back to article BT snatches crown: Soars to top of complaints list

BT was the most complained about ISP in the final three months of 2013, communications watchdog Ofcom said today. The one-time national telco raked up the most gripes from broadband subscribers, according to the regulator's latest quarterly report on complaint figures. Ofcom said: For the first time, BT generated the most …

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What do you mean..

"Former" state monopoly? Hah! Sorry ... that is an industry joke in my personal opinion. As in, the monopoly bit.

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Go

We use BT...

Not really much choice where we live, and its works perfectly for 2 years... The only PITA was how long it took to get it working, other than that flawless.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We use BT...

Biggest complaint we hear from people is how long it takes to get BT to connect anything in the first place. And when it does go wrong...the last time I recall that happening, it was "take a week or two to fix. Unless you pay £XX a month for our enhanced service". It may have changed now, but there was a time when I only half jokingly suggested putting a Pringle can aerial router on my house and the office to provide line of sight 802.11 to my home cable connection.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: We use BT...

One happy customer is a complete irrelevance. It's a bit like "smoking doesn't cause lung cancer, my granny was on 40 a day 'till she was 90 and git run over by a bus". It's the statistics that matter. Only 0.3% of customers complained (over a year) so 99.7% didn't, the point is that complaint rate is higher than other ISPs

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maybe

it's just that we've given up complaining about the rest of them as much because fuck all changes whether you do or not.

Though I imagine BT are no different in that respect. Different demographic perhaps?

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Joke

Re: maybe

>it's just that we've given up complaining about the rest of them as much because fuck all changes whether you do or not.

That's not quite true as far as changes go. There are have been several increases in salaries and bonuses to the top dogs due to reduction in maintenance charges.... Instead of hiring some new technicians/engineers they distributed the cash between them.

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Cause or effect?

Would be interesting to see what the base change is in that period. e,g, did the things that caused the complaint also cause people to leave the ISP. Or is this people moving to an ISP then not liking it, etc.

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Not allowed to complain

For me the biggest gripe is about BT Openreach wholesale provision that all ISPs are forced to use for FTTC. The service there is terrible and you are not allowed to complain about. All you can do is complain to your ISP (presumably bumping their stats up) while BT wholesale remain unaccountable to the end-customer

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Re: Not allowed to complain

This. Check ThinkBroardband blogs on occasion. There is a little spat going on between the ISPs and Openreach/BT right not as there are problems but no one is picking up the responsibility (seems to be on the Openreach backhaul).

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Re: Not allowed to complain

@Sandpit

Was talking to a friend the other day. Her (elderly) mum has lost phone connection. BT kept saying "it will be fixed tomorrow" and then wasn't. She found out that the fix was Openreach doing some digging but also found a phone number for Openreach.

After talking to Openreach to try and find out what was going on the Openreach help desk rep asked which ISP she was from. When my friend said "no I'm the customer who wants to be reconnected" the rep went very quiet and clearly terrified said "but we aren't allowed to talk to customers!" - What a way to run a service - shield the people who can do anything from the customer, so nothing gets done.

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FAIL

my landline number has been offline for almost 2 weeks now, whilst the BB works fine, both are with BT. constant calls to them to sort out, failed promises to return calls no-one understanding the problem, repeating the same issue to every call center staff member. I wish I could get out of the contract to be honest,

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Re: FAIL

Rule 1 of sorting out BT line faults: If it affects voice, get that sorted first, and don't mention BB at all.

Voice faults are prioritised.

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Re: FAIL

Unplug everything from the walls, plug in a test phone to the "test" socket. Call them (on second line), say you have a voice fault. They will test. If the phone does not call, is still silent etc, tell them under no uncertain terms that "nothing happens/it is silent" and "I have nothing connected but a working test phone in the test socket."

Then it leaves it down to them with their engineers. Had 2 friends have similar happen to you, and it was faulty wires on the posts/cabinets.

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Re: FAIL

Not sure this applied with BT Infinity anymore as they are now seperated, but certainly the best advise for ADSL users.

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Re: FAIL

Still applies: "Infinity" is just VDSL2 instead of ADSL2+. If there's a problem with the wire (like being cut, loose, wet etc) it'll screw up both voice and broadband - and a voice fault is much easier to get BT to fix.

