BT Vision – the sound of failure

A while back, as part of the Broadcast strategy review, I was in a meeting with BTVision. Their new broadcast package sounded interesting, you get Freeview through the aerial and then they use broadband to deliver on demand services, and some subscription. I liked the hybrid nature of it, so I decided to test it out. What followed was a catalogue, no, an encyclopedia, of errors.

You have to subscribe to BT Broadband, so I did this on the phone and signed up for the BTVision package I wanted. The chap set an installation date for me (morning of 8th August). The broadband hub arrived and I installed that reasonably easily (although it did make IE7 go loopy, but Firefox worked okay).

Yesterday I sat in waiting for the engineer. Here is my account of the day:

  • 12pm – I decide to ring as I haven’t heard anything. I wait 14 minutes in a queue before I am told ‘they’ll be there by 1.’
  • 12.40 – I ring again, I wait around 15 mins again. I speak to someone who says she will check with the engineers. When she comes back she says they won’t tell her where they are. Not a good communication policy I thought, but shrugged it off. Once again I’m assured they’ll be there by 1.
  • 1.25 – I ring again. After a 20 minute wait the woman tells me ‘you’re not down to have an installation today.’ I am transferred to someone who tells me that when I was initially sold BTVision their systems were down, so they couldn’t check whether I had sufficient broadband speed to receive BTVision. They have since done the checks and I can’t. Needless to say they didn’t mention any of this at the time. They have sent me a letter explaining this, which hasn’t arrived yet (a letter mind – you’re a telecoms company, trying ringing me!) Feeling very irate now I ask to speak to a manager. I am put on hold for 15 minutes, then speak to someone who says I shouldn’t have been given a date for installation but instead should have been told I would get an email. I wasn’t, so have spent the day waiting indoors. She offers 3 months free telephone line rental as apology. I explain that I don’t want BT broadband as I wanted a complete package and only took it because it was part of BTVision. She says she has to transfer me to the broadband department. I am put on hold.
  • 2.30 – I am still holding, but have another meeting to go to, so hang up.
  • 6.10pm – I ring the Broadband dept. After 15 minutes I speak to someone and explain I need to cancel as I was missold BTVision and need a Mac code. She says she will investigate and puts me on hold.
  • 6.55 – after 25 minutes of further holding, I am cut off.
  • 7.05 – ring again. After 14 minutes I get through and explain the situation again. The chap informs me that I am on a contract so can’t just withdraw. I am now sobbing in frustration. I explain that the only reason I have BT Broadband is because I was missold BTVision. He says he will raise an issue, which means they will investigate and let me know within 4 working days.
  • 7.45 – exhausted, I collapse, twitching everytime a BT Broadband advert comes on the TV.

Even if we accept the more generous interpretation that the initial misselling was just a mistake, (although if they try and keep the contract my darker suspicions will be aroused) what really bothers me about the above is the manner in which telephone holding is used as a weapon against disatisfied customers. I suspect I wouldn’t have had to wait as long to speak to sales if I was a new customer.

Just look at the amount of time I spend just waiting. An endless sequence of hold messages and muzak – these are the sounds a dying organisation makes.


  • Lara Whitelaw

    I had a similar situation with BT, which after 7 months I could still rant about for hours, but will refrain from doing so. The situation was never satisfactorily resolved and after several weeks I gave up. I know I should have persisted but in the end I decided it was better for my sanity to wait out 12 months and then cancel my contract, rather than raise my blood pressure any further.

  • Ian Gardner

    I know someone whose BT broadband would switch off at random. It took 6 months with two visits by engineers (and many calls to the out sourced call centre) for BT to finally accept the router was the problem (not the phone line, PC, user, etc). New router box through the post fixed the problem – not good customer service at all…

  • Martin

    Lara – I know what you mean about blood pressure. My sleep last night was troubled with dreams of arguments and stress. The temptation is to let it go, but I just don’t feel I can let 300 quid go.
    Ian – yes, the attitude towards customers is terrible, they are quite happy to leave you on hold for 30 minutes despite the fact that they know you’re really fed up and they’ve messed up. I was open-mouthed at how glibly they treated it.

  • simonfj

    but……. your call is important to us.
    I take it you’ve cancelled the payments on your credit card by now, but this is s good lesson for an academic in an OU. I went looking for a UK version of (check out the forums) Ask your students, I’m sure they will know.
    It makes the point I’ve been trying to get across to ou for a while. Blogs are OK for letting off steam. Not terribly good at sharing a lesson which newbies can find and refer to, prior to getting the institutional shuffle.
    “these are the sounds a dying organisation makes”. Hmm, no. These are the sounds that a dying institution (i.e. the org’s routines) makes.

  • richard neech

    I endorse your comments about BT. I have had intermittent failure for 3 months, first on one and then the second of our 2 lines, since BT repaired a problem 100 metres up the road. BT never seem to learn – their monopolistic attitude has not changed in spite of change imposed upon them – I agree the institution is dying.

  • VisionMan

    It makes you wonder if the BT Vision service (which is not a bad idea in itself) can ever really take off when it’s shackled to the lumbering beast that is BT – by the sound of the experiences above anyway. Perhaps they should sell it off to an independent, it could still be dependent on a BT line as other 3rd party services sometimes are, so thy wouldn’t lose out completely.

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