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BT customers in the UK...has this ever happened to you?
Thread poster: Aisha Maniar

Aisha Maniar  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
Member (2003)
Arabic to English
+ ...
Mar 13, 2007

Like a lot of freelancers, I work from home and have an office with a fax, phone and internet connection all running off the same line. This line has been faulty since Saturday (i.e. not working) and British Telecom claims it might not be fixed before 31 March (!) - a possible three weeks. Of course, in between all of this, I'm losing money as I can't work the hours I usually do and working from a library - at least they have lots of dictionaries there - for three weeks is not such an appealing prospect, and I waste a lot of time getting there and back.
What can I do about this? BT are not very helpful (if I do manage to get through) and I'd like to know if I can claim loss of income from them.
Does anyone have any helpful (realistic) tips about what I can do in between?

Thanks, Aisha


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Alicia Casal  Identity Verified
Argentina
Local time: 22:30
Member (2005)
English to Spanish
+ ...
hmmm Mar 13, 2007

loss of profit...

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Carole Paquis  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2007)
English to French
I have had that Mar 13, 2007

Indeed, I had that a couple of times...I did change provider but the other providers I tried aren't better when it comes to faults.

My experience with BT:

Be very nice to the engineers who come to your house. They are the one who push you up the ladder of emergency (they have a rating system)...

If is is a professional line, you may be able to claim loss of earnings, however if it is not, BT won't be so kind.
My way out was to tell them I had elderly relatives abroad, which was not a lie.

If you contact the call centre and get nowhere, you may ask to talk to the manager, usually it helps.

As far as the running of my business, I outsourced some work, so from the client's point of view nothing had happened (short term loss of income, but no long term damage to the business)

I became very friendly with the man at the local Internet cafe...and spent a fortune on my mobile.

Hope it helps.


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Burrell  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2004)
English to Latvian
+ ...
Loss of income Mar 13, 2007

You will probably find that their user agreement stipulates they are not accountable for loss of income. However three weeks does seem excessive.
I do not know where you stand legally but I would demand to speak to the manager, to the manager of the manager and so on till you get to someone who will understand that you are serious. I would definitely threaten them with all sorts of legal consequences. I would also tell them that if they do not deal with it asap I would take my business elsewhere - sign up with another company providing similar services who actually value their customers unlike BT. Especially as BT plans to punish everybody, who does not sign up for direct debit payments. In other words - be a nuisance, usually it pays off (mind you, my husband in these cases is very happy he does not know anybody in those companies and does not have to be embarrassed on my account).

Ines


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xxxIreneN
United States
Local time: 20:30
English to Russian
+ ...
Consider an unlimited cable Internet Mar 13, 2007

Much more reliable. 2 comm failures in 6 years with total outage duration less than 2 hours. They don't want to lose TV viewers:-) I live without hardline phone for the same 6 years now. Mobile (now PDA), cable broadband, Skype and scanner cover all my needs. Sometimes I think about Efax but I have discovered that I don't really need it - can't remember the last exchange by fax:-). If needed, it can be arranged in less than 10 minutes, and I'd certainly rather find a place to fax 2 pages from than keep a phone line for it. It may not be possible to live without regular phone with kids but in the US more and more people drop hardline phones for good - we are sick of all those surcharges.

It's not cheap but ~1/3 of a day income (for everything), fully deductible, for a monthly worldwide communication needs is surely worth the trouble.

As far as the recovery of lost income goes - as a minimum, the trouble will cost you more both in time and in money, IMHO. Some precarious endeavour...

Good luck,
Irene

[Edited at 2007-03-13 21:52]


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Manuela Junghans  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
Member (2004)
English to German
+ ...
Hi Aisha Mar 13, 2007

I´m sorry to read about the problems you´re experiencing.

Unfortunately I can do little for your consolation. I hade a similar problem about 2 years ago when I was unable to connect to the internet for about 4 weeks.

I´ve tryed everything suggested by Burrell (including threatening legal action) and spent many many hours (in fact days) speaking to call center agents in India (nothing about those agent, but...). A manager to hold responsible was nowhere to be had

To cut a long story short you can´t claim loss of income since in any contract of those "service providers" there will be a clause somewhere which makes this impossible.

