They say you can really only judge a company when you need to use its customer service – not to buy something from them (in which case they’ll be quick to respond and attentive) but to report something going wrong.

Well, I’ve had the opportunity to test BT – a company that gets my landline phone (yes, I still use it and I have free calls at any time of day), broadband (top of the range Infinity 2) and TV. Needless to say they get a fair chunk of my wage each month.

Anyway my HomeHub 5 failed. Here’s what happened as I attempted to get it fixed.

Day One

It started off first thing with slow WiFi – I decided to restart the HomeHub to see if that helped the situation. Instead, I got a red light on the front. That’s not good – it indicates a problem with he HomeHub rather than your connection. I restarted it and power reset it but got the red light each time. Eventually, following BTs own help page on what to do in this situation, I performed a factory reset. But, still, I get the red light.

So, I decide to use Twitter – I find Twitter is great for getting quick responses from company, particular as everything is “public”. I tweet @btcare and, a couple of hours later (I was beginning to wonder if they worked on a Sunday), they directed me to provide my details via an online form. This I did and I was emailed a reference number.

Day Two

I’d heard nothing so I Tweet back to them enquiring.

No ETA and, hold on, what’s the point of using Twitter? I was expecting some quick suggestions to try before resorting to a formal discussion. Instead, I’m going through an email system – hardly cutting edge social media. Maybe they don’t provide actual technical assistance through these means. Except they do…

Thankfully, when I got the HH5 I kept my HomeHub 4 (I’d bought it rather than got it as part of a contract so was mine to retain). Connecting that back up, everything worked wonderfully – proving, if nothing else, that my HH5 was at fault rather than the connection.

At this point I thought I’d try their “Live Assistance” (which is what their website recommends) with the following message…

My HomeHub 5 is permanently showing a red light and there’s no internet connectivity. Restart doesn’t work or factory reset.

Live AssistanceI’m told I’ll have a wait of around 11 minutes which is fine. It ticks down to 20 seconds and then changes to 18 minutes. Down it goes… then back up…. eventually it gives up and tells me it will be “as soon as possible”. Do I go and get myself a coffee or sit and wait? Who knows? They need to look at the times generated whilst waiting – when it says the average wait is 10 minutes and you’ve already waited longer than that, it looks suspicious (and, yes, I do understand averages so I know I’m obviously “above average” but, still…). 25 minutes later I got a response. They apologised for the delay but then immediately asked for a couple of minutes to check my account.

The conversation was slow with many long pauses. Eventually they asked me to try a factory reset but, as you can see in the initial message I sent them, I’d already done this. I mentioned quite early in the conversation that I had a different hub connected but it took them a while to realise what I’d said. In the end they told me they couldn’t help because…

as you have connected an alternate router, hence our tools are showing that there is an active connection on the line and due to which it will not allow us to replace the BT Home Hub 5 from our end.

Yes, that’s right. They need to ensure I have no internet connection before they believe that my HH5 doesn’t work. Of course, I could just disconnect my HH4 from the wall socket and reproduce the same effect, without them knowing any different. I ask the obvious question – how can we continue this conversation if they want me to connect a failing router?

What best I can suggest regarding this issue is, after you connect the BT Home Hub 5, you can either get in touch with our technical team at 0800 111 4567 or our Customer Options Team at 0800 800 150 to get the hub replaced, because, if the working hub is kept connected, the tools at all our departments would not allow us to replace it.

That’s right, after waiting 25 minutes to connect to “Live” Assistance and then 20 minutes talking to them I’m told to ring them. I was trying the alternatives for the simple reason that I’m at work by now. So, now, I’ve got wait until tonight (daughter’s swimming lesson and having tea after work come first) until I can ring – bear in mind that even the BT website doesn’t recommend ringing after 4pm, I’m not feeling hopeful.

It gets to 7:30 and I make the call (after first switching back over to my HH5 – still not working) – the recorded message tells me to expect to wait between 10 and 15 minutes. Because I’ve got better things to do than hold a phone to my ear for 20+ minutes I put it on handsfree. After 15 minutes of waiting the phone beeps to indicate it’s nearly out of battery (due to me having it on handsfree). It’s a BT branded phone. Anyway,  I put it back in its charger and…. it hangs up. Didn’t know it did that. Neadless to say, I’m not happy.

I decide to leave it until the next day and put my HH4 back on to restore my internet connection.

Day Three

Online Chat Status at 9.40amBefore heading to work I put the HH5 back into place. Online chat is available from 7am, according to the website, so I’m surprised at 8:30 to find it “greyed out” and unavailable on the website, with no explanation. At 9:15 it’s still down so I decide to ring – it takes me 20 minutes to get through and then I’m told that I have to be by it so I can answer questions about its set-up and current status. They ask me to ring back when I’m at home so I explain how this has been going on for so long and I’m not prepared to call back in the evening when it will be VERY busy. I’m told they can bring me back instead – brilliant! “Shall I ring the same time tomorrow?” No. I’m at work. 8pm tonight? She can’t – it’s after her shift ends and she doesn’t seem to be able to give the job to somebody else. 6pm? That’s good. She’ll ring me back between 6 and 6:15.

Meantime, I chase my Twitter query…

“ASAP” is my time. Nice.

