Go to the top, it's the only way. Warning – BT content!

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  • Go to the top, it's the only way. Warning – BT content!
  • Moved to BT in April 2011 – worst business decision I ever made, catalogue of lies, broken promises and truly dreadful product. The latest farce is 5 days offline this week, which prompted me to write and email directly to their CEO, Ian Livingston, this is me venting to him:

    Sent 11am today:

    Hi Ian,
    Like you, I run a business.
    It’s only a small business, so probably not as important as yours.
    We also employ people and provide them with an income to pay their mortgages, buy food and generally have a reasonable quality of life.
    We do this by servicing our clients to the very best of our ability, whatever it takes.

    I was on the telephone to a client in the USA at 0430 this morning to ensure that his project went smoothly.
    This is not an exception, we do this kind of thing every day.
    Saying no, or making them wait, is not an option. Neither is promising something that we fail to deliver.

    I am passing this on to you so that you will understand what kind of company we are. And, so that you will also realise the kind of business that is being repeatedly damaged by the poor service, repeated issues and broken promises of your company.

    We started dealing with BT in April 2011 and from the day we signed the contract we have had nothing but problems, lies, rudeness and promises that were never kept. We were seduced into becoming a BT customer by a very attractive sales package which was presented as the ultimate service for an SME. It would all be installed and commissioned in 24 hours (it took 4 weeks during which time we had no internet). The speed and reliability have never lived up to the promise, we have repeatedly had to send staff home to work because we had intermittent or no internet access.

    We have had engineers out, we have had a number of routers, we have been told that the faults were at the exchange, at the premises, within our own equipment and at a junction box that does not exist. Every fault takes days to resolve, during which time we are unable to use our office, which costs us £500 per month in rent and £108 in power to heat and light. Our staff have to make repeated journeys in and out of the office. We have equipped them with laptops to enable the business to survive because our business needs the internet to function. We have also been told in very uncertain terms that we were incompetent because we did not have a second line to provide failover. I did ask the gentleman if this would insulate us from the router fault, line faults and exchange faults, he advised that it would not – so it becomes something of a moot point.

    The last time we had an issue (this was a downtime of 4 days) we were told there was a line fault, the engineer came out and swapped the BT router. I am typing this email from home because the current fault was determined to be at our end and a problem router, we were sent a router. Today we set the router in place but still had no internet, when we called BT we were told that there is a fault at the junction box (the one that does not exist) and we would require an engineer to look at the problem because it was not the router. This would take 48 hours and so we have had to send everyone home again.

    I would estimate that due to the service we have received we have lost over 10 weeks working time in total, spent a fortune on mobile phones to BT and being bounced around various call centres, helplines and engineers.

    When I last complained and had spoken to one of your complains managers we were promised 3 months bill free, to go some way to recompensing us for the inconvenience, as you may have guessed the bills kept rolling in uninterrupted, which is more than can be said for your broadband.

    I am sure that BT would not be prepared to stand this level of service disruption from a supplier, but then I would imagine that you are not compelled to use that service provider because they have a private monopoly on the infrastructure – something clearly and enthusiastically explained to me by one the first engineers we met during our exciting journey with BT.

    I hope that this email reaches you, it has helped me to remember and relive the rage and fury I felt towards your organisation, but I am confident that it will either be filed away or I will receive a placatory email from someone employed by your organisation to deal with very unhappy customers.

    Yours, Paul.

    Reply received 5 mins later:

    Dear Mr Richardson,

    Thank you for your e-mail. Ian currently has very limited access to his e-mail, so I am replying on his behalf to avoid further delay. Please be assured that a member of Ian’s senior management team will see and read your correspondence.

    I am sorry to hear of the problems you are experiencing, I will pass this to our senior service team for investigation and response directly to you.

    Kind regards,


    My response 5 mins after that

    Hi Tracey.
    thank you for your promt reply, if only everything in BT was this quick.
    Sorry to hear Ian has limited access to his email, I do hope that he is not connected to the same exchange as us, he could find access limited quite often.
    I look forward to hearing from someone from your senior service team.
    Regards, Paul.

    Their reply 10 mins later, and our final communication (but I am getting a lot of text updates!!):

    Good Afternoon Mr Richardson

    I work in the senior business service team. Please accept my apologies for the difficulties you have had in this matter.

    Our team will now liaise with the relevant BT departments until your issue is fully resolved. One of the team will be in contact with you.

    Should you need to contact the team, please reply to this e-mail address or contact 0800 456 1014 Mon- Fri 8am – 6pm excluding Bank Holidays.


