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Boycott BT

Posted in Site News at 4:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bastards telecom

Summary: One malicious and incompetent monopoly that everyone (where applicable) ought to avoid even more aggressively than Microsoft

TO REMOVE any misinterpretations or rumours, nothing has changed at Techrights. The reason there has been so little going on since the seventh of the month is that BT is so bloody awful. When the IRC logs get posted (hopefully this month) some of the details will be made visible, but until then there are these messy notes of mine and reassurance that when all wired connectivity is back to normal, everything in Techrights too will be back to normal. Until then I will carry on coding and complete my 50-page paper about this research project that has occupied a lot of my time. Here is an out-of-date screenshot (it looks a lot nicer by now):


This post would be off topic unless some connection was drawn to items we typically covered here. What the experience with BT shows is that a monopoly — and just about any monopoly for that matter — is a very bad thing. BT has a monopoly on my line and all its competitors must go through BT to rent the line. This gives BT a lot of power and my assertive attempts to cancel the order with BT after nearly 10 hours on the phone (and two entire days waiting at the house for a delivery that never came) are pointless at best. They make it impossible and hold the line as a hostage type of tool, in order to prevent the customer from going elsewhere. As Richard Stallman once put it, when support is a monopoly no wonder it is so bad. It turns out that under my name BT even activated the wrong line, which means that some stranger somewhere is making phonecalls at my expense. What an irreversible mess! Boycott BT. Avoid is like the plague and suggest others do the same.

N.B. – In case anyone from BT reads this, please look up VOL011-479058023564 and VOL011-47251182944. For shame, I want my life back.

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  1. The Mad Hatter said,

    March 25, 2011 at 5:36 pm



    dyfet Reply:

    That is the “best case” scenario, actually. An incompetent monopoly can still do a lot of damage, of course. It is when Monopoly=Sociopath that it destroys society around it to extract profits, and this is more often the norm and the most dangerous kind.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Right, exactly. Well, I have just posted some more details about my BT nightmare in case anyone is interested.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    This is still ongoing. It interferes a lot with my work, no end in sight yet.

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Out of Office: Out of Office:
    Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:46:26 +0000
    To: [my address]

    Thank you for email. I am now on Annula Leave and will not be responding to emails as quickly as normal. If you email is of an urgent nature please contact my secretary, Norah Hayes at norah.hayes@bt.com.

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Out of Office:
    Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:30:15 +0000
    From: To: [my address]

    Thanks for your email sorry I missed you.
    I’ve now left the office for the day returning Monday 28th March when I’ll get back to you as soon as I can.

    ——– Original Message ——–
    Subject: Re:
    Date: Sat, 26 Mar 2011 14:30:40 +0000
    From: Roy Schestowitz
    To: liz.tunnicliff@bt.com

    > Hello Mr Schestowitz,
    > Thanks you for your comments on twitter. I’m sorry to hear of the
    > problems you’ve been having and Warred Buckley has asked me to contact
    > you on his behalf. I’ve left a message on the mobile contact number we
    > have with my details but to confirm you can call me on 0127326828 or
    > email me. I’ll be in the office until around 4.30 today and will
    > monitor the fault progress as I understand we’ve arranged an appointment
    > for this afternoon. Once I’ve left the office I’ll hand over to one of
    > my colleagues to check tomorrow if necessary.
    > If I don’t speak with you today hopefully we’ll catch up on Monday 28th.

    Thank you. I am here waiting at home by the intercom for the third day
    now. Will BT compensate customers for such immeasurable trouble? I still
    don’t know when I will manage to get back to work, all I get is promises
    and people who reassure me that my line being broken is OK (I reported
    this to them a long time ago and they shrugged it off).

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    They have only just fixed the line that they broke 2 weeks ago; still no hub from them.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Update: The person who was urgently assigned to handle my case did not even stay at the office until the time she had stated, so I’ve just responded as follows:

    I have just attempted to phone you (4:15), but there was no answer, just voicemail. My line got reconnected (after BT had botched it 2 weeks ago), but in the mean time yet another friend who came over could not contact me (the BT person came around at the very same time) so my social life gets further affected as people drive all the way here in vain; I was told that I’d be charged for calls that other people made, and I still have no Internet at all (they brought no hub or anything!). This is totally unacceptable. There is nobody I can contact until Monday and I can’t get anything done in the mean time. All that BT has done for me so far is 1) breaking my working line; 2) having me spent an aggregate ~20 hours pursuing solutions for my problem and missing many dozens of work hours; 3) reconnecting the line that BT itself botched after it had worked just fine.

