back to article BT cable ballsup hooks up punters to wrong numbers

Several BT phone customers in Surrey ended up fielding calls from strangers after engineers screwed up while rewiring their cables. Pauline and Thomas Rodgers started to receive phone calls for a bloke called Charlie after BT relaid cables in their local area. The repair work in Wanborough Hill, Surrey, took place after …


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  1. Samo

    I Guess their Engineers...

    _Puts on sunglasses_ their wires crossed!


  2. Da Weezil

    Lost the plot

    Friend of mine has had his line out in Wales for at least 9 days (may have been longer but he was away so doesn't know when the fault arose), its taken down his Broadband too, Apparently BT have allocated it to contractors, meanwhile the hapless customer is told he can "look for updates "on-line". (He drove over here and used my connection to do this and saw his target repair date was LAST Thurs.... why this insistence with "on line?? Is this an admission that the Overseas support centres are really useless and that refusing to speak to the customer this way is the lesser of 2 evils?

    They really have lost the plot. Another reason for BT to be stripped of either the network or the retail arm. maybe a smaller company would be able to focus on delivering the service rather than cutting support to the point where there is none when BTs systems fall over.

    I moved my line rental calls and broadband away from BT to resellers, in the absence of an alternative its all I can do to put distance between me and BT.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Actually, "BT" already has been split up similarly to how you suggest, and that's half the problem - logically separate arms (BT Retail, BT Wholesale, Openreach) means there is little joined up thinking, and a tendency to push problems to other groups, leading to delays and cock-ups as other people here have mentioned.

      1. Da Weezil

        you believe that line?

        its all the same BT group.... whichever way you slice it. It isn't a REAL separation.

        1. TAC01
          Thumb Down


          You really are ignorant, Openreach is a separate unit from BT, in fact BT is an Openreach customer along with sky, Talk Talk etc. Openreach is not allowed to put any one service provider in front of another, if they do they breach the equivalence act .

          So before you print comments that you clearly do not understand, read up on the facts

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Always a good move.....

      Was in informal discussion with BT engineer who told me that the resellers, voice and broadband, have SLA's with penalty clauses; BT customers don't.

      Draw your own conclusion as to the rest of the discussion about repair priorities.

      It followed a next day fix for a 3rd party ISP customer and 11 day fix for a BT customer with a chaffed cable.

  3. Steven Jones

    Time pressure is no excuse...

    I rather suspect that reconnecting many hundreds of individual pairs under considerable time pressure to restore service isn't going to result in 100% accuracy. Maybe the person who screwed up by sending out tens of thousands of email addresses might be stuffed down a manhole to splice wires as a form of punishment.

    After all, we know that time pressure is no excuse, especially when there's important things like The Register's email list to deal with. It's not like restoring telecoms services is anything like as important as that.

  4. AndrueC Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    Openreach are getting worse. I tried to tell them about a cabinet in my town that was unlocked with the doors flapping in the wind. Apparently they can't do anything without a postcode even though I told them the cabinet number (it being written on the side).

    1. Martin 71 Silver badge


      When stuff like that happens I tend to flag down a man(or woman) in a van. Unlike the company they work for, they're generally polite, helpful, and grateful for useful info :-)

  5. Joe Montana

    Had this happen...

    I had this happen a while ago, my house was connected to nothing and my number from the exchange was connected to something else...

    It took quite some convincing to get BT to check it because all the tests they did from the exchange came back fine (since whatever line they connected it to was working perfectly)... BT seemed to think i had unplugged the phone or something equally stupid.

    They gave me several warnings that if they sent an engineer and he found nothing i would be charged. Eventually they sent one, and he identified the problem very quickly...

    1. Just Thinking

      Had a similar problem when I moved into a new build house a few years ago. Phone not working at all. Waited in for BT half a dozen times over the course of a fortnight. Every single time they would test the line from the exchange, decide it was fine, and not bother turning up.

      When I eventually persuaded them to come out, they discovered that my line was indeed working properly, but it was connected to the unoccupied house next door. Took 10 minutes to fix.

      Then an hour later a second BT engineer turned up to fix the same problem.

  6. nichomach

    Am I the only one that read...

