I’ve always been a fan of BT – their adverts on TV, the HomeHub (with the best WiFi strength of any router I’ve used!) and BT Sport. It’s a well established company and I thought its services would reflect that – I thought wrong. Let me explain first that I’m not the account holder for the bills in my household, so I wasn’t always the one on the phone but I was always present and all calls were on loud speaker. If I knew this is what would happen, I’d have recorded specific times and dates of all my calls!
Back in October, I was with Virgin Media. I’d been with them since we moved into the house that I live in at the moment – about 4 years or so. I’d opted for the 100MB connection but were getting in the region of ~30MB and worse at peak times. The TV package was okay, but not great. It wasn’t the cheapest package either! All of those things added together means that when a salesman called my home phone in October, I listened to his pitch of a BT package instead of hanging up straight away like most people would.
The friendly Geordie guy on the phone told me he could offer Internet, Phone & TV for about £44 a month with free on demand with the TV package. Virgin Media’s OD wasn’t amazing and I’d heard BT had quite a lot of films available, so I was definitely interested. “What about the internet though? What speed will that be?” I asked, expecting him to tell me at least 30MB (which I was getting with Virgin at the time). “Ah, see at first it’ll only be about 8MB” he replied. As I hesitated to speak, he cut me off, informing me that if I got this package now, BT Infinity would be available in my area in the next month or so with speeds of up to 80MB and I could easily upgrade to it. I didn’t see any problems – I could deal with 8MB Internet for a month, even if it would be a bit painful with how much my household relies on a good internet connection. We enquired about what I’d have to do with Virgin Media but he reassured me that it’d all be taken care of their end and I could just sit back and wait for the installation date, which was a few weeks later.
Sounds alright so far doesn’t it? That’s what I thought too. The installation date comes and all goes quite well (apart from an initial hiccup with our phone line!). It was time to test out the Internet and see what I’d be dealing with for a month until I could upgrade. I was getting speeds of about 1-2MB download and less than 1MB upload, so we called to try to get them to sort out this problem as we were promised 8MB. Things were done their end and the speed jumped up to about 3-4MB download and still less than 1MB upload – still half of what I was promised. When I enquired, apparently my area can only get up to 4MB download until Infinity was installed. Great. A month with painfully slow Internet in a modern, digital home.
I did my time and after about a month and a half, I enquired with BT about getting Infinity. I was then informed that Infinity isn’t available in my area and it’s looking to be installed by March 2013. Absolutely brilliant, after being promised a months wait, it looks like we’d be waiting up to 6. Of course me and my family were a bit angry at this, but what could we do? The contract had started and runs for 12 months. We bit the bullet and carried on. Over the coming months, we’d experience Internet speeds of less than 0.2MB download and Pings over 100. We kept calling and they’d keep telling us they’d fix it within 48 hours and call to check in with us, but they never actually did.
This is where I come to BT Care (@BTCare) – the Twitter account for people having problems with their BT services. I never really understand the point of Twitter help profiles as most of the time, they get you to call them anyway. However, I think BT Care are one of the best things about BT’s customer service (and the only redeeming thing in this article!). I tweeted them about my crippling Internet speeds and the apparent lie that the salesman had told us to get our sale (and no doubt his commission). They were apologetic about the salesman and sent me various How To’s on how to improve my WiFi connection, assuming it was that. I tried tweaking my settings but my speeds were still varying rapidly from 1-3MB download. After having no luck, they wanted to call me and speak to me about it but as I wasn’t the account holder, I wouldn’t have any power over the account. They called a couple of times but each time the account holder wasn’t at home so nothing could be done like that. I take my hat off them for chasing up for so long though, they called over a period of 3-4 days.
It was then that I realised that the salesman had really screwed me over. I get a bill in the post from Virgin Media – a company whose services should’ve been cancelled months before, demanding payment for services up until January. I called them and explained our situation, telling them that the salesman had told me that they’d take care of all the cancellations and costs incurred. They hadn’t heard anything from them and according to the person on the phone at Virgin Media, it’s actually illegal for them to do that. Great. I call BT demanding answers – and for them to pay the Virgin Media bill, as is fair. They told me that they need to find the recording of the sales pitch and if the sales person did say that, they’d gladly pay the bill for us. Not too bad, I suppose. They told me that they’d get back to me within 5 days – 3 weeks later, nothing. I call again and enquire about the progress of finding the recording to be told that nothing had been added to my account telling them to chase it up – my complaint 3 weeks prior hadn’t even been written down. They told me that they’d get on to it now and should hear back again within a few days. What a surprise – nothing. We had to end up paying the bills ourselves for BT’s mistake/ignorance.
We carry on with them still, repeatedly checking BT’s Infinity availability on their website, always welcomed with the same “Installed by March 2014” message. Every day until I checked about 2 days ago, where the message had changed. Infinity still wasn’t available in my area but the estimated installation dates had been pushed back to any time between April and September 2014. This is completely unacceptable that we’d have to wait up to 11 months of our 12 month contract for Infinity, especially with the fact that we’re heavy Internet users and even rely on it for employment.
The problem is that we’re tied in a contract, we can’t leave without paying the rest up front and that’s not happening with the experiences I’ve had since October with them. So instead, I want to publicly tell people what one of the highest regarded firms in the UK are actually like. Not that great! What’s the moral of the story? Don’t trust a BT Salesman! Spread this around and I’ll update if/when I hear anything from BT.