back to article OK, so we paid a bill late, but did BT have to do this?

One of the pains of running a business is billing and cash collection, especially if your customers are big. It really doesn’t matter what you put on the quote or the invoice, they pretty much pay you when they feel like it, and 60 days is usually the quickest if you’re lucky. In effect, SMBs act in aggregate as an unwilling …

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Why?

The only question is "Why are you using BT?"

They have the most awful customer service ever and *really* don't give a damn about you.

Use Zen or AAISP or $ANYBODY else for a better service!

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Re: Why?

You really think TalkTalk give a better service than BT?

Based on experience over many years, most ISPs have problems at times, some more than others. To be honest, most work fine most of the time. The important thing is how they react when things go wrong. Do they try and fix things asap or do they deny it's anything to do with them? I use BT Business now and have found them pretty good on the whole - there have been cock-ups, but the Business support bods seem to be able to resolve things a lot quicker than some call-centre drone in Bangalore.

Having been on the receiving end of an ISP saying it's a problem with the phone line (provided by BT domestic) and BT domestic saying it's a problem with the ISP, it's actually handy having a setup where one part or other of BT is responsible from end to end. And the Business bods do seem to have a bit more clout when it comes to shouting at Openreach.

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Re: Why?

Why are you talking about Talk Talk? No mention in the original post.

Managed to transfer my parents and my in-laws away from BT. Little by little...

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Re: Why?

Doesn't $ANYBODY include TalkTalk?

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What BT are really doing

Is asking you to switch provider on principle.

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Re: Why?

"it's actually handy having a setup where one part or other of BT is responsible from end to end"

It's actually preferable having a setup where no part of BT is responsible for any part from end to end, which is why I've switched BOTH my home phone and broadband away from them. If only openreach were as impartial as they should be/claim to be.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

"Doesn't $ANYBODY include TalkTalk?"

Yes it does.

$ANYBODYWITHACLUE doesn't include TalkTalk, as your rightly point out, and most readers will hopefully have read it that way.

But thanks for the clarification.

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Re: Why?

good question.

Against my advice, my mum recently ordered BT broadband/phone-line/tv as a residential customer.

she now has a braodband connection but this was after 4 calls where each time they gave her a date it would be done by and each time when she phoned to chase as the dtae had passed she was told the order had been cancelled and they would have to expediate the new order which each time was cancelled.

She's still missing the tv box she was supposed to get.. I think she started this early august. she has had call centre people promise to ring back, hang up on her, refuse to put her through to someone who could take a compaint etc etc etc..

Lots of "i'm really sorry", "I'll take responsibility", "when you call back ask for me by name" to later be told they didn't exist, she was even told it would be fixed the next day and in the same converstion told two business days...

It took 4 calls to get a complaint reference number and they said so much that later turned out not to be true, I'm not enitrely convinced it wasn't made up.

shockingly bad service.

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Happy

Re: Why?

I actually had very good service when moving to BT Infinity a couple of months ago - sorry to balance out the story a little but I had terrible service from Virgin who continued to bill be for the next 6 months! (No I'm not a BT mole)

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Re: Why?

I tried to transfer away from BT only to realise after waiting 6 weeks to get an unreliable internet connection that my new ISP ( Plusnet ) was in fact wholly owned by BT. Sad times.

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Re: Why?

I've also had good service with BT. I switched to BT infinity (FTTC) from Be Unlimited simply because Be did not offer fibre and BT were the only provider who could offer estimated 70Mbs at the time. Completed in an hour or so on the day arranged, very polite and helpful installation guy, all worked 100% from the start. Intermittently low speed on day 2 resulted in a visit the following day - no fault found at the time of visit but he remade all the copper joints from socket to cabinet (at no charge) and no fault since then. Since then (over 6 months later), speed fluctuates from 60Mbs during congested times to 80Mbps - not usually below 70Mbs and no other service issues (touch wood). Average use around 500GB data downloaded per month.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

One problem we found is that if you need BT to look at your phone line but you're getting your other services from BT they try to get you to move back to BT.

My mother moved to the utility warehouse stuff and moved back due to the BT FUD when the phone line had issues (it was due to corroded joints from the line to the house cable section).

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Unhappy

@Pen-y-gors

<load of irrelevant stuff skipped>

But it's not a fault it's a routine payment

And it's not even (technically) overdue.

BTW the UK has the 2nd worst record (not reputation, studies based on actual figures) payment record in Europe, only Italy is worse for getting cash out of people.

but I wonder. Is it the SME's desperate to hang onto the the £ till the last possible moment or the big multi £Bn outfits who say "We do it because we can."

