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BBC Watchdog Hammers BT Openreach for Poor Communication and Delays

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013 (8:24 pm) - Score 15,925

Tonight’s episode of the BBC’s popular consumer affairs TV show, Watchdog, took BTOpenreach’s “promises to keep the nation connected” to task and heavily criticised the group for failing to fix broadband and phone problems and for not being directly contactable.

Openreach, which is effectively responsible for maintaining BT’s national UK phone and broadband network, generally doesn’t communicate directly with end-users (except in some circumstances) and as a result most people that suffer from a fault are forced to go through their ISP instead (i.e. the company you have a contract for service with) but this isn’t always effective.

The poor level of direct communication and long service delays were both covered in the programme, which also reminded viewers that Ofcom are currently reviewing Openreach’s quality of service (here). The regulator proposes to tackle the issues by requiring Openreach to publish better performance reports and meet “specific performance standards” for new line installations and fault repairs (sanctions might be applied if they fail to deliver).

A Spokesperson for Openreach told ISPreview.co.uk (July 2013):

Openreach is committed to delivering high levels of customer service. Openreach is already highly transparent in its service level reporting to industry and agrees this detail should be shared with consumers and businesses.”

The review is actually part of a collection of reviews into the country’s fixed telecoms markets and Ofcom expects to post the conclusions from all of these by spring 2014 (note: it was Ofcom that mandated BT’s original undertakings to create Openreach).

At the same time it’s worth remembering that maintaining the country’s national telecoms network is a complex job and extreme weather (e.g. flooding, snow etc.) can often cause significant disruption. Similarly any operator that covers the whole country is bound to attract quite a few gripes and indeed Openreach said that it carries out 166,000 “transactions” a week.

UPDATE 31st October 2013

You can now watch the episode on iPlayer – HERE.

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Mark Jackson
By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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60 Responses
  1. Avatar DTMark

    Back in the old days, it could take a long time to get a line installed or a fault repaired because there was no competition.

    Fast forward to today and it could take a long time to get a line installed or a fault repaired because there is no competition in half the country.

    I don’t think that the customer interface is the issue here, since I don’t see what difference it makes. The 40 people who were without phone or internet for a month, or the guy who had to wait months for a line break fix reported the issues to their providers and at that point realised that the entire edifice relies on a single point of failure no matter who you choose, that being Openreach.

    Unless you can get cable. I assume these people couldn’t, or they’d have cancelled their payments to providers and had VM round by then to install.

    The network is just so old and in a poor state in some areas. The month’s delay was due to “decaying cables”. It would probably suit BT better to have those 40 people just cancel their services and use cable, or mobiles and 3G/4G instead than to repair clapped out networks at significant cost.

    And this is the infrastructure which is apparently going to be providing current-generation broadband services at last in the form of VDSL still leaving customers with no choice over the most vulnerable single failure point or main bottleneck in broadband performance.

    • Avatar JT

      The problem with Outreach is that they have to provide the same level of service to all ISPs including BT retail. It would appear that the way they make sure they do this is to fix all faults in the longest allowed time. Also there is a financial incentive for the engineer to blame a fault onto the household wiring and not the Outreach line.

    • Avatar Adam wood

      There is NO financial motives for engineers to put charges on the customer. It’s an incredibly difficult job working in the network and we are plagued by customers with their own ideas about how it works ( absolutely no clue ) and Nazi style management. Don’t pull engineers work down, we do as we’re told and to the best of our ability whilst trying to serve the customer only to be treats badly by our managers and customers alike. I’m leaving the company for this very reason. I’m also fed up to the back teeth of idiots who jump up and down like spoilt children when their Internet goes off for a week. I wish that was all I had to worry about, it won’t kill you to not go on Facebook for a week

  2. Avatar hmm

    hmm no surprise there bit off topic the royal mail will now give a better service now it has been sold off haaa

  3. Avatar Rupees Burdoch

    BT Openreach does a remarkably good job. It’s surprising they have achieved all they have when you consider all the bullying they have to endure from government, regulators etc. who pretend to know best. Let BT get on with the job of securing the future of digital Britain..

    I’m tired of all the cheapshots our most innovative companies are taking. Energy companies are also being harshly treated despite the fact UK energy costs are among the lowest throughout all of Europe. And those costs would be even lower if the government stopped interfering in the marketplace.

