Broadband Problems

This BT complaint was sent in about broadband unreliability.

Dear Sirs,

I have been a BT customer for about 20 years, a DSL customer for well over 10, a home hub customer for a few. I have stayed with BT and sometimes paid extra to do so, because overall the service has been trouble-free. However, when there is an upgrade or a technical problem, the solution is never simple or easily achieved, it always entails aggravation, it always involves time wasting and often expensive technical support phone calls, and therefore when I have to upgrade something or phone your technical support people, I have to prepare myself for the ordeal. Today was one of those times and the ordeal was sufficiently irritating.

Although my technical fault was addressed by the fifth BT person I spoke to, the experience of dealing with BT’s Technical Support was irritating, frustrating, insulting. I have had BT technical problems that took months to resolve, so I am grateful that this one was resolved (so far) in one morning, despite having to deal with technicians who were polite, but ignorant, unhelpful and arrogant.

I renewed my residential broadband contract in May and BT sent me a new black hub and software, to replace the white one I’ve been using. I tried to install it. The software wouldn’t go beyond the point where it said the system couldn’t find the wireless hardware on my computer. I tried at least three times before I gave up. Three computers in our home use this wireless service successfully with the old white hub. Frustrating but at least the old one still worked.

The old white hub started being undependable. Every couple of weeks I couldn’t connect, but I managed to reconnect by disconnecting the phone line, and power cable to the hub, restarting it. I changed my DSL filters to the new ones. Each time it worked for a while. I didn’t call BT at any of those times because it was either very early in the morning or I didn’t have the time to mess with a technical support call. However this morning, Sunday 8am, I did. It was also necessary that I have broadband connectivity today as I have professional work I must complete today requiring internet access.

I called BT about 08.15. The problem was not solved until about 11am, after speaking to five BT staff. Of those 5, two were unhelpful and arrogant.

At the moment, the only computer in the house is my son’s 2 year old Sony Vaio laptop. The other two computers both died in October and I need to replace them. Last night, I was using the laptop with its wireless connection working fine (old white hub). This morning, it wouldn’t connect and I thought it was time to try again to install the new black BT Home Hub. I inserted the CD and again it said it could not continue the installation as it could not find the wireless hardware.

I then telephoned BT Technical Support. I did not have to wait long – a few minutes only – to reach support staff, an improvement over past experiences. So far so good, but sadly….

BT staff 1:- Female, I did not take her name. She spoke English as a second language. Her accent was strong and I had difficulty understanding her at first and had to repeat and speak slowly, but she was polite and initially helpful.

I explained I was trying to install a new BT Homehub, that I had been using an existing home hub and that the installation programme would not proceed as it said it could not find a LAN device ( I do not have the error message to hand). She followed the protocol of asking me to connect my Ethernet cable to test if the machine would connect to broadband. I did and it was successful. She then proceeded to enable the wireless connection. She asked permission to and took over control of my computer and tried to find the wireless hardware and, for some reason, was unable to.

She then suggested that I do not have wireless hardware in the computer. She asked if we had connected to any other device. I told her I connected to my external hard drive for back ups, and she insisted that I hook it up and she checked this out too (I did not know why, as that should have no relationship to connectivity).

She clearly didn’t believe me when I said there was wireless hardware on the computer, as she could not see it. She said it can’t exist because I can’t see it! She said it over and over and over again. I told her that there was indeed wireless hardware on not only the laptop but the other two computers who had used the service, and that I had been working successfully with the laptop, wirelessly, from my old white BT hub only last night! We went round and round and round in circles, saying the same thing!

She suggested that I might find another computer to try the connection on. I said this was not possible, the other two computers are broken, there is only one computer in the house. She then suggested I ask a friend to bring over a computer and test it. I found that to be an inappropriate suggestion for BT to make, and I told her I was unwilling to bother my friends/neighbours in that way. She then suggested I ask my son which external device he was using to connect to broadband. I was becoming increasingly frustrated at that point as it was clear that she just did not get it! She was convinced that because her system could not see the wireless hardware, that it could not possibly exist!

Whilst she was not so impolite to suggest that I was either lying, or technologically naïve to not understand what wireless connectivity was—even though I told her I’d been working with it for at least two years, it was clear that was her conclusion and she was unable to help further and unwilling to help me find a resolution. It was very frustrating for me, the sort of aggravation I always encounter if I have to speak to BT technical support, which gratefully isn’t often!!! I suggested that BT might send me another software disk for the hub, maybe that would solve the problem? I suggested that maybe the new hub might be at fault, and they should send another hub? She was unable to action either of these.

At this point I asked to speak to her manager. She said I would have to wait until after 08.00 until the service opened. As it was already after 08.40 I asked her where she was located and she said in India. I told her what time it was in the UK.

BT staff 2:- Male, provided the name of Kamalesh Nath.

Mr Nath was more easily understood though not a native English speaker. He was polite and also initially helpful. He followed the same protocol and he could not find the wireless hardware on the laptop either.

To my increasing despair and frustration, he too came to the conclusion that because he could not see the wireless hardware that it did not exist, and that I must be mistaken and that I must be connecting with a wire or some device. He asked to speak to my son, which I took to be an indicator that he did not believe me, that my son could answer his questions. My son was not at home, my son is a teenager (he might have been 5 years old for all Mr Nath knew!) That heightened my anger at the situation. I reiterated, as I had to BT staff 1, over and over, that I wirelessly connect regularly using the old home hub which was breaking down, and that the new hub or its software can’t find the wireless hardware! He reiterated over and over that the wireless hardware didn’t exist! He didn’t get it either, and worse for a manager, was unwilling to take additional steps to try and solve the problem. When I asked how I should take it further, he said there was no other place to take it further, which is clearly wrong, that I should go back to my computer’s vendor. That too clearly was unacceptable, and smacked of laziness. I knew the problem was not the computer but a BT home hub-based problem. I told him I would be complaining and ended the call, totally and utterly frustrated!