    I will carry on writing (even publicly) about the trouble BT has given me until these issues are resolved. I have a longtime friend who is a manager at BT and I shall contact him too. You have left a(n initially) willing customer with a lot of spare time, unable to do any work or even communicate with friends and family. You also ignored early reports about the service being dysfunctional (I reported this over one week ago), instead reassuring the customer that everything was OK and bound to be magically resolved. Moreover, you harassed the customer’s friend with persistent uninvited calls to his working place.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Update #2: so I won’t be having my wired connection back this weekend. Here is the latest:

    > Hello again Mr Schestowitz,
    > Thanks for your email. I’ve just tried your mobile and
    > got through to the voicemail and also tried the landline but
    > think that there must be work being done on it just now.
    > Really sorry to hear of your experience and yes, if we’ve failed
    > to clear the fault within our commitment time you will be
    > covered under our Customer Service Guarantee Scheme for
    > compensation. I’ll have a look at this once the line is up and
    > running again. As agreed I’ll continue to monitor until I leave
    > today and then hand over to someone in the office to follow up
    > tomorrow if needs be.


    I did not manage to read your mail before I had sent my previous message; however, for personal reasons* I have not carried a mobile since a decade ago (I stopped in 2003) and my landline is supposed to work now. A lot of the trouble is rooted in the fact that the wrong flat was connected (and mine disconnected), which in turn prevented me from making calls to BT from home, not just receiving any; had I had a mobile phone, I doubt much would be improved as I would still be standing here talking to BT for many hours, in addition to paying mobile charges/air time for hours of unfruitful phonecalls. Eventually my friends had to foot this bill. This does not even begin to account for the 20 hours I spent at home on Tuesday and Friday waiting for a delivery which didn’t come (maybe they tried to phone my landline, which clearly was not connected, but they were advised/instructed to use the intercom given the nature of this apartment block. I was almost literally sitting next to the intercom from 7 to 6).

    I wish to add that I blame neither you nor Warren. I understand that the chain of liability in a corporation as large as BT makes people emotionally susceptible/exposed to people whom they did not wish to disappoint or whose career to harm; I too found myself in such situations in the past. As my phonecalls made to about 20 people in BT so far (some not logged/identified, so you can’t map them all) may show, I kept polite at all times; politeness just isn’t the thing to get progress and get things done, as my landlord insisted when he picked the phone and spoke more assertively, demanding that the order gets canceled.

    Over the years I’ve been preaching against monopoly and the abuse it enables a monopolist to get away with. BT was an expensive lesson for me and not a lesson I ever wished to go through. I went with BT thinking it would be the fastest way to get reconnected and write again to an audience of millions. I’ve been planning my ISP switchover since late February and thought I had it planned to ensure my work is not interrupted; never did I imagine that even the phone line would not work. Well, it worked at first, but then BT broke it and who knows what’s left ahead now that someone else used it and I might be billed for calls I never made. It looks like it’s only the beginning.

    Speaking to you as people and not as BT, I hope you realise that I am not a rude person or one with a vendetta; being a provider of IT services myself all I should say is that from a customer-facing side of things there is a lot of room for improvement, as I wrote in my polite post almost a week ago (I CC Warren as he can address this issue best). People need to be assigned consultants who are at least vaguely familiar with their cases. Otherwise, calls are just made far too long and the customer needs to explain the case over and over again a lot of times, having spent time in the queue. This demoralises the caller.

    UPDATE: you’ve just phoned me, so I will stop typing and send it as is. I do expect compensation for what I have had to go through and am still going through.

    * The reasons are many and the story is long. Just one among many reasons is the increasing use of mobile phones as tools of surveillance, which BT ought to be very familiar with since its people went on to create Phorm, which even the European Commission was rather furious about.

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