Broadband woes and wows

First off, and know this is very self-indulgent. Using a never-read blog to moan about poor customer service. But it’s therapeutic. And it’s either this, or a Falling Down moment!

So, we’re moving into a new house. I want broadband. We’re not in a cabled area. After previous shitty experiences with Be* (possibly unusually, they are well rated) and Bulldog, I thought I’d finally give BT a try.

This was motivated by several things. I admire how they’ve gone about reinventing themselves as a modern communications company, investing billions in IP infrastructure. I quite like the look of their Home Hub. I wanted to try their Home Hub phone, out of professional interest (I work with Skype, so am interested in other VoIP offers). The idea of inclusive minutes on BT Open Zone hotspots appeals, as I work remotely a bit. And, at Albion, we’ve been doing some work with them, on their deal with FON, which is obviously a cool thing to be part of, and I had some loyaty.

The problem was, I just couldn’t get them to take my money. I’ll spare you the full sordid details, but essentially:

  • I called their customer service telephone number, and queued for 40 minutes to get a phone line. The first lady couldn’t complete the job, so I waited on hold for 5 minutes for a man who could. He gave me an order number and a phone number.
  • I visited the website to order broadband. There was no way to enter an order number, and it didn’t recognise my phone number.
  • I called their customer service telephone number, and queued for 90 minutes (yep, and hour and a half) to try and order broadband. The man I got through to didn’t seem sure what he was doing. After putting me on hold for a bit, he came back and said he needed to conference in someone else. When he tried to do this, he instead cut me off, and I was put back to the start of the queue. I waited for 30 minutes, then went off to get a life.
  • I sent an email to the complaints address on their website, detailing the whole sorry saga. Over 24 hours later I got an automated response.
  • My wife spent another 90 minutes queuing in their phone system before she found someone who could tell us what we suspected – that we couldn’t order broadband until our phone number was actually live. No, in fact 48 hours after our hone number is live.

Baffles me why a 21st Century Network can’t turn all the services on a line on at the same time. Does anyone actually get a phone line as a phone line anymore?

Anyway, it looks like I’ve had a lucky escape. Of all the people we spoke to, only one could tell us how long after ordering our broadband would be live, and his answer was a vague “between 2 and 4 weeks”. Which is no good to me at all; I regularly work from home, but can’t without any internet. And the truth seems to be that some people are waiting months to get connected.

So I did some digging around. gave me useful information about broadband suppliers who service our postcode. And they have user reviews, with enough ratings to be useful. This led me to madasafish. My call to them was picked up after one ring, and a nice lady told me they would have me connected in 5-10 days. I can’t remember quite how, but after some link-following, I clicked on a banner ad (yes, really) for a company called IDNet who promise, in black and white, to make new connections "within 5 working days". I’m looking forward to seeing if either of these two nice small companies can delight me.

I don’t think there are any lessons to learn from this episode. Apart from, you know:

  • Modern life is rubbish. The Man don’t give a f**k. Smash the system. Etc.
  • There are good broadband companies out there, it just takes a while to find them.
  • Professionally, it’s a timely reminder of the perils of working with government-sized companies.

Phew, got that off my chest. Normal silence will now be resumed.
I’m just going down to Paddy Power to see if they’ll take a bet that no-one from BT will ever comment on this post.


UPDATE – I plumped for Madasafish. I ordered the service on Thursday (and a very pleasant web experience it was too) and they told me I’d have service within 10 days. A courier delivered the free wireless router on Friday. I’ve been away for the weekend, but when I got back last night, the broadband connection was live! That’s 2 working days, or 4 days in total. The connection seems fast and stable. So, in conclusion, and contrary to my rants of recent years, there is a good broadband company. Phew.



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