back to article Boss put project on progress bar timeline: three months … four … actually NOW!

With the weekend on the way, and your countdown to the respite it brings hopefully free of interruptions, The Register presents another edition of On-Call, our weekly reader-contributed tale of techies being asked to deliver against dud deadlines. This week, meet a reader we'll Regomize as "Mark" who once worked as IT project …

  1. Korev Silver badge
    Coat

    I was half expecting that his card would be marked and he'd be marched out of the door...

    1. Korev Silver badge
      Coat

      Or you could even say he'd be removed from his post...

      1. tip pc Silver badge

        He’s lucky it’s wasn’t UPS

        1. Korev Silver badge
          Coat

          > He’s lucky it’s wasn’t UPS

          The power from UPS could give him a shock...

          1. aerogems Silver badge
            Coat

            Enough to make you say, "Ohm man, that hurt!"

  2. tip pc Silver badge
    Coat

    Poor Project Planning

    "Those magic words and the explanation of the contract renewal issue made the entire CAB go from hostile to 'We agree with your description of BT's anatomy: changes approved!'"

    I have seen issues like this plenty times before, normally a call to the BT/GC/VERIZON/AT&T/VODAFONE account manager sorts it especially if it’s only a month or 3.

    Otherwise it’s poor planning on the PM’s side as if new circuits are being installed you’d also need to understand costs of decommissioning the old circuit including any unspent time on the contract.

    1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

      Re: Poor Project Planning

      normally a call to the BT/GC/VERIZON/AT&T/VODAFONE account manager sorts it especially if it’s only a month or 3.

      ROFL

      Do they still have account managers? Do those people actually understand either the customers they're supposed to serve or the products their company provides?

      Thought not.

      1. Andy A

        Re: Poor Project Planning

        They never have had people who understand the concept of "customers".

        It goes all the way back to when it was "GPO Telephones". They quoted an 18-month lead time to provide a leased line for a contract which would run for 6 months.

        We used a Man-In-A-Van to move the data.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Poor Project Planning

          "We used a Man-In-A-Van to move the data."

          Great bandwidth, 'orrible latency.

          1. anothercynic Silver badge

            Re: Poor Project Planning

            Depending on whether the bandwidth or the latency were more important it could've been a good/bad thing ;-)

            1. Terje

              Re: Poor Project Planning

              Never underestimate the bandwidth of a freight train packed with (insert storage medium of choice here)!

          2. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Poor Project Planning

            Great bacon buttie supply.

        2. Martin-73 Silver badge

          Re: Poor Project Planning

          This is why I use clueful suppliers... they cost a lot more than yer bargain basement stuff... but man is it worth it

          1. jake Silver badge

            Re: Poor Project Planning

            They are also a lot less likely to try to slip you a chineseum look-alike/work-alike when you ordered and payed for OEM parts.

            One bad part can cost you far more than the price difference between bargain basement and clueful supplier.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Poor Project Planning

      BT has account managers? Who knew?

      1. xyz123 Silver badge

        Re: Poor Project Planning

        Yes they have ACCOUNT managers, but you need to remove the O from the job title.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Poor Project Planning

          At my current job we have several BT Radianz links and an account manager to speak to. But extending leases for just 1 month and not the contract minimum stated period? We've tried....

          So yes, it was poor project planning, because that issue would be the first item on the list to be dealt with (or managed around)

          1. tip pc Silver badge

            Re: Poor Project Planning

            if you've lots of sites and they know your potentially planning on changing provider they are surprisingly helpful.

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: Poor Project Planning

            "So yes, it was poor project planning, because that issue would be the first item on the list to be dealt with (or managed around)"

            From the article, it sounds like he'd just been promoted to projects and this was the first of a number of concurrent projects, so maybe no one told him this would be an issue and he learned the hard way?

    3. chivo243 Silver badge
      Go

      Re: Poor Project Planning

      Poor planning on your part does not automatically constitute an emergency on my part!

    4. anothercynic Silver badge

      Re: Poor Project Planning

      Given that they were referring to this taking 3 months, this was likely in the late 90s or early millennium when BT didn't give a fig's about your requirements and were sticking rigidly to their own rules (can the OP/"Mark" maybe confirm).

      And if the PM had been betting on, in your words, making "a call to the BT/GC/VERIZON/AT&T/VODAFONE account manager sorts [sic] it especially if it’s only a month or 3" and it having been declined/refused, it makes sense why it was a sudden scramble to try and get that done by the end of the original 3 month project timeline.

