Disaster struck at 2.20pm today when my broadband connection dropped out. This happens a couple of times a week, and it normally comes back straight away. But today after 15 minutes, and having rebooted the home hub, still no broadband. The wireless signal was fine; but the internet connection was down, on both laptops. So not a machine-specific problem, not a router problem. I ran BT’s diagnostics program; it confirmed it was time to call the BT Helpdesk, and gave me a code to quote to save time diagnosing the problem. So far, so good.
I phoned BT, identified my home number, name, address etc. Then offered to give them the problem code from the diagnostics program. No, they didn’t want the code. I explained the problem. We then went through all the diagnostics again; reboot the home hub, reboot the laptop, try with and without the ethernet cable, try a different website, etc. Had I installed any new firewall or virus-checking software? No; I explained that the problem was not PC specific since both machines affected. Given the wireless signal was strong, could it be a broadband service problem, I suggested? No, probably a browser problem. Or new hardware. Could I run my laptop in safe mode instead? It could be the weather? Me: Have you had other calls from my area? BT: No. So unlikely to be the weather then…. Had I installed halogen lights recently? I kid you not. And so on… After about 90 minutes of this, the Helpdesk admitted defeat. They had no idea what the problem was but suggested I call the BT engineers: did I want the number?
OK, I said. Armed myself with a fresh cuppa, then phoned the new number. Did I have an account? Yes, gave my BT account details. No, did I have a BT home IT support account? This is a chargeable service, starting at £9.99 a month for a minimum of 3 months. Now, bear in mind that I’ve been offline for nearly 2 hours and I’m already paying for my Broadband, I thought this was pretty outrageous. “Look”, I said, “could you just check that my broadband service is working OK from your end. Without charging me £30.” Yes, they can do a line test free. The phone went dead. I went to get another cuppa. And lo, the broadband was back.
Yes I’m delighted it’s working, and yes I’m grateful that they did the line test. Although it could of course have been the weather….
But some questions for BT before I forget all about this and get on with life:
– why give a diagnostics code then have the Helpdesk ignore it?
– why insist on going through irrelevant basic tests without at least first listening to the customer’s description of the problem?
– why not include a line test among the Helpdesk options?
– why refer me to a chargeable service without warning that it’s chargeable?
– in fact, why attempt to charge at all for fixing the service that the customer is already paying for?