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Message 1 of 3

BT Debacle - Line & broadband rendered inoperable by BT Engineer

BT Debacle


This sorry saga started Saturday 12th September. The last few minutes of the Everton game against Chelsea were lost when the broadband and phone line both went down. We reported a fault via the website using a mobile phone internet connection.

The line and broadband were both back within an hour or so.

For the rest of Saturday, the whole of Sunday, Monday, Tuesday broadband and phone line behaved in an exemplary manner.

Wednesday 16th started well. I work from home on Wednesdays and from 8am until 4pm I worked very happily making heavy use of broadband and a couple of long conference calls.

At 4pm the phone line and broadband went down simultaneously. I looked in the street to see a BT OpenReach van and engineer in the street. I had a quick chat with the engineer, who confirmed he was working on my reported fault. He also said he’d identified the fault and it would be fixed in a few minutes.

Lo and behold, in a few minutes both line and broadband were back working. I went and saw him again to let him know it was working again. He said there would be one more outage and then all would be OK. Indeed there was another outage and it all came back. He left a message on the phone at 4:15pm. And that was the last time anything worked. Moments later line and broadband went down and, as I write on Sunday 20th September, they are still down.

That, unfortunately, was far from the low point in this debacle.

I called the support centre and, as an aside, may I say, quite the most annoying automatic phone response system I’ve come across and I’ve been annoyed by more than my fair share of such systems.

I spoke to someone called Arnab. I tried to make it clear that the engineer believed he had fixed the fault, but in fact the problem, instead of being at worst an intermittent fault, was now a complete break in line and broadband service. Arnab’s line of argument was that the fault website said the problem had a target fix date of Thursday 17th at 5pm and therefore I should wait until then.

Arnab agreed to raise a complaint, which he told me had and gave me the reference. Arnab also told me he would ring me between 6pm & 8pm on Thursday 17th.

5pm Thursday 17th September came and, no surprise to me, the line and broadband were still totally inoperable. Somewhat disappointingly Arnab didn’t ring between 6 pm and 8pm.

Friday morning 8am I rang the support centre again and again found the automatic response system incredibly annoying. The fault was indeed recorded as fixed. The support staff member reopened the fault, on my behalf, as not fixed.

So it took from Wednesday 5pm to Friday 8am to actually get this problem reopened. That’s 39 wasted hours. No doubt not important to BT, but a long time in my world. I was also informed that someone called a Level 2 Case Manager would call between 11:30 and 13:30 Sunday 20th September.

At some point on Saturday 19th the status on the fault website was updated to say nothing more than more time would be needed.

Sunday 20th around noon I received a call from the BT support centre, but it turns out not the Level 2 Case Manager I was so looking forward to chatting to. Instead it was someone who was ‘monitoring’ the issue. He informed me that BT OpenReach had now updated the status to say something about an underground fault. I asked when the BT OpenReach engineer had investigated the issue in sufficient detail to determine this, but got no satisfactory answer.

I also asked about my statutory rights, but the gentleman was reluctant to discuss these.

We parted on less than cordial terms.

Imagine my surprise when 15 minutes or so later a Level 2 Case Manager phoned. She had nothing new to add other than the next update on this issue would be Wednesday 23rd September. I made sure this was 2015 and she confirmed it would be 2015, though by now it wouldn’t have come as a huge shock to hear it was 2016.

Again I asked about my statutory rights again she was not prepared to discuss this until the fault was fixed.

This fault has, and will continue to result in disruption to my working week. I usually work from home on Wednesday’s, but broadband and phone are essential. Clearly I will have to spend a total of 3 hours making the return trip to London next Wednesday and who knows after that.

The fault has also resulted in us changing the usual contact phone numbers with my wife’s elderly parents.

And on the trivial level, I’ve missed Wednesday’s Champions League games, Thursday’s Europa Cup games, Saturday’s Chelsea v Arsenal game though, to be honest, missing that one was probably a blessing in disguise.

So to summarise, we’re expecting the next update on this fault to be next Wednesday the 23rd September. By then a whole week will have passed since the BT engineer took our not perfect, but more than acceptable, phone line and broadband service and rendered both totally inoperable. That’s the next update, not when the fault is fixed. Who knows when that will be? I’m thinking my expectation of September next year might not be wide of the mark.

As for my statutory rights, it seems it’s not my statutory right to know my statutory rights at least that seems to be the BT support centre interpretation of the relevant statutes.

After all this, I feel really sorry for your support centre staff. They have to defend and explain the shortcomings of the BT engineering departments to aggrieved, angry and exasperated customers. I hope they are well paid.

I feel sorry for all the other customers who have to put up with the BT support staff’s attempts to obfuscate the shortcomings of the BT engineering departments. And that dreadful automated phone response system.

I feel sorry for myself and my long-suffering wife for having to live through this debacle. Though I’m proud of myself for not uttering one expletive down the phone to your staff. Yet!    

Needless to say, this experience has made us question very seriously whether we want to be BT customers any longer. In fact the whole sorry debacle has made us seriously question whether we want to subject ourselves to the vagaries of all the suppliers in the modern communications world. At this time, going ‘off the grid’ completely looks like a really attractive proposition.

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Distinguished Sage
Message 2 of 3

Re: BT Debacle - Line & broadband rendered inoperable by BT Engineer

as it is Openreach who provide and maintain the network for all suppliers except those on cable BT retail your provider gets no preferential service over any other provider under rules laid down by OFCOM

you are normally compensated by a line rental refund if the fault is not repaired by the end of the 3rd working day after the fault is reported
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Distinguished Guru
Message 3 of 3

Re: BT Debacle - Line & broadband rendered inoperable by BT Engineer

You should also claim back the cost of broadband and TV for the time the service was down.


Assuming it's a residential line, BT are unlikely to compensate you for losses related to the business use of the line.  If you want a proper Service Level Agreement, get a business line.


More information about the Customer Service Guarantee here:


If you want to know your statutory rights, you're going to have to look them up yourself.  BT have no interest in helping you to claim money off them.

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