      So yes, we don't know such details, so it's a bit wrong to be criticising the PM's planning... ;)

      1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge

        Re: Poor Project Planning

        To be fair, said PM did get his finger out.

  3. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    I was working on the move of one of our offices. It all appeared to be going well. The PM asked if there was anything we should be worried about. The two letters "BT" were uttered and the mood in the room nose dived.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Could have been worse, they might have said AT&T...

      1. Zippy´s Sausage Factory

        Looks like the way things are going it'll end up being "Altice" soon enough

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Or Beardienet. Or TalkTalk. Or...

      3. jake Silver badge

        For you Brits who have been fortunate enough to have avoided Ma Bell (AT&T, close enough) all these years, you might want to look up Lilly Tomlin's reoccurring character "Ernestine" (originally from Rowan & Martin's Laugh In in the late 1960s) ... she very neatly skewered the phone company from all angles for decades.

        Example:

        A gracious hello. Here at the Phone Company, we handle eighty-four billion calls a year. Serving everyone from presidents and kings to the scum of the earth. So, we realize that, every so often, you can’t get an operator, or for no apparent reason your phone goes out of order, or perhaps you get charged for a call you didn’t make. We don’t care!

        Watch this… [ she hits buttons maniacally ] We just lost Peoria.

        You see, this phone system consists of a multibillion-dollar matrix of space age technology that is so sophisticated — [ she hits buttons with her elbows ] even we can’t handle it. But that’s your problem, isn’t it? So, the next time you complain about your phone service, why don’t you try using two Dixie cups with a string? We don’t care. We don’t have to. We’re the Phone Company.

        1. Agamemnon

          Lilly Tomlin rose to Goddess Status BEFORE I got into Telco. Now, I have a shrine to her in my home office.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          when i worked at AT&T(uk) there where around 4000 of us here in the UK & more in europe.

          US multinationals like to drag their suppliers across the pond to serve their comms needs.

          {GC|L3|CenturyLink|Lumen}, Verizon, AT&T and others all have a major presence here.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "B"unch of "T"ossers.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      One of our customers is slowly moving their comms from one provider to another. It's taken two years so far, mostly because of Openreach.

      We were supposed to move two sites this week, one was delayed because the engineers couldn't make it. The other was delayed because they just didn't bother turning up.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I recently ordered a leased line for a new site from Openreach - easy enough and it was installed on time. In the wrong cabinet in the exchange. The one with no power to it. It remained like this for several months as they sat around and twiddled their thumbs, giving non-excuse after non-excuse, but lots of "any day now" responses. I finally snapped and asked my supplier to order an alternative from TalkTalk on the basis that we could always cancel if Openreach ever pulled the finger out. They insisted we shouldn't do this and we should hold tight, but they'd pissed us about for long enough, and I had a branch hanging on a 4G link back to base.

        A few weeks later, I got a call from Openreach about my installation - "can we do it today?". Why yes, go for it, and they did, perfectly - in the right cabinet, with power and everything. Bloody good of them that - installing a competitor's circuit in their own exchange, ahead of time. It's been up and running perfectly for months now, and the original order well and truly cancelled.

        Did I ever get a satisfactory explanation? Did I hell.

        1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

          It's not a competitor. Both are clients of Openreach. Openreach got paid twice, thanks to your solution. Incentives like that explain the issues we all know about.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            But Openreach aren't getting the ongoing monthly payment from me, are they? At least, not as much of it as TTB are.

            1. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

              Other way around. Openreach makes the same amount either way, usually. The reseller gets a smallish commission plus payment for administering the account, which is not a big earner.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                OK, other other way round. I have a functioning leased line, happy users, a business that can do what it's supposed to do and Openreach have whatever their equipment is sitting gathering dust in an unpowered cabinet.

                1. Binraider Silver badge

                  They probably don’t know them have that equipment gathering dust. I’m not sure what asset management system they use; but having experienced a few others elsewhere they are horridly difficult beasts to get and keep right.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          I had fun and games with Vodafone, upgrading circuits requiring new bearers and advise on hundreds of sites,

          The common theme was OpenReach messed up etc etc etc, turns out its the VF planning team providing wrong information to open reach,

          deep into the project and the VF PM asked me to help him out as he was going on holiday and the planners needed some info before putting in an order to OR, the planners where offshore. I'd speak with them, explain the situation, answer all their Q's email them with specifics and then ask them to tell me what I had told them and 9.99/10 it was wrong and not what I said.

