back to article Rebellious BT computers refuse to take orders

Hot on the heels of O2's iPhone debacle, the company's former parent BT has spent the last week telling punters who want a new fixed phone line they'll have to call back in a few days, when the computers might be working again. Not all customers are affected, but whole swathes of account numbers have apparently become …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    TV Ad

    Having seen their ad for computer support on TV, might I suggest they send in the Gremlin exterminators (equipped with bright lights of course)

  2. Steve

    Defining your terms

    "This looks like pushing the definition of "shortly" pretty hard."

    Not if they just redefine what they mean by "normal service" - the longer this goes on, the more normal it will be.

  3. Anonymous Coward


    "nice to see BT returning to the traditional level of service offered by monopoly holders"

    ... Based on personal experience and that of friends and family, I would question if they ever actually changed from that level of service in the first place

  4. Anonymous Coward

    Me too!

    I moved in a month ago and swore not to go with BT again, but unfortunately due to Virgin's incapabilities and unwillingness to hook up my city street i have had no choice.

    Forking out £120 hurts to begin with. THEN waiting in on friday for someone to come and hook me up with a phone line only to be greeted with NOTHING really hurts.

    I phoned them on friday only to be told by someone who obviously wasn't in this country... "do not worry sir, we will be able to connect you soon." THAT tipped me over the edge, how condesceding!!! DO NOT WORRY SIR.

    After that i was told to ring them back today. I had to ring THEM back.

    Rang up moments ago and they informed me that their systems are down "for the benefit of our customers".

    It is a complete laughing stock, and I am extremely frustrated.

  5. Gilbert Wham

    9 days?

    Is that all? Fuck me, they're slower than that when they're *not* broken...

  6. Michael

    If I'd hired them to run my IT systems

    and it packed up for 10 days with no projected solution time, I think lawyers would be having words.

    As it is, the CIO will probably get a bonus for handling the stress so well.

  7. Steven


    This might explain why the 'were unable to provide me with a MAC code at this time', with no more explanation than that at the weekend...

  8. john loader

    There goes my bank as well

    BT have just taken over Nationwide's computing - Oh well, I'm sure I can find another bank.

  9. Alex
    Black Helicopters

    thats what you get

    when you mess with the internets,

    now the problem is due to the boxes outside their systems being convinced that the internal (surveillance/profiling) systems are not there, the issue that's jumped up and bit them on the arse is that their legitimate internal boxes have also become invisible.


  10. Jack Evans

    No Surprise Here Then

    I work for a small telecoms company that buys wholesale lines and we get advanced notification via email when BT's systems are going to go down.We get so many I have had to filter them out, because they so numerous!!

    Dear Customer,

    We are currently experiencing difficulties with the eCo Broadband Pre-Order Checks & Broadband Availabilty Checker which may affect your ability to use this application or use some of its features.

    Work has commenced to restore service.

    BT Wholesale regrets any inconvenience this may cause you and will keep you updated within 2 hours.

  11. Anonymous Coward

    I wonder if they'll finally bill me

    Well, I'm keeping stum because I don't want them to find me easily, but still, I am yet to see a single piece of paper from their computers. I've had this line since some time last December.

    Yes, I have chased them up. I can't wait for the next quarter's results. Doubtless revenue will be down again. Thats because you're not invoicing them boys.

    You can't expect customers to suddenly pay silly bills when you're computers suddenly sort themselves out. Especially in this day and age.

    I think the Director of Accounts and/or the Director of IT need a good kicking.

    Oh yeah, I may need to move soon, so if you could drop some line, with my GB account number, I have no idea what it is.

    Difficult stopping service without it.


    --Paperless Billing--

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    ... It took BT 2 months to correct a spelling of my name on their 'new' billing system when I got my phone with them last year, and that was only after 47 calls (each with at least a 45 minute wait) 7 different departments, 2 countries (UK and India) and an email to their then CEO to finally get it resolved!

    Apparently the reason was the new billing system didnt allow anyone in BT access to the customer maintainance screen to ammend a name, and it had to be referred to the company who designed the software to sort it - How on earth no one in BT, not even top brass had access to make changes to this was just crazy and says a lot about a company and its internal practices...

    ... Shame as the staff were just as annoyed as I was that something so simply couldnt get resolved, it was even suggested that the only way I could resolve it was for BT to disconnect me for a week and set me up as a new customer on a new telephone number, as this was not acceptable and I refused it took forever!

  13. Edward

    @I wonder if they'll finally bill me

    Yeah good luck with that, call them to your hearts content, write them letters, they'll still slap you with a four grand bill two years down the line, plus 500 for late payment.

  14. Philip Cheeseman

    I hate BT

    I really hate Bt. I hate there services, there poor customer support, the adverts and the we're so good why don't you want to use us attitude. Unfortunately the only alternative is the extremely uselss Virgin media so I guess I'm stuck until we get some competition!

    Anon as I don't want them having any excuse to make my service worse!

    Coat as I want to leave their services!

  15. Anonymous Coward

    If you think that's bad . . .

