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The Horror Of British Telecom 651

Posted by timothy
from the does-it-have-cheesy-special-effects? dept.
MBCook writes "'Someone, raised amidst the elegant lattice of custom and tradition that serves as the foundation of English society, came up with a very elegant, very British, solution to broadband policy here. And it absolutely, positively sucks.' So starts an article by Mark Hachman over at ExtremeTech chronicling his odyssey to get broadband in his new flat."
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The Horror Of British Telecom

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  • Can someone from that side of the pond clear up what the big controversy holding up affordable broadband in the UK is? I've been paying US40/mo for 5mbit cable since around early 1997. And I've not been in New York or any other large metro areas.
    • Two words: British Telecom (and a toothless regulator). But you read TFA, so you know that.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:55AM (#12486756)
        (This a copy of a complaint letter that was actually received by NTL.)

        Dear Cretins,

        I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone.

        During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions. Please allow me to provide specific details, so that you can either pursue your professional prerogative, and seek to rectify these difficulties - or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

        My initial installation was cancelled without warning or notice, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive at all, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website.... how? I alleviated the boredom to some small degree by playing with my testi*les for a few minutes - an activity at which you are no-doubt both familiar and highly adept.

        The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later, although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools - such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum.

        Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After several further telephone calls (actually 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks) my modem arrived ... a total of six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it. I estimate that the downtime of your internet servers is roughly 35%... these are usually the hours between about 6pm and midnight, Monday to Friday, and most of the useful periods over the weekend.

        I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 telephone calls on my mobile to your no-help line this week, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highly skilled bollock jugglers.

        I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back), that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back), that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off), that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed), that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman.... and several other variations on this theme.

        Doubtless you are no-longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle-moments to attend to. Frankly I don't care, it's far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustrations in print than to shout them at your unending hold music. Forgive me, therefore, if I continue.

        I thought BT were sh*t, that they had attained the holy piss-pot of god-awful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That's why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn't anyone else is there?

        How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a useless shower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum - incompetents of the highest order. British Telecom - wankers though they are - shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy puss-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy.

        Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and foolhardy quest to receive any kind of serv
    • by taobill (575617) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:54AM (#12486481)
      Dur what?

      Are you in possession of the facts?

      You can get 2Mbps for £14.99 (about $28.17) per month.

      2Mbps is the highest speed generally available.

      Later this year, higher speeds will be available (up to 7.2 Mbps), and "hip" ISPs will offer these speeds at no extra charge. "shitty" ISPs (e.g. BT) will probably restrict the higher rates to premium services.

      • If I had been in possession of all the facts I was seeking, I wouldn't have posted a question. My question was prompted by seeing an endless stream of drivel about British broadband problems. I don't see posts about any other countries' broadband. I was looking to know what unique situation in the UK had caused this. I think the other replies to my GP answered this.
    • How does 29.99GBP sound for 8Mb DSL?

      We don't have fprofitable cable companies so we get gouged on the cable side of things.
    • If you're interested in any of the deeper techie/political details that other users haven't mentioned, I can reccomend the ADSLGuide Q&A [adslguide.org.uk] - the first few pages are newbie oriented but the later parts helped me alot when I was working out the quirks with various provider's services.

      The other notable fact is the recent (as in last 6 months) change in how BT wholesale deal with ADSL provision - essentially it encourages resellers to offer much faster speeds (previously 512kbps was standard, now it's abou
  • by treff89 (874098)
    I have been to the UK, and must concur: BT is the pits! They are comparable to Australia's Telstra in many ways. One thing that BT has done right, though, is the O2 mobile company. Brilliant! http://o2.co.uk/ [o2.co.uk]
    • BT do not own o2.

