We are currently in the UK for a short visit, the main purpose of which was to bring my dad back home after his stay with us in October.
When Nick came to fetch him on 16th October he found that our phone and internet weren't working. A call to BT (thank goodness for mobile phones) revealed "a fault at the exchange" and he was told they would send an engineer to check it out in five days' time - not much use to him as he was only staying home for two days!
We arrived back home on 2nd November to find we still had no phone or internet. Another call to BT revealed the same "fault at the exchange", but only after they tried to blame our equipment or internal wiring. We have no wiring. The line comes into the house and our phone plugs straight into the socket - the one that was installed by BT only four months ago. We also checked it out using an old fashioned phone that doesn't require an electricity supply - one that we keep for emergency use such as in a power cut. That doesn't work either, suggesting a fault with the line. BT said they would send an engineer to the exchange on 6th November - a wait of another four days.
By mid afternoon on 6th November we still had no phone. Another call to BT revealed that an engineer had been to the exchange and found no fault..........the previous day! So we were no further forward and they hadn't had the courtesy to inform us of the outcome.
I admire Nick for his calm and patience. I suppose decades of getting to the bottom of problems and getting the most out of people when they have failed to come up to scratch must be good training for dealing with a large company whose systems and processes for resolving problems are hopeless. Plus the fact that the person you have to speak to at the call centre is doing his or her best but probably doesn't give a toss or is already thoroughly demoralised. I would have found it very hard not to lose my rag.
We now apparently need an engineer to come and check it out at the house, which will be - in another four days.
This leads me to reflect on the current state of service and technology. The technology is fantastic but the service is awful. How did that come about? Why is it that these days the customer has to do not only his own quality control but also his own project management when things go wrong?
You can't actually get to deal face to face or even talk to someone who really seems to care or whose job depends on getting things done right. Maybe that's the problem - large companies have great ways of getting your business through marketing but nobody takes any pride in doing a good job, whether it's the person in the call centre dealing with angry and frustrated customers, or the people who devise the processes for resolving problems. They seem to think that a refund of a month's charge for the lack of service should make us happy.
However, Nick opened his iPad to find that we are connected after all using BT Wifi - and presumably the service of one of our neighbours. So at least we have the ability to check emails if not use the phone. If I pop round to my dad's house, log on to his internet and download the right app on my own iPad, I shall be able to do the same............
Meanwhile, we await the next instalment in the saga of getting our phone line fixed. At the current rate of four day intervals between each step in the process, and having to do our own project management, we'll be very lucky indeed if it's fixed by the time we go back to France!