Its good to talk – well it would be if we could get a landline!

This BT Complaint is a series of problems getting a landline setup which after all is BT ‘s main business and they should be pretty good at it by now! But no, by the sound of it, things are quite the opposite. 


My friend and I moved into a new house on June 1st 2010. We had 6 months left on a BT phone and broadband contract and so we transferred that to the new address to save us having to pay cancellation charges. Simple right?…. BIG mistake. Today our phone line is still not active.

The situation so far:

26th May 2010: Contacted BT to advise change of address on 1st June and request line and broadband transfer to new address.  Advised it will take up to 10 days to be active.  No problems.

10th June 2010: No line so contact BT to chase up.  The original request to transfer address had been ‘lost’ in the system and so nothing ever initiated.  Promised to start process and advised another 10 days.

21st June 2010: No line, contact BT.  Line test done remotely, agree an engineer will need to come out.  Charge of £127.99 which will be added to monthly bill.  Date booked for: 23 June 2010 between 8am and 1pm.

23rd June 2010: 9am Engineer arrives, does some work down at switch, comes back to flat, tests line on handheld device and confirms it is working and should all be live within 24 hours.  Go back to work at 1pm.

23rd June 2010: 2pm BT ring to say they have done post-engineer check on line and there is a fault.  They ask if I can go back home.  Explain have taken half day holiday and just arrived back to work and  cannot just leave again.  BT say they will investigate the fault fully and contact us back. (customer away for a week on work conference but no messages or contact from BT during this time)

15th July 2010: Still nothing received from BT at all in writing, phone or text.  Contact them to complain formally both via email and phone.  They apologise and say they will look into it and after quickly checking confirm the landline is still faulty.

20th July 2010: Contact BT who decide the problem might be a faulty home hub.  They advise to switch it off and then back on again and wait 24 hours.  Unsurprisingly this does not work (since they have already confirmed there is a physical problem on the phone line).  (customer away for week at work conference but no messages and no working line on return)

2nd August 2010: Bill received, increasing monthly direct debit due to increased charges and engineer bill.  No mention of fact we don’t have a working phone line to bill us for!!!

3th August 2010: Contact BT via their website making full formal complaint: Complaint ref: 100803-002256.  No response.

5th August 2010: Contact BT again via website making another full complaint about lack of any response to previous one.  Complaint ref: 100805-000830

6th August 2010: Voicemail from BT to say complaint made to wrong department via web form and to contact another department with complaint.  No number to call back and no offer in message of them passing the complaint to the right department for me.

7th August 2010:  Amusingly BT email a ‘customer service feedback questionnaire’ across to monitor how well they dealt with our problem.  A full form was immediately completed and returned to them to explain nothing was resolved and service was appalling..

10th August 2010: BT complaints customer services contact us and apologise acutely for the (in their own words) “complete lack of service received” and promise to get an engineer out and get this sorted within 10 days.

16th August 2010: Another dept from BT contact us to arrange an engineer to come out but will only do so and escalate the problem and solution if we agree to pay another charge of £127.99.  The caller from BT refuses to allow access to manager and explains complaints is another department and if unhappy we would need to speak to them but it would move our engineer visit back to bottom of pile.  He will not progress anything on phone until we agree to the charge.  He explains we may be able to claim this back through complaints after the fact.  Eventually we agree to this as hands seem tied and we need the phone line working for family living abroad to contact us.  Book in for Weds 18th August between 8am and 1pm.  Confirmation text received for that appointment.

18th August 2010 (today): I have just spent 5 hours (again taken off work during a very busy time) sat in my house staring out of the window awaiting BT engineer.  Text is received at 11.45am from BT to say they are not able to solve the query today and will rebook for Sat 21st August.  No number to call back about this and no question as to whether this date is suitable or explanation or apology for another wasted half day at home.

18th August 2010: 1pm: Phone BT fault line and speak to a ‘customer service’ representative who  looks at the ‘engineer log’ and says the comment reads ‘engineer tried to call but no one in and no answer on contact number’.  I burst into tears and explain I have sat there all morning, not taken any calls so as to be free and waited for them.  He then looks back at the log and says there is another comment saying ‘loop check, cannot do work today – will reschedule visit for 21st August’.  I explain I have not been asked if this is ok and what are they going to do about the second half day I have had to take off work?  Ask to speak to manager, which he cannot do as manager refuses to come on line.  But does understand my frustration and will escalate it with manager and complaints and I will receive a call back within 2 hours.