    Marilyn, Chairman & CEO Business Complaints Specialist

    Premier Icon DezB

    Pretty much what you expected then.
    It’s disgusting what they get away with. Advantage of having a monopoly I guess.


    Cool story, but has the issue been fixed yet?


    We had issues with them as well when they left my office without a broadband connection for the best part of two weeks which was caused by their incompetance, made things interesting when all of our communications (email/voip/fax) were all done through the internet connection. We had to run everything though mobile phones, customers thought we had gone bust as faxs and emails bounced back and the phone wasnt being answered. Will never deal with them again as long as i draw breath.

    Had a call from our ‘local’ BT office last month trying to sell their service to us, i am normally calm and collected but i have to confess that the poor girl had to listen to my ranting for a good few minutes before i slammed the phone down.


    As an IT Manager and where BT are concerned I can categorically say that there is no place in hell hot enough!

    Premier Icon weeksy

    I can safely say out of all my friends who do not use BT broadband, i have vastly less problems than any of them…. i do….

    Sitting at home working, problem moved from “in hand” to “raised to await further diagnostic checks” in 3.5 hours so ripping along!


    Quality email OP, I hope it works.


    I am on the verge of sacking BT, it’s just a home Broadband account so not quite as critical, but a similar litany of incompetence.

    And I have discovered that “I am sorry ma’am, we will have the fault fixed within 48 hours” is just the standard lie they tell.

    They randomly took £240 out of my bank account 3 years ago, and took over a year to give it back.

    They let Sky steal my line a couple of years ago, that took 2 weeks to resolve and ended up with them putting my BB on a different number to my phone, which has lead to the current problem and circular insanity whereby when the BB went out 18 days ago they sent an engineer who fixed it (yay) then called me and said he had to unfix it (boo) as the phone number didn’t match the landline number or something.

    But the best part was the lassie who kept suggesting I move the laptop closer to the router, no matter how many times I explained that I don’t have wireless I use a direct connection (great big long FO lead – I’m paranoid about computer security)

    But never mind, I have discovered that my 3G dongle provides a cheaper and more reliable service and the public library has free wi-fi, comfortable seating a toilet and nice librarians.


    We have also been told in very uncertain terms that we were incompetent


    Premier Icon wwaswas

    I don’t have wireless I use a direct connection (great big long FO lead – I’m paranoid about computer security…and the public library has free wi-fi

    bloke on the radio this am suggested that public wi-fi is one of the biggest causes of introduction of malware eto computers.

    Premier Icon Teetosugars

    Try pinning them down to do a MEAS upgrade on a Greenfield site…

    Belive me, 4g would happen a lot sooner if we din’t have to rely on BT for the Backhaul… 😐

    Latest instalment!! As one of the team said on Skype “Come on Eileen!” 😀

    Hello Mr Richardson

    Following on from our initial e-mail to you and my call this afternoon I would like to confirm that I am now acting on behalf of Mr Livingston, I will now liaise with the relevant BT departments until your issue is fully resolved.

    Please contact me by telephone on 0800 917 5348 Mon-Fri 8am-6pm or by e-mail to cethle@bt.com for any further questions or concerns you have regarding this issue.

    Kind Regards

    Eileen McKinnell
    Chairman & CEO Business Complaints Specialist

    Premier Icon bigjim

    I’ll be interested to see if anything happens as a result though.

    I hate BT with a passion, they were adamant the house I was sitting in on the phone to them from, with a BT master socket and BT cable coming out of the roof to a BT pole did not exist and had never existed. Managed to collar a BT engineer outside one day and he just shook his head and wasn’t surprised and gave me a magical number to ring.

    Went to war on Twitter too!

    theirlipsmove 11:38am via HootSuite here we go again – #bt.com trying hard to put us out of business, no internet access at office for 5 days now and promises never kept

    btbusiness 11:49am via Debatescape @theirlipsmove Hello theirlipsmove, sorry to hear, anything we can help with ?

    theirlipsmove 12:00pm via HootSuite @btbusiness well that depends if you can keep a promise, deal with a problem efficiently and actually determine the fault and fix it?

    theirlipsmove 12:16pm via HootSuite @btbusiness that short offer of help was almost as short as the uptime on your business broadband service #bt #awfulservice #charlatans

    btbusiness 1:05pm via Debatescape @theirlipsmove theirlipsmove, can you dm details please ?

    theirlipsmove 1:14pm via HootSuite @btbusiness seems my email to Ian Livingston has stirred your company into action – amazing! Prod the CEO and they respond! Will DM fault

    btbusiness 1:39pm via Debatescape @theirlipsmove Thanks Paul for info, have forwarded details to our broadband specialist team to investigate.

