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British Telecommunications Plc

This was once one of the UK's largest and proudest companys. How have they got to where they are now? It is their change in attitude to their customers that is the biggest worry. They have forgotten one of the basics of business which is that your customers are your friends and should be treated accordingly! It is hard to win new customers but MUCH harder to win back those who have left you, so treat them well enough that they stay and never think of going elsewhere! BT are not doing this.
     BT are no strangers to dirty tricks. They currently charge their customers 4.50 "handling fees" if their bill is paid by any other means than direct debit. This amounts to a "fine" for going to the bank and paying the bill with the Queens coin (cash). The direct debit system is basically flawed (see the page on The Banking System) and CB fears the worst for any BT client who allows direct debit payments to BT.
BT were recently shown on BBC TV's Watchdog programme as attempting to charge customers for line faults that were the responsibility of BT, not the customer, a seemingly fraudulent practice. With direct debit, even though the customer may challenge the bill it is too late, BT has debited you and they have your money!

    There seems to be a new policy at BT to "get their money and ask questions later" There is a belligerent attitude coming from BT and they are SO QUICK to threaten customers with court action and to refer "debts" to debt collectors long before any mistakes are sorted out. Try going online to deal with a problem and you will find an endless loop of FAQ's but NO CONTACT name you can phone or write to. A policy like this may be the result of some "new broom" at a very senior level who is venting his/her power and arrogance on the customer and this will ultimately be at BT's expense as those customers vote with their feet. The other possible cause might be cashflow problems. Yes, CB knows they are a big company but that means big overheads so cashflow is so important.

    The EC currently gives an employer 2500 in the first year for every employee that is employed as a trainee. CB hears that BT has made many skilled engineers redundant and set on trainees in their place. Nice move, get rid of a 40K per year employee for a 20K employee and get 2.5K for your trouble. It is good on the books but not on the ground. A friend of CB's had a phone fault which took 3 days to fix. It took 3 weeks to get his broadband back online. Every engineer tested the line and found no fault. It was only when this friend had a beer with a pal who was an ex BT engineer that he was told that after 48 hours out of service your line reverts to analogue only and has to have the default reset to analogue AND digital for the broadband to work! NO engineer in a 3 week period knew this in the central exchange of a major UK city. The tragedy is that the line fault was engineer introduced in the central exchange and nothing to do with CB's pal.

    Finally, let us look at BT's internet deal. It is so expensive in comparison to other deals and does not appear to be any faster or safer, so why pay over the odds. This is the "big blue" attitude, that always catches blue out. Remember when the football world cup was first established? The England FA believed "but we are England, who else could win"? Then we had big blue (IBM) "we ARE computers, if we don't do it, nobody does it", an attitude that gave us PC's, DOS etc and all that followed. So BT, time to shed the "but we are BT" attitude and wake up. Get rid of the sleazy approach over bills and collections. Talk to your customers and you may keep them. CB has no axe to gring, he learned the lesson long ago and voted with his feet to move to another phone and internet provider. Given all that CB is hearing and seeing on the TV, he wonders how anyone could be so stupid as to sign up to BT as a new customer or be so stupid as to stay as an existing customer.

    Be aware that if you phone up to cancel with BT you will be harangued for half an hour by a sales pitch to get you to stay. Some of this pitch is a blatant lie (things they may claim about their competitors) and it develops into what CB can only term as offensive. If you have trouble with BT, write to the Chairman, Sir Michael Rake, the CEO, Ian Livingstone, the CEO for retail, Gavin Patterson or the Company Secretary, Andrew Parker. Write care of their registered office address, which is the address at which legal notices can be served on BT. That address is British Telecommunications Plc, 81 Newgate Street, LONDON, EC1A 7AJ. If the heirarchy are inundated with letters then they may realise that their executive powers are needed to change what has become an unacceptable company.

    All the above was posted some years ago and, whilst at the time it was honest and accurate, this company has changed. It is now a provider of phone services, broadband and television services. CB does not use them as he found a reliable and cheaper alternative but, for those who wish it, this company are constantly enhancing their services. They are now providing sports programmes in their package. CB has freeview, freesat and youview equipment so pays no monthly fees which is the cheapest option but with no special sports access. You choose. CB has no idea if the aggressive marketing has changed from what it was to what it is, but this company has morphed immensely, so if you are looking at them, just remember their history and take care before signing up. Good luck.

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The JSC Group March 2006