installing a simple BT line to a new property? Hellish.
Letter to their CEO sent today and also emailed to high level complaints firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to phonebt.com for the contact information. For a communications company, they make themselves almost impossible to communicate with.
Mr Joe Garner, BT Open Reach, Kelvin House, 123 Judd Street, London, WC1H 9NP
Dear Mr Garner
Order Number HMNAAZZ04502760469
I am hoping that, as CEO, you will be able to help me navigate the impossible architecture of your new lines installation process and assist with the impasse I have encountered in dealing with your organisation.
I have been told by your own staff that I need to contact the local New Installation Team to discuss putting a phone line into a new property but, ironically for a communications company like yourselves, there appears to be no way of obtaining the number to call.
It was easy enough setting up the installation: I have a phone package, I have a direct debit set up, I know how much it will cost me a month, I even have a wireless router that was delivered to me. However when I get to speak to your new installations team it is like entering a parallel universe where everyone is impeccably polite and reassuring-sounding, and yet they have absolutely no useful information to impart. They call me daily with updates on the process but they don’t seem to be able to answer any of my questions. Here are a few things that they cannot do to help me:
Firstly: They can’t change the date the line will be installed until the date I had been given was confirmed. And they can’t, for some indefinable reason, confirm the date of installation. Even on the day before the installation was due I couldn’t change the date. I asked them to cancel the installation. I am not sure they even had the power to do that.
Secondly: They can’t tell me the works that I need to do before the line is installed. When they called the day before the line was due to go in they asked me to confirm that all the necessary building works were complete to allow the installation of the line. I asked what the works I needed to do were but they couldn’t tell me. I asked them to email me a list of work that they want me to be complete. No email arrived.
Thirdly: They can’t tell me the number of my local new lines team. The most recent two calls I received, one this afternoon, – said that I should contact my local new installer to get information on what needs to be done. They could not give me the phone number of the local team and told me that local builders know the number.
I then spoke to two of the local builders working on my house and the electrician and none of them knew the number to contact the local office. I called back your new installation team and, after the customary 10 minutes communicating my order number (see below for info on how to improve that for customer experience), and other personal details I spent half an hour trying to persuade them to give me the number.
The man I spoke to reiterated that local builders know the number (I told him that the builders I am working with don’t know it and neither does the electrician). He then said the same thing again a couple of times and so did I. He put me on hold a couple of times to check with his supervisors and each time came back with the same spiel. Once he suggested that I pass on the builders’ number and I had to explain again that I am leading on the build and don’t have one single builder dealing with everything. If anyone was to contact the local installers it would be me. Could he please pass the number on to me? He put me on hold again. Unfortunately, my battery died while I was on hold for this stretch. I had a phone message when it came back to life again telling me that, No they couldn’t get me a number. But engineers would be on site by 21stJuly to look at the situation.
Now I expect that you will agree with me that this is not an efficient use of your staff time nor my time. I am unlikely to be on site when the engineers visit and so I presumably will receive another call from your call centre, with as much information as they have at present. I have already asked for information about what works need to be on site and if they are not done when your engineers visit then I presume this is a wasted journey for them. What I really need to know is the number for the local office so that I can arrange to have everything ship shape and Bristol fashion for when they turn up. This saves your time, and it means that I get my line installed as soon as possible. At present I am in an impasse which I have no idea of how to extract myself from: Your call-handlers tell me I need to contact the local office, but can’t get me the number.
I hope that you can help with finding this mythic number for the local office so that I can contact them and arrange for the work to go ahead.
For the future, it would be useful to look at the way you handle new requests for lines as the customer experience has been nothing short of appalling. One useful thing that could be achieved quickly would be some training for staff at your new lines call-centre to ensure that they have knowledge about how phone installations happen so that they can usefully advise people, like myself, who call up. The staff at the call centre are all very polite and try to be helpful but it is very evident that they do not know anything about the procedures for installing a new phone line and are essentially only there to be a voice at the end of a line. If they had a little more information about the process of installing a new phone line to a new property, I am sure they would be able to make the experience of dealing with BT slightly less infuriating.
Secondly another very quick way to instantly improve the customer experience would be to look at the length of your order numbers. You have given me an inconceivably long order number – HMNAAZZ04502760469 which is almost impossible to communicate correctly over the phone. It took a full 10 minutes to communicate this number to the call handler correctly – and a similar time for me to take it down correctly in the first place.
A brief calculation tells me that there are 3 to the power 27 possible configurations of this number (3 with 27 zeros on the end) which is 430,000,000,000,000,000 (4.3 billion billion) times the total population of the world. Putting this another way, this gives enough order numbers to give every cell of every human currently living on the planet 116,000 opportunities to set an order with BT. This suggests to me that if you made these numbers easier to record and communicate accurately you are unlikely to run out of order numbers within the life of the universe.
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