To take up the suggestion to sign up with another provider, as far as I know BT has the monopoly on all the landlines in the UK (let me know if I´m wrong) and you have to take the line from them and can then sign up for internet with a different company (I would not recommend Tiscali though).

This probably does little to make you feel better, but just stick to your guns and call them as frequently as you have the nerve to...

I hope everything will be sorted for you shortly.

Regards,

Manuela


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xxxCMJ_Trans
Local time: 03:30
French to English
+ ...
Not sure whether it will help but.... Mar 13, 2007

1) try an Internet café.
2) heed the following salutary tale - it pays to complain LOUDLY.
Last year my aged mother-in-law's phone packed up while we were staying with her. Since we were there, we could use our mobile phones to call up BT and ask for help. Normally she lives alone and, if unwell, relies on her phone as a lifeline to call for assistance. I explained all this to the mysterious voice many many miles away. The voice was unimpressed. Two weeks minimum Madam came the reply. I asked what would happen after our imminent departure in the absence of a phone link that could potentially save her life. I might as well have been talking to myself. I was told I could protest by sending an email, though how I was supposed to do that without a working phone line was beyond me.

To keep things short, on my return to France, I wrote a very strong email asking for earlier action and complaining about the cavalier treatment reserved for people who desperately need their phones. I was told that ma-in-law would have to ask to be put on a "vulnerable old people's list", or some such thing, to qualify for priority treatment. You can just imagine us explaining that to a very proud senior citizen. Do these people ever think?

I forgot to mention also that practically the first thing I was told on calling for assistance was that if the fault was found to be in the house, she would have pay the cost of their intervention. Again, what great psychology for people with limited means, who are already upset enough.

Ironically, the very next week my France Telecom line in Paris packed up on me. I called them up at once on my mobile and they were very helpful. They promised to have it fixed by noon the following day at the very latest, which they did with time to spare. I wrote an told my BT contact that this was how his mob should behave.... Maybe that was what did the trick but at least ma-in-law got largish discount off her next BT bill.

We now have to fix her up with another provider - which from abroad is not easy - but it will eventually be done.

BT gets the big thumbs down from me.


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Nina Khmielnitzky  Identity Verified
Canada
Local time: 21:30
Member (2004)
English to French
I have a letter you can send them Mar 13, 2007

It's pretty hilarious, but totally inappropriate here. If you want a copy for a good laugh, just send me an email at khmielnitzky@videotron.ca


Nina


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Charlie Bavington  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
French to English
D'y know anyone else with BT broadband? Mar 13, 2007

I was round a friend's house recently with my laptop, and just out of interest, I connected up their modem gadget (you know, the thing with the blue cable!) to my USB port and clicked on my usual "connect to BT broadband" icon. Bingo. Connection established, email checked, Bob was indeed my uncle and I daresay Fanny would have been my aunt if I'd bothered to enquire.

Sounds implausible, I know. I mean, why bother with usernames and passwords and all that stuff (even if it is all automatic when you're at home and if you're anything like me you've forgotten what they are anyhow) if you can just connect up to any old BT connection and you're off and running. But I swear it worked


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Suzanne Blangsted  Identity Verified
Local time: 18:30
Danish to English
+ ...
get broadband Mar 13, 2007

Aside from my recommendation for getting broadband, the phone company has a lot of "outs" in an agreement, so read it very carefully before you start any legal action.

I also recommend you extend your home insurance to include a business in your home. Then as a business, your translation loss should be covered, and here I speak from experience. I had to shut down my office due to reconstruction from water damage. My loss of income during that period was not covered because my insurance did not include a business in my home.


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DR Maryam Taghavi  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
English to Farsi (Persian)
+ ...
Do claim expenses Mar 13, 2007

Dear Aisha

From my personal experience, I know as a fact that you can and must claim expenses. As a service provider, BT must take care of your needs and they are liable for the inconvenience caused. Please make a note of the telephone calls and the time you spend on contacting them. Writing formal complaints also helps.

