When Barry Morris spoke to a BT staff member about his landline problem, little did he know that over the next few months he would be talking to 12 other people and spending at least six hours on the phone.
The 70-year-old mortgage adviser and father of two from Brighton first contacted BT in February about installing an additional landline phone at his home.
The current landline phone goes through the family’s wifi router, which they wanted to turn off at night.
BT agreed to install the new connection and Barry paid £27.75 per month for the additional landline.
However, when the line was connected, it was connected to the family’s Wi-Fi router, which is not what was agreed.
Endless delays: Barry Morris is still waiting for his landline to be fixed by BT after first applying for it in February
When Barry contacted BT, he was told that if he removed the additional landline, he would also lose his original line, which he had had since 1978.
Barry spoke to 13 different staff members to try to resolve the issue to no avail. Now BT has marked his case as resolved and closed his complaint.
Barry is one of many clients who have found their cases closed before the issue was resolved.
He says: ‘I’ve spent at least six hours on the phone with BT in the last few weeks and I’m no closer to solving this problem.
“In years gone by, service was paramount, but today it seems that companies are run for the benefit of the company, staff and shareholders, while customers who contact them are treated as a mere nuisance.”
BT’s recent announcement to cut 55,000 employees by 2030, while incorporating new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) into its operations, can only infuriate customers like Barry.
In fact, regulator Ofcom found that only 51 percent of fixed-line customers and 55 percent of broadband customers are happy with BT’s handling of the problems.
It also found that BT customers spent more time on hold waiting to speak to customer service in 2022 than in 2021.
Customers have reported waiting more than six months for fixed line and Wi-Fi connections to be installed.
When they contact customer service, calls can take hours as their case is passed between multiple staff members.
Money Mail’s postal bag is full of letters from frustrated readers despairing of BT’s laughable customer service. Many have also taken to social media to air their grievances.
Among those who waited months for an engineer to visit was Stanley Weedon, 76, from Torquay, Devon. He faced a seven-month delay in getting his house connected to fiber optic cables that had been installed in his area.
Complaints: Ofcom reports that only 51% of landline customers and 55% of broadband customers are satisfied with BT’s handling of issues
In October, an engineer went out to secure a cable from its path to a box on the pavement in front of his property.
A week later, a second engineer ran a cable from this box along Stanley’s garden wall below the front window of his house, where it would later be connected.
Stanley expected another engineer to arrive soon after, but later discovered that it would be April before the job was completed.
He says: ‘What a frustrating experience this has been. I kept getting emails telling me an appointment had been scheduled, only to be told it had been cancelled.
In the end, Stanley sent 58 emails, made 20 phone calls and spoke to three advisers before his situation was resolved.
“It’s nice that calls to BT are free,” he says. ‘Each phone call could last up to an hour. In the last seven months, I think I probably spent more than ten hours on the phone with BT.’
Others say customer service at the telecommunications giant has become so poor that they fear calling the company’s hotline.
Among them is Philip Travers, from Harrogate, North Yorkshire, who says multiple poor interactions with BT customer service mean he now feels quite anxious about having to call them.
Philip, 70, has seen his mobile phone direct debit skyrocket from £40 a month to £60 in the last year.
Job losses: BT will cut 55,000 employees by 2030 as it incorporates new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, into its operations
The former insurance adviser knows that calling BT to haggle over this price increase could help him shave vital pounds off his monthly bill, but he’d rather pay the higher amount than face hours of waiting.
Says Philip: ‘I’ve been at BT all my life, but the thought of calling the company stresses me out. I know calling the helpline means I’ll be stuck on the phone for an hour and end up having a fight.
“The situation makes me angry because BT is supposed to be the number one phone provider, but their service could be better.”
Philip recently moved and spent four to five hours on the phone with BT to get a landline. ‘It was such hard work. In every case, something managed to go wrong.
“The worst moment was when I was outside my new home with a moving van and without an engineer, even though I booked one in advance.
‘When I called BT they said I would need a new appointment in two weeks. When I pointed out that it was a company error and asked for it to be fixed faster, BT pretty much said, “It is what it is.” And then he never did anything.
He adds: “A phone line is an essential service, but BT is run for profit when it should also be there for the benefit of its customers.”
Money Mail’s Pick Up Or Pay Up campaign calls for businesses to be penalized if they don’t answer the phone within ten minutes. Currently, there are no sanctions, which we believe needs to change.
Similar legislation was passed in Spain last year, meaning businesses now have three minutes to answer their phones or else face fines of up to £85,000.
A BT spokesperson says: ‘We are dedicated to keeping our customers connected. We’re among the best in the industry for the overall service we provide, and we’re committed to helping our customers wherever they need us.’
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