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I have been with quite a few different ISPs over the last decade. I’ve gone with Virgin Media, Plusnet, and some small independent ISPs. Now I’m with BT. Well I would say that my experience with each and every ISP has never been that smooth-sailing. Sometimes I’d get no broadband for a day or two while their engineers try to fix that. Yes I’ve heard that BT owns most of the country’s networks. I’ve seen some people say things like “Doesn’t matter who you go with. If you’re not happy with BT and switch, your new supplier might probably be using BT networks anyway, so you’ll still be using BT networks no matter what.”

They say that as if you’re gonna get the same kind of service no matter which ISP you go to. Well I say no and I’ve got the experience to prove it.

Certain ISPs actually provide a level of customer service that is coordinated and courteous. Even though they use the same old shitty old BT network system, they will go that little bit more for you and actually keep you in the loop as to what’s going on. For example, if the BT network needs resetting or whatnot, a better ISP actually will let you know WHY you have no broadband currently, WHAT they are actually doing about it, and WHEN you can expect your service to return – and when they quote a timeframe, it will always be accurate. So even though sometimes I’d get broadband outages with those ISPs, I always get my broadband connection back within 24 hours. They will actually answer you from UK call centres, and they will actually get things done for you that they promised they will, in the time frame they promised too. And it’s never some arbitrary time frame that may or may not materialise. I can’t say the same for BT however.

With BT… wow. I never knew a behemoth company could ever be that incompetent and still stay in the food chain and still get so much business as well. Oh yes, but wait. That’s only because they almost have a monopoly on all of the UK’s phone and broadband networks. That’s why. Yet they could not have stayed such a big player in the business for their excellent customer service, oh no. Each time you call their 0800 customer helpline number, you get passed from pillar to post from one clueless person to another. They promise you all sorts of things – that your services will be fixed at such and such time. Yet these promises never materialise. And then at the end, nothing gets resolved. You’re still without your phoneline and broadband whatever. For me, it’s been nearly 2 weeks since I’ve had no connection. But I thank my lucky stars I have yet to hit the 3 month mark, which actually happened to a friend of mine who used to own a flat in London but has now migrated to Australia. I should have known better. I’ve heard his story, and I’ve read the countless reviews of BT online. But yet I decided to give them a go. Because I thought maybe we can save a little money going with BT than with Zen.

I was so wrong. I made so many phonecalls, so many times, put on hold for ages, and no matter how much I explained my problems and requested help to different people, they still get it wrong. They promised callbacks, engineer visits, you name it. But nothing was resolved and some of these didn’t even materialise. The Indian call centres were worst than useless. They botched up my requests quite a few times and never resolved anything other than promise to deliver me a free Home Hub router in a week’s time, but then the router turned up 3 damn weeks later, with a friggin’ £6 odd delivery charge added to my bill for it, after I had already given up and used a router I bought off Amazon, thinking that promised free Home Hub would never turn up. I did not dispute the delivery charge and decided maybe I’ll keep the router just in case the one I bought off Amazon broke down one day. But still, this is one of the MANY examples of BT’s dealings with me which involve broken promises on their side. The UK staff are variable though. Some really don’t know their stuff and gave wrong advice. Luckily I’m always researching stuff on my own and know a little more than laymen about things and I found out for myself more than they told me. And some of the UK staff on the telephone are really rude and sarcastic. Even in their forums, you see some of them too. This is frankly ridiculous. Why am I the customer having to fight for what is rightly mine? Namely a service that they are charging me for. See, BT are happy to keep taking your money even if their services are not working on your end. They quote you all their T&Cs and policies which in effect just boils down to one simple thing – you cannot leave your contract even if you are not getting the services you paid for because… well… that’s how it is. I mean there is not even an ounce of logic in there to justify their actions. Surely it should be the case that if you pay for a service, you should be getting it, otherwise you should have the right to cancel payments for that service if it hasn’t been rectified within reasonable time.

But what’s reasonable time? Oh I don’t know. Doubt there is an actual legal definition of it. It’s one of those fuzzy, grey areas where you know… BT can define it how they like. If I ran a home business, I would probably need internet connection daily. Every day I don’t have a connection can mean loss of takings for my business. Or should I just get Virgin Media or Sky to put up a new connection for me in my home at the same time, to see how fast they do it, and then use that as a yardstick for BT? If Virgin Media can get you your services within say, oh I don’t know, 3 days? Then should BT be held responsible for not fixing the problem within reasonable time – i.e. the same time their market competitors can get the same job done?

But you know what? I’m one stubborn bugger and I won’t give up. I will keep doing my research and keep pestering them until the problem is finally sorted. And then once my contract is finished, it’s goodbye forever BT. I am going to any one of the top ISPs on the top 10 chart of ISPReview. FYI I’ve used about 2 of those in the chart and their service was excellent DESPITE using BT networks. The only reason why I left them was because they did not have a package that really suited my needs at the time. One of them did cost a few more bob than BT, but armed with what I know now, I will not mind considering them again. It is paying for peace of mind, for decent service and promises they can keep. It is paying for not having to spend hours on the phone explaining your problems to various inept reps, hoping in futility that they will be able to get the problems fixed in the time frame they promised. My time is worth far more than all the minutes and hours I’ve spent with BT trying to fix my problems. Problems which by the way originated from their end, not mine.

And I won’t be returning to Virgin Media either because they were rubbish at fixing my broadband speeds back then and for the price they charged me, I felt it wasn’t worth it. Plus I was their loyal customer for 2 years and they refused to do me a discount when I was thinking of leaving them. I found their customer service staff quite unaccomodating although whenever there was a broadband outage or a problem, they could get it fixed within hours to maximum a day. So I would say they were quite reliable in that sense compared to BT. But leave I did, and I never looked back. Oh and I didn’t like their TV packages as well. Well, I blame Sky for getting me used to having so many channels. Actually I might go with Sky. I don’t watch much TV these days but I like that Sky has so many channels my kids and husband would love to watch and I like seeing them happy!

But yes you’ve been warned folks. Go with BT at your own peril.

With BT, if things work fine, it’s swell. If you get a problem however, well good luck getting it sorted as quickly and satisfactorily as other better ISPs (who use BT networks) can.

As for me, I’ll see how it goes with BT. I’ll still give them a chance to change my opinion of them. But if I get no joy, I will leave and I’ll be ever so sorry I’ve learnt my lesson the hard way.