      BT used to own a company called Cellnet, that later became o2. o2 is owned by mmo2, which does not belong to BT.

      mmo2 are not another name or brand of BT. mmo2 operate several mobile and communication networks of their own (the new police network, manx telecom, o2, etc)
  • by nagora (177841) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:44AM (#12486441)
    I've not read the article yet, but I have dealt with BT on many occasions. They are without a doubt the worst company in the world. Totally disorganised, uninterested in their customers, and years behind the rest of the world. What does BT stand for? Bloody Terrible? Bag o' Tripe, Bunch of Tossers? Take your pick. Whatever it stands for, they're shit.

    Now that I've vented, I'll go and read the article. After which I'll probably need to vent again.

    TWW

    • Re:BT (Score:2, Interesting)

      by arivanov (12034)
      This means that you have not dealt with Telewest, Homechoice, Bulldog or any of the other "alternatives".

      First, lets be clear. BT are in this for the money, not for the coolness. They have no intention on offering cool products dot-bomb style that do not bring profits.

      Second, they may seem technologically backwater, but they are obliged by the UK regulatory regime to offer their products on a national basis. As a result if it takes to limit DSL to 512 (old Fujitsu linecards) or 1M (new linecards) to offer
      • Re:BT (Score:3, Interesting)

        by nagora (177841)
        To add to that, it is clearly the better company as far as customer service and reliability is concerned compared to any alternative in the UK.

        Total crap. On three different occassions BT has failed to even install their products and have given up. I have lost my own Internet connection, a large contract in the City of London (hardly a backwater) and in a smaller Woking office because, in each case, after literally weeks of talking to BT and reporting fault after fault with the work done by their so-called

  • ...nothing's easy over here.
  • Seconded (Score:2, Informative)

    by gowen (141411)
    I'm trying to get broadband to my house, which is in a pleasant little Staffordshire village, but can't because BT can't be bothered to upgrade the exchange to have sufficient capacity. So my friend down the road has broadband (albeit only 512k) and all I've got is a BT dialup li@$@%"£"%((%NO CARRIER
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:48AM (#12486458)
    At least thanks to some of the deregulation and anti-monopoly stuff, we have alternatives to BT, like NTL... oh wait... they're just as bad.
    • At least thanks to some of the deregulation and anti-monopoly stuff, we have alternatives to BT, like NTL... oh wait... they're just as bad.

      ...and as bad as NTL (and Telewest) may be [1], they're still only available in selected areas. There's no cable down my street, nor the street I lived in before (though going back 5 years, I did have cable). And this is inner-city Glasgow, lest I be accused of living in Little-Rural-by-the-Mold. Or Stonybridge ;-)

      Wandering OT slightly, a friend used to work for

  • Not news (Score:4, Funny)

    by cortana (588495) <sam AT robots DOT org DOT uk> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:49AM (#12486464) Homepage
    Saying that British Telecom is pants isn't really news. Moaning about them has been part of life in Britain for the last twenty five years, and frankly if this even changed many of us would no longer know what to do all day.

    "Damn and blast British Telecom" exclaimed Dirk, the words coming easily from force of habit.
    • > "Damn and blast British Telecom" exclaimed Dirk, the words coming easily from force of habit.

      But you have to admit that they only charge local rates for calls to Bermuda from London, even back through time to the beginning of life on earth (which is either a few million or exactly 6000 years). What other company can promise good reception while using a time machine.

      Here's another nice one: Use BS&S and Die
  • Let's review... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by MaestroSartori (146297) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:52AM (#12486475) Homepage
    "...let's review the procedure for obtaining broadband in the U.S. Step #1: Call up your cable or DSL provider, walk through the options, and decide what you want. Step #2: Receive and install the modem, or have an installer do it for you. Step #3: There is no Step #3!"

    So, let's review the procedure for obtaining broadband in the UK:

    Step #1: Call up BT, to make sure you have a line capable of receiving broadband. (Apparently everyone in the US can receive a broadband connection. That's what this guy says, anyway!)

    Step #2: l up your cable or DSL provider, walk through the options, and decide what you want.

    Step #3: Receive and install the modem, or have an installer do it for you.

    Step #4: There is no Step 4! Unless there's a problem, in which case the useless bureaucracy of BT kicks in!