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Childcatcher

State owned

My only complaint is that, now it's no longer state owned, BT has basically given up serving rural areas.

At least nationalised industries aren't profit-oriented, and thus people like me might actually have stood a chance of getting decent broadband some time before we die of old age.

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Re: State owned

Even when BT were the state owned GPO rural areas got awful service, here's a few examples:

1: During the seriously bleak winters of yesteryear the GPO would get a lot of line fault reports. These faults weren't caused by the winter weather, it was simply that small village exchanges had less capacity than the number of subscribers, meaning that when it got busy (people phoning remote farms to check each other were OK) the exchanges couldn't service every customer (that one was told to me by an ex GPO engineer)

2: Most rural lines were some variant of shared service, either old fashioned party lines (where you could hear your neighbour's conversations) or some variant of DACS (digital pair splitting).

3: If you were lucky enough to have your own line then you might not have even got a copper one. The GPO loved experimenting with "stuff" other than copper for phone lines. Highlights include aluminium (still around causing havoc with ADSL) and copper coated steel (which had an annoying habit of rusting through).

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Unhappy

No real beef other than the irritating woman and 20,000 layers of options (Ok, I exaggerate)

The few times that I have had reason to contact BT customer support, once you are through to a human I have found the service to be very good (admittedly it is BT Business support). It is that irritating woman and the seemingly never ending layers of options that wind me up.

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Re: No real beef other than the irritating woman and 20,000 layers of options (Ok, I exaggerate)

Think yourself lucky. If you're residential, you end up in India and then you might as well be calling Dell.

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Re: No real beef other than the irritating woman and 20,000 layers of options (Ok, I exaggerate)

The Business arm of telcos always seem to be based in the UK (ususally in the North/North West of England I find)

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Re: No real beef other than the irritating woman and 20,000 layers of options (Ok, I exaggerate)

Try this, it's genius.

http://www.pleasepress1.com

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Re: No real beef other than the irritating woman and 20,000 layers of options (Ok, I exaggerate)

As covered by our august organ not so long ago: The Call Centre Crusader.

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Crap Service is the Norm

Very few companies do good customer service now, I think they just dont care. They say they care but for me anyone who plays you a message saying your call is important to us whilst they waste your time is full of crap. I dont normally complain to companies because its usually a waste of time, I think some companies are just too big to be efficient.

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JDX
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Re: Crap Service is the Norm

Amazon, FirstDirect are notable exceptions

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Crap Service is the Norm

> Amazon, FirstDirect are notable exceptions

Amazon were a notable exception - until they started using Yodel. That was enough for me to stop using them.

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Coat

@ Fiddler Re: Crap Service is the Norm

Very few companies do good customer service now, I think they just dont care.

Agree with the first part, but not necessarily with the second part. I believe that they do care to a degree, but proper customer service costs money, and the fat-ass, corporatist mentality holds that any money spent on anything else is money not being put into my bonus.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Yodel

"Amazon were a notable exception - until they started using Yodel. That was enough for me to stop using them"

Sometimes a 2nd chance is handy.

I was one of many who got seeeeeeriously peeved with Yodel deliveries a year or two ago (Amazon and others).

Maybe someone in charge at Yodel realised that they had to fix it or die.

In the last few weeks I've had a handful of "free next day delivery" orders from eBuyer. All via Yodel (their choice not mine), all on time. I'm rather amazed.

Can a leopard really change its spots?

Wrt First Direct: Quite. A few weeks back I actually had to wait for more than fifteen seconds for the phone to be answered. I wondered if there'd been a calamity in Leeds or wherever the other one is.

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Re: Yodel

"Can a leopard really change its spots?"

No. Not in Yodel's case anyway. I ordered something through Amazon marketplace a couple of months ago (i.e. not direct from Amazon), and the seller chose to send it with Yodel. The driver came at lunch time, and as I wasn't in, he threw the package over the side gate, in the pissing rain, where it lay in a puddle for 5 hours until I got home. To be fair, he did put a note through the door telling me he'd thrown the package over my 7 foot fence, so at least I knew where to find what was left of it.

Amazon, however, have sent all their Prime stuff to me with "local" couriers for the past few months (no major delivery companies), and I've been much happier with that service. I don't even bother with marketplace items any more.

