British Telecom (BT) — The Most Disrespectful Company, Ever?

Mike McGrail
5 min readSep 26, 2016

See end of post for latest update! We’re online! (04 OCT 16)

Twenty hours. That’s just on the phone. Hold, failed promise, repeat. The anger? Many more hours. This all sounds very serious. After-all, it’s just broadband (and TV), right? Yes. But there’s something far more important at play here.

Here’s (a slice) of the six-week story to date.

  • My family and I move into a ‘new build’ property. Happy days.
  • Said property features ‘fibre to the premise’ and all of the BT Openreach equipment is pre-installed. Bring on the super-fast connection.
  • Prior to the move, I’d called BT to setup an account, arrange for router etc to be delivered — ‘will this work out of the box?’ — yes Mike, they said. Nope.
  • Engineer visits 5 days later. Nice chap he was. Fixes it.
  • 48 hours later, our neighbour gets a visit from an engineer so they can be switched on. Connection party imminent.
  • Our service stops. Right in the middle of Stranger Things.
  • Engineer switches us back on, after a delay, natch.
  • Neighbour’s service stops. Hmm.
  • Back and forth with BT. What’s the problem? They don’t know. You’ll get a call back Mike.
  • No call.
  • I call. Hold for 60 mins.
  • No progress. Promised call 5 days later.
  • No call. Rage.
  • I call. 60 mins minimum on hold. No progress. Promised a call back. Missed an hour of friends coming to see house due to this one.
  • I’m going to stop now as a lot of pixels will die in ernest. Lets just say, a huge amount of further time has been spent by wife and I trying to get answers. Always after being told we’ll get a call on a certain day.

I don’t even care about not having service anymore

I care about the total lack of respect for the most precious thing we have in life. Time. So much of it has been lost trying to get answers from BT. A company that last year reported (pre-tax) profits of £2.645bn, repeatedly shows an utter lack of respect, care and understanding for its customers.

Lies, and damn lies

When someone tells you they are going to do something, you generally take it on good faith that they will, right? People at BT who have been actually fairly helpful and understanding have failed to come back to us with a call, email, text, carrier pigeon or anything else. Despite saying things like ‘you’ll definitely get a call from me or a colleague on Friday before 12'. This creates a necessity for the ‘customer’ to take time from their lives to call and try to get any form of update.

It’s not only me

It’s not like BT don’t understand that their customer service sucks. Look at their rating from 1911 reviews over on TrustPilot. How can any company be so derided, yet fail to change? I feel sorry for the people that work there who have no real power to change a damn thing.

Last resort and a word to the wise

I initially intended to write this as an assault that may lead to something actually progressing with our service. We were told today would be the day it got fixed, but after the promised call (between 8 & 12) that my wife stayed in the house waiting for, didn’t come, forcing her to make another call lasting 90 minutes in order to get an update. The update? We’ll get it fixed by Friday. WE DON’T BELIEVE YOU. I’m hoping this post spurs them into action.

If you can avoid it, don’t use BT

It’s complicated, but it’s not necessarily possible to avoid using BT — having access to Virgin Media cable is one route (we don’t). The only way that they’ll really look to change is if the people talk and the money walks. If you do decide to give them your hard-end cash, please be prepared for a rough ride. As I sit on my sofa, my tethered data is dwindling fast. One day, maybe, that data will actually come via BT. I’d hold my breath, but I like life.

Update 28.09.16 — I was passed the email addresses for both the CEOs of BT and Openreach on the 27th. I emailed them both with this:

I received a response a few hours later, from the ‘Executive Complaints Team’ apologising and telling me they were now handling it and I would get a call by the 29th. They also stated not to speak to other departments as this would ’cause confusion’. I wait with bated breath.

They took money today!

We were charged £75 today by BT. This is £34 for services that we aren’t receiving. The remainder is for our neighbour’s phone bill! Their number is still attached to our account. Oh, and isn’t taking money and not delivering service theft? Apparently our order is still in progress. Don’t we know it.

01.10.16 They actually called!

I got a call from our super-duper special complaints handler last night while out with Mrs McG for dinner. The outcome? We can’t progress anything until Tuesday. Nothing has moved forward in 5 weeks now, apart from the escalation of the issue and my frustration.

04.10.16 We have broadband!

BT called yesterday to say that everything would be fixed today and I’m glad to say that we are online, with a fast connection and hopefully this whole shambles is over. It’s quite incredible the lengths I had to go to! Days worth of calls, emails, live chats and contacting two CEOs to alert them to my Facebook campaign driving people to this post! Now, to sort out the compensation (or ‘good will’ as BT call it). I think a free month for every week of delay is fair…

Thanks to all that have contacted me

I know that in the grand scheme of things, these issues are insignificant, but respect and integrity are two aspects of life that need protecting.



Mike McGrail

Marketing consultant with 12+ years in the game. I work in whisky and gin marketing. It’s great. Writing about many things.