          The planners didn't work for VF they where a 3rd party and truly cared less.

          in the olden days a few jobs back the OR planners and engineers would pop by and have a chat and we'd work out what was needed from the request and get the correct things done. Now its by faceless 3rd parties offshore there is no accountability and plenty of incentives for people to get things wrong.

          installing new circuits in telehouse docklands, needed special permission from the co lo for access to our floor & meet-me-room & I had to arrange remote hands to escort, first visit vf replaced the engineer at the last moment so was denied entry, next time they didn't have the router, the last time my guy was waiting in reception for the VF engineer, an hour later I got a call from the engineer as he was waiting for my remote hand, The VF engineer had bypassed reception and got on to our floor unescorted as he'd been doing other work in the building the last few weeks so they just let him through.

          All isp's are as bad as each other, compounding multiple badness is where the real chicanery starts

          1. GreyWolf

            My experience of Vodafone

            1. Can't find their arses with both hands and a map.

            2. More than three months away? That's long-term planning, we don't do that.

            3. Ready, willing and able to break the law (because don't know, don't care)

            1. Giles C Silver badge

              Re: My experience of Vodafone

              The worst provider I have ever had the misfortune to deal with was O2. This was 5 years ago so maybe they have improved now, but I would never deal with them again, after migrating from a well behaved BT mpls network.

              Missed deliveries, wrong configs and at the time it almost seemed that they relied on one person to write the configs….

          2. Alan Brown Silver badge

            " I'd speak with them, explain the situation, answer all their Q's email them with specifics and then ask them to tell me what I had told them and 9.99/10 it was wrong and not what I said."

            Yup, this happens a lot (particularly when dealing with councils)

            If you have to dictate a message, It's always worth asking them to read back exactly what's written

            If you have to do that 3 times in one call - bearing in mind they're recorded - then you have a good ground for complaint but you can expect the idiot concerned to actively obstruct you speaking to someone higher up in the food chain

        3. Dimmer Bronze badge

          We don’t have a circuit in your location.

          Or, “sorry that is not our circuit ID”

          My reply “ you have a cage here supplying a few thousand households. I will just unplug a couple of these 100g fiber cross connects to help you identify your connections.” I was assured that would not be necessary.

          5 min later they had found the circuit and the fat finger mistake, corrected it and our customer was back in biz.

  4. abend0c4

    I'm going to book us a hotel right away

    Sounds like a convoluted excuse to "make beautiful music together".

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meeting Marketing Deadline

    I recall, about 20 years ago, being at a briefing where the MD was spitting about how successful the latest development had been - to industry and media reps. I was only there because he was relatively clueless about running a PowerPoint presentation from his laptop. I should add, for irony, the organisation had been set up by the main clients to develop and run a joint industry suppler database and my official role was as a supplier assessor (rating supplier capabilities and performance). Partway through his spiel he announced an upcoming upgrade whereby each supplier (~3000 of them) would have their own access to link their individual website catalogues into the online database we ran. Release was scheduled in three months. Once he'd finished I casually asked who was working on the new project, as it was the first I'd heard of it. "You will" was his reply - "I only thought about it a few days ago." Yeow!!!

    Back at my desk, I started planning out a new project, scoping it and setting a potential schedule to meet his announcement. The plan was on his desk, for approval (and budget) the next week. Two months later, he approved it - the only change was a two month delay to the launch.

    Contracts were set up and the work proceeded at a pace (I took control of testing and set up a few dummy companies, and websites, for the purpose). I also included, in the contract with the IT sub-contractor doing the development (there was no way our own team could have taken it on in the timescale) a three-month warranty support period whereby key programmers would be made available for any issues discovered as it was put into use by the suppliers. All went well and we were ready for release on the promised date - that is, the project was. Unfortunately, the MD and his marketing team weren't! They hadn't really expected the project to meet the deadline and needed a further three months before they were ready - by which time, the warranty period elapsed. I refused to play hardball with the sub-contractor and withhold payment - after all, they had met the contract requirements on time and in full.

    Luckily, there were no major problems with the new system and it actually worked as promised. Unfortunately, the purchasers never took to it and, after a few years, it was allowed to expire. Pity, as it promised a lot and could have been a game-changer in that sector.

  6. Bebu Silver badge

    'Because British Telecom are a bunch of arseholes.'

