Damn their eyes

Friday July 28, 2006

A tantalizing day. It’s been noticeably cooler, right on the margin between too hot to move, and cool enough to work and I had difficulty making up my mind which way to swing.

Given the promise of a cooler day still tomorrow, and the fact that I was running late, I decided against resuming project work and instead to try once again to upgrade my British Telecom service to include a broadband connection.

A very silly idea.

The online upgrade pages are as slow as ever and yielded nothing more than the usual dead end. The details necessary to effect an upgrade are still not entered in the online database.

So, knowing full well that I was on a hiding to nothing, I disconnected the computer and dialed the voice number for broadband services. A long wait ensued, followed by the oft-repeated rigamamorle of dictating my account details, stating which broadband option I require, and then… “A previous subscriber has used some other broadband service on this line and there is a marker that prevents us from providing you with British Telecom broadband. Nothing to do with British Telecom. You will have to contact Ofcom to get the matter resolved.” I explained for the umpteenth time that I’d already done that, passed the resulting release code back to British Telecom, on June 23rd, and that I had been informed that a release had been obtained and a work order obtained to remove the marker from the line. “I don’t have access to those records, Mr Bailey. Please dial this number and they’ll be able to inform you.”

Hey ho. Two numbers forward in the maze of British Telecom ‘Customer Service’ facilities I finally obtained a promise that the marker would be removed this afternoon and that I’d be able to place my order for broadband services on Tuesday next, when the change has had time to ‘filter through the computer systems’. Trouble is, I’ve heard that promise before.

I’ll try it on Tuesday. I have great difficulty in believing that my efforts will meet with any great success but you do have to play the game, don’t you. I have a written log of all my many calls; it is a model of the way large companies fail their customers.

For whatever reason, or excuse, British Telecom have completely failed to establish a functioning Customer Services facility for broadband problems. The operators on the call service are divorced from the people who can actually effect problem resolution, and the customer is not permitted direct access to those who control the process. This is a failure of management, at all levels, all the way to the top.

As a former member of British Telecom’s Senior Management Group I am deeply ashamed. As a customer I’m deeply disatisfied. As a British Telecom pensioner, I fear for the future security of my pension even though I know that the British Government are contracted to bail the pension service out should the company fail; companies which operate like this sure as hell do not deserve to succeed.

All in all, it wasn’t a savoury experience. Eventually, I shall resolve it, and secure my broadband service. I wouldn’t bother if I were not a pensioner of the company. I’d discontinue my account and pass the job on to an alternative company with a better approach to customer service.

So, another hour of wasted time on the telephone. I have two avenues open to me, to ask British Telecom to provide a disabled customer advisor who will take the problem over on the basis that I can’t sit for an hour on the telephone without considerable pain, or to write to the Chairman direct; pulling rank, in other words. I’ll decide which route I shall follow when I try again on Tuesday.

In the end, I put the phone down, packed up my bits, and headed back home to the caravan, calling in at Sainsbury’s on the way. I’m afraid that even though the heat has abated, my temper was strained close to breaking point and I had to work hard to keep it under control.

I hate that.

I’d much rather sail through my days all nice and gentle, enjoying the things and the people about me. Today, instead of being a ‘kind and gentle man’ like my namesake in the Watchet graveyard, I was a grumpy old man. Under control, not giving way to the urge to hit out and make other folks suffer for my ill temper, but a grumpy old man even so. And it was all down to British Telecom. Damn their eyes.


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