Category Archives: British Telecom

BT have possibly the worst customer service in the UK. Naturally Mr Daz would be involved somewhere, the complaints to BT defy belief.

Getting British Business Online offers free websites

Getting British Business Online (GBBO) offers free websites and domain names for businesses in the UK – but are they any good?

I remember when I first discovered the possibility of owning a website. It was, I believe, back in 1997 and someone at university suggested that I should get a website for a film that I was working on. His idea intrigued me, as I would be able to create a ‘website’ for this film, showing photographs and screening dates, and host it on the World Wide Web for anyone to see.

However, my initial excitement was tempered when I realised that I would have to pay for this new privilege. I would have to pay for a domain name (which back then was a lot of money for a student), I would have to pay for a hosting account and I would have to, most likely, pay one of the interactive arts students to show me how to use a web authoring program – and who knows what it would have been back then, probably MS FrontPage or some equally tripe rubbish.

So the idea sort of died a death, which was a shame. I eventually did create the website for the film, but it was about a year or so later – too late for the film’s big screening. Now, if I’d had the opportunity that the GBBO offers now I would have snapped their hand off, as a free domain name and free website would have gone down a treat for me back then.

The trouble is of course – the type of websites offered by the ‘Getting British Business Online’ initiative are actually circa 1997 anyway, if the designs I’ve seen are anything to go by. You see, while getting a free website back in 1997 would have been a big boost to my then business efforts, the web has evolved a long way since then. Now, in 2010, you need more than a basic template with some free images to make a website successful – and I’m not talking about a professional design here either.

No, for a website to be successful these days you need a sterling SEO campaign, one utilising the latest techniques in terms of link building and content – and the sorts of websites offered by the GBBO simply don’t allow for that level of on-page SEO work. Plus, when you consider the sorts of prices you can pay for hosting these days, the ‘offer’ of a free domain and free website isn’t exactly the huge boost it would have been 13 years ago.

With a registrar such as 123-Reg (who I would in no way recommend using by the way) you can pay around £5 for a domain name for two years. That’s peanuts in the grand scheme of things. Then there are hosting companies offering hosting for just a few quid each month. That is again nothing, comparatively speaking.

Of course creating the website could be tricky – but when you consider the fact that CMS systems (content management system – systems) such as WordPress and Drupal are free, and each has thousands upon thousands of free templates, you can easily create your own website, without any knowledge of coding, in a few minutes – a website with cleaner code, and a far better starting point from an SEO point of view, than anything offered by the GBBO.

The worst part is perhaps the fact that when people register their ‘free’ domain name with GBBO, and decide that the website they’ve been given isn’t suitable, they then can’t transfer the domain away from GBBO for at least 60 days!

Getting British Business Online is a good idea, but one that is probably a decade too late and one that has been implemented very poorly. Any business that relies on one of their free websites for its business site is going to find it very hard to compete in the marketplace – especially as that marketplace gets even more crowded as a result of new business start-ups brought about by the recession.

Watchdog has been ruined by the BBC

Those who know me will know that I love a good complaint. I’m renowned for it. Because of this, I’m a fan of BBC Watchdog. I often watch the show and get irate at the companies they’re exposing for their unethical practices and poor customer service.

Indeed, I like to perform my own exposes of companies, such as those that have often annoyed me like the CSA, BT and Direct Line, or companies that have the misfortune of having annoyed me just the once and lived to regret it forever, such as Home Delivery Network and Chester Council.

I’m a fan of Watchdog’s work, so much so that I even aided them with their quest to investigate Providence Properties (a company that didn’t annoy me, but I picked up the torch nonetheless).

However, this new series of Watchdog, which started last night, will have companies like Providence Properties popping the champagne corks. What was once a hard hitting consumer affairs show has been diluted into nothing more than a BBC version of Loose Women.

Did we need to see Anne Robinson and Gabby Roslin harping on about pushchairs? Did we have to watch a 10 minute video showing how many bags you can hang on the back of them before they topple over, despite even the voiceover admitting that the manufacturers tell you not to do it? And what purpose did strapping the buggies onto a bucking bronco and seeing how long it took to launch the doll from them actually serve?