  7. Bebu Silver badge
    Headmaster

    Bunch?

    'Because British Telecom are a bunch of arseholes.'

    "Arsehole" should have more appropriate collective noun than "bunch" which is more suited to flowers and their ilk and even then flowers also have "bouquet."

    Spoilt for choice:

    A rectum of arseholes?

    An effluvium of arseholes?

    A stench of arseholes?

    A cloaca of arseholes?

    etc

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bunch?

      A parliament of arseholes? They are foul, after all...

    2. Ken Shabby
      Alert

      Re: Bunch?

      A circle of arseholes?

    3. Arthur the cat Silver badge

      Re: Bunch?

      An oubliette of arseholes.

    4. JohnTill123

      Re: Bunch?

      A chaos of arseholes?

      A bedlam of arseholes?

      An obfuscation of arseholes?

      An infarction of arseholes?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bunch?

        A pile of arseholes. Obviously.

        Break out the gallon tubs of Preparation H!

        1. Hubert Cumberdale

          Re: Bunch?

          That one does feel good, on the (w)hole.

    5. Martin Gregorie

      Re: Bunch?

      A cesspit of arseholes?

    6. Dave314159ggggdffsdds Silver badge

      Re: Bunch?

      Traditionally the collective noun is a purgatory of arseholes.

    7. Anonymous Coward Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: Bunch?

      No, it can be simplified much more than that:

      "Because BT"

      If you specifically want a collective noun for arseholes, I'd suggest "A complete BT department"

    8. david 12 Silver badge

      Re: Bunch?

      A buttload of arseholes?

      1. jake Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Bunch?

        DING!DING!DING!DING!

        We have a winnah!

        Have a beer :-)

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    BT who managed to get one of my customers signed up to separate multi year ISDN line and call bundle packages with different expiry dates. Cancelling one could only be done by taking a hit on the early cancellation fee of the other. Eventually the fee was waived on condition of ordering a leased line instead.

    1. FirstTangoInParis Bronze badge

      This. BT once quoted a charity for which I did IT work for an ISDN PBX and a few phones, to increase their number of phone lines from one to three. I pointed out that their own website did not recommend ISDN for new installs. Instead, I installed them a Fritzbox broadband router with PBX in it, and gave them their second and third lines over SIP. Massively cheaper and easier to maintain.

    2. J. R. Hartley

      The title is no longer required.

      "BT who managed to get one of my customers signed up to separate multi year ISDN line and call bundle packages with different expiry dates. Cancelling one could only be done by taking a hit on the early cancellation fee of the other."

      Come on. That is genuinely impressive.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: The title is no longer required.

        In the 1970s through the mid '80s preditory $TELCO sailsdroids were selling 20 and 30 and even 50 year leases on Switched56. I know one company in Silly Con Valley that still has a couple years left on a 50 year lease ... it "only" costs them about twelve hundred bucks a month. It is unused. I don't think they even own the necessary termination equipment anymore.

        Similarly, I know of several other companies who are locked into paying for low bandwidth ISDN. A couple are still paying for 2B+D; they got suckered into a "low cost" 30 year contract in the '90s and $TELCO won't let them off the hook ...

        The Mainframe Model involved long-term leases right from the git-go. It sure looked cheap when signing that 50 year lease ... back in 1977, just four years before IBM legitimized the personal computer in the eyes of Business when they released the PC. I have seen two 100 year mainframe leases, one from 1959 and the other from the 1962. From the perspective of those times, it seemed to make a whole lot of fiscal sense. Long-term was the thing back then ... There were actually Nuclear Reactor salesmen pitching sixty or seventy year working lives as a part of their standard sales patter.

        1. Herby

          100 Year Lease...

          I just hope the lease includes service. Might even be worth it to see the service droids come out and do "preventive maintenance"

        2. Quando

          Re: The title is no longer required.

          Does the price include an annual inflation rated rise?

  9. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

    Sounds like

    just another day here, when we've worked on the production plan for next week, knowing down times/up times/ production times/ delivery times for everything being made in accordance with the customer's own delivery times.

    Then customer A calls with a pull forward on 1 of his parts, but still wants the rest on time while you know that that will impact customer B because you need the staff to work on A's job etc etc etc

    1. heyrick Silver badge

      Re: Sounds like

      Post Covid, one of our suppliers sent out a message saying "in order to do our job, we need you to do yours" and promising that all orders made will be delivered exactly as previewed at the time of ordering. No advances, no delays.

