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Review: Could be very good, but let down by terrible customer support

RaptorX

Regular Member
Review: BT could be very good, but let down by terrible customer support

This is the full version of my review that I posted here: www.ispreview.co.uk/review/reviews/6271.html

As the incumbent and the biggest telecoms company in the UK, BT has the potential to be an excellent ISP, but it’s seriously marred by the worst customer service I’ve ever seen (including outright dishonesty and possible fraud) from their outsourced call centres and I’m glad to have left them for the second time.

They have a good range of extra services including nationwide BT Wi-Fi hotspots and BT Sport and prices are competitive with different deals every month, albeit with 12 or 18 month contracts attached.

Being a large ISP, one does have to put up with site blocking / censorship that’s been imposed by the media industry via the British courts, unfortunately. This is something that the smaller ISPs don’t have to do and should be kept in mind when choosing an ISP.

I can only get an ADSL connection and I’m glad to say that in my latest 18 months with them the reliability was excellent and speed was generally quite fast, so I didn’t need to call their tech support very much.

I had previously been with BT for years and didn’t want to return to them, but I reluctantly left AAISP (see my previous review) for BT since I had to save money at the time and AAISP’s tight bandwidth limitations were an issue.

I recently saw that the excellent Zen Internet had started offering competitive packages for us ADSL users instead of their old bandwidth limited and expensive services, so jumping to them for phone and internet service was a no-brainer and it’s working fine now.


So, what’s wrong with BT’s customer service and tech support? Well, they’re a standing joke nowadays, with a deservedly terrible reputation.

Interleaving is on by default on an ADSL line to improve reliability. However, it adds significant latency, so I called BT’s tech support and asked them to set it to Fast Path (interleaving off). They never achieved this simple little thing, every time promising that it would finally be done “this time”. I gave up in frustration in the end and lived with it like this for the 18 months I was in contract with them. There are more issues, however.

Around a decade ago, I was out of contract with them and on a one month rolling contract, but had no intention of leaving, when out of the blue I received an email congratulating me on my new 12 month contract. Say whut?! To cut a long story short, BT had slammed me onto a new 12 month contract for no good reason and when I tried to cancel it, I was passed from pillar to post. I eventually got through to someone who promised a very cheap discounted rate per month (I can’t remember the exact figure now) if I accepted the new contract. I did, but all I got was a lousy fiver off my bill instead.

Again, I tried calling and emailing them many times to get the promised discount applied or the 12 month contract reverted back to the one month rolling contract I was on before, but surprise surprise it was all futile. The outsourced customer services were absolutely hopeless in fixing this BT-made problem and they just went round in infuriating circles, all the time maintaining a veneer of politeness, which just felt like an insult after a while of this.

I really hated BT after that and wanted to leave, but couldn’t see any decent and affordable alternatives to go to at the time, so stuck with them and then lapsed into just staying with them since the service did work reliably overall.

Then, in 2011, I had a minor technical problem where the ADSL BRAS was stuck, capping downloads at 12Mb/s when the line sync supported 18Mb/s downloads that I’d been getting previously without issue. Note that the line sync remained at around 21Mb/s, so I knew there was no physical problem with the line.

I contacted tech support to fix it, but they just went round in circles for around 6 weeks instead, driving me nuts. In the end, the engineer (who had been called out a second time by BT and knew he wasn’t required) took it upon himself to contact Openreach while he was round my house. In 5 minutes flat the nice Welsh lady he spoke to had logged on to the server and reset the BRAS rate. Download speed instantly jumped to around 18Mb/s, without even a resync and continued to work fast and reliably after that. Now, why couldn’t BT’s outsourced tech support do this simple thing with Openreach in the first place?!

This was the final straw and I found another ISP, AAISP, which were excellent (see previous review). Before I left however, BT’s retentions department had promised me a year of free UK support service, something which normally cost £10 / month. However, when I called that service to double check, they said that this isn’t true and that retentions often made this false promise. So what is this now, deception? One doesn’t expect this from the UK’s biggest ISP.

On top of this, my parents got mucked about recently when they suddenly found themselves with a false YouView subscription added to their budget 10MB / month service, which they didn’t even have the necessary set top box for and that significant bandwidth had been stolen off them.

When they called BT’s tech support line, they actually had to stay offline with the router switched off for two whole days while BT monitored the line for suspicious activity, plus got a barrage of excuses from BT trying to blame them for this issue. It took repeated phone calls and around two weeks to resolve it to remove the fake YouView subscription and bandwidth used. This isn’t good customer service.