    It’s about time that pathetic tv show watchdog was taken off the air for good. It’s just another example of the BBC wasting taxpayers money.

    Government needs to focus on the more important areas such as cracking down on rampant piracy. It’s time the framework of DEBILL was fully implemented with permanent disconnections for the worst offenders. The UK has no future while it encourages its citizens to steal valuable works from our incredibly talented creative industries.

    • Avatar Turandot

      I am reading your post at 1am so I am not sure if you were being sarcastic about Openreach, or (unprintable!). I moved house in august and paid for installation in my new property. Six engineer appointments (five non-show) the engineer finally arrived. Took him ages then he left and told me my phone line was working ok. I tried and yes it did ring. I thought no more about it as I was busy away. Plus broadband was yet to be connected so I just used my mobile instead. I discovered 5 days later that the line was not working ie no calls. I contacted BT and was told they would send an engineer out and if the fault is caused by me then another £130. However the incompetent twit of an engineer that did not do a good job in the first instance. What could possibly be damaged in 5 days, wear and tear?! But couldn’t argue with the moronic wotsit so was held at ransom to agree to paying. Luckily a different engineer arrived today and apparently fault the lines was not connected correctly at the exchange. So after more than 3 months I finally have phone/internet. Brilliant service you called that? The problem with this stupid country is EVERY tom dick and harry call themselves engineer or manager. They should all be condemned especially the CEO of BT for employing morons

    • Avatar David Anthony

      Nicely done, you almost had me going for a while there. But nobody could be that stupid.

  4. Avatar dragoneast

    There’s an old saying that you get what you pay for. But not of course if you work for the BBC where you get paid for nothing.

  5. Avatar GNewton

    I have to admit BT customer service is the worst of all the companies we have ever encountered. And what was shown in the BBC watchdog certainly was not an isolated case. A much stricter enforcement of the USO might have helped, but that would have required Ofcom doing its job which it hasn’t in this case.

  6. Avatar Gary

    Hold on was it not ofcom that regulated BT forcing them into splitting there business into 3 different entities? Was it not ofcom that “in the interest of fairness” openreach where not allowed to give favouritism to any of its end users if that end user was being supplied by BT? Was it not ofcom that advised that BT retail where not allowed to communicate directly to openreach but had to converse communication through the other BT group BT wholesale? Now that openreach are being criticised for there performance ofcom is now backing off into the corner and allowing openreach to take the heat on this. Because of ofcoms regulations openreach are left to not only deal with 1 service provider but ALL service providers in the UK. It is also part of ofcoms regulations that the end user must communicate via there service provider and can not communicate with openreach directly. So why make these regulations and then when people complain it is not working try and get yourself out of the heat by saying “openreach we want better performance results from you”. This lies down to ofcom to change the regulations. I am sure that BT as a whole would be happy for there engineers to communicate more with the end users but the problem is they can’t. And why can’t they? Cause ofcom says so.

  7. Avatar dragoneast

    I suspect that the cost (or benefit, depends on how you look at it) of Britain’s approach to privatisation and deregulation (from banks to railways, as well as the utilities) is that everything has become so complicated that it’s not clear who is responsible for anything, because service delivery is so dispersed. That is no accident. It suits everybody (not least the politicians who are never short of someone else to blame), except the customers. And the British have never got the hang of customer service. Shouldn’t shoot the messenger, really.

  8. Avatar MikeW

    Do Openreach do a good job in this regard? I’m not convinced they do, but I also think they’re caught in an “interesting” position.

    What do we, as consumers, want from Openreach here? I guess it is that we want service to start, or be fixed, within a reasonable period – certainly a few days at most. We want an appointment time that is kept, with reasonable & timely warning when it cannot. And we want a problem to be fixed with a single appointment.

    The problem is that these three requirements cannot be met simultaneously without having an excessive number of engineers hanging around, potentially idle for half the time. And that would prevent Openreach meeting a 4th requirement that the British public has – to do things as cheaply as possible.

    However, I think they do a couple of things spectacularly badly:
    – When an appointment gets missed, or a fault is not fixed in one go, then your job seems to be returned to the back of the appointment queue, as part of the “fairness” requirements. And worse:
    – Openreach don’t keep the onus on them to get the job fixed. There is a back-and-forth shuttle with the CSP in the middle.