      Kind of makes a person wonder what the hell other companies had been playing at.

  10. Jim Willsher

    And BT still are a bunch of the same body part, whichever arm of “what we think of as BT” is involved.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "How have you coped with changes to project schedules?"

    With copious amounts of alcohol.

  12. aerogems Silver badge

    Maybe I should submit this story for an On Call.

    Some years ago I was hired by a startup company. The plan, as it was told to me, was that I'd start out as a kind of tech support person, but be trained up to be more of the IT manager because the person doing the job lived a couple hundred miles away and I guess they kind of wanted to move on to other things.

    First thing they have me do is set up a satellite office in a space they'd leased in the same building. Turns out they had spent over a month interviewing me multiple times (and presumably other people) while doing absolutely NOTHING. The most they did was order some like Ikea desks for people to sit at, but they didn't even bother having someone set them up. They had no equipment purchased, they didn't have Internet service established for the second location, no cables had been run for power or ethernet, literally nothing had been done and the move-in date was in less than a month.

    So, my first week on the job is spent setting up Internet service (and running all over the building with the telecom guy because the building manager was in the process of moving all the telecom infrastructure around, while witnessing a truly spectacular grounding/earthing of someone wrapping a bare copper wire around the spine of the fuse box), I arranged for someone to come string some ethernet and power cables (I could have done it, but just not in the time frame I was given to work with), and trying to track down the specific wifi AP they wanted as well as order a switch for the VoIP phones and everything else. It was pretty amateur hour when I learned they were running like a $2K Cisco switch just by plugging it into a wall socket directly. The only UPS they were familiar with was the brown package delivery company.

    It became clear that I had been hired to fail in place of my manager, and when it looked like I might come close to pulling it off, suddenly they started cutting me out of meetings and then blaming me for things. The breaking point, where we agreed to disagree and part ways, came when I asked where they wanted to put the switch in the new office. They pointed to what is literally a coat closet. Imagine your average door, now cut the width in half, and imagine it goes back barely enough to fit a coat in and you've got a pretty good idea. There was no electrical outlet in there, no ventilation, not even sure if the switch would have physically fit in there without turning it sideways.

    1. Andy A

      I would have been tempted to demonstrate insertion of the router into another space of theirs.

      See definition of BT above.

  13. jake Silver badge

    Make your own dud deadline.

    A billion years ago (in Internet time, call it roughly 1984), I invented the nonsensical "perc test" to get a brain-dead manager off my back.

    From then on, if middle management wanted to know how long it'd be before any given project would be finished, we'd answer "We're still waiting on the results of the perc test" ... the manager would mindlessly nod his head, usually slack jawed, and wander off. In meetings, many managers would make important scribbles of this momentous bit of knowledge. Many of them actually had open-ended bars on their hand-drawn and taped Gantt charts labeled "Perk Test" ... it even had its own "corporate approved" colo(u)r. The mind boggles.

    But silly as it sounds, it worked. It got management off our backs.

    Note the "perc" vs. "perk" ... IT's can be a hurry-up-and-wait kinda career. Sometimes we need coffee, which is where most of my technical colleagues thought I'd come up with the term ... but actually, I coined the phrase after a soils engineer came out to my property to evaluate the location I had chosen for my new leach field ...

    1. Benegesserict Cumbersomberbatch Silver badge

      Re: Make your own dud deadline.

      The PERC test is pulmonary embolus rule-out criteria.

      If:

      Age < 50

      Heart rate < 100

      SpO2 > 95%

      No unilateral lower limb swelling

      No recent prolonged immobilisation

      No history of PE

      Non-smoker

      No exogenous oestrogens

      Then no further investigation for PE is indicated.

      Specificity is >98% in low pre-test suspicion, which is as good as a D-dimer.

  14. Alan W. Rateliff, II

    The program manager learned a lot about IT during those days

    A really good outcome, and likely made things easier down the road. Having a manager who knows little about your job but has the power to tell you how to do it is beyond frustrating. But, having a (good) manager who has worked with you shoulder-to-shoulder in the trenches not only makes the job easier, but having someone like that sitting between you and upper-management or command staff is invaluable.