    Seriously though, this guy's problem with "The Horror of BT" is just him making a lot of noise about nothing. There's plenty of room for more legitimate gripes about how BT run things - for instance, if you have a fault with a line, their engineers will only come out between 9am-5pm Mon-Fri. Absolutely useless for 99% of the working population! :/
    • Re:Let's review... (Score:5, Informative)

      by PowerBert (265553) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:27AM (#12486629) Homepage
      Actually I had a fault with my BT line a litle over a month ago. I called BT on Friday evening (from my mobile) and a BT engineer was at my house on Saturday afternoon. BT kept me informed throughout the process. At around 4:30 Saturday afternoon I asked the engineer what time he clocked off and he replied "When the lines fixed, I can't leave a customer without service."

      BT's not all bad.
      • by fishbot (301821) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:07AM (#12487051) Homepage
        It seems to vary wildly, though. For instance, my parent's BT line has been off for 3 weeks now (only for voice, DSL still works!?!). The problem is related to some recent work carried out under the road. On no less than 5 occassions a BT engineer has arrived, run the SAME SET of tests and 'discovered' the problem (my dad tells them what it is every time, they believe him when the leave). Two of them tried to sign the job off as done, despite only having diagnosed, not fixed, the problem.

        After 2 weeks and 3 visits, my dad phoned BT. They told him that they had no record of the problem and that it must be the first time he was reporting it, therefore they could not help him. Two phone calls later, one member of the call centre actually bothered to run a search instead of just reading the first screen that appeared. Found the problem, confirmed that it was not fixed. Did nothing else.

        It's still not fixed. They're sending an engineer round to 'try and find the fault' (again). My dad has refused to pay for the past quarter's line rental and has queried Citizen's Advice for possible solutions.
    • Re:Let's review... (Score:3, Informative)

      by NetNifty (796376)
      Well for me it was (I'm in the UK):

      Step 1: Go to providers web site, order broadband and modem.
      Step 2: Recieve and install modem


      But that's because everything went well for me (exchange was only recently activated for broadband, and phone line was only installed 15 years ago). I think the problem he's pointing out is when it goes wrong, it usually goes horribly horribly wrong.

      I haven't really had massive problems with BT myself - but at the end of last year I had a problem with my broadband connecti
    • This guy's mistake is thinking that BT gives a damn about his attempt at public revenge. You are right, the story here is that there was a fault on the line and the landlord/prior tenant didn't cancel some services they should have. It took a bit of time to sort it out. Has he ever been to the RMV, or called his HMO ?

      Sounds to me like he has a FAR wider range of options for broadband than I have in the US, at prices that look pretty reasonable: UKP29/m for 8Mbit ( US$60) including telephone service - wow
  • by HogynCymraeg (624823) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:54AM (#12486484)
    British Telecom is a UK company. UK != England
    England is a subset of UK
    UK = Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland
    Each country has it's own race [bbc.co.uk]. Calling the UK "England" is both offensive and ignorant.

    Please learn some geography and manners.
    Thank you.

    • Couldn't agree more , if you call a Scotsman english its rather not in the intrest of your health ;) heh.
      Actualy calling alot of Us Scotts brittish is pretty offensive for some of us , we are rather proud of being scottish
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Those people over there in the United States of Texas are really ignorant...
  • TFA Books I-IX (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @05:58AM (#12486499)
    OK, for those that haven't RTFA, the entire thing can be summed up with this quote:
    But I just moved in, I said. I barely had a telephone line, let alone broadband. My landlord had broadband, but he moved.

    "Well, what you need to do is contact your ISP--"

    I don't have an ISP, I said.

    "Then you need to have your landlord contact his ISP and have him free the line."
    And this is in no way exclusive to Britian, I had to do this exact same thing in the US of A, but I didn't write a novel about it. Sheesh.
  • My parents got broadband last week. So far:
    • Connecting fails 9 times out of 10 with errors messages such as "no response from the server"
    • If I phone them on the landline, the connection invariably drops.
    • Even if I don't phone them, the connection will, without warning and randomly, drop.