    In short, everything moves really slowly, and no-one takes responsibility.

    Something has to be changed to ensure that once your job hits the front of the queue for attention, then it stays there. And that it gets proper focus from that point on.

    • Avatar Gadget

      And what if the problem is caused by the CP and not Openreach?

      I think there is also a distinction between provision and repair – provision you make a booking and expect it to be kept and there is at least a forward view of what jobs need to be done, repair just “happens” and then as you say the expectation is that it is fixed as soon as possible, but as well as the statistical flow of faults an external event such as winds, floods, theft intervenes you then generate the “spike” that often causes other jobs to get missed.

    • Avatar Keith Chegwit

      as I am an openreach engineer Il just ask u this a fault can occure on any section of the line and some lines can be 10 miles long us as engineers have to find this fault. ie youve proved a battery fault to a section of cable 9 miles down a 10 mile line believe me iv been there u have to open two old type cable joints which take an hour or two each youve proved the fault to the cable we as normal fault engineers cannot change this cable as we are not trained to we send to a part of company called second stage who depending on how busy they are change the cable normally 1 to 2 weeks after. there is no chace we can fix every fault at first appointment but most of our engineers will try there dammed hardest as i do day in day out despite the grief we get from customers and bosses alike.

  9. Avatar dragoneast

    I suspect that part of the problem is that BT’s admin systems are antiquated, as with the DLM “one size fits all”. But as consumers we don’t want to waste money on backroom systems do we, we want them to get on with “the action”.

  10. Avatar telecom engineer

    Really offended with that programme. The description of the faults and remedy which would have given an idea if reasonable timescales was entirely missing. Ofcourse cps blame openreach – pass the buck is a tradition in this country. The number of times I have heard people shouting their line has been playing up for weeks only to then admit that openreach were notified a few days ago is astonishing. The one where openreach were waiting for the council and they poo pooed it….. well only a week ago a comms engineer died when a car ran him over as he emerged from a manhole… openreach rightly go maximum safety and due to people moaning about traffic jams the councils limit times and dates you can use traffic lights etc means if the manhole is in the road OR can be at the councils mercy.
    Cant speak to Openreach – talk to ofcom. Sick of call centers and want to speak direct with an engineer when you get a fault – grow up, they are busy fixing lines deal with the call centre.
    Upset bt retail dont get a better deal from openreach – good, it shows equivelence is working.

    The real issue holding Openreach back is the REGULATOR forcing price cuts. Maintenance is gone from day to day as engineers are driven on producivity i.e. reactive fixes to live faults and new orders. High cost departments such as planning get bared back slowing complex provision and repair. Use of contractors is also an issue as their work is nowhere near the quality of direct labour and often cause repeat visits for direct labour engineers – but they are cheap and tick appointment met boxes as wanted by ofcom and cps.

    Long termism and quality costs. But nobody wants to pay. Thats the issue.

    • Avatar dragoneast

      If it’s any consolation you have my sympathy (and appreciation). We can all get angry: been there, done that. Rarely, if ever, justified. The British media (led to quite an extent by the BBC) don’t do facts, it’s the “story” what matters – they want “impact” and “human interest” i.e. turn everything into the Jememy Kyle Show. And, quite frankly, what did that woman ever do to earn her pay?

    • Avatar GNewton

      With all due respect, I have to disagree. Openreach is the real problem here. They should hire more engineers if these are needed, and get the jobs done in a timely manner. We are aware of the fact the BT Openreach is NOT doing any preventive maintenance anymore, they haven’t done it for years, we have personally talked to several BT engineers.

      And of course, patching up old copper wires over and over again doesn’t really help either, there is nothing to prevent Openreach from introducing more reliable fibre lines, and then charge their customers accordingly. A long term investment and maintainance plan can do a lot good.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      So gnewton you are suggesting that in the event of a copper cable issue openreach should replace it with fibre and inform the service provider (sky , talk talk, bt, aaisp etc) that they should charge the customer a £1.5k install charge for FTTP and force them onto a fibre package?

      Do you think these things through before posting?

    • Avatar MikeW

      “But nobody wants to pay. Thats the issue.”

      You get what you pay for.