    Good work!

    As an IT Manager and where BT are concerned I can categorically say that there is no place in hell hot enough!

    Also an IT manager, and in fact an ex BT employee and can’t agree enough… since the final unbundling of the local loop / Openreach and franchising out BT Business they’ve been a shambles. We had a recurring problem with our ISDN30 dropping out over a 6 month period, each time we raised a fault on it it got bounced as no fault found and they insisted it was a problem on our side (we’d installed a brand new PBX and tested everything thoroughly). It was only after really kicking off at them that they dispatched an openreach engineer to take a look at the exchange where he found a switch problem which had been recurring for, yes, you guessed it about 6 months without anyone picking up on it.

    Raising a fault in the first place is incredibly difficult – you get sent into automated contact centre hell and advised to raise it online (difficult to do if you’ve no net access). On the staggeringly remote chance you get to speak to a real human being, they’re generally only call handlers and have no clue what you’re talking about and no apparent way of giving you an update on fault works. When I worked for them the old CSS / CCH system had its faults (lots of them) but at least you could see what work was being carried out anywhere in the country. It seems these days the fault reception don’t even have visibility of the Openreach job queues.

    What really stews my prunes though is the way in which having sacrificed a significant proportion of your working day to raising and escalating a fault, but before they’ve actually done anything with it you then get a chirpy call back from someone in a Mumbai call centre asking you to rate the service you’ve received…. first one I made the mistake of telling him exactly what I thought of it before then getting a series of calls from his line manager, then his line manager’s manager and then his line manager’s manager’s manager all politely telling me how sorry they were that their service had fallen short of expectations and promising the matter would be escalated, presumably to someone who would tell me exactly the same thing. My theory was that if I stuck with it long enough I may actually speak to someone who could help, but I snapped and told the 5th such caller to go roughly pleasure himself. Not proud of that but it made me feel better for about 30 seconds until the phone lines dropped again…

    Am in process of sacking BT as we speak…


    Yes yes I know it’s a risk using the public library wifi but its Peebles for goodness sake, not deepest darkest Bathgate. When I joined the library I got given a private tour, a courtesy extended to all new members. (council jobs cushy ?? No….)

    But back to BT and their litany of incompetence – last week one of their people closed the call as “fixed” as I mentioned that the engineer fixed then unfixed the problem. And didn’t raise another fault so we were back to the beginning next time I called to get an update. I am always very very polite, so there is really no excuse for hanging up on me several times.

    Even funnier tho were Sky, when I phoned them from the phone in my house to complain that they had stolen my BT line, they couldn’t discuss it with me or do anything about it due to Data Protection as I wasn’t their customer.

    Whoopee – just had a call from a “tech support” who says the line is up and ok at the moment. It was up at 2pm and was I using it – pointed out I had already sent everyone home.

    His best guess was that he could get an engineer out to me Monday or Tuesday next week, because all the good slots haev already been booked. I did point out that we have been effectively offline since this Monday.

    He happily advised that he didn’t work after 5pm or at weekends but he may be able to get an engineer to me on Saturday.

    So I get to sacrifice my Saturday to let him in! He’s going to text me his mobile number and let me know what will happen. I may head in to the office in the morning and construct a wickerman from Cat 5 cable and then lay in wait.


    Ah BT. What a fantastic company; where to begin with the accolades?

    Currently awaiting a reply from them re fibre cable accessibility; they are currently denying it is available at our street’s box, telling our ISP that it’s unavailable, even though two of our neighbours have Infinity BB. 🙄

    Incredible that someone sitting in a call centre in India can ‘know’ that it’s unavailable, in spite of us actually seeing Openreach installing it, and having watched HD streamed video content via the Infinity service at our neighbours’ house. And that if you live on our street and are a BT customer, Infinity fibre optic BB is available instantly.

    It’s disgusting what they get away with. Advantage of having a monopoly I guess.

    This is the heart of the problem. In our case, it’s clear they want people to switch to them by denying users of other ISPs access to the service. I’m pretty sure it’s illegal actually. Problem lies with BT (via it’s subsidiary company Openreach) owning the infrastructure (much of the foundations of which was installed by the GPO using taxpayers’ money). This is wrong. That hardware ought to be owned by us, and ISP’s/telecoms companies given fair and equal access to the technology. This would actually generate money for the treasury too. Still, privatisation brings about increased competition, and a better deal for the customers, doesn’t it?