18th August 2010: 1.54pm: Paul the supervisor called back providing the following info. SR Case number: VOL011-37335545391. Supplier ref number: 5-1-9248041791.  He confirmed that the engineer is booked Sat 21st August between 8am and 1pm.  Paul also confirms that he can understand why we are so upset and that from the information he can see on the system BT has totally failed to deliver any service.  He apologises (to be fair he was very good on phone and did ring back within the time window he had promised to – I appreciate this failure in service is not down to the person on the end of the complaints phone line – it is a catalogue of failed service from multiple arms of a business that seems to have become too big to orchestrate the most simple of processes).

18th August 2010: to double up on complaints side have done another web complaint: reference 100818-005053

Summary: Long and short of the entire saga is that, on week 11 since moving into the new address, we still have NO active phone line (the most basic of BT elements surely??) and have paid out 2 x £127.99 for engineer visits, receiving only 1 of those visits so far and still having a faulty line.  I now have to stay home again on Saturday for an engineer who may or may not turn up and may or may not fix the line so we are no further forward than we were on 23rd June and out of pocket 3 months bills and 2 engineer charges!

Requested Resolution:
1.       A working phone line
2.       A full refund of 3 month’s worth of our contract with BT since we have not had a working service for this time (not refunded as discount across future bills – directly back to bank account)
3.       A full refund of the 2 x payments for engineer visits since they haven’t actually fixed/installed/repaired anything. (not refunded as discount across future bills – directly back to bank account)
4.       £75 compensation for my work time taken off to be home for visiting engineers who either came and did not sort out the problem or simply did not turn up.
5.       Payment to cover the use of mobile phones to sit on hold to BT complaints/customer services/fault line because we don’t have a working landline to use to do this.
6.       Compensatory gesture for the grief, frustration and downright aggravation this whole debacle has caused.  My parents live abroad and hence the absolute necessity for a landline for them to access me – the stress this has placed on myself, my housemate and our families and work place relationships (taking time off to be home for engineer and also making endless calls to complaints) has been ridiculous and as soon as we are able to end our contract we BT we fully intend to find another provider unless BT can do something to save this.

I have copied this to OFCOM and anyone else who will listen!

I would also like to say that in my work place we currently use BT business.  It is my research and decision as to which communications provider we use at our company.  Please be assured that my experiences with BT on the home side have absolutely affected my opinion of renewing any contract with BT business for the future.  I would be extremely surprised, but pleasantly so, if you could do something to alter my opinion at this point.  But please feel free to have a go!


Rebekkah Louise Holmes  & Clare Atkinson
Office Manager                      Customer Services Manager

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  • Your complaints have the standard monolithic BT incompetence written all over them. Too many departments, too many poorly trained staff and too few managers all reluctant to answer the phone.

    Make sure all your phone calls with BT from now include the name of the member of staff, the date and time and the department. I suggest if another manager is said to not wish to speak to you, you remind them (via the staff member you are talking to), that your issues are being reviewed by their complaints division and the reluctance of the manager to help in any way whatsoever will be forwarded to them and their independent regulatory body (Ofcom).

    Ask for your entitlement, explain they are in breach of their own contract; give them a 'reasonable' time in which to assist and remind them of your legal entitlements and rights.

    Good luck.

  • Last year as you know we had a lot of snow thus bringing down 5 sections of wire leading to our house (meaning we had no phone) my husband called bt and they insisted on a line check "but we have no line" my husband said that's why I am calling,well they did a check anyway then told my husband there was no fault on the line and it may cost us if they send someone out again he said we have no line the snow brought it down,when they sent someone out he repaired the line and said he will put it down to be replaced because it is so old and out of date we had mentioned how bad the broadband is (on and off plus very slow) he said if the wire is replaced with a more up date one it would improve nearly a year on and we still have no new phone lines, so why did they sell us the broadband? we are lucky if we get on average 3hrs of broadband a day and when it is on it is so slow you can hardly do anything, they have given us money back for now, but what about the new phone line? and when we make a complaint why do we get put through to new-deli?? not intending to sound rude but it can be very difficult to hear and understand what they are telling me as i am hard of hearing and need people to speak clear english