      Britain is, by almost every survey, one of the cheapest countries providing internet access.

      Which must mean we either have the cheapest network to maintain, or we must be spending less to maintain it – and probably less than we need to. And spending even less to upgrade it.

      As JNeuhoff says, there is nothing stopping Openreach from installing fibre, which is likely to reduce maintenance costs. Oh – except the money to use on the capital expenditure in the first place.

      If only we lived in a place where money grew on trees.

    • Avatar JNeuhoff

      “As JNeuhoff says, there is nothing stopping Openreach from installing fibre”

      I don’t remember saying that. To the contrary, BT has not enough money for setting up a commercially viable fibre broadband solution. Copper VDSL is not a fibre broadband in this context!. But even copper VDSL cannot be commercially deployed for at least one 3rd of the UK.

      However, GNewton is right in one point: A proper longterm investment plan is sorely missing. So is a proper cost-benefits analysis. If the end game is fibre optic broadband, then the total cost via various intermediate detours, such as copper VDSL patches, is higher compared to investing in a genuine fibre broadband in the first place.

      It is strange to see people like FibreFred to criticise others who have a different view when these same people already have VDSL lines and find it perfectly OK that taxpayers directly or indirectly subsidised their lines.

      BTW.: Money isn’t the issue, much more taxpayer’s money is wasted on less useful things like HS2. If people want to waste taxpayers money on nextgen broadband, then do it the right way, for all, and don’t do it like a half-baked postcode lottery. Even FibreFred is being ripped off by his beloved BT, he has a 55Mbps line, but probably pays for a 80Mbps VDSL service! Some of his neighbours closer to the cabinet may get 20Mbps more for exactly the same monthly cost. Something to think about …

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “Something to think about …”

      Nope, no sleep lost here. I pay for “up to” I was estimated at 36Mbps by the FTTC estimator so I’m getting much more than I expected to anyway , bonus.

      As for your comments on subsidy, that’s the nature of tax. I tax to support many hospitals and libraries up and down the country I’ll never visit, again I’m losing no sleep over that

    • Avatar MikeW

      “I don’t remember saying that.”

      Sorry – I get you and GNewton mixed up rather easily, having a semi-anglicised match to the name, and a similar watching brief on all things Essex.

      “A proper longterm investment plan is sorely missing. So is a proper cost-benefits analysis.”

      You are right here, but your analysis is missing one aspect – that of competition, and the risk management required when you have no idea what a competitor is planning, or (in this case) what the regulator is planning.

      If Openreach could be assured that customers would keep using their fibre for the next 10 years, and a regulator won’t hobble the amounts they can charge, then they could follow your steps and jump straight to a full fibre solution – all in the knowledge that they will recover their investment eventually.

      However, Openreach have to work under the assumption that a competitor could install competing fibre infrastructure at any moment, and that they could lose a fair amount of their future income. More importantly than Openreach’s thoughts are the thoughts of the people they are borrowing money from in order to rollout fibre: Those investors are the ones that need to be convinced they are going to get a good return on the money they lend BT.

      That assumption means they are limited in what they can invest per line – and this limit is around the amount of money they can get back within a single contract period (ie 12-18 months). Around £300.

      Think of it this way: An FTTC rollout is a way of limiting their financial exposure, a way of risk management, compared to a full FTTP rollout. A future FTTdp rollout, if it happens, would be a similar exercise.

      These rollouts should be seen as BT’s way of eating an elephant – one manageable bite at a time.

      Australia had the way of getting around this problem by allowing NBN Co to become a de-facto monopolist, buying out the existing access infrastructure for $11bn

    • Avatar JNeuhoff

      @MikeW: Since you have quite some detailed knowledge about BT, do you care to provide us with some links to your sources about who BTs investors are? And how they do the cost-benefits analysis (the BDUK doesn’t have one)? And why they don’t know about Ofcoms plans? Also, who are the widespread fibre network infrastructure competitors to BT? For the vast majority of the UK (except Virgin Media) we are not aware of any real infrastructure competition, especially not in conjunction with the BDUK!

    • Avatar FibreFred

      “Sorry – I get you and GNewton mixed up rather easily, having a semi-anglicised match to the name, and a similar watching brief on all things Essex”

      Spotted a while back, taking a leave out of Deductions multi persona handbook though thankfully not as bad.