    CAT5 Wickerman……..Photos please!!

    Premier Icon DezB

    My personal favourite dealing with BT was when their phones lines got struck by lightning a few years back.
    I called to tell them and that it had taken the phone lines out.
    Next bill turns up … £75 callout charge!! I wonder how many people just paid it. I certainly didn’t. Cheeky, conning bloody bastards.

    Thanks Paul for info, have forwarded details to our broadband specialist team to investigate.
    Problem is, the “specialist broadband team” is in India!

    I replied to Eileen, and this was what came back – you just can’t make this stuff up!!

    Thank you for your email. I am currently out of the office and have no access to my e-mails. I will return to the office on 12 March. This e-mail will not automatically be forwarded. If your e-mail relates to a High Level Escalation, please resend your e-mail to sme.service.scotland@bt.com where a member of the team will contact you, between the hours of 8am – 6pm Mon – Fri to assist.


    Booked broadband through Sky. Sky were okay, it’s just the BT lot who installed the lines were a complete joke.

    Placed my order and BT engineer booked to install 2 weeks later. Take half day holiday off work and BT man does not show up? Phone BT to complain and told it’s another 2 weeks to wait to book a second visit. No priority considering the engineer didn’t show up – back on the waiting list.

    Receive another appointment slot. Book half a days holiday, wait in all afternoon, and again no BT man shows up. Phoned BT at 17:45 to say that he hadn’t shown. BT say he’s on his way and just to wait. 18:10 and still no show. Phone BT again and they said that he couldn’t make it and I would need to wait another two weeks for an appointment.

    Finally on the 3rd attempt, 6 weeks later and another half days holiday lighter the BT engineer finally turns up.

    Asked about some compensation for my holiday wasted, and BT said my contract was with Sky so they couldn’t do anything. Sky say that it was BT’s fault so the couldn’t do anything either. Bangs head against wall! The sad thing is, is that BT I believe charge £130 if you’re not in when their engineer calls.

    Complete shower of bas**rds – the whole company, and the sooner they get broken up by the competition committee the better.


    Similar story here as a domestic customer. If was an SME I’d go mental if it was costing me…
    I paid for but never received t’internet for 3 months – had to use an O2 dongle. Refused to pay the bill and said I wanted out of the contract as they were effectively in breach, having not actually delivered any broadband access.
    Ended up in some mad email exchange with a customer services type who told me there was no-one more senior than her who could deal with my complaint.
    Ian Livingstone wasn’t too impressed when I sent that email exchange to him! To his credit he responded on a Saturday morning along the lines of ‘this does not make good reading’…
    One of his exec team got onto it sharpish but I still ended up having to negotiate myself out of the contract.. they were trying to make me pay for the full year I signed up to. I think I ended up paying for 2 months and we agreed to disagree on whether that was fair…

    I will NEVER buy anything from them again. They don’t deliver, and then fail to fix their failure to deliver. I’d expect to be sacked if I was that ineffective at work.

    OP, good luck. If your business depends on them, I would find an alternative supplier, sharpish

    Premier Icon takisawa2

    Ian currently has very limited access to his e-mail

    I’d imagined your reply to this correctly within 2 seconds…. 🙂

    What a total shower. I don’t doubt they have some bloody good hardworking folk, but sounds like most are hopeless.


    When we had a workshop, irish telecom,subcontracting to bt, cut down a telelephone pole, after disconecting the lines, then realilised they didnt have a new pole, or the machine to drlll a new hole and insert the new pole,as bt had one and were not sharing, numerous phone calls to bt, resulted in a classic comment from a woman in oxford call centre, saying what do you want me to do , drive up there and fix it for you.


    I’d love to say its a top heavy bureaucracy and the engineers are hard working salt of the earth types but IMO its not true. Other than the very rare exception they are bloody jobsworths who disappear from site at the drop of a hat.
    Sorry but the problems they have caused me over the years!!

    UPDATE: only a week and a day after going off line – we are now back up and working.

    Have to say the Openreach engineer who came out (he’s been before) was a top bloke, keen to sort the problem and did a full on set of tests, down to the secret box, then off to the exchange – all working at present so thanks to one really helpful BT employee who knew how to fix stuff out.

    Pity it has to take an email to the CEO and a twitter war to get them to respond even this slowly.

    CEO’s email address available to anyone who wants it.

