Saturday, 22 June 2013

Mistakes happen?

We can all make mistakes. Us, BT, or even our mutual customer can make one particular type of annoying mistake - causing a phone line to be ceased.

The usual mistake is that someone did not pay their BT phone line bill, causing the line to be disconnected, causing broadband to be disconnected. Of course, the story may be a tad different when we hear it, and we know of some genuine cases where, for example, BT start sending bills to an unmanned installation address and not the billing address. Of course, BT can also make a mistake, it happens. We even had a case this week where we made a mistake with the date of a cease (a system issue we are fixing to stop that happening again).

Now, when you make a mistake it is important to get it fixed quickly. For a PSTN cease the actual cease is mostly a paperwork exercise. Calls are stopped but the line stays put. This makes it quick and easy (and relatively inexpensive) to reconnect the line, reversing the cease. So whoever's mistake it is, the impact is relatively low.

The problem is that a broadband service relies on a working phone line, and the PSTN cease causes an immediate broadband cease. We do get told by BT, but we do not usually get any advance notice, so the first we know is the line stops working and the customer calls up.

A broadband cease is also mostly a paperwork exercise. The line and jumpering usually stay put, at least for a few days. So you would think it is also quick and cheap and easy to reverse that. Sadly not. For a start we have to wait for the cease to complete, then place an order. If we are lucky that can cause the line to reconnect within hours to a day. If we are not lucky we can pay for an expedite.

Unfortunately, there is a case where this is a tad worse. For FTTC (Fibre To The Cabinet) we cannot get the line reconnected. We are stuck with a 12 month minimum term on the ceased line, and have to pay the full install of a new line, with an engineer visit to the cabinet to rejumper to a new port, and to the premises to plug in a new modem and test. We then have a new 12 month term on the new line. It takes at least 5 working days, though an expedite may be possible to get to a couple of days at even more expense.

Of course, if the mistake really was down to BT, then the customer can expect BT to compensate them for the hassle and cost. To be fair to BT that is not usually the case. When it is, getting compensation is fun, as I understand it.

But we had an interesting one today where an FTTC was ceased. The customer, talking to BT, was told that BT can reconnect it all, including BT broadband. Customer seems to think it was some sort of mistake. If that is true, then this is a very devious way of poaching customers from other ISPs like us. Let's hope not.


  1. This page now has an ad for BT broadband :)

  2. BT always promise that they can connect everything quicker than every other company and 'on the same day'... I hear it almost weekly from my customers. BT then fail to delver on their promise by normally installing the broadband a week or two after the phone service.

  3. It will be quite a while before I forget my own experiences with this, a few years ago; a simple tariff change on a business line, which is a "cease and reprovide" within BT's provisioning systems, went horribly wrong. The first indication of a problem was when the analogue line went dead. BT Business Faults took a look and said "oh, that's because you placed a cease on the line!" "No, take a closer look please" "Yes, that's definitely a cease .. oh, and a r- err ... oops. That shouldn't have happened."

    Most galling was the fact the broadband was still patched on the MDF at the time (so the two VoIP lines were still working fine) - but there was now a pending 'cease' which would get it disconnected in the next few days, and apparently "there wasn't supposed to be a cease in the first place, please don't disconnect" isn't an option.

    Even after escalating to Regulatory and finding somebody with the "phone somebody in the exchange building and order an immediate re-patch" superpowers (which did, as promised, restore service within the hour!) couldn't get around the minimum term, though, just a credit note for several months' fees. On the bright side, it saved hundreds of pounds, and the office in question wasn't in full-time use at that point anyway...

  4. I had an oddity with BT once - a house move - only half a mile - they told me they would transfer everything "at 12:01" - anyway, by 08:30 on the day the line at the old place had stopped working. No service at the new place until about 17:00, and even then they changed my diversion bypass number. This was before broadband. They later said they wouldn't have said what they in fact did say... shame I had no recording.