Tuesday, 12 May 2009

The BT Call Centre Experience

If you are unfortunate with your BT broadband experience, sooner or later you may be tempted to call the BT Call Centre, or report a fault by email.


Before you do this, there are a few things you should try and a few more things you should know. With a bit of luck, you will be able to sort out may of the basic problems yourself. If you can't, then there are a few resources here in the UK who might already have the answer, or be able to offer useful advice that gets you up and running again.

There is some useful advice on the BT website, but it can be difficult to find and infuriatingly incomplete. But as a first step, you might as well take a look here at the 3 basic types of problem the BT website covers: My broadband doesn't work at all, it works intermittently, or it is slow. If you get really lucky, it might even work.

Better still, go and look at Jarviser's website and spend an hour reading everything, especially the "How to" and "Troubleshooting" sections. It will be time well spent. This is all tried and tested stuff, easy to read and Jarviser provides step-by-step instructions for all the critical bits. I would guess that solutions to most BT customer's problems can be found here.

Then try your luck on the BT Forums as detailed in the previous post.

If this fails to find a remedy, then you are just going to have to bite the bullet and contact BT. Before you do, make sure you have comfortable seat, a few hours to spare (seriously), plenty to eat and drink close to hand, a screwdriver or two, and a mobile phone. If you don't have all these with you, you are going to have problems. You should also adopt the attitude that you are going to enter a parallel universe where all vestiges of logic and sanity have been abandoned. In other words, you will need a great sense of humour and inner calmness. If you don't, get someone else to contact BT on your behalf.

I would suggest that having first read Jarviser's advice on complaining nicely to BT, and collected all the information he suggests, you begin your adventure by sending BT an email using the form here.

Describe the problem concisely, clearly and politely. With a bit of luck, someone who understands the problem will get back to you. Sometimes it can be a matter of minutes, or it might be days, it's very much the luck of the draw. The best thing about starting with an email is that it gets logged by BT. Emails are auditable documents and might prove useful at some point in the future if you need to take things further with OTELO or OFCOM; save all the replies you get as well.

With luck - BT will respond and sort out your problem just like that! Well, no, not exactly, not usually, and certainly not in my experience. Whether BT contact you, or you decide to contact them by phone on 0800 111 4567, what happens next is very similar and it all takes time.

Whoever contacts who, BT first line support will run through a scripted response which is designed for the lowest common denominator - the BT customer who just about knows how to turn their PC on. Keep patient - and if you've followed the advice from Jarviser and have all the information to hand and have tried all the obvious fixes, you can save literally yourself hours. The first time I contacted BT with a serious issue it took more than 4 hours on the phone to get the problem escalated, I recently helped a friend get an engineer in under 4 minutes - so it can be done.

If you are lucky, you will be speaking to someone with an easily understood Indian-English accent and who has a good knowledge of broadband in general, and BT products and problems in particular.

If you can't hear them clearly, or understand them, or it's clear they can't understand you, or they are slavishly sticking to the script in the face of everything you are telling them, then politely tell them what the problem is and ask them to get someone else to call you back. If they refuse, and some do, hang-up and start again. Record what happened and send BT an email detailing what happened - more evidence.

To give you an idea of the sorts of things the BT scripts cover, here is a typical one often sent out by email. The call centre uses a similar. but longer one.

(1) Power cycle.
Power-off both the router and the computer. Unplug all the cables connecting the router to the computer. Wait for 30 seconds. Re-plug the cables back. Power-on the devices.

(2) Check the physical set-up.
If the router is connected to the extension lead, try connecting it to the master socket (the point at which telephone line enters the premise). I would suggest you to connect the router to the master socket to get the most reliable connection.