Bottom line SME's are not banks. It's time companies stopped treating them like one or perhaps they should start acting more like one (for some years UK companies have been able to charge fair interest on late payments).

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Unhappy

Re: Why?

"I tried to transfer away from BT only to realise after waiting 6 weeks to get an unreliable internet connection that my new ISP ( Plusnet ) was in fact wholly owned by BT. Sad times."

I think yo uneed to contact the ISP Association and get their members list.

Clare Perry claimed there are 450 ISP's in the UK, of which about 5 hold 90% of the market.

Which means those 5 have no incentive to be anything but a shower of s**t.

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Re: Why? @Pen-y-gors

> You really think TalkTalk give a better service than BT?

Hell yes. BT were some of the the most incompetent clueless tossers I've ever had to deal with. Moved to talk talk and never had a problem since (3+ years?). End of pain, thank god.

(Your experience may vary, that was mine)

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Re: Why? (@Pen-y-gors)

Actually yes, I know that TalkTalk give a better service than BT IF AND ONLY IF it's TalkTalk Business (which it would only seem fair to assume for this particular comparison)

Having suffered many times on other people's behalf at the hands of TT's various consumer arms, I would never have considered their business offering but ended up with them through the takeover and re-takeover of Freedom2surf.

On the couple of occasions I've had to call them I've had better service than I've found anywhere else, ever (and I spend time on the phone to the whole range ISPs on a weekly basis through work.)

You know you're going to get somewhere when you start the conversation by giving your diagnosis of the fault and a brief outline of the steps you've taken to deduce it and the person on the other end listens, actually understands and takes the issue from there. It's been my experience every time with TT Business... can't say the same for BT business (though they do usually get there in the end.)

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Re: Why , Pen-y-gors ?

the *key* word is *Business* !!! and they tend to be paid *much* more that the paltry domestic offering!!!

our company uses TalkTalk Business, and has not had any major problems for years... using 100 computers needing *mission critical* access..

the domestic product of course is not so good, unless you do not need more than two or three pages a day maximum... :p

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Re: Why?

But if you are on an exchange "out in the sticks" no matter who your ISP is the actual people managing it is Openreach.

I had a problem with a VPN connection in that every time the phone rang the broadband ( and hence the VPN) dropped.My ISP (also my phone provider) sent a BT engineer round who tested the line and declared "no problem with the line",, but would recommend that the DSLAM in the exchange was changed.

VPN Still dropped

I forced my ISP to send round an Openreach Broadband engineer (and that was hard work as Openreach AUTOMATICALLY invoice the ISP for a BB engineer EVEN if they are in the wrong, so I had to agree that if no fault was found I'd pay for the visit.

I also sent a mail to the woman in charge of Openreach explaining that an engineer had said that he thought the DSLAM should be changed -- and received a reply telling me my ISP must own the problem, I further explained that IF the equipment in the exchange was changed neither I or my ISP would have any visibility of the change -- at which point she agreed to escalate it within Openreach in order to inform me.

To cut a long story short, after that escalation, an Openreach engineer came out on a Sunday and I overheard his conversation with the main BT Helpdesk. They told him there was a problem with the DSLAM -- that had ALWAYS existed--and the ONLY way to fix it was to replace it.

A couple of emails later, one to Openreach and one to my ISP and (magically, it was fixed the following Wednesday, new DSLAM so fixed for everyone who would want to use VPN on the exchange.

Fianl point is that Openreach STILL tried to invoice the ISP for the work they had done -- even though the equipment was faulty.

The ISP told them where to go.....

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why? @Pen-y-gors

@BlueGreen

Re talktalk.

We moved our (we're an SME) business phone and fibre connection over to talktalk, the business support bods aren't bad, we've had no more or less issues than we would have had with any other provider (very, very few) all resolved in a timely fashion.

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Re: Why? @Pen-y-gors

I have had good service on Talktalk got residential FTTC and its pretty fast. There support is good if you go on the user forums. Post your problem on the forum and the staff will get back to you and fix it or book an engineer that's how I got my issues with the Youview sorted anyway. I once had Plusnet business ADSL at home and for 4 months I could not authenticate with the details they gave me until finally I got through to someone technical who knew what they were doing and fixed it for me.

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Re: Why?

Problems setting up a direct debit with BT a number of years back, tried 5 times, no joy, line disconnected.

Time for some serious action - discovered the email address of the Chairman's Office and hey presto! That still had to be chase, when the special advisor didn't fix it I emailed asking for an *extra* special advisor.

Talk-Talk no better, O2 not perfect but an improvement on Talk-Talk, Sky seemed to think the ADSL could transfer more data than the speed was actually capable of.