When I left BT for the second time, I’m glad to say that they played fair with me this time. There was no funny business, I got my MAC in a timely manner and a small final bill which looked correct. This was all handled by a UK call centre, by the way. They also explained that their tech support centre is coming back to the UK and that the support is much better there. Well we’ll see, but it was too late to keep me by now.

With their huge size and bottomless resources, BT could be a leading player in the ISP market with an all-round quality product. Unfortunately, while their services work well, their abysmal customer service make them an ISP to avoid, especially as there are so many other decent alternatives around nowadays with infrastructure which works just as well, have more technical features and don’t insult their customers’ intelligence with second-rate call centres.

The situation may change significantly once they migrate all their call centres back to the UK, but it’s for them to prove to us that they can improve not us to have faith in them, so because of their current awful customer service, they only rate 3/10.
 
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AAuser27

Top Member
I was going to say. I thought you were with Zen?

Good review on BT though - never a truer word spoken.
 

nippa

Casual Member
I joined BT from Sky last month.
I was so appalled by their customer service ( unusable website , Indian and Glasgow call centres , umpteen text messages and voice messages ) that I rang Sky to get my TV back.

As soon as my contract is up I'm back to Sky for broadband.

The whole customer service setup seems unwieldy and not fit for purpose.
A UK Call centre would be a start.
 

RaptorX

Regular Member
@aauser27 I am with Zen - it's right in my signature. I simply reviewed the last three ISPs I've been with, all together. These are all the ISPs I've actually been with: Freeserve (1998/99) BT (99) AAISP (2011) BT again (2013) and Zen (2015). BT the first time round were still a bit incompetent, but they had UK call centres and did eventually fix problems without too much fuss. It's when they outsourced them that it all turned to sh*t.

Until they fix this abomination, I can only recommend for people to steer clear. Shame most people don't have a clue and go with them anyway, isn't it?

@nippa Sky is another awful ISP and they do site blocking too, so why don't you try Zen? Absolutely awesome ISP and well priced - check out my review and others' in the reviews section, here: www.ispreview.co.uk/review/products/270.html

You won't be disappointed. :)
 

AAuser27

Top Member
@RaptorX I see - it was fantastic to read and I thank you for your review on it. I agree the outsourcing is a killer and it's the one thing I don't miss about my last ISP Virgin (which I ran along side A&A)

@Nippa - what he said. Zen is the most rock solid ISP I have ever had. The only reason why I haven't given Zen a 5 star review is because of my username (As I was with AAISP also but the usage limits were rubbish + expensive to upgrade)

But with Zen for £30 a month I really do feel like I have struck gold!
 

RaptorX

Regular Member
Thanks AA! This review and the two others took me hours to write and several sittings, so I very much appreciate your kind words. :) I wrote them with the aim of making them as accurate, comprehensive and helpful as possible.

I particularly despise BT's illegal bait and switch tactics. It shocked me at the time that the UK's biggest ISP would pull such a petty stunt. Even though it's been a long time ago now, I don't think that they should get away with it, so I made sure to put it in my full review - what goes round comes around. They never compensated me for it, after all. At least they seem to have cleaned up their act since, as I didn't encounter any funny business when I left them this time.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
BT are up there with Ebay/PayPal, NPower and British Gas, as companies I dont trust and wont use again.
 

sentup.custard

ULTIMATE Member
Isn't there a swear filter on this forum?
How come the N word got through it?
;)
 

AAuser27

Top Member
Thanks AA! This review and the two others took me hours to write and several sittings, so I very much appreciate your kind words. :) I wrote them with the aim of making them as accurate, comprehensive and helpful as possible.
Well certainly is that! This will make you chuckle I just let a Virgin Engineer into next door for my neighbour and he is also on BT for fibre he was saying how their scripted tech support is a joke and explaining how he has been told to turn his router off for 24 hours even though we both know it's dead but the tech guy wouldn't believe the power light was red.. LOL .. I know him well as he has installed VM in several of my properties. We had a cuppa and I recommended Zen - he signed up on the spot (same price as BT but better)

he went away really chuffed.

Zen - all bubble - no squeak :D
 

RaptorX

Regular Member
Dammit AA, where's the Like button on here?! :)

Nice to see another happy customer.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
Feature request noted for a future upgrade ;).

Actually there is a thread rating system already, but we never use it as bots tended to just spam the system and slow the server.
 

AAuser27

Top Member
@Raptor - NO idea but I sure liked CC and your comments :)

@MJ - Nice thanks!

