I’ve been with BT broadband about five years. But my service has been getting slower for about six months or so. For the last couple of months, it’s been too slow to play any of the Web TV services or even a regular 360p YouTube video live. But I lived with it. I let light bulbs die for about two years before replacing them – if it’s the summer, I can live without light for weeks. I’ve been known to use the fridge for kitchen illumination.
Today, I reached the end of my patience when I couldn’t take part in a Skype video call. My downstream had plunged to 446kbps, as opposed to the (already pretty feeble) 6mbps I had 12 months ago.
For a little while, when I first noticed this drop, I was told it was because I had downloaded too much stuff. I probably had. But not within the last six months.
So anyway, I got on the phone.
- Ten minute wait in the queue. Bad – but I’ve had a lot worse.
- Annoying “is it plugged in?” style diagnostics. Bad – but not idiotic.
- Can you unscrew your phone socket from the wall and try this. That’s a new one – but I prefer this to a 2–3 day wait for an engineer.
- Ah yes, you need a new router. Promising – I’ve had my current Voyager 215 for about five years with no offer of an upgrade.
- But you need to agree to a new 12-month contract…
No, I don’t think so. Give me a workable internet connection and then I might trust you. So, no – can I have my Mac code [this lets you move more easily to another provider] please?
Him: Can I tell you about the best offers we have for you right now?
Me: No, I’d like my Mac code.
Him: Well, the best we can do is… [actually a quite good offer]
Him: … and shower you with loads of free stuff.
Me: Can I stop you there? Because I was told I’d have to take out a new contract to see my broadband connection fixed. And I don’t want to do that.
Him: Ah, yes. That is the case.
Me: Well, I don’t want to do that because I don’t trust BT to be able to deliver, based on my experience.
Him: Ah OK.
Me: So can I have my Mac Code, please?
Him: Just getting your code now. Two minutes pass.
Him: The system’s just generating it now. Another five minutes – no joke.
Him: I’m just going to go and get it Another two minutes.
Him: I’m sorry about the delay, Mr Delaney. I’m just getting it now. Another two minutes. Or was it ten? I am dazed now.
I don’t like to be mean about call-centre people. I don’t think it’s fair. They have a rulebook that was written by people hundreds (sometimes thousands) of miles away. They are the ones to blame, not the first woman I spoke to or Iqbal Hani (actually he was a total dick – really rude) or the other guy in retrieving-really-angry-people I spoke to today.
But really. You lost a customer today because you were too inflexible and you don’t really care about your customers. I’m paying my bills, why didn’t you just fix the problem? Why didn’t my router get upgraded years ago? If you have this new speed enhancer doodad, why didn’t you send it out to your existing customers?
I know why, of course. Because subscription businesses are based on customer inertia. Because you make more money putting effort into converting or acquiring new customers than in showing great value to existing ones.
But that’s shit. And there, I said it. You were shit today, BT.