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How to Treat New Customers


The story so far.

Despite our new home having had a phone line and ADSL until the day we took possession on 24th March BT OpenReach decided that there was no phone line here so we would have to pay for a site visit to re-commission the line. The date chosen by them, Tuesday, 26th April is the day we had intended to move in but we weren't due to arrive until late in the day and it was an afternoon appointment so, anxious to have broadband up and running as soon as possible, I booked a ticket on the sleeper from London in order to get here on time (at a cost of about £130).

On Thursday, 21st April someone from Zen Internet phoned me to tell me that OpenReach had decided they no longer need to visit and they can activate the line remotely. However it's too late for me to cancel my ticket by then so I came up on the sleeper on Tuesday anyway just in case they changed their mind again.

They didn't.

On Wednesday, 27th April our removers arrived with all our worldly goods so I immediately plugged a phone into the master socket to check the line. It was dead. I also plugged Zen's ADSL firewall/router in and it didn't detect DSL.

I phoned Zen and we went through various checks as it looks fine from their end including testing all the sockets in the house, looking for another master socket (in case it's been moved at some point), testing using another phone, and removing the bottom half of the master socket cover so that I can plug into the real master socket. No dial tone.

So an OpenReach engineer was booked for Thursday, 28th April between 8am and 1pm.

On Thursday I sat and waited but no OpenReach engineer turned up!

At 1:12pm I phoned Zen and was told that a fault manager will phone me back. Through the afternoon I chased several times as I'd had no reply. I'm told that this is now a customer support issue and that someone called Angelis(?) from customer support, rather than tech support, will phone me but "he's in a meeting".

He didn't.

Come Friday morning and at 9am I phone customer support (who first try to send me off to tech support but I told them tech support told me yesterday that they, and specifically Angelis, would phone me). The person I spoke to says that either he or Angelis will phone me back. At 9:50am Angelis does but says the fault manager needs look into this and that he doesn't start until 10am (oh, and he also claims no one ever told him to phone me, and that it's not his job to anyway).

At 10:30am Oliver, the duty fault manager, phones me to tell me that OpenReach had decided there wasn't a fault (presumably as they, like Zen, couldn't see one via remote testing) and so had decided to cancel the appointment. But didn't bother telling me (or Zen presumably?).

Oliver has now booked another OpenReach appointment for tomorrow but I'm not optimistic that anyone will turn up as Oliver warned me that weekend appointments are more likely to not be fulfilled plus they're likely to again test the line and see it's apparently not faulty.

So that's the summary so far. Here's how it looks to me:

  1. If OpenReach had bothered to visit here on Tuesday, having charged us for their intention to do so, then they would have determined there was no dial tone at the time and fixed it.
  2. If OpenReach had either been properly briefed by Zen or had read the notes if they had been then they would have known that the line was reporting no fault despite there being no dial tone and would have turned up on Thursday.
  3. If whoever was Zen's duty fault manager on Thursday afternoon had bothered to phone me back (as was promised) in good time then it might have been possible to arrange another OpenReach visit on Friday. As it was, since Oliver only picked this up on Friday, we're stuck with Saturday "possibly", otherwise Tuesday, Monday being a bank holiday. So that will be a week later than the original live date.

So I'm scoring that: 1 down to OpenReach, 2 to OpenReach possibly "helped" by Zen and 3 down to Zen.

And to add insult to injury I have had an email from Zen that says:

Your Zen Talk order has now completed. The activation and billing start date for your service is Thursday, 21st April 2016.

So I've already paid for a week's service which I've not had and I have no optimism that it's likely to start any time soon.

Not impressed. Zen score highly for quality of customer service in most comparison reports but their lack of enthusiasm for phoning me back (and the "oh, it's not my job" comment in particular) is not impressing me. About their only advantage is that they're all in the UK and English does seem to be their first language so you're not struggling with a VoIP connection and a voice which would be hard to follow even on a good line12.

Update 30/04/16

It's perhaps inevitable that, as soon as I got around to blogging about it things came right. First a text from OpenReach this morning to say an engineer was coming to see us this morning (didn't get one of those on Thursday which is interesting) and about 8:20am Kenneth turned up. He rapidly confirmed my diagnosis. Apparently there's a real shortage of pairs on the estate at the moment and it had been re-used but the database hadn't been updated.

Anyway he fixed it in no time and we're now getting ADSL. Not fast mind you: about 2.8Mbps initially, then I disconnected all the extensions and plugged directly into the real master socket and now we're getting about 4.4Mbps (and 800Kbps up) but we can live with that for now.

During the struggle over that last few days I also got to talk to a Huewei engineer on Thursday night who was busy at cabinet 13 (which is notorious in Nairn for the delays in getting FTTC working) and he was ... commissioning the fibre. Hurrah!

He reckoned it would probably be about a month before we could have it though. The OpenReach engineer who finally turns up said his gizmo measures us at about 220m from the cabinet so we should get flat out VDSL when fibre's there. Excellent.

  1. VirginMedia: that's you that is ...
  2. ... and Nectar.

Tags: internet, Nairn Written 29/04/16

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