    (I had to go back and qualify "manager" with "good," because some of them are arrogant asses who always think they can do things better because they were there once.)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The program manager learned a lot about IT during those days

      I recall a manager I worked for back in the 1980's. He knew what was needed from the department (basically, avoid other departmental screw-ups), but knew very little about how everything needed to be done. However, he knew his strengths and limitations and, after setting objectives fro a project, let us get on with it; his strength was in knowing how to navigate the corporate politics (we were the UK arm of a very large and diverse USA-based multinational services company) - and he was on first-name terms with several board members, having started with the company as an apprentice many years earlier. If anyone got in the way of us doing our job, he would be there demolishing all-comers; if we upset somebody and they complained, he would make himself the target of any flak, defending us without question (although we might get a b*llocking later, in private, if we had over-stepped the mark).

      I was sad to leave that company; I was in line to get his job when he retired, but that was going to be another 10-20 years, and one of our big customers had offered me a job with them at twice the salary (it was actually a difficult decision - until the missus found out)!

  15. tyrfing

    So for once it was not actually the program manager's fault? Amazing.

  16. ComicalEngineer

    My previous company was based in a business centre that catered specifically for small businesses. The office we leased had issues with a leaking roof and were were forced to move after the roof fell in (literally). Fortunately the leak and the roof bits missed the network server and the two desktop CAD machines we had, but meant that half the office space was unusable.

    We were offered another office within the building which was abot 10m from our original office. On contacting BT to move our fibre broadband over we were told that this would cost £1,200 plus VAT at 20%. We were then put onto an old copper wire which occasionally reached the dizzy speed of 1MPs but usually hovered around 0.5MPs. Really useful if you need to do video conferencing.

    We binned BT and instead got an EE wifi hub which was delivered the next day and was giving around 30MPs - adequate for our purposes.

    BT continued to pester us about our closed account for over 6 months.This included never being able to talk to the same person twice, and our alleged customer account manager turned out to be an Indian call centre.

  17. hayzoos

    Telecom Industry Standards

    Experienced similar telecom shenanigans multiple times in multiple jobs. First job out of university I managed to work my way up to Head of IT (only 25 people in corp office, single step up from bottom rung). This set me up to oversee the tech aspects of the office move 40 miles from the then current location. This involved seven phone/fax/modem lines, and a small capacity DID trunk line. Bell of PA which was becoming Bell Atlantic - PA which later became Verizon - PA all formerly known as Ma Bell under AT&T said they could only provide four POTS lines and the DID trunk line with a 2 week delay for the additional three POTS lines. I had to do some quick learning of the advanced configuration of the Merlin Legend phone system and came up with a workable solution. No more dedicated lines! All incoming would be on the DID trunk and outgoing from a shared pool of POTS lines whose use I could configure in the system far more simple actually. It turns out the existing configuration was advanced and complex because it grew ad-hoc from two POTS lines phone and fax with published numbers and rollover and dedicated modem and all going away because those numbers could not follow our move. But the DID trunk numbers could because they were regional and the move was within the region.

    A number of years later I was with another company a hundred or so miles away. We were a private payphone (as a service) company as opposed to phone company payphones. We were servicing one of our rapidly expanding convenience store customer's new locations in the same area of my previous job's office. We were required to provide four payphones each requiring a POTS line. The store itself required about 8 lines. We had our order of four lines in and confirmed to be live no less than ten days before store opening. Then the customer put their order in with Verizon - PA which did not have eight available lines. Verizon gave them two lines from our order, without notice. Our crew was there to install and connect the payphones ten days before opening. They called me because there were only two lines with our name on them. I called Verizon and this is when I found out what had happened. We were obligated under contract to have four working payphones five days prior to opening. That requirement was reduce to two in this situation. Funny thing though, somehow, without us pressuring them, Verizon came through with our two additional lines six days prior. I think somebody with our customer knew somebody at Verizon who could make it happen.

    Not enough lines, happened many times. Now no new ones going in, you have to wait for Widow Smith's line to become available.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not to defend BT… and anyway I haven’t had to deal with them or any other UK operator in more than 10 years…

    BUT at the risk of stating the bleedin’ obvious: the story is set in the Netherlands (or Holland if you prefer). BT will have had to deal with KPN or some other local provider for the last mile and there will be standard Ts & Cs so a one month extension will have been more difficult to obtain and only as a function of the perceived importance of BT’s client to the service provider AND the commercial relationship between BT and the supplier.

    Qualification: I used to do some of this stuff for a living, and ran a global corporate network fronted by BT. Back in the days before and of Syncordia they used to try very hard to please the customer (me) but it wasn’t all under their control.

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