Parents have Virgin and that seemed very straight-forward.

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FAIL

Re: Why?

I agree with Simon, why the hell are you using BT!!! The line at my house took 3 months for them to set up, they couldn't get their billing right, sent me threatening letters on lines that didn't exist, refused to let me have a single point of contact even though it's a business line, and that's just the tip of the iceberg. Shocking support, shocking and inconsistent technical knowledge, overall i will never use BT again. AAISP and other ISP's are much more flexible and technically capable. It's not all about the promise of a fair broadband price, move to someone else! The screen take over is a poor business tactic - you can bet they will do it on people who have paid their bills, and whatsmore they won't apologise in writing if they get it wrong.

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Re: Why?

Ah but at least you've now got access to in my experience superb customer service, and can actually speak to a network engineer if needs be to get to the heart of any problems. Can't fault PlusNet for the way they handled some of the less than straightforward order requirements on some of our connections.

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N2

Re: Why?

BT are utter shite & treat their customers like crap because for everyone that leaves theres probably two customers stupid enough or coerced into signing up, a lot of financial directors of small companies are in charge of IT (in the loosest sense of the word) there are a few who know their stuff but most dont.

IDNet provided our broadband with First Telecom for calls, both fantastic companies.

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Re: Why?

"I tried to transfer away from BT only to realise after waiting 6 weeks to get an unreliable internet connection that my new ISP ( Plusnet ) was in fact wholly owned by BT. Sad times."

Plusnet operates as an autonomous company and is a great deal better than the parent. The connection problems probably lie with BT or BT Wholesale regardless of your ISP.

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Re: Why?

Actually I think you'll find that many ISPs can provide FTTC, the connection itself is provided by BT Openreach who provide connections to all the big ISPs, including BT Retail who resell it as BT Infinity.

We've got FTTC here, it's with the ISP Zen, a pretty darn good (if not the cheapest) ISP (hey it's a case of you get what you pay for). We also have BT Broadband too (ADSL2+ syncing at around 17Mbit/sec). For a comparison, Zen speeds downloading Linux Mint are around 5MBytes/sec, and via BT (bearing in mind it's syncing to the exchange at 17Mbit/sec, so I'd expect at least around 1.7MBytes/sec), we get 171KBytes/sec.

Rob

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

Where I work (well one of the sites anyway) we have Zen FTTC, we've had Zen since the site opened, originally ADSL2+ and then upgraded to FTTC when it was made available. It's great, we get pretty good speeds (I think around 50Mbit/sec down and about 10Mbit/sec up or something along those lines, certainly fast enough for the handful of PCs we have here).

We also have a secondary backup line from our phone provider who is in direct competition with BT (who will remain nameless to protect the innocent). We ordered an ADSL2+ service from them just in case the FTTC went down. So we thought we were getting an ADSL service from $PHONEPROVIDER, or at least their services on top of the usual BT Wholesale service. But nope, we got BT Broadband. They, a BT competitior resell BT Broadband.

I'm sure if it was known at the time we'd have gone to a different ISP, but sadly we didn't find out until after the installation, and we're now stuck with them for another 18 months.

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Re: Why?

...$ANYBODYWITHACLUE doesn't include TalkTalk, as your rightly point out, and most readers will hopefully have read it that way....

Hmm.

Presenting your advice like that makes it incredibly easy to offer even more precise directions. How about only buying your internet services from $THEBESTCOMPANY?

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Claire Perry

Has a long record of not understanding technology.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

I used to work in IT for a major financial institution one of the largest UK companies by capital valuation. Many of our telecoms tech guys were ex-BT so knew how it worked and had contacts there. Even so we sufferred BT arrogance/inertia.

In a subsequent job I had a customer who switched to BT Broadband and, finding he had a problem with email, was told that he would need to move his website hosting and domain name to BT. Another had a super new do everything switchboard installed by BT. Their business was heavily based on incoming orders by phone. The PBX didn't work, they were without their phone lines for a week, cost them £30k lost sales. I could go on - but no need as there are thousands more people with comparable stories to tell.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

You really think TalkTalk give a better service than BT?

After having problems with TalkTalk with direct debits requests being made from them multiple times per bill I decided that the only way that I could trust them was to go to cheque payment.

They'd raise the bill on a certain date of the month and put said bill into the post for me and ten to twelve days later. The PayBy Date was always between these two dates and I would often get cut off the day that the bill would arrive on my doorstep.

After a few months of this I left TalkTalk.

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Meh

@ Dazzlingsincethe60s - Re: Why?

Wrote :- "Time for some serious action - discovered the email address of the Chairman's Office and hey presto!"

