Monday, 3 March 2014

BT refusing to fix a fault?

BT have a rather strange system where, if there is an order on a line, they will not fix a fault on the line.

This has always struck me as an odd state of affairs but BT have refused to rectify this. Obviously some types of order mean a line stopping working briefly (e.g. rejumpering). But there are many types of orders that do not mean that, and even re-jumpering type orders have a date on which they are done but BT will refuse any fault report any time before, even if the order does not start for many months.

This came up before where we had bulk migrations from 20CN to 21CN, which are an order on the system, but were set up a week or two in advance of the actual work. This problem for us is that the bulk migrate is free, but canceling one of the migrates and re-doing later cost money. BT were insisting that in order to fix a fault while such an order was pending we had to cancel the order, hence incurring costs (to BT) later to reinstate it.

That nearly came to county court claims then, but it was eventually resolved by a combination of fewer 20CN bulk migrates left to do, and BT internally not putting in the migrate order until the last minute making the window for refusing fault repair much smaller.

Still, it was not a proper fix. The issue rarely comes up these days as the only orders we tend to place are to be done ASAP, or install orders where there cannot be a fault (for us) while waiting.

Now we have one unfortunate customer that has had a fault (total loss of service) for nearly two weeks now. He has an open order to move to another ISP which will not happen for 4 more weeks, but his line has a fault now.

It has taken two weeks of solid arguing, and then threats of county court action, to get BT to do anything. They even sent engineers who could see the fault but said they could not fix the fault as an order was open.

We were told that we have to get the other ISP to cancel the order so BT will fix the fault. This is crazy talk, and of course we are not going to try and ask another ISP to cancel their order. Why would we? Why would they listen to is? And asking our customer to cancel his order with another ISP is crazy too.

BT need to fix this fundamental problem - it is quite possible for a fault to exist and need fixing on a service which has an order pending for some time in the future.

I suspect this specific fault will get resolved (it may have been today already), so once again we will not get BT to fix the underlying problem. One of these days it will get to a county court claim and maybe then BT will realise that they have a broken system that needs properly fixing.


  1. "They even sent engineers who could see the fault but said they could not fix the fault as an order was open."

    This is the really ludicrous aspect to me - the expensive bit is sending somebody out to work on the line, whether they actually fix it or not, so why on earth refuse to fix it when they're there?

    There seem to be two camps of thought within Openreach there: some take the jobsworth route of not doing the job if there's anything in the paperwork that could be an excuse, the others do the job if possible then sort out the paperwork. My first FTTC install failed because of a paperwork error - BT confirmed at the time it was just an error on their part, but that wasn't enough for the engineer to do the job, he was told to fail the install and then get it rebooked later.

    It's a telling question, I think: given the choice, would they rather have a working line and wrong paperwork, or leave the fault in place so the paperwork's ok? I have a nasty feeling too many would choose the latter.

    I see on my own A&A account that the automated fault mishandling system at BT Wholesale has decided that core network faults can't be reported without first booking an SFI to test the line 30 miles from the fault location (never mind that it's already been tested six times before they closed the previous fault ticket in error) - though there's also a fault ticket with Operate/TSOps, who have apparently found that the fault is actually worse than we'd suspected, but are now working on it. (Also, I'd mentioned to you about having a problem on my previous ISP: looking back, that was actually a different problem, though probably also caused by the underlying issue in Falkirk.)

  2. Dare I ask - why is the customer leaving you? I'm curious because most users that I know would prefer to move their bank account then their ISP.

    1. To be honest - no idea - people often come back later though :-)