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Re: @ Fiddler Crap Service is the Norm

Some businesses have realised that a small % of customers demand a disproportionately large amount of support effort. One of the most cost effective ways to reduce the cost of your support operation is to give those awkward customers the worst possible experience so they defect to your competitor - a double success, you save costs while at the same time increasing your competitor's costs.

As customers we bring this upon ourselves to some extent. We seek out the cheapest service then expect the highest standards. As ISPs go I believe Zen Internet is highly regarded for taking ownership of support problems and getting them fixed - but they're also towards the higher end of the price range.

And, as a customer, the best solution is invariably NOT to go for the biggest or the "household name" provider. To a small provider every customer matters, they are less likely to offshore their helpdesk, less likely to put support calls into an interminable mess of phone menus and call queues, less likely to rely on script following minimum wage help-desk staff.

Phone menus and call queues mean they value their own time more than yours. Compare your hourly rate with that of a minimum wage offshore call centre worker: they're saving pennies and costing you pounds. When you're choosing a supplier and you get put into a call queue for pre-sales enquiries what does that tell you? If pre-sales was OK then try routing your next pre-sales call to their help desk instead - less well resourced? What does that tell you?

In my business we have neither phone menus nor call queues. If the line is busy you get answerphone. When a customer leaves a message we call them back, usually within minutes and to the evident surprise of new customers, more used to answerphones being used as a black hole. I have customers who can be a serious PITA, in reality some of them understand that and the time we spend helping them is not wasted. We rely heavily on recommendations/referrals from existing customers for new customers. If a customer leaves for a cheaper provider they come back when they let them down.

It's widely acknowleged that First Direct have got this right - so why is that tried and tested way of getting the reputation of "best phone support" not widely replicated?

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JDX
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Re: Crap Service is the Norm

Yodel is not part of Amazon customer service. Customer service are the people who fix the problems Yodel introduce.

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Re: Yodel

And you do realise that your local Yodel delivery boy isn't Yodel, or that one parcel is meaningless statistically?

I hope you make sure to send Amazon proper complaints every time something like this happens because that's the only way they would realise if one delivery company really is consistently below par. It costs them money after all.

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Picture the scene...

I went to the garage to fill my car with petrol. They said they could supply up to 17 gallons. I thought that would be enough for my needs, getting to work and back, so I started filling up. But the petrol trickled out really slowly and I was only able to get three and a half pints. When I went to pay they charged me for the full 17 gallons, because they had after all said it was 'up to' 17 gallons. I pointed out that there seemed to be some sort of blockage in the pump's hose. They said they would fix that, but it would take three to four days.

The following week the same thing happened again. When I tried to complain they went on about how they had the fastest and most reliable petrol pumps in the country. They charged me for the full 17 gallons again, even though they had only supplied three and a half pints. It would take three to four days to fix the problem.

After two months of this continuing problem, I decided it would be better to go to a different garage. But the original garage said that I still had a contract with them, and I would have to pay for the petrol they would have charged me for for the next four months. And I would have to pay a further £40 to leave their garage. I said that I considered that any contract was already void because they had consistently failed to deliver the amount of petrol I was paying for, but they said that they had still delivered some petrol, and that they had the fastest pumps in the country which could deliver 'up to' 17 gallons.

By a strange coincidence, exactly the same thing is happening with my EE Broadband.

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When was the last time you filled up your petrol tank in gallons!?!?!

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When was the last time you split hairs or missed the point?

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Seventeen litres wouldn't have got me to work and back.

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JDX
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How does such a flawed analogy get so many upvotes? You don't pay for "gallons" of data, you pay for access to a pipe which can dispense X gallons/minutes. In a petrol station this would be like paying per minute for as much fuel as you could get out of the pump.

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I haven't had problems...

...with TalkTalk despite them always being near the bottom of the table. But then again I haven't had to call them to assess their customer service, my connection has just worked fine for the last 3 years. Back in the past the worst customer service I had was explaining to Virgin Media's Indian CS team that a gardener had cut the cable entering our house, they were determined to go through their script asking about lights on the router, switching it off and on etc - incapable of grasping that yes I definitely did need an engineer. That took hours (literally) to arrange and tens of minutes at most for the engineer to fix.

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Flame

Re: I haven't had problems...

Yupp thats virgin media service alright... although its now liberty media or something (look forward to another name change in 9 months...)