Care to share it with us?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Why?

+1 for Zen

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Re: Why?

Love it that this gets 4 thumbs down, do you disagree that I am happy with my service provider? Or is it that I am not joining in the BT-bashing?

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Childcatcher

Re: What BT are really doing

Well what BT might also be doing is breaching the Data Protection Act. Your data, the fact that you are a late payer, is being distributed to anyone on the same router plus anyone who can see the screen.

It this legal. I think not.

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Belkin

I remember something about belkin trying something similar - I think it was that their router would insert adverts into webpages.

the interesting thing is that I don't remember the exact detail, only that i have never bought a belkin product since.

This is sort of thing only too predictable from BT, which is why I am no longer with them, but there are plenty of sheep who will tolerate this sort of treatment.

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Re: Belkin

the interesting thing is that I don't remember the exact detail, only that i have never bought a belkin product since.

Yes - this article means that my opening comments when talking to anybody about using the internet for business will now be to explain that it is important that they don't use BT because of this. If BT don't understand why - then they should not be supplying broadband to businesses!

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Not just broadband

I have two @btinternet.com email accounts that I have used for years. Last month I got an email saying as I was no longer with BT for my broadband, I would have to pay £1.60 a month to keep them.

Normally I would just let them go, but for several reasonsit was easier to keep them so I set up a direct debit. Now today I get an email saying that BT have postponed getting rid of non-BT customers with @btinternet.com addresses for the foreseeable future. So now those who haven't paid will keep the same product I'm paying for.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not just broadband

So stop paying.

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Re: Not just broadband

Demand a refund

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Re: Not just broadband

That's interesting.

I too have a btinternet.com email account, though I no longer use BT as my ISP. Every week I receive emails that say something like "Important changes to your BT email account". I always delete them unread because they look like phishing messages - the login links appear to point to domains that have nothing to do with BT (or, indeed, the UK).

I've always wondered why the btinternet.com spam filter can't catch messages that spoof BT. Now I'm wondering if they were genuine messages in which BT was too stupid to use recognisable domains.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Not just broadband

I know that mail too. I didn't see anything that matches "for the foreseeable future" though.

Someone I know has @btinternet.com account that's been due to expire ever since BT stopped doing PAYG dialup and Metronet started doing PAYG broadband.

That's not a short time. A decade or so?

BT Retail. Default provider of telephony and broadband to the ill-informed and naive.

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Re: Not just broadband

Well, what my email said was that because of problems, accounts that hadn't upgraded wouldn't be disconnected today (16th Sept).

I know when I tried a few weeks ago, the link to the T&Cs didn't work, and when I contacted one of those "live chat" people, they said to try again in a few days.

Today I notice the ordering interface is similar, but it won't take my DD account number, so I still can't sign up for it, there's also no mention of T&Cs, which is a bit concerning....

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xyz

Have they not just intercepted your communications?

I'd inPhorm on them!

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Harrassment

Happened on multiple occasions to multiple people? Unsolicited and without justification (not late yet). That's harassment.

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Re: Harrassment

Harrassment indeed.

I'll never forget the bill they sent me just before Christmas in 1997.

It went something like "This is OUR money. Don't you DARE spend it on Christmas festivities. WE WANT IT NOW!".

My reaction was to make a point of paying them as late as possible without getting cut off.

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Anonymous Coward

Good Experience with BT

I for one can say that BT have exceptional customer service... actually I lie. I deal with a couple of their engineers on a nearly daily basis and have never met such an unprofessional team of people.

BT has become almost a swear word in our office.

BT - Blood Terrible

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Re: Good Experience with BT

Bunch of Tossers is how we refer to them, for the same reasons.

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Re: Good Experience with BT

"BT has become almost a swear word in our office."

I must agree.

As a "consumer" I have had so many problems with them that I won't have anything to do with them as far as possible.

However I have recently started working for a company who uses them for a backup DSL line at head office and their main connectivity for a warehouse. The head bean counter will not speak to BT any more, pushing it down to her assistant. The same goes for anyone with underlings: They will not speak to BT themselves.

We also recently moved our warehouse. An order was placed for the same business infinity line as was in the old premises to be set up at our new place. After several (progressively more worried and irate) phone calls trying to get hold of the router, 3 days before we were moving, we were told that our order had been cancelled because we could not get infinity there! No phone call, no email, no contact whatsoever. To allow the move to go ahead we had to purchase 3G dongles to see us through till we arranged alternative connectivity.

We will not use BT again. That was the final straw. I had always assumed that their terrible customer service was reserved for consumers, but to treat a business customer in this manner... It was absolutely unbelievable!

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