A broadband complaint to BT Chairman

This rather lengthy BT complaint was sent in regarding BT broadband and the poor customer service experienced and is address to the BT Chairman Ian Livingstone.

Dear Ian

May I call you Ian? I know BT doesn’t mind what they call their customers – after all, no matter how many times (and it has been quite a few) I have asked BT to change my title from Mrs to Ms (not important to you maybe, but there is a difference and I really don’t appreciate your company trying to marry me off!) and even during the numerous ‘phone calls to your Indian call centres pointing out that, however much they call me Mrs ***, that’s not my actual name, I am always ignored and no-one in your company seems to care. Under normal circumstances, the above probably wouldn’t bother me so much but with BT, it just seems yet another slight in a long list of complaints.

As you can probably tell by the above paragraph, this is not going to be a letter thanking you for such wonderful service. But, please Ian, bear with me. After all, you’re only going to spend five minutes reading. I have had to spend hours and hours living this nightmare – my blood pressure is up and I have resumed smoking. In fact, whilst I am normally an extremely placid person, both at home and on the ‘phone, your service actually had me raising my voice last night to one of your customer service advisor’s – much to my children’s astonishment. I had to inform them that if I died during the night of a heart attack, they must be sure to sue BT for damages!

You’re probably bored already, Ian, by this letter and wondering what the point is. Believe me, I’m bored writing it but I really must get this off my chest, if only for closure so, once again, I can sleep at night.

So, where to start? Yes, Ian, that’s right, half a page and I haven’t actually started the complaint! Well, I wrote to you almost a year ago because BT were trying, again, to overcharge me and, amazingly, I couldn’t get anywhere with your customer services. Your secretary very kindly put herself out to resolve my situation and eventually I was offered a year’s contract with BT (instead of the usual 18 months) with six months free broadband, which I accepted.

The first quarterly bill duly arrived and the free broadband was no-where to be seen. I telephoned and was told that the free part would only be offered on the last six months of the contract. I hadn’t been informed of that but, no problem, I’m a placid person, remember Ian? So when the third quarterly bill came through and there was still no sign of the ‘free’ broadband, I made yet another ‘phone call. Then came the same problem that got me the ‘free’ broadband in the first place, ie, you want me to give you money I don’t owe and you promise to return it in three months time.

I seem to recall asking you a year ago to send me a cheque for £200.00. I know you don’t owe it to me but I promise I’ll send you £200.00 back in three months time. I don’t think you found this a very reasonable request, Ian, because I am still waiting for your cheque. Your company, however, continue to find it reasonable to keep asking me. Actually, not just asking, almost blackmailing, because BT state that if I don’t pay their made-up bills then they will cut me off from my friends, family (and, by now, my mental health counsellor) by both ‘phone and internet.

(Stick with me Ian please, I promise there will be an ending to this letter!)

For my own sanity, I gave in and paid the bill.

At the end of October, I received my fourth quarterly bill and, as I’m sure you’re an intelligent man you will have guessed quite rightly, no credit, no refund and no ‘free’ broadband!

I took a deep breath and made a call. Having explained all of the above for what seemed like the thousandth time, the customer services advisor promised me faithfully that she would resolve the situation and ‘phone me back within 24 hours.

Now call me cynical Ian (by this time, you’re probably calling me a lot worse!), but I didn’t hold out much hope for this and, sure enough, when I received my reminder a couple of weeks later and having heard nothing more (for a communications company, you really cannot communicate at all, can you?) I, once again, ‘phoned your Indian call centre. The gentleman there was outraged on my behalf and promised he would look into this immediately and told me under no circumstances was I to pay this bill until it was resolved. Do you tape all calls, Ian? This can all be verified if so. After all, despite the length of this letter, I don’t want you mistaking it for a work of fiction.

To this man’s credit, my son took a message on Monday 30 November stating that my account had been credited and instead of the £124.79 you were demanding from me, my bill was now showing the correct amount of £26.99 and I would be receiving a revised bill in the post (which, I have to tell you Ian, I would have framed!).

Now, Ian, I’m sure you are aware that it is Christmas and the Post Office is busy, so perhaps that is why I haven’t yet received the revised bill. Are you losing customers so quickly nowadays that you are in desperate need of my £26.99? If that is the case, then you have my email address, why didn’t you just email me the revised bill and ask for the money by return? Because cutting off my broadband service because I hadn’t paid within three days is, to me anyway, completely unreasonable. Yes, Ian, incredulously, despite not having even received the revised bill yet, on 3 December BT cut off my broadband for not paying the £26.99.

This was the final straw that caused me to raise my voice to your customer service team, although in my defence, I would defy even Mother Theresa herself to keep her temper, (no bad language though, Ian, not yet!) although I still don’t believe my voice was loud enough to warrant having the ‘phone put down on me.