    I don't have broadband myself, I'm trying to troubleshoot over the phone with no real idea what is going on and getting very little help ("an error has occurred" is all very fine and well but getting specific detail

    • Phoning BT technical support has been a disaster, so far I gave up after sitting for 25 minutes in a queue and being told for the 100th time that my call is "important to them".

      Just be happy you get to wait that long in the first place. I (unfortunately) became a customer of E.ON Energie [eon-energie.com] in Germany when they swallowed up my local energy company. When you called their customer support department they would make you wait for something like 5-10 minutes and then disconnected you with a message that went some
  • by taobill (575617) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @06:00AM (#12486514)
    Which means that almost all of the ISPs simply resell the same BT service

    Wrong, wrong, wrong.

    Check your freakin' facts before you go slagging off the rather elegant BT system.

    The bit that is the same is the DSL connection between your house and the exchange, and the virtual circuit over BT's ATM network to the ISP.

    It is then up to the ISP in question as to how they link you (the customer) to the Internet.

    You can pay a pittance and get a shitty connection with a dynamic IP address, through a transparent web proxy and have your web surfing go down every few weeks (or whenever it gets really busy).

    Or you can pay a few pounds more and get a static IP address (or even a range) and no transparent proxy, and loads of back-end bandwidth so that you get a very reliable service.

    Although I am not surprised that a foreigner wouldn't know this because very few Brits are aware of these facts either.

    • For an illustration of this check out Zen's [zenadsl.co.uk] ADSL service. 8 static IPs for no extra charge, up to 2mbps at 20:1 contention, no caps... not bad eh.

      At the other end you get something horrible like "BT Yahoo! Broadband". bleccch.

  • It's not really due to the fact that they are public sector companies - the reason is more to do with what happens when they run at a loss. Usually the government just subsidises them with increased taxes. In the long run, they diverge from being profit oriented to survival oriented , in other words making manageable losses.

    In India we saw an about-turn in service quality when BSNL [bsnl.co.in] became a for-profit company. After all telecom is not for Future Good like Education or something... it's for now and today.

  • I used to be with http://www.tiscali.co.uk/ [tiscali.co.uk], who are one of the worst ISP's in the UK. I decided to move to another ISP and rang Tiscali to get a MAC code. With a MAC code the old ISP talks to the new ISP and they arrange a changeover, usually takes 2 weeks and you are down for a day at most. Turns out Tiscali don't do MAC codes, probably because they are one of the worst ISP's in the UK and every bugger would leave if it was that easy ;)

    So, I had to leave Tiscali and they wanted one months notice, w
    • ...So, I had to leave Tiscali and they wanted one months notice, which they got and after a month, my broadband stopped working. It then took many calls to Tiscali chasing them up to get BT to cease the line...

      Sadly, that's my experience too (though with fairadsl, not Tiscali). I'll never go with an ISP who (a) is cheap-as-chips, and (b) isn't part of the MAC system. The whole MAC thing annoyed me; basically OFCOM (OFTEL?) don't really seem to regulate the non-MAC ISPs, which mean that the ISPs have yo

  • Ignoring the condecending USA's great, UK backwards attitude(At least our mobiles work everywhere...) the author has my sympathy

    I ordered broadband from a company (lets call it pipex). Unfortunately abut 20 minutes after I ordered it I realised that they did not provide everything I required, and another one did. So I went to website and cancelled. Then came 4 weeks of hell.

