As a freelancer working largely with the written word, there are two essential tools that I need to be able to function effectively. They're a phone and fast internet. Sending drafts to and fro, arranging interviews and conducting web research are key elements of my everyday job - and I'm severely hamstrung without the right tools for the job.
Thanks to BT, fast email and other internet services have been but a memory for most of the last five days.
The saga began last Thursday when the line for our Broadband hub and secondary phone line dropped out for no apparent reason. That was 'no apparent reason' until I looked out the front window and saw a BT man with his Openreach van over the road. He had his head down a manhole, and I put two and two together and concluded that whatever he was working on had caused our line to drop out.
I popped over the road and explained this to him. He was clearly a good sort as he came back to me about 20 minutes later, checked out my line, acknowledged there was a fault and spent the next half hour putting it right. So, all good, and only about an hour's working time lost.
Next afternoon, the line dropped out again. I looked out and there was another Openreach van with two different engineers peering down the same manhole. Being now expert in the procedure, I trotted over the road, exlained what had happened and how it repeated the events of the day before and asked them to ensure my line was reconnected before they left. One of them, David Essex-like with dark curly hair and an ear ring nodded and assured me that all would be ok.
An hour later, the line was still not back. I looked out and saw that the manhole was closed up and the pair had gone - clearly it doesn't pay to stay late at a job on a Friday afternoon. So, my service was stuffed for the rest of the day.
I reported the fault, told BT Customer Services what had happened and was told an engineer wouldn't be out until Saturday. So that was, effectively, four more working hours severely compromised.
Two more engineers arrived on Saturday lunchtime and restored the service within the hour. All good again.....until yesterday morning. Then, guess what? A fourth BT man with his Openreach van, legs dangling in the good ol' Brook Road manhole, but this time he was deeply engaged in a personal call on his mobile.
My line/broadband had, of course, dropped out again but I knew the drill. I crossed the road once again and stood over the engineer for a good 10 minutes as he chatted on. It was an interesting conversation as this tall, bald, tattooed engineer told the other party all about the job interview he'd just had and how he still intended to do some private work after he left BT and would make sure that the van went back to his employer empty..............I wasn't so sure that this engineer was quite such a good sort.
Anyway, once he'd deigned to complete his private call, I explained the saga and the effect that each engineering visit had caused. I gave him my number. He said he'd get it sorted.
Within 20 minutes he was gone - but still I was lineless. Needless to say, I was pretty mad but surprisingly calm when I once again reported the fault and explained to Customer Services for the second time in three days why they'd have to send an engineer out.
For the rest of yesterday and all this morning, I was reduced to using my Vodafone mobile wifi dongle. It works great in London and big towns where there's access to the 3G network, but Risborough hasn't been 3G'd yet, so the experience here in rural Bucks is much like dial-up. Very slow and very frustrating......much like my BT experience.
The line was restored at lunchtime today - a two-hour job as today's engineer said that yards of my line had been ripped out and used to patch another job. I assume that was yesterdays' work.
The lack of professionalism of two of the engineering crews is galling, and trying to actually report a fault is a byzantine process - made all the more annoying by BT's automated system constantly encouraging me to report andf track my fault online.......I would if I could bleeding well get online!
I become ever-less impressed by the service of some of our major organisations. I intend to take this further with BT, and hopefully they can restore my faith a little.