I finally managed to get hold of someone who informed me that I must pay immediately the £26.99 that was owed for the sum of three days and then, within 24 hours I would have my broadband service (such as it is – but, don’t panic Ian, that’s for another chapter, another day!) back.

By now, Ian, I am sure you are breathing a sigh of relief because, surely, as we are up to the present day there cannot possibly be any more to this novel, can there? Oh Ian, if only it were so. Because at the same time as all the above was going on, I was in the process of acquiring offices for my new business which required ‘phone lines and internet. For your ease of reading Ian, and just in case you wish to take a break, I shall call this Chapter 2.

Chapter 2

I was mistakenly informed that I had no choice but to use BT because of the type of ‘phone system I wanted in the office. I called your business services and explained that I was reluctant to use BT because of the appalling service I had received over the years but was assured that BT Business was completely separate from BT Residential and the business side of things were far more professional. If only, Ian, if only.

I should have realised that this was, in fact, a well rehearsed script when I was told it would take at least 3 weeks to get me a ‘phone line (in this day and age Ian, really?) and virtually TWO MONTHS (!!!!) to get broadband. But, feeling I had no choice, I agreed. The one thing I had learnt over the past few years though, Ian, was to ensure I would not be locked into a contract with yourselves. I had this confirmed to me in writing, just as well as I was later told that it would have been impossible for me to take out a business line without agreeing to a 3 year contract, ie, I was lying. But don’t you worry Ian, feeling slightly like a character from a James Bond movie, I have made a hard copy of this confirmation and have it locked away.

In the meantime, however, I was agreed a date for an engineer to come and put a ‘phone line in and give us our telephone number. (Just out of curiosity though, I still fail to understand why an engineer had to come in install new lines when there were numerous ‘phone points already in the building, but I guess you have to invent charges where you can nowadays.)

Finally, after having been given 3 different dates over a 2 week period for an engineer to come out, the day came when we would have a ‘phone. Such joy in the office, Ian, you cannot imagine. It was as if Christmas had come early. So how awful it was when, yet again, BT gave with one hand and took back with another.

The engineer did not have with him the actual ‘phone system. He explained that they weren’t allowed to carry them anymore and we would have to order it separately through BT. He gave us an easy to remember ‘phone number, which was most kind of him, but followed it up with informing us that the type of ‘phone line he had installed was not capable of handling the office system we had been promised by BT and, with a cheery wave, off he went.

At this point, I would have liked to have ‘phoned yourselves but can you see my problem Ian? So I waited to get home and called then. To be informed that that particular line was not, after all, the office line but our fax line. And whilst our fax number was wonderful, unfortunately the actual ‘phone number would be nowhere near as memorable. I’m not afraid to admit, Ian, at this point I shed a little tear.

I think the Gods were looking down on me by now and feeling quite sorry for me for they sent an angel in the form of a telephone company who could provide all I wanted and within the next seven days and without costing me an arm and a leg. I sent an email to BT cancelling everything and anxiously waited for this new company to fulfil their promises, worrying constantly that someone was playing some kind of joke on me. But lo and behold, the company did come in, did provide the service promised and we were up and running in a week!! Amazing! (Would you like their number, Ian?)

So, you would think this is the end of the story, wouldn’t you. Don’t worry, there is more. For BT have not stopped sending me letters and bills and even engineers at the end of October to install the Broadband I already had for a month! Even after numerous emails and letters back, and having received an email from your Business Total Broadband Team confirming the broadband had been cancelled, I today received a notice from BT telling me you are going to suspend the broadband services I haven’t got because I haven’t paid the bill I don’t owe. This is on top of the number of bills and threatening letters for the non-existent telephone number that is actually a fax number that is not in use and never has been. Confused? You should try writing this letter!

Not much longer now Ian, I promise. Just one last thing. If you think that all these above problems are just one off’s, then please, (if you have an internet connection that is?) try typing in BT customer service in a search engine.

Are you aware that on the website U Switch, BT have been voted the worst company – for the second year running! Whilst number one in the nation’s worst in customer service for www.OnePoll.com on 26 June this year of course, BT. Times Money also conducted their own poll in July this year, guess who topped their poll for worst service. Yes, you guessed it, BT. And finally, did you know there is an actual group on Facebook called ‘I Hate BT’?

I understand that for many, many years you had a monopoly on having a ‘phone line in the UK but Ian, do you realise that has not been the case since the 90’s? Customer service not investors shares really should be a priority for you, for after all, surely those two things do eventually go hand in hand.

So Ian, it is with a huge weight off my shoulders that I must now (at last!) say goodbye. And I don’t just mean to you with this letter, I mean to BT as a whole. You have left me no choice but to go elsewhere. Please don’t feel bitter, I should actually be commended for having stayed this long and, after all, my health would be at risk if I stayed any longer. I’m quite sure this will not be the final communication with BT – I am of course, still receiving those bills for those non-existent numbers – but I am sure, in time, you will get over losing me and will be able to move on with your life.

With best wishes for the future

Yours sincerely


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