      Whilst I don’t often agree with what J&G says he is tolerable and still open to a good debate.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @JNeuhoff
      Sorry – I might have a technical background, and have developed systems that meet BT’s requirements (and the requirements of many similar national/international telcos), so I have a reasonable understanding about how the reach technical decisions … and the financial restrictions behind some of those decisions.

      But I don’t have any of the insights you want on BT’s finances.

      As for Ofcom – well, of course BT might have expectations about what Ofcom is going to decide, but they don’t know. Right now, Ofcom has placed no regulations of the FTTX world, but you can bet it will arrive eventually. And you can bet that it will squeeze BT’s margins. But we don’t know when, or by how much – and BT don’t know either. But any savvy investor will, when placing his money, assume the worst.

      The same goes for competition. There might be no competition in half the country today – but Virgin could, in one single board meeting, change that. BT cannot control it, but they can mitigate against it. And a savvy investor would do likewise.

      There doesn’t have to be any meaningful competition right now for it to affect investment with 10-20 year paybacks. The spectre of competition is enough to make anyone cautious.

    • Avatar MikeW

      @JNeuhoff
      But on the finances, I can read the data in the current quarterly results…

      BT owes £8bn, with £0.8bn due to be repaid in the rest of this year, and £1.5bn due to be repaid next year.

      They have access to around £1.5bn of new debt if they wished to make use of it.

      They have £1.2bn in cash.

      What that says is that BT have room for about £1.5bn of “mistakes”. They could invest that money in FTTP (which would be about 4% coverage), and find zero take-up, or that Virgin comes along and competes in the other 50%.

      It isn’t, in the grand scheme of things, a huge amount of latitude.

      From this, you can see that BT can’t just choose to do FTTP out of its own coffers. It needs to persuade lenders that there is a valid business case.

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Its refreshing to see your common sense postings Mike I must say.

      You are right BT potentially can make gains by deploying FTTP across the board but they are more certain to make losses due to the fact they have to wholesale and Ofcom will indeed in the future start turning the thumbscrews and push the ROI out even further.

      It would be a massive gamble for anyone to rollout FTTP across the UK even if they didn’t have to wholesale it, people just don’t want to listen to things like this though.

    • Avatar Turandot

      If you work for Openreach you would say that wouldn’t you. Read my post up. But to summarise I moved house in August and today (yes only today 27th Nov) I finally have a line and internet. It has cost me a fortune having to take time off to sit and wait for the engineers SIX times – FIVE non show and not even a courtesy phone call. How do you explain that. The second missed appointment BT said well the engineer had a lot to do so by the time he finished it was too late to attend. But you will definitely have it next time. The next time I was told more work needed to be done – fluidity something. Then the next time another excuse. The final time when the engineer showed up he disappeared for ages so I assume the previous appointments never existed. Someone is lying. Shame on all of you. And by the way the line worked for a few days then completely dead. When I called BT they said the fault was with my property (damage due to damp). What a joke, after 5 days. They also said £130 fee to fix. Well look at the estate agents, at one time they were kings of the streets, now they are on their knees begging for business. It will happen one day and I will have the last laugh. If I misunderstood the situation do enlighten me. But excuse me if I took three months to complete a job, my boss would sack me already. You all should join the dole queue.

  11. Avatar Karen

    “Long termism and quality costs. But nobody wants to pay. Thats the issue.”

    Agreed they do not want to plough money back into the network

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Farewell Roberto welcome a new name and new gender! That’s certainly different for you

    • Avatar Roberto

      Yes i am everyone that has anything negative to say about BT.

      Now run along, you need to vote some more —>>>

    • Avatar JNeuhoff

      @Roberto: FibreFred does that to quite a few people who happen to disagree with his beloved BT propaganda. Just ignore him ….

  12. Avatar dragoneast

    Thinking about it, if OR were hopeless (which they’re not) they’d be one of the best friends the BBC’s got. Because in a digital future the case for the BBC disappears. Which is perhaps why it’s desperate. Like Ofcom really: run by a boss with political ambitions, and faced by a Government which wanted to abolish it (sensibly), it runs scared of the politicians and dances to their tune.

