Friday, March 16, 2007

BT are tossers

I am chez my parents in the Shires. I bought an ADSL wireless router to fix their BT broadband service up to a wireless LAN (for purely selfish reasons - so I can surf in bed when visiting), only to hit insurmountable technical problems late last night. Four hours of phone calls later (to BT's India call centre, to BT's UK sales call centre, to the manufacturer of the router's UK call centre) I find the source of the problem: my parents' BT broadband package is out of date and doesn't work with a wifi router - they need to be upgrade to the 8meg TOTAL package, which will take 5 days minimum to set up. Meanwhile, I now know more than I need to know about ADSL wireless router configuration.

Its good to know that even if life in Nigeria can frustrate, life back in Blighty can infuriate. Although not a nerdy tecchie type, I can usually solve technical problems with computers from a conceptual perspective before handing over to a grunt to solve the fiddly codey stuff. If I'd been Joe Bloggs customer with less technical understanding, I would have thrown the computer out of the window by now. It was far easier to set up wifi in our place in Nigeria than it has been here.

As many of the UK banks have found, people here simply don't want to talk to an India call centre to fix their problems or talk about their account. Its not racism that fuels the preference. Rather, it is simply the combination of a gap in pronunciation (dialectal difference leading the ear to strain to interpret on both sides) plus an inevitable lack of empathy - how can someone thousands of miles away know what it is like to deal with BT and their myriad inadequacies, or understand banking arrangements in the local context of a life? I'm not sure that any amount of cultural training can bridge the gulf between customers in one continent and support staff in another.

But the sun is shining and it is early spring, so it's all ok really.


Anonymous,  9:00 am  

I moved house first week in November. Contacted BT and my mini nightmare began. I had to call this free number in India to get the engineers to come to my flat. An engineer was booked for a week later (work time!). the engineer had to come out twice again as the phone line was still not working (after several incidents of screaming at the call handlers) I mean one suggested I fix the socket in my house myself - I retorted that I did not have any screwdrivers. Another advised me to hang outside my window and check the cable box(from a 2nd floor flat?.) I asked if their insurance covered me in the event that I fell off my window sill etc. Anyway, they sent me this huge bill about £400 2 weeks later. I called thier offices in a rage and demanded to know what service they had provided to warrant this (invoicing is in London). They were very apologetic, yadi yada etc. In all it took over a month to get my phone line working. I could not believe. This is the UK.

Olawunmi 2:15 am  

i had a similar experience with tiscali just last week. globalisation is a right pain, because when i am angry and frustrated with the poor service that i am receiving from big business, the last thing i want to do is speak to some hapless indian person on the phone, whom i cannot take my anger out on.

hell, it angers me something fierce

Yosh 10:22 am  

Though I didn't have to talk to no distant call centers, I've had my share of the whole $hitty experience with British ISPs. Some guy was here last week and needed to use his Tiscali e-mail to synch e-mails into Outlook. Tiscali has an SMTP server but would not even let customers use the SMTP server to send messages from their Outlook programs. So everytime this guy travels, he has to look for a local SMTP server to use, until he hit the brick wall when he visited here. It sure does suck 'cos eventually he decided to do GMail on Outlook.

What paranoia on such provider's part!!!

2plus2 9:00 pm  

Jeremy out of curiosity, tell me about setting up WIFI in Abuja, was it easy. Looking to do the same in Lagos but a little freaked out on where to begin.

mba5 9:37 pm  

Yes, BT sucks. But not as much as NTL now Virgin Media.

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