    ..."an Aldershot resident reported trying to call her mother-in-law only to find herself connected to a fax machine." and thought "RESULT!"?

    1. IsJustabloke

      I CHOOSE to enoble a simple forum post!

      My ex MIL sounded like a fax machine once she got started... when she really let go only cats and dogs could hear her....

  7. Kevin Johnston


    I'm waiting at the moment to hear why our feed pole was taken down and all the attached lines disconnected for several hours without anyone being warned. Did have my suspicions when I saw a scaffold tower next to it the day before but really did expect some sort of warning.

    Tried to talk to them and was expected to agree to pay costs if the fault turned out to be my equipment <hello? Did you hear me say they have just taken down the pole???>

    Supposedly getting a form to fill in to try to claim compensation for the outage but it normally only kicks in if the problem goes on beyond the end of the day AFTER you report the problem. Still waiting a week after it should have been posted...

    1. I understand now

      BT have never been particularly quick about this stuff. about 10 years ago, half the village I lived in had no useable phone line. Picking up the phone subjected you to white noise. Took them 3 weeks to fix that one!

  8. Alex 14

    Slightly similar experience here

    Moved into a new build, found BT had already connected my line under someone else's name and of course they wouldn't disconnect the line because data protection blah blah I wasn't the account holder blah blah blah. A 4 month journey of frustrations and buck passing later, I found the person who had the account - turned out to be an equally frustrated person who was trying to get a BT line at their home and kept being told by BT that they already had one. That person lived at house number 114, I lived at 104. Pretty obvious what happened.

    Funny thing is I had absolutely no intention of getting service from BT Retail because of their terrible, terrible record. You have to marvel at how they can still ruin your life without you ever being one of their customers.

  9. Harry

    "and a tendency to push problems to other groups"

    That's exactly what BT always did, so splitting it up has probably had little effect.

    You report a problem and an engineer comes to the house but "Its an outside fault mate" and the engineer isn't qualified to work outdoors at 15 degrees C

    So you have to wait while somebody with a coat is sent from miles away. Who eventually arrives, decides the fault is inside but he can't come in because he's wearing a coat and not qualified to work inside.

    Next day the original engineer comes back, does nothing much, goes away again. Two days later the line accidentally starts working again when somebody rebooted the exchange.

    OK, I made all this up. But its based on numerous true stories nevertheless.

    ps -- *no* joke alert, because its BT and we all know BT is a joke without having to be told.

  10. b166er

    All together now, Blue, Orange, Green, Brown, Slate

    Or is that BT Openreach Got Bad Sight

  11. Merlin

    So whose fault is it?

    I notice that your article and all the comments manage to avoid criticising the bleeders who stole the cable in the first place, took it somewhere remote, burnt off the insulation and sold the copper to a dodgy scrap dealer. BT had an enormous unplanned job dumped on them, diverting engineers away from planned work, not to mention the cost of replacing the cable and reconnecting the customers. And for that they get no thanks and no financial return. If you want to get angry, get angry at the toerags who disrupt peoples' lives and businesses for a few quids worth of copper.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Openreach Engineers are Humans too..

    We make mistakes.

    Especially doing repetitive and error-prone tasks.. when you are rushing because you KNOW people are pissed, and lives are possibly on the .. well, line.

    AC for obvious reasons..

  13. TAC01


    As a cable jointer, people have to understand that when these scumbags steal cables,they take the joints with them as well, this means that the cable is completely unreadable,so in effect you are putting it back together blind and crossed lines are inevitable.

    I know people get upset when this happens and I share their frustrations, but I can assure you that when engineers are trying to put things back together the last thing they need is cross lines.

  14. Alan Brown Silver badge

    Find the fuckers who stole the cable.

    Hang them up by their thumbs to 5 years.

    Scrappies caught dealing in stolen metals should be subject to 6 month shutdowns, in the same way that problem pubs get closure orders.

    The UK really needs decent legislation with savage penalties to dissuade cable thieves. Some jurisdictions have up to 15 years' jail on the books for "endangering transport" (cable theft, bricks off overpasses and lasing drivers/pilots among othet things) and simiar ones for interfering with vital communication systems (anything screwing up 999 calls for starters)

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