  13. Avatar Anne Robinson

    “Openreach would like to apologise to all of the people featured in the report. We recognise that it took far too long to resolve these faults and we appreciate that losing telephone and internet services is a considerable inconvenience. Our engineers carry out more than 160,000 jobs every week with very few issues.

    “The average time to fix even the most complex faults is just over 3 days, however, we sometimes find extreme cases that need more investigation, planning and civil engineering work. We also need local authority approval to dig up roads, so these cases can take a lot longer to resolve.

    “We are constantly working to improve how these issues are managed and we have also carried out a full investigation into the cases featured. We believe these actions will lead to improvements in the services we provide to all communication providers and their customers.”

    Well I have no idea what that all means and I have no idea what I’m talking about… Hurrr Durrrr

    • Avatar Michael Byrne

      On Tuesday lunchtime I was finally reconnected to infinity broadband having lost the service almost precisely a week before. I emailed BT and rang on numerous occasions but no matter what number I called I was always connected to an Indian call centre. The call centre operatives were always polite and attentive but they all said the same i.e. that they only deal with faults in the home and not outside and that someone would ring me within 24/48 hours (no one ever did). There is no number to ring to find out whether your fault is being attended to and when you will be reconnected; you just have to wait and wait and wait. As a small business working from home this is not good enough. As a human being the stress of not knowing what if anything was being done was intolerable. I even sent an email from my mobile (just about possible here with limited signal) to the chairman’s office but all she did was to send a clearly standard message back suggesting that most problems can be resolved by visiting BTs website. Urrgh!

    • Avatar FibreFred

      Michael if you need your connection for your business and find your ‘residential’ service does not meet your repair time needs you should consider a business package that has proper sla’s

    • Avatar sefa

      We have, for the last four weeks, been promised callbacks by BT about retaining our old Virgin Media phone number. We have to date not had one single callback, despite numerous promises from BT staff in Delhi and the Midlands. We are constantly being told that the matter has been “escalated to management level” or even the “troubleshooting team” (I know who needs shooting!) and are told they will definitely phone us back within four hours………well we are still waiting for a single callback, let alone within 4 hours. Everytime we call up, we have to explain the whole fiasco again, sometimes to someone in Delhi and sometimes to someone in the UK, although they admit all our call logs are on their system. I was even promised by a staff member in Delhi, that I would be copied in on an e-mail that was being sent to a senior staff member, however I am still waiting for the copy e-mail, but it’s a bit like the calbacks, it doesn’t happen. All I can say is that after having used Virgin Media for over 10 years, we are bitterly regretting moving to BT. Just finished another call to BT (they should really now feature on our frequent contact list as we seem to spend an average of 2 hours a day being lied to) and apparently the problem will be resolved by today. Yeah, yeah, yeah, have heard it all too often and nothing every happens. BT ARE LIARS!!!!!!

  14. Avatar dragoneast

    Again, this thread demonstrates (in my view) that no-one on the consumer side understands broadband provision in this country. I don’t. And whose fault is that if, as we’re always being told, it’s an “essential”? Everyone comes up with their “explanation” and the whole thing gets more confusing. I can only assume that all of us have a vested interest in the confusion – we couldn’t do a better job in creating a mess if we tried. Kudos to the BT engineering staff who are the only ones trying to sort out the mess. As has been said before, Government and Ofcom who created the regulatory mess are only interested in passing the buck, and the ISPs use “blame BT” as the lazy catch-all excuse for everything too. We get poor service? Quite frankly we ask for it. I’ve never heard anyone thank the OR staff on the ground for their efforts so I’ll say it: “thank you”, because no-one else has the manners to do so. It’s a rant – yes, because we all deserve it.

    • Avatar GNewton

      “I’ve never heard anyone thank the OR staff on the ground for their efforts so I’ll say it: “thank you”, because no-one else has the manners to do so.”

      Sorry, but I have to disagree with you. BT has been the worst company to deal with in my life. We have lived in different countries in the past, never seen any business so unprofessional and backwards as BT. And the core issue is the extremely poor performance of Openreach.

    • Avatar MikeW

      “I’ve never heard anyone thank the OR staff on the ground for their efforts so I’ll say it: “thank you”, because no-one else has the manners to do so.”

      I can only agree with you there. Every member of Openreach that has attended to an issue (either fault fix, re-connection, or fresh installation) has worked impeccably.

