Saturday, October 11, 2008

BT Anywhere Broadband?

A catalogue of delivery failures.

Since I moved house to an area without cable broadband I've been using Virgin Media 'Up to 8 MB' adsl broadband - or in this case it was 'broadbad'. Despite repeated calls to their technical support my connection speed steadily dropped. It started at 1.7MB in April but when it finally sunk to just 107 bytes per second (yes that's right not even kilobytes) I had had enough. I finally got through to a tech support guy who admitted that they couldn't provide me with the 2MB download speed they had first offered me and that although they had plans to improve things at my local exchange - Hexham, they wouldn't be able to do so for several months.

Part of the problem was my distance from the exchange - 4.7 kilometres; part of the problem is obviously my line which hisses, crackles and is very quiet. The rest of the problem was Virgin's contention ratio and their reluctance to get anything done about my line. Although I was just six months into a one year contract I negotiated a penalty free MAC code from Virgin and contacted BT to join their Anywhere broadband service.

Now why BT Anywhere? Well I had several reasons:
  • I wanted an 'unlimited' service
  • I liked the idea of being able to connect anywhere without further charges
  • I liked the idea of a second Internet phone with it's own number which allowed my family to make up to three simultaneous phone calls at the same time
  • I wanted a faster wireless N router with a better range that would go through the three foot thick stone walls of my house
  • I needed a new mobile phone to replace my aging Motorola V3 and O2 XDA Exec brick
  • I liked BT's mobile price structure. The total cost would be less than my Virgin broadband and T-mobile contract
  • I reasoned I would have a better chance of a BT Broadband engineer doing something about my awful line quality if I was a BT customer
Although not rated as the 'best' ISP (That honour belongs to Zen Internet), BT offered the most in my particular area.

I contacted BT by phone to order BT Anywhere Broadband and quickly got through to a very helpful lady called Virginia and discussed my requirements.
  • Yes I could get BT Anywhere in my area and would be able to get 512KB download speed
  • Yes a new smartphone was included in the price and I could upgrade it to an even better one the HTCs710 for an extra charge of £29.99
  • The smartphone included 50 minutes talk time and 50 texts, unlimited GSM Internet access or it could be used unlimited on the wireless network, unlimited BT FON system or 500 minutes on the BT Openzone network
  • A wireless N modem/router was included which 'could give up to twice the range of my existing wireless G router
  • An Internet phone was included, the BT Hub phone, which would have it's own number and offer Skype style calling to the USA (1.25p/min to both landlines and cell phones) etc
  • For the first three months it would be £23.99 then £29.99 thereafter, an 18 month contract.
I decided to go ahead and ordered the HTCs710 phone. I was told the broadband would be activated on 7th October and the equipment would be with me by 6th October. (Delivery promise 1)

I was very impressed when at 2:00pm the next day a large box was delivered by a BT courier!
great service I thought and sat down to open it.

Inside was a large packing list telling me what I should have and there my problems started.
I got:
  1. The BT home hub
  2. A sim chip for the mobile phone
  3. an HTCs620 mobile phone
  4. No Hub phone
'Great, they've sent me the wrong phone and not sent me the Hub phone' I thought and rang them up.

The person I got through to was very apologetic and said the wrong phone had been ordered and for some unexplainable reason the Hub phone had not been put on the order list. She would have the wrong phone picked up by the person who delivered the missing bits and it would be with me by the 6th October. (Delivery promise 2)

I waited in all that week, expecting a fast delivery as before but nothing arrived. On 6th October I checked my order progress and had it confirmed by their website that my equipment would be delivered by 7:00pm

7:00pm came and went with no delivery so I got back on the phone. They were very sorry but my order did not show on the system. They said they had corrected this and my missing phones would be with me tomorrow. (Delivery promise 3)

On 7th October at 2:00pm my Virgin Media connection stopped working and I connected up the BT Hub and followed the instructions to install it. The installation CD didn't work, telling me my password was wrong, but I was able to manually enter the information provided to set the new connection up. The connection was a bit flaky at first but the documentation warned me that this would be the case for the first 24 hours and that connection speed would gradually improve over the first 10 days.