I got to say Zen + Billion 8800NL = rock solid combination so far. I just hope not many people twig this cab is live or if they do not many people jump on it. It's half term and from what I can tell from my neighbour VM is crawling to a stall. I just say " yes mine too" and walk away with a smile on my face knowing I am not even on it and I am getting 74/18 24/7 hehe

I've got Sky TV but I won't take the free stuff they offer. I like being with Zen and to hell with the cost :)
 

RaptorX

Regular Member
Thanks Mark. This forum runs on vBulletin and I know this software has supported a "thanks" button for years, so I expect it's just a case of turning the feature on and renaming it "Like", if you want to use it. I'd be surprised if spammers would bother with it. I can tell you that this can be mitigated automatically however, as on another forum that I frequent which has it, if that button is clicked too many times in a short space of time, it disappears for 24 hours. I know, because it happened to me when I got a little overgrateful when I was helped out once and thanked everybody. :eek: :laugh:

@AA, +1 on sticking with you current combination. Sure, going all Sky will be financially cheaper, but you pay for it in other ways, such as crap customer support, possible poor performance and site blocking.
 

Holdon

Casual Member
I have posted a 'comment' on the Ombudsman Service-Communications(OSC) who are supposed to regulate the activities of BT to ensure that the 'rules' are followed. Unfortunately when I was dealing with BT and their so called 'complaints procedure' I believed at that time I was dealing with the worst customer service in the land, however this proved to be wrong. The maladministration at the OSC is far worse than BT and defies the logic in having the OSC as a 'regulator' or ADR scheme administrator. Being a private company there are few rules that they are expected to follow, only their own and even then they fail, as Confirmed by the Independent Assessor. In my opinion, the OSC are passing off and are not fit for purpose being unable understand 'maladministration' because of their own. As long as the OSC are dealing with BT complaints as the ADR BT will be allowed to continue with failed call back's, unanswered emails, corrupted data, misinformation and less than adequate compensation when they have accepted fault, the sooner OSC are dispensed with and replaced by a more realistic ADR scheme the more realistic the service from BT will become, much to the benefit of all.
 

call cent hater

Casual Member
I feel your pain. I have just left BT, and yes it was about their crap customer support. It seems that whatever you say they have to contradict, argue, quibble, and correct everything you say, you cannot be allowed to leave the call having won an argument. As you say there is outright lying as well involved, to cover their lack of technical knowledge - they dont know they dont know and therefore have full confidence in their claims.

They pull one trick after another, one fast one after another; in the last week I was with them their behaviour over the phone worsened as they knew I was leaving I suspect; I was on the phone with a guy, who stated that he recognised myself from four previous calls with himself, he then stated that on the last call I kept repeating "I am still here!" - and too right I would when he was trying to pull enough silence on the call so that he could use the BT rule that if there is a long enough period of silence then the hapless call centre staff can end the call (and keep their job) so I was thwarting that. I then asked what is it with you how many times I have called, why does it matter to you? His reply was a couple of seconds of silence before ending the call.

A woman claimed to be a manager off-the-batt the first call so to speak. That is a rare occurrence so I did not believe her. She said OK I will get someone else on the call, so she puts me in the queue, a couple of minutes later the call was dropped - a long enough spell of silence to end the call and keep her job.

I could go on and on with this kind of crap behaviour.

Complaints - dont make me laugh - the complaint is submitted to the organisation about their behaviour, however, the organisation gets to be the judge, jury, and executioner in your complaint, with the only goal to cover up their bad doing. Bt cannot - just like other companies - give you the result of a complaint; all I get is an email saying the complaint has been closed, but with no indication what the result of the complaint was. I asked, as they kept asking myself what I would like as a result of the complaint, to have a written confirmation of what happened to the person I complained about, the staff couldnt get over it, couldnt move on, couldnt adapt, couldnt talk about anything else, apart from the fact that that would be a bad idea.

BT staff are full of hubris about themselves, and their abilities; they are legends in their own minds. They really do not believe they are doing anything wrong.
 

Captain_Cretin

ULTIMATE Member
Bandwidth stealing is a major issue I had with BT for years at my old address; they had "records" of me using the internet during periods when I was away on holiday, but they would NEVER admit it was an issue.
I was told by a very clever tech guy who owned the ISP I switched to that the problem was cross-talk at the exchange - the wiring was so old and badly insulated, that "your" line would pick up ghost signals from other lines in the bundle, and those ghosts would get billed as your data use.
A more recent scam was the BT Sport subscription, had a friend billed repeatedly for this, even though he didnt have it.
Sadly, he is too old and stuck in his ways to switch provider - which is what BTR count on.
 
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