      I have absolutely no problem with any of the people who are the “boots on the ground” of the operation.

      Thank you.

  15. Avatar Danny

    Signed up for EE broadband and explained i don’t have a master socket to plug a phone into. Got told an engineer will come round. So iI wait in and nothing happened. Called EE and got through to open reach just to be told I dont need an engineer because my phone line is active. This happened on 3 different days over 2 weeks. Then I was told to answer my phone when they call me. Again I explain that I cant answer my home phone because i dont have a phone socket to plug a phone into. This went on for about an hour. The call only ended when the person trying to get me to do the impossible hung up on me. Awful service. I have been told an engineer is coming to sort out the problem on Tuesday the 5th of November but I wouldn’t be prepared to put a bet on it. Openreach is the worst company I have ever delt with. Not happy at all as they as still taking my money.

    • Avatar MikeW

      Are you sure that you got through to Openreach when you called EE?

      Openreach resolutely refuse to talk to the end user. In fact, most of the interfaces between an ISP (such as EE) and BT actually revolve around computer-based requests and responses – so even the EE staff don’t normally talk to Openreach staff.

    • Avatar telecom engineer

      This is exactly what I am on about. How can openreach be the worst company you have dealt with when you havent dealt with them at all? Your issue is with the poor support from your retailing communications provider. This may go on for weeks and you get irate but if they actually raised a fault it can be fixed within days. Do you get annoyed at transco if eon overcharge you?

    • Avatar dragoneast

      Broadband misinformation, simples.

  16. My problem started on 30th May 2013 when outreach came to fit Superfast Broadband to our property this done we were then told there was a problem with the cable underground and the road and the pavement needed to be dug up after waiting for four months for this to be resolved we decided to go with Virgin Media.

    Talk Talk and Outreach are a bunch of chumps.

  17. Avatar zemadeiran

    You guy’s all have to use the Latin based call center system…

    1. Track down an Openreach guy
    2. Explain to said engineer that you have an issue and that said issue is outlined on a document in your hand that also includes a picture of the queen…
    3. Engineer confirms that said document is a valid work order due to the queens image etc.
    4. Problem is rectified in short order 🙂

    Trust me, I am a doctor….

  18. Avatar cynthia.atkinson

    i have had no service either telephone or broadband since 10th september. i have spoken to numerous people at bt but to no avail i need a new pole eu regulations say it has to be taller this needs planning permission authorisaion etc etc .open reach have every thing they could possibly need over and over again but still no service everyone apologises but thats not the answer.i have cued on telephone systems for hours have had old fault information given even suggested i ask my mother for her mobile number so calls can be forwrded to her she has been dead for 20 years so not much hope there either calls are onw being transferred to my mobile but at a cost bt continue to take my direct debits as if fully operational.i live in the middle of nowhere am of pensionable age with inclement weather approaching and bt openreach are ignoring my situation

    • Avatar GNewton

      Your experience with BT is not unique. We had weeks of non-service on our old BT line in the past, all incoming calls were diverted to our mobile number while on a business trip to Norway, must have cost BT a fortune, with hours every day of foreign roaming charges.

      Openreach is quite incompetent IMHO.

  19. Avatar Alan

    How can you have an organisation which has a monopoly over repairs which has no public contact point
    Openreach should be renamed to “Unreachable”

  20. Avatar Brenda Clifford

    After watching this issue, I was surprised that people had not realised that when other companies started up offering phone/broadband etc ie talk talk orange etc back some years ago, that BT split its company to accommodate so able to enter this market but the handling of the ‘phone line’ into home was to stay with BT which transferred to BT tech side currently Openreach. Many a times when approached by other providers of home phones asking them about the ownership of into home phone line, they used to say we own it, my reply was that they are providers of a service of phone use and Internet services only and that BT still owned the phone line, which they used to go quiet on realising that pert inculcate info was known by me.

    But it is still unknown by a lot of younger people who get sucked in to signing up then find out to late when things go wrong with phone line.