Kind Regards

Maryam


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Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
Danish to English
+ ...
Positive BT experience Mar 13, 2007

I have a lighter tale...

A couple of weeks ago my BT landline went down (although my broadband was still working...) some time around lunchtime. I reported the fault both online and by telephone. It was fixed within 24 hours.

After my initial call and online reporting, they called me back (I think within about an hour) and gave me the usual spiel about checking that all receivers were down, blah, blah. They then told me to check that the fault was not actually in my house by unscrewing the front cover of... I said no. I'm not unscrewing anything. Then they rolled out the paying-for-the-engineer bluff. Oh well, they said, if the engineer comes out and finds the fault is in your house then you'll have to pay. I said I don't care. Just send the engineer. The engineer was meant to come the following pm. In fact, he came the next morning. It was cable trouble on the roof. It took 10 mins to fix.

I do not have a business line. I have only one telephone line for both phone and Internet, but I do have an expensive broadband package. I very occasionally use the same line for faxes. So what I'm saying is that I don't think I have any special privileges.

You can't get them on any kind of loss of earnings gig. Not even if it's professional. Especially if it's professional. Just imagine the liability they'd be opening themselves up to in London alone. They are not that dim.

Three weeks is totally unacceptable. Do you know why they are saying three weeks?? I am sorry you have had such a rough ride from them. I, on the other hand, have tried other providers (BT do not in fact have a monopoly any longer), but that was a disaster and I've been very happy about my return to BT.

I would just keep hassling them. Good luck!

Tina


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Claire Cox
United Kingdom
Local time: 02:30
French to English
+ ...
Keep on at them! Mar 13, 2007

Hi Aisha,

Just keep on pestering them! I had this on several occasions, each of 2-3 weeks duration at my previous house and it just isn't acceptable. The first occasion was when we'd only just moved in and some joyrider had knocked down the telegraph pole outside our house, leaving us without a 'phone for 2 weeks. It was that very hot summer in 2003 and my mobile didn't work because of the heat, so the whole thing was a nightmare. The only consolation was that I had already told clients I would be out of action for a couple of weeks to get straight...

The next couple of times also lasted for a few weeks and I ended up going round to friends' houses or the local library - not an ideal situation, as you've found. I was also told that I wasn't entitled to any compensation unless it was a business line, merely the pitful rental rebate because your line is out of action. They even tried to bill me for the cost of diverting calls to my mobile when the line was out of action! In the end I got so cross that I did manage to get them to make me an ex-gratia payment as well - all of £40, which in no way compensates for loss of income and inconvenience, but if enough of us get on at them, surely they'll pull their socks up and improve their service? My problems all proved to be down to a faulty local exchange and I assume it's since been upgraded, but it really is an unacceptable way of providing a service. On the last occasion I was told that the engineer would come at a certain time and date, only to receive a 'phone call when I was sitting at the computer in my local library, some 6 miles away, asking why I wasn't at home..... Needless to say, this wasn't the day or time they'd said they would call.

Hope it all gets resolved for you soon and keep on complaining!


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Fan Gao
Australia
Local time: 11:30
Member (2006)
English to Chinese
+ ...
Switch to NTL Mar 14, 2007

Hi,

When I lived in London I got so fed up with BT that I switched over to NTL Broadband and never had a problem with them.

Maybe if you explain the situation to them and tell them how important it is for your business, to be up and running asap, then they might sort it out quickly for you and I bet they'd jump at the chance to take over another BT customer.

Good luck and hope it all gets sort out quickly.
best wishes,
Mark


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Aisha Maniar  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:30
Member (2003)
Arabic to English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks a lot... Mar 14, 2007

for all the comments and suggestions. I am definitely not going to let this one lie! I'm also annoyed that it's a "communication company" that is incredibly difficult to "communicate" with. I'm using a library that has wi-fi so I can take my laptop along and it has dictionaries too - better than an internet cafe. CMJ, I have the same query about the elderly and just generally people who don't have mobiles - just what are they supposed to do in an emergency?!
In any case, I have had words with BT and will continue to do so until this problem is sorted out.

Thanks again, Aisha


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