The Disgrace That Is BT

Update

Please see the follow-up blog post for how this all turned out.


As a small business owner I place great importance on the relationships I have with my customers and my suppliers and everyone else I do business with. I’ve made a conscious decision that I want to focus on business relationships, good customer service and making people I interact with happy and satisfied. I can’t claim that this always happens but I strive for it and I do my best to learn from the mistakes when they do happen. I like to be inspired when I see examples of great customer service. I also try to learn from bad customer service when I hear about it or experience it. At the moment I’m learning what not to do from BT.

British Telecommunications Plc., better known as BT, is the UK’s main telephone and broadband provider. In August 2010 I rented a property, Island Cottage, in the village where my daughter goes to school and I set up a BT Business phone and broadband account. Everything went really well until the following April when I decided to move into a different property in the same village.

I was moving into a converted barn which was part of a property called Manor Farm. Because the barn in is the grounds of Manor Farm the property is addressed as The Barn, Manor Farm. I asked BT’s Business Mover Service to migrate my phone and broadband service to the new property so that I could keep the same phone number and also have the minimum disruption and down-time. Sadly things didn’t go smoothly but after some kerfuffle and delays the phone and broadband were up and running.

Unfortunately the address details they updated my account to were slightly wrong. Bills were now being sent to me at Manor Farm rather than The Barn, Manor Farm. A small mistake but one that would then lead to more than a year of chaos. Chaos that is still on-going.

Because BT had me associated with a different physical property, when a new neighbour moved into Manor Farm last July I had my phone and broadband cut off. After a week or so that was resolved with compensation paid and assurances that my address details had been updated. They weren’t.

In January this year BT cut off my broadband because someone, not even someone locally, cancelled their broadband service. I’m really not sure how my account and theirs got linked. This time we failed to reach a settlement over compensation and I ended up taking BT to court (another story for another day). I was repeatedly assured that my address details had been updated. They weren’t.

In April I realised that I was being billed both for the broadband service that was cut off in January as well as the new broadband service BT had set up to replace it. Asking for that to be resolved resulted in BT sending bills to my old address at Island Cottage for an imaginary broadband service there. I’d moved form there a year earlier and BT themselves were meant to have handled the move. Those bills were cancelled but I’m now being asked to pay £13.50 as a late payment fee.

My bills are still being sent to Manor Farm rather than The Barn, Manor Farm and today I got a letter addressed to me at Island Cottage congratulating me for surviving (my word, not theirs) being a BT Business Broadband customer for 24 months and telling me I’ll be getting a £45.55 credit on my account. I’m just not sure which account it goes on or if I’ll ever see it. On the bright-side, this also means I am now free to move to a different phone and broadband provider.

I’ve had everyone from customer service representatives, complaint team representatives and event BT’s legal representatives tell me that my address details have been updated correctly but they haven’t. This stupidly small detail, something that most businesses would be able to resolve in seconds, has caused my business all sorts of inconvenience and me all sorts of stress.

BT, as an entity, are a disgrace of a company and the way they treat their customers is completely contemptuous. It is sad because there do seem to be a lot of employees within the organisation who want to help and do try to but their IT systems are obviously a complete nightmare and the numerous departments and teams they are split into make managing issues seemingly impossible.

I’ll be writing to BT yet again about my issues but don’t hold out much hope of a resolution and I’m definitely not looking forward to new neighbours moving into Manor Farm which is happening imminently. Maybe Ofcom, the communications regulator, can help me but I find it shocking that I have to get them involved just to have my account details sorted out. It may be quicker and simpler to just close my BT account and move provider.

If you run a business please make sure you never ever treat your customers like this.