  • 13th August we moved house. 14th August we were supposed to be connected with our new number (they had been given 2 weeks notice).
    No connection on the 14th. In stead they had discounted next door phone given them our new number.
    Waited one and half weeks before engineer turned up..after speaking with them daily for 2 hours everyday. We have no mobile reception in our new home so this involved standing in a field each time..sometimes in the rain.
    We were promised to be called back..never.
    Each day we were given a different story and lied to.we were never able to speak with the same person twice.No one took responsibility and balmed different departments for the problem.
    Engineer arrived after a week and half and connected broad band and said he had connected the land line. He hadn't.
    Customer service sent an email saying the phone tone was engaged so therefore we must be we were not we HAD no dialing tone and people trying to ring us were only getting enagaged.
    Further phone calls daily.. 2 hours each time
    Finally agreed to send engineer 31August between 8 and 1 by 1pm engineer ..called Bt again to be told he was runnning late. I could not stay in as had to go to had to cancel the visit and rebook it for Thursday 2nd September 8- 1. Got a message from engineer later that day at 3pm to say he had turned up for his visit and could not get access.Noone had told him the visit was cancelled.
    Engineer for rebooked visit did turn up on 2nd Sept. to tell us the last engineer had not done the job properly it was not now the line that was the problem but our brand new modem whcih was only a few months old.
    Rang BT whilst engineer was still with and so he could speak with them directly and explained we needed a new modem. They confirmed it was under warrenty and a new one would be with us in 3 working days.
    A week went by and no new modem was delivered.
    Further phone call to BT confirmed that the order had been cancelled as they had no order works number against order. Thats my problem WHY? and when were they going to tell me the order was cancelled????
    Superviser confirmed the new modem was ordered again and would arrive 16th September…and it would be a a black one…i do not care what bloody colour it long as it arrives and works.
    Had text from BT this week to say we would be connected to broadband on the 13/9 ( we had already been connected by the first engineer to Broadband)and that our new modem would arrive 13/9. So that contradicted the date 16/9.
    In the mean time the neighbour has also been with out his phone line and as he was with Talk Talk BT said he would have to return to BT as a customer to be reconnected. He agreed and then they sent him a bill for £142 for the reconnection for a line BT had disconnected. BT offered to reduce it to £26!!! Talk Talk have sent him a bill also fro defaulting on the contract by being diconnected and he still has no phone line.
    We are still waiting for our new modem. We are not holding our breathe. Its now nearly 5 week since we have moved in and still no new modem to enable us to use the "working " phone line.
    We have been lied to, cut off by unhelpful BT staff, promised returned calls and none received. Over seas staff who failed to grasp the problem…and who promised to call back on my mobile knowing I was in a field in the pouring rain. The list goes on and and on . Georgina Sirett-Hardie

  • Yup, sounds familiar.
    I've had a very similar problem. It took 8weeks and 15 phone calls to get some sort of resolution, although they're still sending letters and bills to my old address….
    I've given up. I can't afford to loose any more hair.

  • These stories are depressingly familiar. We had to wait 2 and a half months to get a new phone line connected at our new build property. We were at one stage told that we would have to wait another month for the line to be connected because every BT Openreach engineer was working on an unrelated cable breakdown! They are truly appalling. Again, we were actively dissuaded from making a complaint ('it won't make any difference, you won't be connected any quicker'), and from speaking to a manager, both in breach of BT's own code of conduct. We were also contacted by telephone at 7pm at night with an offer (which we consider unacceptable) of compensation, and told we had to accept it then and there. We asked for them to confirm the details in writing so we could consider it (again, as per their own code of conduct) three and a half weeks later we are still waiting to hear. Even worse, I was specifically told that our complaint has been closed and a new one opened twice because it wasn't dealt with in time with their own complaint procedure rules. Surely, this is falsifying their complaint resolution figures. I will be contacting Otelo and their own compliance officer about this. I have never endured such appalling service from any organisation.

  • Date of this complaint (22/11/2010). Original booking for home telephone line in order to set up a lifeline connection was made around 15/09/2010. My mother was discharged from hospital on the understanding that the line would be installed on 22/09/2010. It has now been cancelled by BT / OpenReach? three times. I have had nine telephone conversations with BT to resolve this situation and have the line installed as soon as possible. However, to date this has proved to be a waste of my time and a useless exercise. On two of these ocassions I was disconnected by the call centre after having wasted further time providing all the required details (which incidentally BT / OpenReach already have had since the beginning of this never ending saga). I have also spoken with a floor manager and the management team complaints department via the BT call centre(this discussion was requested by me). We were issued with the actual number to be activated following installation of the new telephone line, but they continue to provide OpenReach with a number which cannot be activated for this particular area. Bearing in mind the most important outcome of this installation is for the use of a lifeline for an elderly person could you please enlighten us as to what exactly is going on, what action will be taken to move this predicament forward and when? My email address is and I look forward to a prompt reply from BT with a view to resolving this current situation as soon as possible.

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