BT Sucks

Sit down, dear listener, and I will tell you the sad tale of my ADSL connection.

I called BT three weeks ago to get the billing name changed on our phone line, as the person who paid the bill (my ex-flatmate) moved out. According to BT, that meant completely cancelling everything and re-provisioning it. Sure, whatever floats your boat, I said. They said my free answering machine service would get re-initialised, and I said fine. They didn’t mention ADSL at all. I assumed it was all separate – after all, I’d bought it from (and was billed by) a totally different company.

Three weeks later, my ADSL connection dies. I don’t relate this back to changing my billing details at all, so I call my ISP’s faults people. They take three days to investigate, and then tell me my line has been cancelled by BT. This means that the only way I can get it back is to be reconnected from scratch – which costs £64, and takes 7 days!

I call BT customer service to complain. My call is taken by a rather insolent man who tells me he is sorry (but doesn’t sound it) but can do absolutely nothing to rectify the situation apart from send a reprimand to the manager of the guy who handled my name change. His excuse for this is that he is in BT Retail, the people who handle voice accounts, and they can’t talk to BT Wholesale, the people who provide the ADSL and speed things up. This is because BT Retail provide their own broadband service and so are in competition with my ISP. This means they aren’t allowed to have any contact with BT Wholesale whatsoever, because BT Wholesale is supposed to be ISP-neutral!

So, they can cancel my ADSL without telling me, but they can’t re-provision it.

This is completely unacceptable. I don’t need to say that in future I will do everything humanly possible to avoid purchasing services from BT again. If anyone can recommend better companies who provide phone service (and which allow me to have ADSL on the line as well), then please add a comment.

17 thoughts on “BT Sucks

  1. Sorry, but they said they would re-provision everything. Now, considering they sell the actual phone line, you’d sort of think that maybe that’d include your DSL service?

    Oh also, you are speaking to BT RETAIL. BT WHOLESALE (a completely different division, which by law is not allowed to do any different behavior to retail) provide the ADSL provision.

    This gets in a muddle because retail can change the line details, which cancels the adsl provision, but of course they can’t re-provide it.

    Oh, also, unless you happen to live in central london where you can get Bulldog ( – 4mbit for �30/month), everyone else goes via BT Wholesales network. You are SOL.

  2. Man, I can only sympathise.
    My BT line has been out of order 14 (FOURTEEN!) times in the 4 months that I’ve had it.
    Each time it breaks, I call BT, and they get an engineer out about a week or so later.
    With all the waiting around, my phone line has only been on about 1/3 of the time. Fortunately, my ADSL connection continues to work, even when my phone line is scuppered.
    What is particularly galling, is that each engineer has to start from scratch (They rarely read the last guy’s notes), and I often get calls on my redirected number to tell me my BT line is fixed when it patently isn’t.
    They’re a shower of ignoramuses, and as soon as cable phone/ADSL is available in my area, I won’t touch them with a barge pole again.
    What a band of eegits.
    Thanks you for listening :-)

  3. I’m pleased to see it’s not PlusNet’s fault – I’ve had nothing but good experiences with them, as have a number of friends. Though I suppose it would be nice if they didn’t take 3 days to investigate BT messing everything up.

    I really look forward to more widespread local-loop unbundling so that BT have a bit more competition. That might make them buck their ideas up a bit.

  4. I work for Alcatel, and I’m worked on access-control and billing systems for ADSL and voice systems. Not your current system though, although I’m helping design a future system for their VOIP access.

    What BT Retail is telling you is utterly bullshit. Changing a billing name doesn’t require a complete new account. And while it might be necessary the delete an account and recreate it (easier than the distributed updates I’m currently working on), they are legally not allowed to take away your service.

    Conclusion: their customer service is staffed with nimcompoops.

  5. Sorry, but they said they would re-provision everything. Now, considering they sell the actual phone line, you’d sort of think that maybe that’d include your DSL service?

    Well, the guy went through a list of services provided by BT, but never mentioned ADSL. And no, I wouldn’t think that included it – I would have thought that only my ISP has the power to cancel DSL service on that number, given that they provided it.

    The more basic question is “why on earth does their system suck so much that everything has to be cancelled and re-ordered if someone else starts paying the bill?”

    Though I suppose it would be nice if they didn’t take 3 days to investigate BT messing everything up.

