Tuesday, July 14, 2009


The phone's not working.

Stop and think about that, in the context of this, this, this, this, this and this

It's only been connected since November last year, after an eleven month delay, and now it's not working again.

Everyone else in the village is fine. Just me.

The bloody phone's NOT WORKING!!!

It went down about a week ago, whilst I was away up north helping my little brother move house. I tried to phone the Horse Doctor one evening and just got an endless ringing tone. She thought I was just being unfriendly. On the second day I phoned our neighbours and got through fine.

Curiously enough, the useless contractors brought in to put up new poles and new cable only finished the week before. I'd lay the blame squarely at their feet except that the phone worked for at least a little while after they'd finished.

But now it doesn't.

The broadband connection is still working,* which I guess is an improvement on my previous situation. I can sit here and moan about how bloody useless BT are to a much larger audience than just two dogs. It means there is some physical connection between the house and the exchange. But the phone is dead.

We reported the fault, of course. That was tricky enough. You can log onto the BT website to report a fault, but the system will only allow you to complete the process if it checks the line, and it can't do that if there is an open broadband connection on the line. So you have to log off, which means you can't fill in the form online. And the phone doesn't work, so you can't phone them up to complain. And there's no mobile signal around here...

Fortunately the Horse Doctor was able to report the fault from work, and in due course it appeared on the website as an open fault, awaiting resolution. That was the middle of last week, and to be honest I didn't expect much in the way of action until at least the end of this one.

So imagine my surprise when I checked the fault reporting page this morning. My case was closed at 3:43 am - which is going something for a telecoms engineer in these parts. According to the wonderful words of BT:

This fault is now closed and we confirmed with you that you were happy with the repair within seven days.

Let's just for a minute skip over the appalling mangling of the English language there. I know that most of the people working for British Telecommunications are not actually British, nor have English as their first language. I can more or less work out what this means, and all of it is a lie. The fault has not been rectified (OK, so it's closed, that's not a lie, just them saying they don't give a fuck). No one has been in contact, either by phone (difficult), email (given to them as the primary means of communication), in person or even by telepathy. There has been no repair, so I can't confirm that I'm happy with it.

The clue is in those last three words "within seven days". Somewhere up in the management mid-levels, someone has set a target that some random percentage of all faults must be resolved within a week. The easiest way to do this is to just close a fault once it is six days old, regardless of whether it has been dealt with or not. OK, so the customer will be a bit pissed off, and will just register another fault, but hey! What do we care what the customer thinks? We're a monopoly, we can shaft him any way we like. Much more important is that we meet our targets - that way we all get invited to the Christmas party, or get a productivity bonus.

A similar thing happens at the doctors. I can phone them up to arrange for a check-up for my hayfever, but they can't give me an appointment later than the next day, because then they don't meet their targets that state all patients must be seen within twenty-four hours of first contact. But what if I don't need to be seen urgently? What if the end of the week is much more convenient for me, and it's going to be a pain phoning them up on Thursday to find out they're all booked up and can I phone back on Monday?**

This morning I made an unscheduled trip to town just so that I could use my mobile to phone the BT complaints department. Fortunately I have a direct line to an actual person, thanks to the hell I've already been through just trying to get the line installed in the first place. It took a couple of messages, but eventually Sarah called me back, agreed it wasn't very good, said she'd get right on to the engineering department and assured me it would all be sorted as soon as possible.

Any bets as to whether it will be working by Christmas?

*it strikes me as most odd that this should be the case, although I'm not complaining. More annoyingly, I'm left wondering whether I might have actually had broadband working for many months before I tried it once we were finally connected late last year.
** the law of unintended consequences means that pretty much any target set or law passed will have precisely the opposite effect to that desired. Twelve years on, you think someone in the civil service would have cottoned on to this. A rant for another time, perhaps.

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Blogger swallowtail said...

well, Christmas would be better than Easter. I know, that isn't very encouraging.

and now that you are off the phone, look at this nice long post! all is not lost.


July 15, 2009 6:05 am  

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