    Listen to what companies say to you and ask questions thinking laterally

  21. Avatar E Gordon

    Try phoning the “Executive Level Complaints Team” on [admin removed by request on 27th Jan 2015 – this was for BT Consumer, not Openreach].
    Due to a typing error of a postcode to date it has taken ten months, and we still have no broadband installation, incompetence does not come close, any normal business would have gone under by now. The amount of money wasted because they are unable to correct a simple typing error made by their sales staff, 10 months of phone calls, engineers and routers delivered to an address which is obviously wrong as it happens to be a major department store! Only once has a member of staff seem to be genuinely apologetic, and they wonder why customers are mad!!

  22. I am upset with talktalk service my mum had waiting to get telephone service since august. Which bad management also staff communication. My mum was tooken to hospital ill we talktalk service ive call a number of time no assistance my family got angry with Them as bt own the line openreach the call centre oversea can understand why no help the telephone company. Kind regaurds
    Nixon Mitchell

  23. Hello watchdog service
    I am writeing to you are as ive live in a council flat and am disable when ive move here it was in poor condition it need decorator the enfield didn’t do anything no rewire or make sure the flat is safe before moveing in to it. Ive call to sort out the heating all so pluming also a plan of my flat the enfield council poorly respon to update my home need you to investorgate the problem.
    Your sincerely
    Nixon Mitchell

  24. Avatar carola cooper

    I did not see that program, but I have had a loud buzzing fault on my phone for 18 20 months – repeatedly tried find a ‘human’ to talk to – failed apart from idiotic advice from Mumbai – FINALLY an engineer arrived, really nice helpful man, Dan Spencer, found the fault in ‘zone E’ – GREAT after all this time wasted trying to get BT to actually DO something – he has sent report, now I wait to see IF BT mends the fault and I can finally have a proper noiseless phone – 2 days he says?! I will recommend BT IF this long long wait is rewarded – this is only HALF the story! I wonder how many fed up people LEAVE BT?? I am a pensioner……….

  25. Avatar Vivienne

    I have been waiting for reconnection from BT at my new property in Kent for 9 weeks! No one can give me a reason for the delay, except that they are waiting on OpenReach to resolve cabling issues at the exchange. I though we were in the 21st century – it seems not! In addition I paid for 12 months line rental at my last property in June and although (APPARENTLY) I will get credit for none-connected period, I am then expected to start a new contract when I have a new line – so it will prolong the period I am committed to BT. If there was an alternative solution I would take it but mobile connection is rubbish and there is no cable plus my landlord will not permit Satellite. This delay is not only affecting me physically with no phone or internet – but the emotional affect is not acceptable. I have been unable to satisfactorily do my work, my house move, my banking but have also been cut off from friends and family over the Christmas and New Year period. My hands are tied and the overwhelming frustration, in addition to all the lengthy (waiting) calls to BT is that when I do speak to someone there is a lot of lying going. Even though I might not like the truth – I would very much welcome it!

  26. Avatar John McQuaid

    I can go with everything above and more. I am now moving back to Virgin – I just pray that they cannot be as bad.

  27. Avatar Jean Simpson

    We experienced slow to non-existent broadband after reconnection. The first engineer they sent out damaged our phone line. Then they said they would charge us £100 month for this non service. We had many fruitless and frustrating phone calls to Indian call centre who kept telling us it was fine. Some were incomprehensible. Some advised us to look on the web site (!)Some were rude. It took 5 months and two complaints letters to get it fixed. This caused us great problems in conducting our business.
    I have never been so frustrated and have spoken to so many people in the same boat.
    When we had a power failure, Scottish Gas organised a repair team to come out within three hours and worked for 5 hours through the night to reconnect us. Why cant BT do the same?
    What leverage do we have to affect them?

  28. Avatar donella robinson

    A total lack of communication and disgraceful incorrect charging aside of the ridiculous amount charged if it were to be correct!
    Very odd in this day & age to allow it to happen.
    Life’s to short

  29. Avatar Peter Vining

    Watchdog need to revisit the Openreach fiasco – it just goes on and on – even my service provider has no proper communication with them. I get the feeling that if you complain and it gets back to Openreach they put you at the bottom of the list.
    Which idiot burdened this system on the paying public ? You pay Openreach over £190 a year for something they have no care for – for the system or their customers. Everyone knows they’re rubbish at communication, mainly because they know you can’t complain to them directly so they just treat customers in the most cavalier way they can – by ignoring them. Where does it say we can’t sue Openreach for wasting our time? I’m up for a class action !

    A private company acting like this would be out on their ear years ago !

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