None, none whatsoever.

They then complained about Virgin Media. Excellent, as a customer of Virgin Media I’ve had my share of complaints with them. However, complaining that Virgin Media make it difficult to sort out someone’s account after they’d died isn’t really anything to complain about. People would soon complain if it were made easy, then anyone could phone up and claim to be a relative, stating the account holder had died and they wanted all of the documents and account credit transferred to them.

Virgin Media acted responsibly.

I can’t believe I’m saying all of this, but it gets worse.

The report on sunbeds was completely redundant. It’s not illegal for under 18s to use them, so none of the health clubs were breaking the law. What’s the problem?

Just why has the show been merged with Rogue Traders? I’m not a fan of Rogue Traders because I believe the guy hosting it, Matt Allwright, is out of his depth, as he showed again. He’s in the perfect position to really get people’s back up yet seems to act like a petulant clown. If you want to see how to annoy people, read this website, it’s all there.

Matt Allwright followed some salesman from Craftmatic beds, claiming his technique of making three phone calls to the office was hard sell, and his claiming that the bed will make you look twenty years younger was unscrupulous. OK, if you believe that using a bed makes you look twenty years younger you deserve to be conned, and making several calls to the office to get ‘discounts’ for the client is a sales technique. It might not be pleasant, but salesman generally aren’t.

He hadn’t done anything wrong. Then when the Matt Allwright tried to crash the sales conference and was barred from entry he started acting like a child, ordering the man behind not to trap him in the door or it would be assault.

You’re not supposed to be getting worked up mate, they are!

He’s rubbish and the show has been ruined. Bring back Nicky Campbell and the decent format. If you want someone to do Rogue Traders properly, I’ll do it!

CeMAP Training

I had wondered what the term CeMAP Training actually meant, but as I’ve just bought a house (which completes on Monday, when I get the keys) I’ve now realised what it means and exactly why it’s so important in the current climate.

The term means the ‘Certificate in Mortgage Advice and Practice’ and is awarded to people who qualify from their CeMAP exam to become mortgage advisers. My own personal mortgage adviser was with Lloyds TSB, and he ensured I had the right mortgage package so that I could afford the house I’m buying in Manchester, so he was very helpful to me, when most people wouldn’t have given me a mortgage right now because of the CSA deductions I’m currently experiencing, despite having already paid off more than their stated arrears.

But that’s for another blog post. This one is about my new house, which I’ll be living in from Monday 9th (which also happens to be my youngest son’s birthday) and I’m able to finally ditch BT, as I’m having Virgin Media installed.

So I’m getting a new house, with REAL broadband and Sky Sports. Things are looking up. Thanks for the help Tim!

I’m counting the days until I can tell BT to fuck off

I’m moving house very soon, and in the new home I’ll be getting Virgin Media for the TV, phone and broadband. This means that, finally, I can rid my life of the incompetent bunch of lying bastards that call themselves BT.

As this blog has chronicled over the years, BT have consistently managed to fall short of acceptable service, lying to me in emails and on the phone, being deceptive over prices and even stealing money from my account.

All of this I could have overlooked, if their broadband had actually been any good. However, it’s not. Their broadband is atrociously bad. It’s slow, intermittent and overpriced. I’m currently paying over £120 per quarter for Internet and phone, and I don’t ever use the phone.

BT are a joke, and as soon as I get a completion date on my move I can finally call BT (obviously waiting several hours on hold before I get through) to tell them where they can stick their pathetic excuse for a service.

I will of course record the call for everyone’s pleasure, and upload it here if it’s humorous enough.

Bye bye BT, bye bye.

What a morning!

Wow, this has been some morning.

Firstly, Direct Line phoned up and apologised for paying out the wrong person when my car was stolen in 2006 and said they’d compensate me for it being off the road for a year as a direct result of their actions. Incredible.