At 6:25 I get my phone call, which lasts for 20 minutes. The HH5 is back in place and they get me to power reset it but insist that, from their side, it appears to be working. From my side it certainly isn’t.

I’m told it needs escalating to their next support level. They need to perform tests so I need to leave the HH5 connected overnight. I state that I can’t – apart from the fact that I would really like some internet that evening, I’m also on call with work so it’s a necessity. At this point my contract terms are quoted at me (along the lines that I have to have my router on). So, a compromise – how about I put the HH5 back on again tomorrow, whilst I’m at work, and they can check it then? That’s acceptable. Can they ring me back in the evening again? Yes. But not tomorrow – it will take up to 8 hours to do the analysis so they’ll ring me back 6pm on Thursday. For the first time I have a reference number too – but I had to ask for it to get it.

Before the day ended I decided to make this article available for the first time – not fully published on the site but a temporary URL published on Twitter.

Day Four

Well, my Tweet last night seemed to do something, as I had a response from @btcare this morning…

Hopefully they’ve read this enough to know I’m at work during the day and they can only get hold of me in the evening.

When I log into the BT website I can now seem a fault logged for my broadband. It’s still listed as “open” but this doesn’t give me much confidence…

Fault Progress

Mid-afternoon, I received a Tweet…

So, no, they didn’t read either this post or the open fault. After a further exchange of tweets they agreed to ring me either tonight or tomorrow night. As I never got a phone call, I assume it will be tomorrow night.

After I got home I disconnected my HH5 and re-connected my HH4. Until I’m told otherwise I’ll leave it like that.

Day Five

Tonight I’m technically due 2 phone calls – one from the phone support person in India, and another from Lisa from the Twitter support. Maybe… maybe… between them both I’ll finally get this resolved.

I’m guessing that Lisa is dealing with this on a customer care level, unlike the phone support who are dealing with the technical side. I assume they both know the other group is also assisting – I do have a single, “official” fault open for this so I can only assume they are both aware of it. The fact that Lisa responded to this article would suggest she knows the deal.

Then, out of the blue, comes the following Tweet just before 1pm…

I’ve also noticed that although my fault details on the BT website shows it as “open” this is the status on the initial screen (I’ve pixelated out my details)…

Fault Status

Being marked as “Resolved” doesn’t fill me with confidence. Nor does the fact that although I asked them yesterday to ring tonight after 6pm, they actually rang at 5pm, as soon as my wife walked in the door. She told them to call back later, so they sent me a text saying they would ring between 6pm and 8pm (which confirms they have my phone number!).

I also received an email just after 4pm to say my Homehub was on the way – when I checked it, it’s scheduled for delivery today before 6pm. It didn’t turn up.

At 7:15pm I received a call from their Network Fault team. He seemed to have no idea about the problem and, after asking me all the basic questions again, then proceeded to spend about 15 minutes performing line checks, most of which he performed with me on mute. He asked me to re-connected my HH5, which I did, but seemed to be getting frustrated with me not always being able to understand him (he had a strong Indian accent). Soon after the line went dead, after about 25 minutes. He never rang back.

So, what’s happened here? Why am I being asked the same questions again? Why am I being called by someone with no background knowledge of the issue, even though I have an open fault, presumably with all the details on it? The guy had no idea of my previous calls on Tuesday night or the tests that were being performed yesterday. In which case, what happened to my promised phone call from THEM at 6pm tonight? If I thought they were incompetent before, they appear to have hit an all new low.

Day Six

Parcel Force tracking shows my HH5 has been delivered successfully to my home address. Hurrah. I wonder if I should be concerned as there’s no one at home today?

Asked twice on Twitter for an apology for last night and eventually got one.

When I got home I found the ubiquitous slip of card through the letterbox to indicate that I wasn’t at home during delivery. So, they’d left it by my side door. It was overcase and, thankfully, hadn’t rained as it was in a simple, unsealed cardbox box. Which makes me wonder how it was signed for? Anyway, that’s not BTs fault – I’m looking at you Parcel Force!

Once tea had been eaten and the little-one was in bed I connected up the new HH5 – it worked straight away. I spent some time setting up the configuration the way I like (standard SSID and password, guide switched off so it doesn’t interfere with Chromecast, PS4 in the DMZ, that kind of thing) and that’s it done.

Day Seven

I put the broken HH5 in the box they provided and took it to a Parcel+ point for free “recycling”.

It seemed obvious to me from Sunday that the issue was simply a faulty HomeHub – it makes me wonder, with all of BTs technical capability, why they’ve had to expend so much time performing line tests? Anyway, I’m glad I was proved right – if they’d done something remotely and the HH5 had started working again, my frustration at all their checks would have looked silly. As it is, I feel that my impatience has been warranted.

Later…

On the 30th October I sent a letter of complaint, detailing all of the above, to BT. I received a phone call about it on Sunday 9th November – however, I wasn’t able to take the call at the time but they left a message for me to ring a number back and leave my details. I did this on Tuesday 11th.

The next evening they rang me back but this was to tell me that they were forwarding my letter onto the department responsible for online support (not sure why as a lot of my issues were over the phone service I was given. Also not sure why this couldn’t have been communicated on the Sunday message rather than make me call back).