7:00pm again came with no delivery of phones although I did get an e-mail telling me it would be with me by 7:00pm. I got back on the phone and after waiting in a call queue for 45 minutes was told their system was down and could I call back the next day?

8th October 9:00am I called again and after queueing for 30 minutes was told that there was no delivery scheduled for my address. Would I like to speak to the BT Anywhere team? I did and after explaining the problem yet again I was told that there was a delivery scheduled and it would be with me by 7:00pm today. (Delivery promise 4). On the positive side my adsl speed rose from an average of 233KB/s to almost the 512KB/s promised. (I really miss the 20MB Cable connection I had in Essex)

7:00pm came and went with no phones delivered. I got back on the phone thanking my lucky stars that unlike Virgin, BT don't charge for calling them. This time I spoke to Robert Wilson who told me for some reason the order had not gone through and that he had re-ordered it for delivery/collection on Friday 10th Oct. (Delivery promise 5).

Friday morning I contacted the BT delivery section and checked that they had indeed a delivery scheduled for my address; 'Yes it will be with you by 7:00pm today'.

7:00pm - still no phones! I called BT yet again and after being on hold 15 min and cut off twice I spoke to Kelsey in Dundee who told me there was now a message on the system that if I called back I should be told that the delivery would not be today. I asked Kelsey if BT had not thought of using the phone to tell me that instead of having me waiting around all day to find it out the hard way! Perhaps BT had the name wrong and it should be called 'BT Nowhere'? Again Kelsey was very apologetic and assured me that the order was in the pipeline and would definitely be with me on Saturday - yes the courier did work weekends. (Delivery promise 6)

You guessed it - 7:00pm came and went on Saturday and still no phones.

So that's six broken promises BT. Guess who's going to get a flea in their ear come Monday? I suspect the saga will continue.

Update 13th Oct

I rang BT (0800 0322 111) and spoke to 'Jan'. She checked and found no order was showing on their system - again. She was very apologetic and told me she would get the Hub phone sent to me. This time she gave me an order number and a delivery date of 16th Oct. (Delivery promise 7) She then passed me on to Chris of the BT Anywhere sales team who looked into the problem. It seems the last order had a delivery date of 10th September rather than October and this confused their system. Chris ordered the correct mobile phone for me and promised I would receive it tomorrow, 14th Oct. (Delivery promise 8) He also arranged a bag for the return of the wrong mobile and gave me order references for both. He checked and confirmed the order number that Jan had given me was on the system and confirmed the delivery date. Best of all he told me there would be no extra charge of £29.99 for the upgrade to the HTCs710 phone.

Full marks to BT for polite sales team and promises but I'll reserve judgement as to whether they are capable of keeping them. I wonder if anyone else has had 8 or more delivery promises from BT?

Update 14th Oct 2008
Finally, after all this time BT delivered my missing mobile phone. Full marks to Chris for being the first to keep a promise.
Update 16th Oct 2008
Jan delivered too. Finally I have the complete package. I'm happy with it and my download speed has improved greatly. It's just a shame it took so many phone calls to get everything in place. At least, however, the phone calls are to an 0800 phone number and free, unlike those made to Virgin Media.
Update March 10 2009
Well I'm still happy with BT Anywhere broadband BUT BT dropped yet another one!
I gave them a PAC code to transfer my old phone number from T-Mobile. I know they used it because I started getting mobile phone bills with the number on them. After a while however the number changed and T-Mobile reclaimed the number. That meant they started billing me for it again and since I'd cancelled the direct debit for it, I built up a £30 bill before they bothered to write to me and complain it hadn't been paid. Naturally I pointed out that the service had been cancelled back in September 2008 and the number transferred to BT.
"Oh - so you did" said the guy from T-Mobile. "But BT never confirmed they had taken the number over so it went back to us. Now if you just pay..."
"Not a chance" said I "Take it up with BT."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't buy a house outside of a cable broadband area myself !