A Tale Of Two Telephone Companies

Let me tell you about two telephone companies. One, let us call them Bastard Telecom, are bastards. If you can get connected at all, rather than getting delays and crossed lines, as we did, then just pray you never have any problems with your internet. For example if you simultaneously have a line problem *and* a router problem, as we did, then you will find, after speaking to twenty-plus people, many of whom will call you a liar or insult you personally, or, in the case of one bizarre man, try to quiz you on the principles of TCP/IP networking in the hope of catching you out, that the only way to get the line fixed *and* a new router is to cancel the broadband account and get them to set it up again. This will leave you with no service at all for a week, they tell you.

You will then find, shockingly, that they forget to bother to set up the new account. You will discover this when, the day they tell you the new service will be up, it isn’t. They will then tell you that you still need to wait another week if you want a connection, because they sent the engineer out to the exchange to remove your access (even though it was only a dummy disconnection) and need to send out another one to give it back again.

Meanwhile, they will be billing you for ‘Bastard Telecom Vision’, their TV service. This despite you not requesting it, it not being installed, you repeatedly telling them that you don’t want it, and them agreeing that you never asked for it or received it and they’ll stop the account. Even though you don’t have a TV, have never owned a TV in your adult life, and even if you did wouldn’t want a ‘service’ whose only selling point was, until yesterday, the presence of Setanta Sports.

They will eventually send debt collectors after you, charging you £100 on top of the £26 they originally charged you for the service you never wanted or got. Meanwhile, of course, you aren’t receiving the only service you *did* want from them.

The second ‘phone company are Tiscali. Our experience with Tiscali was rather different. I phoned them up on Tuesday of last week and said “Can we have some internet please, since Bastard Telecom have messed us about?”
They replied “Certainly, though this might take two weeks, rather than the one week the Bastards say they will take”
To which I replied “That’s fine, as at this point I’d rather wait the extra time and be sure that I’ve got the connection, and I don’t want to give the Bastards my money.”

That was on Tuesday of last week. Today, six days sooner than they said it’d be ready, I got an email saying “Your line is connected, and your router should be with you within two days”. When I got home, the router was already there.

I am still on a contract with BT for the phone, which I can’t break, alas, but I would rather lose at least one of my testicles than ever do business with them again. On the other hand, Tiscali have thus far been exemplary – they’ve done what they said they would, without any further prompting, quicker than they said they would, and without me having to waste hours of my life on the phone listening to tinny recordings of The Marriage Of Figaro or bad sax solos. It may in fact be the first time in my entire life that that’s been the case with a phone company.

I’m sure Tiscali will do something to disappoint or annoy me soon enough – I do not believe there’s such a thing as a competent phone company in the UK – but they’re the first ever to get over the basic, tiny hurdle of saying they’ll do a thing and then doing the thing they say they’ll do rather than a different thing.

Normal blogging resumes tomorrow.

(ETA For some reason this didn’t post yesterday when I clicked post – it was meant to be posted last night)

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7 Responses to A Tale Of Two Telephone Companies

  1. Mark Senior says:

    I sympathise , I finally managed to get rid of BT completely 9 months ago , the line rental being the final thing to be disposed of . I am also with Tiscali and so far touch wood all is still ok .
    Bt also tried to charge me 6 months for broadband connection rental after I had cancelled part way through the contract but their claims for payment for this period were met with claims on my part for breach of contract for failure to provide a service .
    The sooner BT go out of business the better .

  2. Anders says:

    It’s funny as my experience was the exact opposite. I have always vowed to use BT if a line is already installed and never to use Tiscali again. Still, they are both 100 times better than the old NTL service (I have no idea whether they are better now they are Virgin Media). It just seems that all telecoms companies fail you in the end.

    • MatGB says:

      Our experience with Virgin has been pretty good, definitely better than any other ISP I’ve dealt with.

      My esperience with Tiscali was back before I moved to London—there was an issue with my dial-up connection that they simply wouldn’t fix, and it was blocking me from accessing a website I was co-admin for at the time.

      I eventually tried a pay-per-minute Wanadoo (now something else, Orange?) connection and got there first time.

      A year later, Tiscali threatened me with bailiffs as they’d never cancelled my account. I’m guessing they all have good and bad times.

      I recall when my student house got Eurobell installed (before they also merged into Virgin) the subcontractor made a massive botch of the job, the head of region visited, got it all fixed and gave us several months free as an apology, that impressed me.

  3. LemmusLemmus says:

    I understand your anger, but you should consider yourself lucky you never had to deal with Deutsche Telekom. Three and a half months, I’ll say no more.

    I will say this, though: Your comparison between the two phone companies is not a fair one – one of them know they’ve lost you as a customer and treat you accordingly, the other are trying to win you as a new customer. Mind you, I still think that BT’s behaviour is a bad business decision – if I’m not misinterpreting your post, you’ll never ever do business with them again. Just like I won’t ever do business again with a certain company I promised not to mention anymore in the course of this comment.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I’ve only *been* a customer of BT for two months, and nearly everything I’ve just described was before they ‘lost’ me, starting with them connecting us a week *later* than they said they would, and having it be a crossed line…

  4. Zom says:

    Poor you, Andrew. I’ve heard far too many tales of organisational fuckedness on the the behalf of large service providers over the years.

    The worst one, or at least the one that springs immediately to mind, has to do with British Gas attempting to take my mother to court over an unpaid gas and electricity bill. That the rather large bill in question represented charges levied post my grandfather’s death, the closure of his account, the subsequent sale of the house, and the establishment of a new account under the name of the house’s new owners seemed to matter not a jot. They also seemed to miss the fact that, as a consequence of their organisational stupidity and insensitivity, and my Mum’s understandable upset and fury, they were under investigation by the ombudsman.

    You are aware that it’s relatively easy to sic a lawyer on their arses? Think it is anyway, a friend of mine paid someone a very small amount of money to get their pennies back from Setanta when actually providing a service proved too difficult for them. Not as difficult, apparently, as taking his money over a period of months

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