    . . . think about what it must be like on the inside having to try and work every day with countless systems, all interlinked, spread between wholesale, opensore and the ISP's. Billing systems,credit check systems, testing systems, engineer's booking systems etc. There's usually something not working somewhere. And usually it's got a Somebody Else's Problem Field activated. In the middle of it are the techies that are trying to prop it all up and the backoffice staff dealing with constant changes brought on by the 'next big idea'.

  16. Tony

    Computer says no!

    We agreed to buy a new system through BT. It's been one of the worst projects that I've been involved with.

    Their sales person ordered the wrong equipment, forgot to order some other parts and supplied the wrong number of licences for the number of handsets. In addition, having agreed to do it through a finance option, in turns out that they expect us to pay for in a lump sum on the quartely bill as well.

    When I tried to sort it all out, they then insisted on having several meetings to discuss the situation; they still haven't got it sorted out and they made more errors on the next installation.

    I tried to call them last week; and as none of the staff could access the details, they couldn't really even discuss the matter as they had no way of checking anything - when they did access the system, it was agreed that we were correct, but I was then asked to pay the bill "to keep the paperwork straight" and they would credit us later!

    On the other hand, BT are a customer of ours - and we do quite a bit for them. There was a small problem with one particular job from just over 3 months ago. When they queried the problem, our staff had all of the relevant data to hand, could identify the source of all parts and even the names of the people involved. Unfortunately, because the information on their system didn't match the information on ours (theirs was missing key data), they wouldn't pay the bill. So we now have to re-submit all of the paperwork and wait another couple of months whilst they check all of the data again.

    It's great when you are really big company and can just make all the small comanies pay for your mistakes.

  17. Fred

    lolol... bye bye BT

    Im about to hand in my notice!!!!!!!!!!

    Cant wait to leave this sinking ship!.....

  18. Chris
    Thumb Down

    You ain't seen nuthin yet

    Today I discovered that my last BT bill had been sent to an old address, over six months old, and I was about to be cut off.

    WHY hadn't I received my eMail paperless billing? Who knows, my online account had simply vanished...

    I had to reinstate that manually.

    And the explanation? Don't be SILLY - this is BT we are talking about. Send two bills to the new address, then send the next to the previous - that's normal I suppose?

    In the process delete the online billing account... What could possibly go wrong.

    I'm nominating BT for an award - the Queen's Award for Incompetence!

  19. Dave Jones


    Eee, ah can remember when it'd take six months ter connect a phone an' it didn't work half the time an' yer couldn't reach Directory Enquiries an' even t'bloody 999 were a bit dodgy. An' we were grateful to 'ave that!

  20. pctechxp

    Tough being a monopoly

    My heart bleeds for the poor souls, I mean must be tough having all <strikethrough> this government </strikethrough> our cash waved at ya and getting to bill us again for line rental!

    The only reason I have a fixed line is to support the ADSL which is a crap technology which I have to pay again for (data should be included in the line rental and I should only have to pay my choice of provider for access to their network to provide me with a pipe to t'internet

    How about a years free line renal on you BT for every one of your residental customers as surely you make enough from openwretch?

  21. Vince

    What government Cash?

    What is this government/our cash BT are getting then? I think you're many many years out of date. That government money doesn't pay for the fixes to all the broken lines, storm damage etc now does it pctechxp?

    I think you're confusing BT with Stagecoach, who get the county council here to "financially support" bus services they say aren't profitable, and then charge us more and more for tickets.

    Try a rise from £72 a month to £100 in just under 6 months in fares on the exact same route. That's the same route they're "pleased" to annouce they're extending to cover more places (doesn't sound like it's unprofitable to me!)

    Anyhow, I digress.

  22. kain preacher


    Forking out £120 THEN waiting in on friday for someone to come and hook me up with a phone line only to be greeted with NOTHING really hurts.

    Well I guess this side of the pond they do things differently. They seemed to be much more prompt in their install dates. ATT will actually mark the pair, giving you the option to self install. which saves you $70. Only down side is if the pair they marked is bad you have to call them to fix it, bu thats free.

  23. Sceptical Bastard

    Dreadful outfit

    Your subhead reads "Can't connect, won't connect"

    Just about sums up the piss-poor unreliable BT dial-up internet access I endured for too long before switching to broadband provided by another ISP.

    BT services? Avoid them like the plague.

    Oh, and don't forget BT is Phorm's phriend.

  24. Michael

    I doubt a bit of computer downtime would make that much difference

    Mum recently wrote to their euphemistically titled "communications department" after Dad died (she tried the telephone menu system but gave up after half an hour). Simple request: please send out some new direct debit forms and ensure the account is in the name of Mrs, rather than Mr.

    Needless to say they cut her telephone off without warning, the impact of which, on top of her bereavement was considerable. It took myself and two other family members a total of four hours on the phone to BT to try and get it reinstated. Eventually, after three times being promised the phone would be reconnected it was set up again (over a week later) on a different tarrif with a new 12 month contract (two things I specifically told them I did not want). My experience of their support staff was that they were untruthful, unhelpful and arrogant.

