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Broadband Hell

February 13th, 2004 (01:13 pm)

pennypaperbrain will be pleased to know that I have at last made steps towards upgrading to broadband. Unfortunately I have been passed from call centre to call centre, to 'technical support agent' to 'customer service adviser', all over whose responsibility it is to sort out my line.

Woodstock was converted to broadband last month. I'd like to keep my current ISP, Freeserve, so I checked their website first; their availability checker said that there was a line-sharing device on my line. I phoned BT, who said that there was no problem; I also phoned Freeserve's technical desk, who said that there was no problem with the line either.

I then phoned Freeserve registration, which was based at a call centre somewhere between the Tyne and the Tees; or else they've been watching a lot of The Likely Lads and Auf Widersehen, Pet in Banglalore. The girl on the desk (there was lots of giggling in the background, suggesting that Friday night had begun early) said (as far as I could make out, as the line was awful and she mumbled everything and shouted back anything that I couldn't hear in contempt) that there was a problem with the line, and that she couldn't place an order until I'd resolved the problem with BT.

So, I phoned BT again. Their very polite staff, one from technical advice, one from customer services, identified the device on my line as Dax line-sharing equipment, but then said that they couldn't do anything, as if it was a broadband-related enquiry they could only remove the device if there was an order on the line. I was not to take no for an answer from Freeserve, they said.

Next stop, Freeserve, where it definitely sounded as if tequila was on the menu for lunch. Nothing to do with them, I was told. Try BT's fault line. So I did, and I was on hold for five minutes before giving up.

I tried BT's fault line an hour later. Their operator sounded very distant and very Indian, and didn't understand what I was trying to explain, and ended up saying that it wasn't within his province and that I should call customer services.

Back to Freeserve, where I at last spoke to someone with courtesy. He said he would take a manual order, off the system, and route it through the people who liaise with BT (the two girls before didn't seem to know about this). It was the same call centre, as it sounded like the party was going on in the background. So, I've placed my order - the only reason that I'm staying with Freeserve is to keep my e-mail address. I suspect that they have a policy of getting the customer/BT to pay any technical costs if remotely possible; BT have conflicting interests as they have three different brands of ISP which compete with others such as Freeserve for access to what, in the UK, is BT's network.

I hope also to be emulating gervase_fen soon, and investing in a Freeview box (ideally one ready for Top-Up TV as well as Freeview, to enable me to watch the next series of The West Wing when it appears on E4) but this will entail an aerial upgrade to this block of flats, and dealing with my ground landlord is a task to be put off until another day.

I have managed to contact the BBC Written Archives, so I've at last got the process of researching my paper on Doctor Who and the Teaching of History underway, if only in the preliminaries.

So, at last, next, Duke Humfrey!


Posted by: Penny Paperbrain (pennypaperbrain)
Posted at: February 13th, 2004 07:35 am (UTC)
Was that legal?

All "help" lines are vile enemies of humanity. But then you knew that. Good luck in extracting what is needful from the teeth of these particular foes.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 13th, 2004 10:50 am (UTC)

They say that they are going to keep me informed on the progress of the order by e-mail, and a BT person should be round at some stage to physically remove the device on my line. A large line-sharing device was taken out when I moved in, but there is still a smaller box that I think is something to do with the extension from my living room to my study. Perhaps that is the culprit.

Posted by: Adilo Creamon (the_marquis)
Posted at: February 13th, 2004 07:40 am (UTC)

Have you considered writing to Freeserve about the apparent party in the call centre. I'd consider it, including a bill for the time spent on the phone attempting to buy their dammned service, and point out that as a customer you felt undervalued.

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 13th, 2004 10:45 am (UTC)

I was exaggerating a bit about the party in the call centre - but there was certainly a lot of gossip and the radio was on. I have been considering writing to Freeserve, and I would certainly have done so this afternoon had I continued to have been trapped between the policies of BT and Freeserve.

Posted by: Pellegrina (pellegrina)
Posted at: February 13th, 2004 07:50 am (UTC)

I agree with the Marquis; tell them they are making it very difficult to be a loyal customer with this attitude. You might as well be dealing with NTL!

Posted by: parrot_knight (parrot_knight)
Posted at: February 13th, 2004 10:48 am (UTC)

See my reply to the Marquis. I'm glad I'm not an NTL customer; every few weeks The Oxford Times reports that another one of their Oxford exchanges has failed, leaving customers without phone lines for a day or so.