    Final epistle from me to BT:

    Hi Gary,
    thank you for your call. As discussed I can confirm that your engineer has now left us and the broadband is now working. I shall be asking the team to return to work at the office in the morning, let’s hope the line continues to work. The engineer did advise that he would be resetting something from his laptop which may cause a minor drop in speed over the next few days but that it would not drop out.

    Whilst this does resolve our current issue, it does nothing to mitigate the problems and disruption we have faced since April 2011. I remain a less than satisfied customer, it has taken a week to have this latest problem resolved and required me to email the company CEO (copied into this email also) and to open up a discussion regarding service levels on Twitter just to get someone to pay more than lip service to the issues we have faced being a BT customer.

    I would just like to point out that the engineer who attended our offices was the single most helpful and knowledgeable person we have encountered on our exciting journey with BT in all its various forms, perhaps a larger cohort of employees of his calibre would be a good investment for BT.

    Regards, Paul

    Premier Icon Cougar

    Ah, BT. Known at my previous place of employment as BFT.

    CAT5 Wickerman……..Photos please!!

    I actually have a CAT5 noose somewhere. Created by one of my more, eh, colourful colleagues (who, coincidentally, was an ex BT engineer).

    Have to say the Openreach engineer who came out (he’s been before) was a top bloke,

    How old was he? To be fair, the old-school BT engineers, the ones who have been doing the job since it was all pulse dialling, are some of the best in the business. Proper ingenious, skilled, talented people. I really hope BT prioritise skills transference or they’re going to be knackered when they all retire.

    @Cougar – the older bloke who came out at the start was the rude, surly proper jobsworth, the guy who came later was in his late 20s early 30s. But I know what you mean.

    It’s the phone line “experts” who can see through walls and into cupboards from hundreds of miles away the steam my urine.


    Hmmm, BT helpdesk staff formerly CIA Black Ops “Remote Viewers” ?

    Oh it gets more fun – received this patronising email from Eileen – contemplating telling her to shove the compensation as there is no way they will recompense us for the time/investment/lost revenue etc. My loathing has just increased by an order of magnitude.

    Hello Paul

    Thank you for your e-mail, once our High Level Business Technical Team have completed work on your Broadband System and are confident all is well. I will discuss further with regards to a goodwill credit for the time your Broadband Service has not been performing as it should.

    Kind Regards


    And we are now on our third call from the senior escalation team to check everything is ok. 😆

    Premier Icon wwaswas

    ask for cash too 🙂


    rogerthecat, you should count yourself lucky. I have to deal with BT on a daily basis as part of my job. I can feel my life energy ebbing away dealing with them sometimes.
    One of the many joys of being a Telecoms Wholesaler. If anyone’s interested in leaving BT I’d be happy to look at quoting for your business (non-residential only, sorry).


    Go for consequential loss with them not just fee rebate. It’s the only way they’ll learn: a swift kick in the bottom line.


    Pissing in the ocean springs to mind.


    Indeed. But if you don’t ask, you definitely don’t get.

    Latest update in the saga:

    On 18/03/13 13:55, eileen.mckinnell@bt.com wrote:

    Hello Paul
    Can you please confirm service issues have now been resolved and I will look at a credit for the Broadband for downtime?
    Look forward to hearing from you.
    Kind Regards

    My response:

    Hello Eileen,

    At the moment the broadband seems to be working, as was the case at the end of the week. Clearly we have not been in the office over the weekend to vouch for its consistency over more than a few days but we should be in a position to do so at the end of this week.

    In terms of broadband down time, are you looking at the entire time we have been suffering system outages and business interruption? We have had, and reported, issues sporadically since April 2011 when BT failed to correctly execute a simultaneous install of both phone and broadband to our new offices. The disruption lasted 4 weeks, during which time our staff had work from home. Or, is this just for the latest outage?

    We have had over a dozen full outages since moving to BT, each time we have had to send staff home to enable them to work. As well this we have had outages lasting between a few minutes and a couple of hours when staff have remained on site. We have made numerous calls to the helplines in order to try and resolve faults, we have had a succession of routers, and we have had an engineer out on several occasions (the one who visited us last was the single most helpful person we have encountered at BT to date). However, the OpenReach engineer who first came to site was both rude and arrogant, a very poor example of customer service.

    So, I am interested to understand whether this will be to look at the ongoing failure of BT to deliver a service to us, a service for which we have paid in full, or just for this latest episode?

    I look forward to your response with interest.

    Regards, Paul

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