Broadband? What Broadband? (II)

After my last post on this subject, and due to me tweeting about the continued lack of broadband, the twitter user ‘@plusnet’ got in touch.

For which I thank him (it was a him) most sincerely.

@plusnet asked for my user details, which I passed on; I also pointed, for more complte information, to my previous post.

After a reasonable pause, during which @plusnet referred to my call notes and, for good measure, visited that last post, he got back to me with: ‘We’ve just escalated it with BT and will have an update tomorrow. I’ll be calling them if there’s no more detail or a set date’.

Brilliant. And yet not brilliant at all.

Brilliant that @plusnet realised, whether they fully believed my tale or not, that something was amiss and that BT needed to get off their backside and actually do something.

And yet not brilliant because I knew, deep inside – as a year of bitter experience has taught me to expect, that BT would actually do nothing.

However, I was wrong that BT would do nothing!

Or was I?

Shortly before 11pm – seven hours after that tweet from @plusnet – I received an email.

From Plusnet!


It said: ‘Your broadband is now active!’ (and a pile of other stuff).


It means that BT had done something!

They had completed the work-order and signed it off.


Well, not quite.


I checked with the router.

The router said ‘No, I have no broadband for you. I’m not sync’d with the local exchange’. Or words to that effect – as conveyed through a green flashing light.

Slightly more than a handful of hours later, at 6am, I checked with the router again.

It was being repetitve and dull; ‘No, I have no broadband for you. I’m not sync’d to the local exchange’.

A little under 9 hours later, I checked back with the router.

It was still saying the same thing.

So I called Plusnet technical support and spoke to a really nice guy who I shall call Andrew Plusnet.

Andrew Plusnet checked my details, looked at my notes and then took me through the usual process of elimination, during which we also tried a variety of ADSL filters and more than one router and, for good measure, we then retried these things through the test socket on the inside of the telephone box.

The router(s) were adamant that there was no sync with the local exhcange and Andrew Plusnet was forced to come to the same conlusion when his equipment delivered the same message.

So we have now been passed over to Plusnet’s second line of technical support who will, after a series of more detailed tests, come to the inevitable conclusion that something has not been done correctly by BT Openreach/BT Wholesale.

Plusnet’s second line technical support will then raise this as an issue to be fixed by…


What becomes obvious in this particular episode is the fact that BT have not done the job they claim to/should have done.

Which raises a bunch of questions such as:

  • Why would the local BT exchange sign off a work order as being complete when it was actually incomplete?
  • Why would the local BT exchange, effectively, lie to Plusnet?
  • How is it possible that the local BT exchange could sign off a broadband job when the line wasn’t syncing?
  • Why would the local BT exchange think they could get away with this, without anyone noticing?
  • What quality assurance procedures exist within BT to stop their engineers/technicians from signing off jobs that are incomplete?
  • And how has this instance managed to bypass those quality assurance procedures?

These aren’t just moaning questions; these question all expose a weakness or weaknesses in the provider’s quality assurance processes. Because, obv, if you tested a line for sync before you handed it over to your customer…

Well, this wouldn’t have happened.


At 8.35pm that evening while, ironically, I was at the Oxford Agile Group, sitting on a panel focussed on UX (user experience), I had a phone call.

From Plusnet.

I know!


The same day!

It wasn’t Andrew Plusnet on the phone, but his colleague explained that the line had been subjected to testing and, although there was clearly an issue, no fault had been found.


So could they please send an engineer out to the house to run tests on and from my end of things?


The first slot available for an engineer’s visit was tomorrow afternoon, which I grabbed with both metaphorical hands.

A few moments later I received an SMS confirming that an engineer would be with me between 1pm and 6pm the following day.

I was so excited, I had to leave the meeting when our discussion group finished, rather than joining one of the other groups.

So at 1pm today I’ll be back in my house with a stack of paperwork, longing for the engineer to arrive to break me away from the briefing paper I have to write.

And hoping he’ll find something to fix, obv.

I am impressed that Plusnet grabbed hold of the problem so positively.

I am impressed that Plusnet have confirmed everything via email and/or SMS.

I am impressed that Plusnet have, thus far, shown determination to identify the problem and get it sorted.

I am, it has to be said, hyper-impressed with Plusnet’s support staff; their positive attitude coupled with their professional-but-approachable demeanour has made dealing with this company such a soothing, calming and pleasing experience.

Dealing with Plusnet throws in to a starkly unfavourable light the painful, depressing and almost suicide-inducing experience of dealing with BT’s support staff, where the occasional nugget is the rarity, not the everyday find.

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