"Hello... my internet supplied through a set top box has failed, can you book me an engineer to install one of your super fail hubs as you dont do set top boxes anymore?"

"what colour lights are flashing?"

"No I just need an engineer to install a super hub"

"How long have the lights not been flashing?"

"Are you listening to me?"

"Have you tried rebooting your computer?"

"Its not the computer, its the settop box, and it any case I use Linux,not windows so I dont need to reboot all the time"

"Ahh sorry sir, we dont support linux, I'll have to pass this call over to another desk"

<musuk>

"Hello... my internet supplied through a set top box has failed, can you book me an engineer to install one of your super fail hubs as you dont do set top boxes anymore?"

"what colour lights are flashing?"

Repeat until madness sets in...........

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Re: I haven't had problems...

Funny you mention that, in a previous life I had a virgin fibre connection and genuinely got told by a CS agent that their proadband was only compatible with Windows and MAC, not linux - at which point they cancelled my contract and still tried to bill me for my remaining 9 months of contract. When i refused to pay it (i offered to pay if reconnected and was refused) - they sent a debt collector to my door and threatened small claims court. I told them to try it and I never heard from them again... although they have screwed my credit record and "lost" all record of my phonecalls

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Re: I haven't had problems...

Isn't it a bit embarrassing for a Linux user to be contacting support in the first place?

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Which BT?

It would have been helpful if this article had made clear which part of BT Ofcom were referring to. Technically there are at least two different companies with BT in the name that are heavily involved in broadband provision, let's call them BT Retail and BT Wholesale.

I don't subscribe to BT, but they p*ss me off all the same. That is because BT Wholesale (Openreach) wrecks my line on a regular basis and I have to hassle my ISP when then has to hassle BT and pass back all their pointless questions before several days/weeks later they send an engineer to fix whatever stupid thing the previous engineer had done. It almost tempts me to go with BT Retail in the vague hope that as they are sort of related to BT Wholesale, they might be able to fix the problem faster and at least I can just clearly blame BT rather than the ISP who has not done anything to wreck the line.

If the Ofcom findings include BT Wholesale then that is not a surprise as no doubt a large number of complaints is being generated by ISPs. If it is BT Retail, this just shows how crap they are and that using them to beat up Wholesale is pointless.

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Re: Which BT?

BT retail get no special treatment from BT Wholesale or Openreach otherwise their competitors and Ofcom would be on them like a tonne of bricks.

My advice is to always concentrate on a voice fault (if present on a line) rather than a broadband one as a line HAS to work for voice whereas broadband is a "best effort" service.

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Re: Which BT?

I would not be so sure about that... It seems some problems never seem to effect BT, even if it is on the Openreach backbone. :/

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Re: Which BT?

If you can get proof then Ofcom would probably like a word.

But it could be down to the LLU operators oversubscribing their backhaul links

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Unhappy

Noooooooo

I have both BT and EE, I'm doomed. (reaches for two tin cans and a ball of string)

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Re: Noooooooo

Perhaps that's it... I measured the 'ping' on my line at 3500mS the other day. Assuming the local BT exchange is on optical fibre, the delay from them to the interweb at the speed of light is insignificant. And the distance to the exchange and back at the speed of sound down string would be about 3500mS. Perhaps the new 'fibre' network they've been telling us about is sisal or jute. Are they spinning us a yarn?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Noooooooo

Contracts with BT have always come with strings attached.

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Boffin

Service complaints?

Was it raining a bit about that time?

(ex BT BBand helldesk -- nowt like a bit of weather to bugger things up)

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FAIL

BT for me,

Moving house after 5 years poor service. (One call centre staff member thought I was odd to want to keep my email address after migrating to take over payment from the wife. I mean, why would I not want to lose complete contact with everyone I know just because I decide to start paying the bill.)

Phone call, 40 minutes on hold to arrange being a new customer, engineer booked.

Day of engineer nothing happened.

Phoned them up and I quote. "Sorry, you were raised as a new customer with a new account but no product was assigned to you. So no engineer was booked to visit."

Brilliant.

I would like to know why you would be a BT customer with no actual product, in what instance would that be possible???

Now with Virgin (Who are not much better)

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Re: BT for me,

I'm like you, have a BT customer number, but they never got round to activating the phone line. After 3 months of being passed from pillar to post I actually got my money back off them. So you can be a customer without getting anything.

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