    You see pipex had been a little too efficient. Even though I had paid no money, cancelled in the cooling off period, the order had go
  • I recently moved to Cumbria in the UK and signed up for DSL. I went to the library for some slightly overpriced (2 quid per hour) net access and checked that my exchange was supported by BT for DSL. It was. I went to virgin.net and signed up because, although not the cheapest, they were reasonable and have no minimum contract. They provided a free modem that came about 5 days after I placed the order and two days before it was scheduled to be turned on. Morning of, I hooked it up and it worked. I'm paying f
  • When I moved into my new place last summer, the previous residents had failed to cancel the BT phone line along with their broadband. Not only that, they had run up a debt with BT and in order to get a phone line put in my name, I had to prove I wasn't them. Far, far too many faxes later, we had a phone line. Great, time to order tasty, tasty 2Mb ADSL from none other than the same Metronet in the article. Alas, 'twas not to be, for the line already had ADSL on it. "But, but..." I cried. "Sorry sir, yo
  • The UK has approaching 98% ADSL penetration, far higher than the US.

    The reason for this is British Telecom. Despite their faults they have created a stable package that for the bulk of connections just works.

    And it works a damn sight better than the nasty connection I set up in our Miami office 5 years ago which was so poor it had to be downgraded to IDSL.

    One of the reasons costs are higher is because ISPs in the UK have the burden of paying to connect to networks in the US - so our bandwidth is pricier.
  • All of his problems with the bank comes from the fact that he is not a UK citizen with a history in the UK. If you are, your parents will have sorted you out with a bank account and you will have no problems getting a new one with a different bank.

    When you are new in a country, getting a bank account isn't necessarily all that easy, though.

    It might have been easier before, but certainly after the 9/11, the government put in much stricter regulations for obtaining a bank account.

    By regulation, in the UK,

    • and kept on thinking that the whole UK system was pretty shitty

      Just wait until you fly to the US.
      Then you will *truely* have fun in a US airport. A place where "Every ones a superhero, everyones a Captin Kirk" and nail clippers are considered weapons of mass murder :-)

  • What is this MAC code he talks about? Is it the same thing as a network MAC address, or is it some BT related thing that identifies the line?

    BTW, cable might be a bit less troublesome, as it doesn't involve BT. Might.
  • by 91degrees (207121)
    But really it's that BT has a glitch in its processes that mean that if you move to a home that has had broadband before, it may be difficult to get them to switch it over to you.

    I can see how it's irritating, but as nightmare stories go, I've seen a lot worse.
  • I've run into the same problem that this guy has with ADSL and BT. Despite disconnecting from an ADSL service for six months, when I came back to it and wanted another provider - I was told I still had ADSL and had to jump through hoops to get things sorted out. It was a right pain.

    However this isn't particularly indicative. While the sort of ADSL-wholesale-provider concept does undoubtedly introduce hiccups from time to time, it's also quite cool in a way which Americans might not necessary get.

    We can

  • He's an idiot... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by JackJudge (679488)
    ...the author of the original story I mean. He gets plenty of prior warning he's moving to the UK, he even spends a month or more here in a BB equipped place and does he bother to a single piece of research into how to get BB in his new country of residence ?? The entire story is peppered with remarks along the lines of "it's not like this in the States." Well of course it's not you great wally, it's a foreign country and they do things differently. It's not like we don't have a whole shedload of mags on
  • We recently 'upgraded' from ADSL to SDSL for our office to cope with the increasing uploads in mail and FTP serves.

    Unfortunately, in our area the only provider available is BT (there are others who resell, but were significantly dearer).

    You would think, with a £1000/quarter ($7500pa for American friends), that you might get an IP address from a range used solely by businesses (and that hasn't therefore been blacklisted due to residential customers in the same block relaying spam), and that you might
  • I had the misfortune to actually want to try and get ISDN + DSL in my old flat in Germany through Deutsche Telekom. They far surpassed BT in incompetence and it required 13 trips to a Deutsche Telekom store over a 2 month period to get both ISDN and DSL fully working.

    So when I returned to the UK I was pleasently surprised when BT activated the Phoneline in my flat overnight and ADSL was activated one week later.
  • He's still trying to clear the line. Next we get to the part where he requests a service, this gets passed to BT to check his line (again) then back to the ISP with the results, then back to BT with the request for service, then back to the user with the activation date. Then the modem doesn't turn up, then the microfilters don't work.