    Indeed. BT only let a few people from each ISP into their billing system “for security reasons”, so it takes a while to check. I suggested that they do this quick check for everyone when the fault is reported, and then put them in the 3-day queue for further investigation. My contact said he’d suggest it to his manager. Now that is helpful customer service :-)

  6. Maybe you should mention that the BT you mentioned have nothing to do with the BitTorrent File Distribution System

  7. I know this probably sounds like going from bad to worse, but I’m really pleased with NTL so far! They provided me with a free phone line for a year when I ordered cable internet through them. So far absolutely no problems (touch wood). Of course NTL have a download limit so may not be suitable…

  8. Forget BT – they are about as much use as a chocolate fireguard! I have NTL and I too am really pleased with it although I had loads of problems with their TV provision and have since dumped it and had Sky+ installed (100% better!). I have a 1Mbit broadband connection and their phone service and quite honestly, I can’t fault it! It is true that NTL have a (theoretical) download limit but it is discretionary. I have downloaded a lot of music lately and have not been capped at all. If you don’t take the mickey, you’ll be OK. As for the telephone – its cheap and has never ever failed in nearly 4 years.

  9. It gets even more, err, funny when you’re had your ADSL service for less than a year and need to change the billing of your phone line. Even though I wanted to keep my ADSL subscription exactly the same, the apparently unrelated action of changing my phone line’s billing details (again, I was not even told of the link) was enough to cause my ADSL company to claim I had broken my year’s contract with them. It took a little while to figure out exactly what I’d done “wrong”.

    Effectively, I’d been forced to commit to a year with the same phone line billing details as soon as I’d registered with my ISP. Perhaps next time I subscribe to Sky I’ll be forced to keep the same TV set…

  10. Gosh and here we in the States thought it was bad. ASDL providers have only recently (last year or two) become decentralized and competition began to appear. Until that time, the sole provider of ASDL service AND owner of the lines other ISPs used to re-sale the service had a whole host of issues similar to what you all have mentioned.

    Moving? Going to disconnect everything and re-connect it…which causes you to be in breach of your 2yr contract costing $200 USD each time that happens. Not in the services area? Going to charge you the same fee for moving out of the area…consider it a “courtesy” charge for moving to the sticks or something.

    ASDL down? Don’t call the techs…#1 answer to problems…”re-boot your computer and ASDL modem”. Despite being very proficient with computers and networking, I was still made to feel like an idiot by some kid reading out of a tech manual on support.

    Arghhh..telecom companies are the devil’s own I think.

  11. “If anyone can recommend better companies who provide phone service (and which allow me to have ADSL on the line as well), then please add a comment.”

    I can see why this happened: they “stopped” the line, so all the services on it automatically got cancelled. It’s a nuisance for you, but I don’t know that you will find other companies are necessarily “better” – though the problems may be different. NTL has been mentioned but:

    “NTL has regularly been accused of poor customer service and recently was named as the second-worst company for dealing with customer queries and complaints by management consultants TMI, which compiled the “National Complaints Culture Survey.”

    See also:

    I think it will be difficult for anyone to help with a suggestion for alternative phone/ADSL services here, because most of the network – the copper in the ground – is owned by BT. (There are exceptions – Hull, for example, has always has it’s own system.) I suppose you could go to a company that has taken part in the Local Loop Unbundling scheme – whereby the line between the exchange and the customer (the local loop) is leased by them from BT. But I don’t think that LLU has really taken off, and I know nothing about the pricing levels for that.

    ADSL is a technology that utlizes the twisted copper pair (the plain old phoneline) but you don’t have to use ADSL to get broadband. You can get it over fibre optic cable instead. If there is a company that has laid cables in your area – and I guess you’ll know, if they’ve dug the road up! – you could check if they do cable broadband services, as well as TV/telephone. I’d expect they all do.

  12. erm, this BT bashing isn’t really needed

    -if you had 14 line deaths (lol) maybe its because you live in a bad area

    -ive had BT for nearly 2 years, and haven’t had a single problems. BT Yahoo! is one of the better ISPs nowadays i think because of the wealth of content – all of yahoo and a 2 gigabyte e-mail account are pluses. You might put people off now because of this. Not everyone gets bad service. Sure they fu*ked up but hey, nothing compares to the treatment telewest gave us.

  13. Nice to know utilities suck on the other side of the pond as well. When I went to my providers (Comcast) office to set up my account, I thought it was silly that the employees were behind bullet proof glass. They had these complicated double-doored contraptions to pass stuff to the customers.

    After over 2 years of dealing with them, I often wonder, how many hundreds of lives that glass has saved.

  14. So Bob says –

    “erm, this BT bashing isn’t really needed”

    and then “backs it up” by saying “well I’ve never had any problems so it must be your fault”.

    Bob – of course, millions of people use BT and don’t have any problems, but the issue is how BT react whenever there is a problem. And the reality is that in the vast majority of cases they screw it up.

    …and by the way I had Telewest for four years, including cable broadband for three and I can honestly say that “I never had any problems”. It just goes to show – one person’s good experience doesn’t mean that any company deserves to get away with treating another person badly.

  15. Heh… I just googled for ‘BT sucks’ to see what my rankings were like and this is the #1 result (I was #3), so I thought I’d share my site with anyone reading this:

    BT Suck

    I think you can guess what the theme of the site is :)