(3) Check for other devices.
Please disconnect any other devices (Fax machine, Printer, Burglar alarm, if any) connected to the normal telephone line. Also check if you have any of the following devices that cause potential EM! (Electro Magnetic Interference) placed near the router and remove them. Otherwise, replace the computer and the router. These devices should not be placed in close vicinity of the router and the computer.
1. Halogen desk lamps with dimmers.
2. Any electrical dimmer switch.
3. Electronic devices, such as stereo speakers, PC speakers.
4. Televisions, monitors, microwave ovens, etc.
5. Routing the telephone line parallel to an AC power cord.
6. Electronic insect electrocution devices (bug zappers).
7. Low quality 900MHz cordless telephones.
8. Any other emitter of high frequency electromagnetic radiation.

(4) Check for faulty micro filters.
Swap the micro-filter and connect your router and check for the connection. You could do so by using the cable that connects your filter and the telephone base unit. If it is working fine, then there is a problem with the Micro-filter, so please replace it. You may also replace the micro-filter with the spare one and check the connection.

(5) Check Browser settings.
01. Open Internet Explorer (lE) or BT Yahoo! Browser.
02. Click on ‘Internet Options’ under ‘Tools’.
03. On the ‘General’ tab, click on ‘Clear History’.
04. Click ‘Yes’.
05. Select on ‘Delete Cookies’.
06. Click ‘Ok’.
07. Select ‘Delete Files’.
08. Check the option ‘Delete all offline content’.
09. Click ‘Ok’.
10. On the ‘Connections’ tab, click [LAN Settings ...].
11. Please make sure all boxes on the LAN screen are not checked.
12. On the ‘Advanced’ tab, click [Restore Defaults].
13. Click on ‘Apply’ then on ‘Ok’ and close the Internet Options window.

(6) Check for faulty home internal phone wiring.
1 Remove the faceplate of the Master socket with a screwdriver. This will
reveal a test socket on the right-hand side. This connects directly to the
exchange, by-passing your home phone wiring and extensions.
2. Plug your router or modem directly into this test socket via a micro-filter.
3. Restart the computer.

(7) Anti Virus and Firewall.
Disable the antivirus and firewall temporarily and check whether you find any marked improvement in the connection. Please Note: If the issue gets resolved after disabling the antivirus or firewall, you need to contact the antivirus helpdesk to re-configure the software so that it can support the best connection.

(8) Re-check the Broadband connection.

(9) If the earlier steps do not help then reset the router and perform the steps once again. Press the reset button at the rear end of the router for fifteen seconds. It is the Wireless Association button in the Home Hub. Recheck the connection.

OK, you get the idea. But, if you've done your homework (and only if you've really done it, if you don't want to get charged a call-out fee!), tell the nice call centre person whose name you have asked for, this and tell them that none of it works and you want to speak to a manager (or someone in the back room). First line support virtually always refuse to do this, but be insistent and you will eventually get passed to second line support - you may be kept waiting listening to grotty muzak. On rare occasions they will hang up on you and you have to start the whole rigmarole again - BT's version of snakes and ladders. At every stage ask for a fault number, ask for names, phone numbers and be politely insistent.

Eventually, you will get passed to someone in the UK, or someone who really knows their stuff at the call centre. If they identify a fault, they will usually be fairly prompt at sending an engineer out to fix it. If they can't find anything from their end, but you are confident there really is a fault, then insist on an Engineer's visit. Get it wrong, and there will be a callout charge!

Good Luck


Anonymous said...

I think your advice, not just on what to do D-I-Y but also on how to approach BT, is spot on.

Many thanks. Your common sense approach to the whole subject is MOST helpful.



Palantir said...

You are most welcome. Please spread the word!

Anonymous said...

I hate BT, their what ruins the UK when it comes down to getting a decent connection online. I get 6 disconnections a night and I'm not even on their broadband , because they refuse to fix the problem in my area.

Having had some major problems with my own broadband service, I understand how others struggle to get help from BT.

There is a lot of good information out there, but it can be hard to find. So this blog is an attempt to pull some of it together, in one place.

It's a blog that really shouldn't be needed - if only BT and possibly other ISP's in the UK, provided useful customer support.