    Finally, he gets a connection. It connects at something completely stupid like 30k over a 2MB line. Fault process gets raised with the ISP, passed to BT, passed to ISP, passe
  • Everyone loathes BT (Score:3, Interesting)

    by cruachan (113813) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:03AM (#12486787)
    BT are without a shadow of doubt the worst company in the UK. The don't just treat their customers with contempt, they actually seem to hate them and go out of their way to be cause them as much pain as possible. At BT being a sadist is a job requirement.

    I'm on one of the last exchanges in the UK scheduled to be upgraded to broadband, and at present I use a combination of Satellite and ISDN. The sat is rock solid, the ISDN is a continual tail of woe. It regularly dies and BT won't fix it within 72 hours unless you pay extra for some 'service' contract. However the 'service' contract only guarentees a 'response' - which BT seem to take as simply phoning you up on another line and saying word to the effect 'oh dear, looks like your ISDN needs an engineer'. They don't actually do anything until they absolutly have to.

    They always make the excuse that they are short of engineers because 'work is heavy at the moment'. Work is always heavy, in 5 years of my ISDN line they have never had even the glimmer of enough engineers to service the system with any hint of a timely response. An as to bullet-proofing the line so it doesn't do down as regularly - dream on, that would only take the fun out of torturing their customers.

    In the days when they ran a mobile phone business I made the mistake of having a contract with them and their behaviour came pretty close to fraud.

    I used to commute regularly on the railways, and bad as their service was - legendary awful in fact - the rail companies still can't lay a finger on the shere loathsome corporate dreadfulness that is British Telecom.
  • by willm5 (592275) <will.willmcgugan@com> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:07AM (#12486801) Homepage
    I was an early adopter of ADSL, which I purchased directly from BT. When they first set me up it all went smoothly - although it did take 2 weeks for an engineer visit.

    Then I had to move. Unfortunately I still had a few months to go on my one year contract. But when I called BT to set up ADSL in my new flat, they were happy to waive the remaining months I owed them. Very nice of them I thought, yet when I tried to order the new ADSL installation they told me I couldn't pay for it with my credit card because only one installation was allowed per credit card. They wouldn't let me pay by any other method (not cheque, cash nor gold doubloons). I only had the one credit card at the time, so I offered to pay up the remaining months on the old installation to free up my credit card. But they wouldn't let me do that either. Several weeks of calling and being called back went by with no progress and I was eventualy given email addresses to complain to, which were just ignored.

    I eventualy just went with another ISP, who were more expensive but helpful. So I am no fan of BT. And dont get me started on the time they routed my phone calls to another (unattended) number, then spent two weeks calling me to arrange an engineers visit!
  • by cerberusss (660701) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:09AM (#12486803) Homepage Journal
    It's better to write a letter rather than call. When you call, note down the subject, time, employee name and conclusion in your agenda. If possible, record the call.

    When it's too important to call, write a letter and have it sent with the option where they sign to receive the letter. Again, you have a date, time and name.

    When the inevitable time comes that they claim money from you, reply with a letter enumerating all your notes. You'll never hear from them again.

  • All telcos suck (Score:5, Informative)

    by Alioth (221270) <no@spam> on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:12AM (#12486825) Journal
    BT doesn't have a monopoly on sucking.

    I lived in the US for several years, and was in a GTE (which became Verizon whilst I was there) area. They sucked every bit as hard as this guy's complaint against BT, and that was just for voice (I used RoadRunner cable for broadband). Specifically:

    - two weeks after I moved in, they disconnected me without warning because they unilateraly decided my apartment was 'abandoned' (yes, that was the word they used).
    - I got disconnected *again* when a new neighbour moved in because they thought my line belonged to my neighbour.
    - more billing errors than I care to mention
    - abysmal line quality; in the middle of a metropolitan area, when I was on dialup it was impossible to get much better than 33k dialup connections. Yes, they DO have line faults in the US. They just don't actually fix them.

