do so by me and at one point several weeks in – I said so down the phone. But still my phone was not connected.

I was due to get the phone and broadband – because in the previous flat the BT dial up internet service was appalling and I was constantly cut off by poor signal whilst web browsing. And physically had my service terminated on several occasions EVEN THOUGH I PAID MY BILLS IN ADVANCE BY DIRECT DEBIT AND WAS IN CREDIT. I had to check several times with my bank that the direct debit was operating properly but they checked thoroughly and said EVER TIME the fault was at the recipients end – BT.

I had moved into the new flat that needed many repairs to be carried out and though they were to take place when it was convenient for me – I had no way of phoning and booking the work. So without the phone I had NO GAS SUPPLY for COOKING, HEATING and HOT WATER and as I had lost so much blood I was incapable of maintaining a warm core temperature, it was freezing in the flat even in summer – colder than outside without heating as there is not a lot of direct sunlight. On the property.

My Mother was absolutely frantic in Australia because apart from a brief call to me in the hospital she had heard nothing from me for three months and was starting to think that I might have died.

I was angry, frustrated and very frightened that I had no way to contact anyone – not even a doctor or nurse in case of problems and the stress caused me to be rehospitalised for a few days only a week after the operation. I did know how I would be able to eat.

The water supply to the toilet was faulty so half the water was off until it was repaired meaning I had no flushing loo for 6 weeks (this POST OP from abdominal surgery) a pipe and radiator was also leaking. But I couldn’t chase the repairs up without access to a phone and only having a volunteer by chance, who used his work mobile phone to try and help. But the time he was meant to assist me he had to spend on the mobile phone trying to get through to BT customer care to get my phoneline connected.

To top it all I was billed for three months line rental, without ever being connected. And when I requested that this be reimbursed to me on other occasions I was told that I was “in credit” and so would not pay the next quarter. This is absolute rubbish because my line rental always is deducted from my bank account by direct debit and I have never had the money refunded to me – rather than someone juggling figures and saying I’ve not paid in advance when I have!!

When the phone was eventually put on after dozens and dozens of mobile calls to BT, the line that existed already was perfectly fine and there was no special work needed. The engineer said it could have in fact been connected the day I originally requested it to be live and he couldn’t understand why it was not.

I have never got over the intense fear and isolation and worry about feeding myself and getting help that I went through the first three months of my new flat in 2004 without a phone to reach the outside world. I had indeed worried that my line would not be connected and so had asked for assurances and checked that everything would go ahead as scheduled but this didn’t happen.

My family was also put through an ordeal being 14,000 miles away and not knowing if I was alive or dead. The lack of contact with anyone at this time even emergency services ruined my health and recovery and brought on severe and lasting depression.

I ask again once and for all to take notice of the serious consequences that poor management or whatever cock-up (certainly not technical) caused me to have to go through this ordeal without the support of a voluntary charity (whose remit was just to help me move in! not health related in any way) I would have possibly died from complication, accidental injury or neglect and starvation for want of a phone – that I’d even paid for in advance.

I feel that the result is not just the “missing” first quarter line rental taken under false pretences from my account but the injury and long-term effects of stress and consequences this unnecessary situation had on my health and long term wellbeing. I have never in my life suffered from anxiety. Pre op I was a robust camera woman working in the film industry and Alpine Ski Leader, I made documentaries and films in remote locations such as Ben Nevis and the Mid Atlantic I combined my creative and technical training with outdoor skills self taught and self financed. I was due to go to Antarctica in the last four years but have never regained the confidence I had before this fiasco in 2004.

My mother had a similar operation a few years before me and was sailing in Sydney Harbour three months after her operation. It was expected I would do well after my operation because I was younger and extremely fit and looked 15 years younger than 39. I’m now 43 and live like my late octogenarian grandmother having stopped going out at all and have remained confined to the house. Even though the almost forty years prior to that I was someone who preferred living outdoors, such is now my lack of confidence and outlook from being robbed of communication and help and the knock effect it has had. So much so that it has taken me a long time to face writing this letter, although it is the second I have sent on the matter and made several phonecalls 2005/6.

The tardiness in connecting my line also meant a delay in email for when I was stronger to not only contact family in Australia but restart my search and self promotion/networking for commissioned work self employed to my cost.

From Anonymous

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