    As soon as I can I'm going to get rid of my BT line and maybe try a Skype/Virgin Cable solution (should save a bit of money) or just use Virgin. I want nothing to do with BT any longer.

  25. alun phillips
    Gates Halo

    Is it because where ripping you off?

    When I left BT, to go cable, I got a phone call asking was it because my line rental was the vast majority of my bill, what with being a divorced Billy no mates working god knows what hours, as if it was they could swap my tarrif which would have saved me £60 over the past six months?, so whats that sorry your leaving but is it because weve ripped you off for the last six months?

    And the time, BT charged me £120 to install a phone line into a flat I was living in because the original phone line had been swapped to the flat next door, after charging him £120 for the install of a new line?

    look at it this way, BT will never see another penny of my money if I can help it.

    BG because he's a saint compared to BT

  26. adam

    [this line has been left intentionally blank]

    I called BT today, there are still problems.

  27. fords
    Thumb Down

    Stuck with the buggers

    At least some of you have the option of Virgin!

  28. Anonymous Coward

    BT were great for me - heh heh!

    A few years ago they charged me for a brand new line, but the engineer was a total no-show and they couldn't fit me in again for two weeks.

    The resulting compensation per day, (which they wouldn't tell you about unless you asked) more than paid for the installation.

    Of course, if you desperately need your land line, then you're shafted.

  29. Steve Roper

    Re: If you think that's bad . . .

    But even all of that is nothing compared to the hell of having besuited managers standing over your techies with whips threatening your jobs, and carrying on about the thousands of pissed-off customers clogging the phone lines - all while you're doing your damndest to figure out what's wrong and get the thing working again!

  30. heystoopid
    Paris Hilton


    So BT obviously now uses M$ Windoze for Telecom Corporations as it's primary customer interface of shoot the customer in the foot many times a day and heavy fingers emptying the customer 's shallow purse , thus needing regular boots daily to function and suffers often from "BSOD" !

    What a tragic comedy farce , says a certain some one !

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @People with BT problems

    As soon as you feel that a delay or the service or whatever is not acceptable contact Ofcom and get a BT referral number. This will get you to the Ofcom referall customer service team at BT who appear to be the only poeple at BT who can actually do something to sort out problems -- and they can also negotiate compensation.

    I've gone this route and was surprised how quickly everything was sorted out and pleased by the compensation that BT offered me (I didn't even have to ask).

  32. Anonymous Coward

    as a member of staff

    ..For BT interal problem mangemnt department I can tell you it is just as disorganised as the rest of BT.

    Thankfully i am leaveing soon

    A/C for obvious reasons

  33. pctechxp


    Ok I'm corrected but lets just say they get a lot of protection from the government.

    Read also this story about fibre invetment (high wholesale prices)

    And while BT bemoan the Universal Service Obligation, at least its another £xx for BT per month.

    As for storm damage, I'm sure BT has plenty of insurance so why would that dent profits?

    And why the hell is it not possible for me to just get the ADSL portion of a line as I don't need voice as I use my mobile.

  34. Bob

    I feel so sorry for you all

    I had one run in with BT when I was a student. They wanted some ludicrous amount of money for me to be able to pay them more, I decided paying nothing to NTL so they could charge me money was more wise.

    Since then I jumped the national ship and settled in Germany where the same thing happens with Deutsche Telecom, but they actually have an unbundling system that works. Therefore I pay €30 a month to Alice (of F1 and Moto GP fame) for extremely cheap phone, free in Germany and about 2p a minute in Europe, plus true, real, tested 16MB internet. Plus I only got charged €10 for the DSL box which normally costs more like €50 - €100, no sign up fee.

    BT behave like a monopoly because the government let them. Ofcom is definitely the way forward and your MP as well. There is no good reason why brits only have a choice of BT and sometimes Virgin.

    Also, please bear in mind that Virgin has been buying up all of BTs competition. Even if it was only local, they made an impact, Virgin just wants to become the monopoly rather than change it.

    Heart because I love watching BT adverts and remembering that I don't have to use their shite. It's good to talk, as long as you don't have to talk to BT!

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If only they knew the truth

    Having had the misfortune to work for bt once I wonder how they have any business at all. Their global services division consisted of 1 person in Bangalore watching the whole of Unilever's global network. He used to ring us if he was going to the toilet so we could keep an eye on things. Most of the management were total fuck wits promoted through incompetence (and an uncanny ability to parrot buzz words such as 'global model'), and their internal infrastructure was a pile of shite. Still, thats what happens when you allow a bunch of cowboys to steal a publicly owned company to line their own pockets.

  36. Pete
    Paris Hilton

    High Speed Field Trials

    I have been offered a free 2nd line to trial high-speed broadband for free for 6 months - I was called on Thursday to book a time, then they hung up after telling me the system crashed!!

    Apparently the forecast uptime is going to be "sometime before Wednesday. Sir."

    Paris I wouldn't mind a high speed route to her 2nd line.

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    but of course...................................

    <cynical mode>

    BT are 'agiile' these days,

    'test' used to hold things up so much before

    <\cynical mode>

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