    Then there was MCI. They had a whole new level of suckage. I wasn't even a customer of theirs, and one of their charges showed up on my bill. "Third Party Call" it was called - a $10 call from Florida to New Jersey (and I lived in Texas). MCI never did properly refund the money and I had to PAY Verizon for 'third party call blocking'. I had to PAY them to fix a horrible security hole whereby you can charge money to a different phone line! Apparently you can set up a 3rd party call by calling the operator and having the charge sent to another phone line. I suspect you do have to provide some details so the operator knows you're not just picking a line at random, what I suspect is the operator mis-keyed the number to charge to.

    I also got charges put on my phone line from another random long distance company with no explanation. I could never get them to remove that charge, fortunately it was trivially small.
  • US Equivalent (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Phillip2 (203612) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @07:56AM (#12486997)
    In the US, this wouldn't be a problem.

    Having just arrived in the US, you wouldn't have a social security number. So no one would give you credit for anything. So you can't get anything which you pay for in arreas.

    Of course being unable to get broadband would not be a problem. In the absence of electricity, what would you plug your computer into?

    Phil
  • by johansalk (818687) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @08:16AM (#12487100)
    In addition to the DSL fee to my ISP, I have to pay BT a line rental fees eventhough I never use it to make or receive phone calls! And it isn't cheap either; ~£50 per quarter at least.
  • by sr180 (700526) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:03AM (#12487446) Journal
    Sounds exactly like the sort of thing Australia's government run telecomms monopoly would do, Telstra. (Or better known as Helstra, or Tel$tra or ripoff merchants.)

    There best effort for me was watching a Telstra tech out on the street playing in the Telecomms pit. He accidently disconnected an E1 (30 digital phone lines) of ours at work. I noticed it go down so immediately went out to speak to him.

    He realised what he had done and appologised. I asked him to fix it, he said he wasnt able to do that, and Id have to ring Telstra and lodge a fault. But HE broke it! Not me! Sorry, but he couldnt raise a fault or escalate it.

    So I ring Telstra in a bad mood. We have a few decent service contracts with them, so it shouldnt be a problem. No worries, I ring telstra and lodge the fault. The woman on the other end of the phone mentions that they will have to Test the line and that it would take FOUR HOURS. But the tech is already there! Call him. He will tell you that its broken and exactly what the problem is. Sorry, they cant do that, they have to test it and you WILL have to wait 4 hours. (Meanwhile we are short 30 phone lines.)

    I get a call in four hours, that yes the E1 is down (no shit sherlock!) and they will need to send a Tech out. But there is a tech already here! Anyway, three hours later and another tech arrives, but he sees the first tech in the pit still, so he leaves. Another call to Telstra sees him come back. The tech then speaks with the first tech and decides that he cant do anything that the first tech cant, so we need a DATA technician. Guess what, I need to call tesltra again. Why me?

    But heres the best bit, Its now very late on a friday, because of all their time wasting antics, so a Data Technician wont be able to come out to MONDAY. A weekend with out the E1 we desperately have to have in our crucial period.

    When we did get our data tech out, it took 30 minutes of him scratching his head, and 30 seconds to do something in the exchange to fix it.

    Monopolies suck.

  • Culture Clash (Score:3, Insightful)

    by verloren (523497) on Tuesday May 10, 2005 @09:47AM (#12487878)
    So much of this article seems to be based in a lack of understanding of a foreign system, rather than flaws with the system itself (not that there aren't any of course).

    When I first moved to the US we had similar problems with all manner of things. We had to arrange for a phone company, and once we had one we had to get another one to speak to people a long way away.

    We had to take our driving tests again (fair enough), but the test was conducted on a large empty car park with stripes for roads (and then I lost a point because I wasn't paying sufficient attention to other traffic - what traffic, there's only us here!)

    We had to buy insurance to make sure that the house we owned wasn't actually someone else's house.

    We had to pick an amount of insurance we wanted for our car. How do I know how much insurance I need? Should I be carefully to only crash with Yugos?

    The list goes on, but the point is that while the system may be odd, it's primarily my lack of familiarity that causes problems.

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