I tried then to reconnect my old hub and get it to work, but was unsuccessful. I called the main BT number to ask how to progress my complaint, and as there was no general ‘complaints/customer service’ option available, I went through to the sales staff. I spoke to a man who spoke English fluently with an understandable accent. (Do they have foreign call centres attend to their sales calls, ??? I bet they don’t!) I told him briefly what the problem was and he said he would connect me to someone who could help.

He connected me to a female staff member, who gave the name Rashine (spelling?). She also spoke English fluently with an understandable accent. She listened patiently to my experience that morning and put me on hold for a short time. She said I would have to return to Technical Support, but that she would call them and explain the situation. I was dubious.

BT staff 5 was a female giving the name of Poulame. The line was bad, so she phoned me back. She was not a native English speaker, but was understandable.

She spent a lot more time on the call with me than the first two and followed different protocols. She at no time argued with me or told me I had no wireless hardware even though it took her well over a half hour/hour? To find it. She has to leave the call a number of times, to ask for advice presumably, but in the end she was able to get the hub and the laptop communicating with the wireless hardware the first two staff were convinced did not exist. I thanked her and have been able to work today.

The reason why I have given details about the staff’s ability to communicate in English is because I believe that, regardless of the qualifications or training of the staff member, if their accent is strong and they have difficulty understanding native English speakers, with a multitude of different accents and ways of saying things, they cannot do their jobs effectively. Communication over the telephone already presents its own barriers, but I believe (as evidenced by the poor service I received today by BT Staffs 1 & 2) , that they cannot understand the customer or the problem that they are tasked with resolving.

Does BT care if their customers are driven to despair because their customer service experiences are frustrating?

The main complaint that I have is that when I called BT this morning, I just wanted expert advice on resolving the problem in installing my new home hub. Instead I had to speak to 5 different people, over 2 + hours, including going through 3 lots of technical support interventions. Instead I had two people who barely tried to find the solution, and who couldn’t understand me very well, insist that I had no wireless hardware in my computer, hardware I’d been using often before that morning. And instead of saying, let me escalate this call to the next level, I was told there was no next level and you have to go away to another vendor!!

The last technical person I spoke to, Poulame, I hope BT will note and reward her effective resolution to my call in her appraisal as she had the right attitude and sorted the problem out. The first technician needs some training in how to deal with customers, and probably quite a lot of technical training too. Telling a customer they don’t have hardware that the customer says they’ve been using for 2 years is arrogant and unacceptable.

The second technical person, the manager, Mr Nath, isn’t fit to be a manager. He also inferred I was either lying or was an idiot as I kept insisting the computer had wireless hardware and he insisted it didn’t (even though—surprise! Poulame found it in the end—BT should give her his job!!. ) Are BT managers trained to fob off their customers? I thought BT managers are meant to work with the customer until the problem is solved, or refer it to someone who can!

I hope that this feedback will be noted and used for system improvement.

Until the next time I have to contact BT (may I speak to one person and may they be competent to sort it out first time!!–one can hope!)

Yours faithfully,

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  • This letter is more what I call "self induced therapy" from the poor soul subjected an all too frequent failure by BT to provide even reasonable customer service. Having recently asked BT to perform what seems to amount to a near miracle by transferring my phone line and broadband as part of a house move, and having complied with their SLA around pre-notification, they simply failed to deliver by a margin that can only be measured on a inter-galactic scale. I fully sympathise with JS having experienced such degrees of frustration that defy words, but typically ended up with me scremaing obscenities down the line to the poor individual offering this off-shored "experience" from some dark sub-continent about 5 hours time-difference away to the east! Speaking with a minimum of 5 different departments is the norm, as is going round in never circles of illogical conversation and miniscule common sense. I know if I'd had a pointy instrument handy someone would've got hurt big time. So this is therapy for me, you see. I need this. No-one from BT would listen or believe my simple english words. Customer sevices systems don't tie up, work flow Q&A is inflexible, (we don't think outside the box here), and even though I gave 3 weeks notice for this simple task, AND had to go through a full (re)sales process for a new BT hub (as apparently I'd never had a home hub before nor broadband), I still to this date, some 7 weeks later without the simple things I asked for. My new hub (which I had to order) has not turned up. Apparently there is a "tag" on the existing line that prevents the hub from being send out from a warehouse (and I'm still not sure why one of the 17 different people I spoke to about this particular requirement didn't mention this previously?). This "service" is worse than "awful". Its had my partner in tears twice through the simple frustration of getting nowhere after spending nearly 2 hours at a time on the phone to ask for such a simple thing. And you never seem to have any continuity of who you spoke to last time and what was said. There are always gaps in what they have recorded about your previous calls … maybe they ran out of data storge disks from my phonecalls alone!! It's abysmal, degrading, coarse and a poor reflection of what british indistry is all about. BT should remove the word "British" from their name as it's an insult to the good people of this land. Come on … sort it out BT. You can do much better than this. Off-shoring is a bit "old hat" now and the British people are fed up with what it represents. You might save a penny or two, but you'll lose your customers in the long run.

  • ever thought maybe the wireless device on the laptop was the problem as the laptop was over 2 years old and laptops only have a life span of 2 years? no it could never be such a thing

  • I am surprised they assisted with your wireless at all or fought with your PC's internal hardware adapters. Normally it would be connect you up via ethernet, prove the hub works and off you go on your merry way…

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