Dear Sir, it is reassuring to learn from your BT customer service complaints website that I am not the only one, but the incompetence of BT beggars belief. Here’s my story: I have already written to OFCOM and to Sir Michael Rake, the Chairman of BT, marking the envelope ‘Personal Private and Highly Confidential’ to make sure he reads it.
I moved into a house in London with my family on 31 July 2009. Three weeks beforehand I contacted BT to register my intention of taking over the line using the number which the vendors had informed me they were using and would no longer be using after their move out; three days before the move I contacted BT again to ensure that the arrangements were in place and was assured on the telephone that all was in order for me to take over the line on 31 July.
This turned out to be the first lie, for all was not in fact in order: on moving in I found that neither the telephone nor the Broadband were working. I spent an hour in a telephone box talking to BT and they finally claimed that the previous owners of the house had failed to call to disconnect their service. I then called the previous owners and they immediately rang BT to do so again; thereupon the line was connected and the Broadband usable. For the rest of August, all of September and most of October there were no problems.
I received a bill on 19 October for the sum of £62:95, comprising rental charges, payment charge and VAT, in connection with quite a different number which I had never heard of. I spent several hours on the telephone on 22 October talking to several BT officials to explain the circumstances; they were unable to throw any light on the bill but said I could ignore it, and one stated that the line was registered to a company owned by the previous owner.
On 25 October I discovered that the Broadband was not working, allegedly owing to an unpaid bill. I had, however, received no bill whatsoever for the line. I therefore spent another couple of hours on the telephone to several more BT officials. The most helpful of these explained that the line was STILL registered in the name of the previous owner and that he would be responsible for the bills. I pointed out that the calls had been made by me, that the previous owner had telephoned in July and August to confirm his move away from this house and that the responsibility for the calls was mine.
The official then explained that the unpaid bill was for the line rental for three months from 1 August and said that it amounted to £144:10; he said that if I paid for it on the telephone by debit card the Broadband would be restored within 24 hours and the line would be registered in my name. I did so, and by that evening the Broadband connection was restored.
On Monday 26 October, however, I attempted to telephone my daughter who was unwell at home and found that the telephone line was inoperative (‘an incorrect number’). I spent another hour talking to a succession of officials in BT from my office; finally I was put on to a supervisor who, after first addressing me by the name of the previous owner, apologized and admitted that the fault was BT’s but said that the telephone line and Broadband could not be put in my name until 9 November and both services would be inoperative until then; he added, unbelievably, that the previous owner would be liable for the calls we had made since August.
It was thus clear that the officials I spoke to the day before had not registered the line in my name as stated when taking my £144. I was incredulous and told the supervisor that a fortnight’s wait for the restoration of telephone and Broadband service when I had already paid in advance was unacceptable. He said that he would look into it and ring me back on my mobile. He failed to do so; I made one further attempt to ring BT that evening, but the official I was speaking to cut me off.
Every time I have rung BT I have had to explain the whole story again and I am not prepared to waste time doing so again. Each time I have been assured that the fault has been corrected, and each time it becomes clear that it has not. How can one repose any trust in such an organization, or rather disorganization? The truly execrable service, the inexcusable confusion and the continued failure to correct a fault of BT’s own making add up to the worst service I have ever experienced from any body private or public.