Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Slower fault repair?

As reported, OFCOM are working on new rules for Openreach to fix faults within 2 working days.

At present, for broadband, the target fix times are 40 clock hours, or 20 clock hours for a higher priority maintenance, or 7 clock hours for the highest maintenance option.

40 clock hours is always less than 2 days (48 hours), and 2 working days could be 120 hours over a bank holiday weekend.

I really hope BT don't use OFCOMs new rules to change to longer SLAs than they currently have in place.

(Note, BT rarely actually work at the 40 clock hour target, especially over weekends, but if they had a target of 2 working days, it would clearly be worse).

So really, what we need, is not "quicker fault repair" but more of "actually work to the targets already agreed". What we need is much more substantial compensation for failing to meet the targets they set themselves in the contract.

We need BT to actually work to current targets and pay if they don't!

At present, if BT miss a 40 hour target they pay a tiny penalty to the ISP, literally something like £1 a day for 5 days. Then, they pay no more - so even when 40 hours is missed there is no urgency at all. They should be paying tens of pounds an hour for missing a target, in my opinion, as that would maybe motivate them to work to existing targets. We have this crazy situation where, if they miss an appointment, they have no system to not consider the fault extra urgent after they have screwed up. They don't even deploy the same extra effort as they would for "7 hour fix" fault once a 40 hour fault gets to 33 hours in, which seems broken to me as that is what the fault is at that point!

As an aside, and we have asked BT to explain this, BT have admitted that the 7 hour fix option from BT Wholesale apparently does not have any SLA for the engineers working for Openreach to actually try and meet that 7 hours! This is a somewhat daft thing to say as the engineers working for British Telecommunications plc trading as Openreach work for a company that has a formal contract with Andrews & Arnold Ltd to try and fix within 7 hours. So there is an SLA in place on those engineers. BT try to pretend that is not the case, but they cannot get away from the fact that they are one legal entity and that legal entity has a contract to which they are expected to adhere. We await their response on that one.


  1. Yes I'm sure my client would "love" this new target, or even the old one. Or even for Openreach to actually just fix his line. He's always had trouble with it, and we've had countless engineers over years, most recently though we've had no service since 6th May... and BT now (finally) reckon it's a common fault so we're getting even less feedback than usual.

    Meanwhile he still has sod all phone service, sod all broadband.

    It's absolutely pathetic given there is literally zero other choice in his area.

  2. SLAs and compensation by big utilities are a joke, Southern Electric Power Distribution obviously not investing in the network, as for my (at least) monthly power cut I'm eligible for £25 compensation a year.... compared to the cost of upgrading their network, the choice optimising dividends is obvious.
    Still not sure why it's still called the National Grid, as it seems to be more like the National succession of single points of failure. Virtually no redundancy at all...

    1. The National Grid is the HV side connecting all the big substations and power stations together and has really rather a lot of redundancy! Local distribution is a different kettle of fish!

    2. Local distribution is ridiculous, probably lack of investment in line with railway.... Never heard of anywhere else in Europe having around 15 cuts a year!

  3. Reciprocal penalties would certainly be nice ... if BT send an engineer to install FTTC, for example, and I fail to let them in, there's a hefty penalty (£85+VAT?). When BT failed to show up, however, they didn't give me or my ISP a penny in compensation - or indeed any apology. Likewise when they showed up as appointed, but with the incorrect paperwork, leading to another failed install. Why? (Not to mention Wholesale's irritating habit of sending unsolicited Openreach engineers out to distract from core network faults, but that's a rant for another day...)

    Interestingly, when I raised this at the time I got the impression BT Retail would pay some compensation to *their* customers in these circumstances - but coming out of the retail side's pocket, even though it is compensating for a failure of the Openreach side.

    1. BT will some times pay something for a missed appointment, it is not the same as the other way around though (i.e. much less than they charge) and getting can be hard work, and if they turn up but don't do the work or don't find the fault they don't pay.

  4. Since the targets are in the contract, I wonder if there is any scope for suing them for loss of revenue if you can show that they have *willfully* chosen to break their contractual agreement (which surely they have if their subcontractor is not required to adhere to similar targets)?

  5. Entirely agree with your article. As a consumer, we've been waiting for new line installation since Feb with a current target date of June. Each time we're "updated" on progress the target date moves forwards 2 weeks. There's no concept of speeding up old jobs, it seems, and no feedback to the consumers from the engineers. It's amusing that Ofcom are suggesting 12 days. Here we're past 90 days and no end in sight, and no clearer as to why there isn't an end in sight, either.

  6. I note with amusement the proposed target of 12 days for a new line install. Here we're clocking upwards of 90 days and 2 missed appointments, with no end in sight, and no indication of why we're having to wait.

  7. I wonder why Ofcom didn't address the issue of missed appointments in this consultation. It was certainly brought up by Sky, but seems to be uncommented by Ofcom.

    Whether a fault (or installation) is performed within SLA time or not, a missed appointment is usually a severe inconvenience to a residential customer, making for wasted time off work. And then failing to treat the issue with any higher urgency afterwards rubs salt into the wounds.

    For me, I'd even make it a stricter SLA target than raw clock time - that an issue be dealt with in a single, unmissed, appointment. And if appointments are to be missed, the end-user (not the CP) has to be informed the day before.

    The KPI to measure the "tail" of work not done (which would include David's issue above) is the nearest thing added by Ofcom, but I don't think it will be enough to force BT's efforts.