Then, the Child Support Agency phoned and said they’d made a mistake and realised that actually, yes, I had been paying for my ex-wife’s house between January 07 – January 08, therefore I wasn’t actually in arrears. They’re going to refund all of the money they’ve incorrectly taken from me.

Then, and this too good to be true, BT phoned…. and the person was ENGLISH! He said that they were sorry for debiting me twice in August, and for quoting me £33 for broadband, only to then charge me £68.

But wait, there’s more. Royal & SunAlliance then phoned and said they were sorry for delaying repairing my car for a year and would be sending me a full written apology.

I need to go and have a lay down. This has all been too much this morning.

BT rescind my £20 charge

It seems BT have seen sense and have rescinded the £20 charge they sneaked into my bill without telling me.

From: Online Billing []
Sent: 01 March 2008 04:51
To: Daz
Subject: RE: Thank you for your email dated 28/2/08 regarding Bills and Payments. (KMM43421884I24871L0KM)

Dear Mr Jamieson,

Thank you for your e-mail dated 29/2/08 regarding the charges on your bill.

Please accept my apologies for the delay in replying to you and for any inconvenience this may have caused.

With response to your email, I am sorry to hear that you were not notified regarding the reconnection charges. However, I have gone ahead and refunded the reconnection charges of £20.00.

Further regarding the payment processing fee of £4.50, on May 1st 2007 we reduced the price of monthly line rental by £1.00 and broadband by £1.00 for customers who don’t pay by Direct Debit. At the same time, a separate payment processing fee of £1.50 a month was introduced. This is not a penalty charge but a separate fee for methods of payment which cost us more to process.

So the net effect is only 50p a month more for anyone who just has a phone line with us, but anyone who takes broadband as well will be 50p a month better off.

I would like to remind you that as part of your terms and conditions you are required to pay your bill in full when you receive it.

BT’s fee for non-Direct Debit payments is amongst the lowest around. For example, Virgin Media charge £5 a month. Many companies, such as Carphone Warehouse, will only accept customers who agree to pay by Direct Debit

The email then went into a massive sales pitch for the benefit of Direct Debits. I wasn’t interested. I replied with this.

Thank you for refunding the £20. When I see that displayed on my online bill I shall pay it.

Your assurances over the safety of Direct Debit however are false. I was debited twice in August and it took me over a month to get the money back. Any queries I have sent as a result of incorrect amounts have taken over a month to get a response, which has obviously resulted in a further Direct Debit.

My experience has shown that BT are unable to process Direct Debits without mistakes and are unable to rectify those mistakes promptly.

I will continue with my service and pay online as I have been doing, so long as the bill is correct.

Let me know when the correct bill is available for me to pay.

Oh yes, and as for your reminding me that I am required to pay my bill when I receive it as part of BT’s terms and conditions, I’ll remind you once again that I was lied to twice over the amounts I would be paying. I will also remind you that I have both of these calls recorded and I will remind you further that these calls are available for download on my website, so you can listen to them yourself if you like.

Darren Jamieson

So complaining about hidden charges does actually work? Everyone should remember that, don’t take hidden charges laying down. Stand up for your rights and speak out if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly.

Of course, having every correspondence broadcast on a high traffic website does help matters!

BT given one final chance

BT responded to my complaint in record time, usually it takes them at least 4 weeks. However their response was less that thrilling

Dear Mr Jamieson

Thank you for your email dated 28/2/08 regarding Bills and Payments.

I am very sorry to hear of the difficulties you have experienced.

In response to your query, the rental charges are £96.98 Excl Vat every quarter and that is including line rental charges for BT Together Option and Broadband Service Charges. You have been charged £24.50 as Payment Charges in which £4.50 is for Payment Processing Fee and there has been a charge for £20.00 which is charged for Reconnection Charges. The last quarter payment was made after the due date and you had your outgoing calls restricted for which BT has charged you a reconnection. For the whole outstanding amount, there is a VAT charged for £18.37.

Hence you have an outstanding balance of £127.81.

With all the difficulties you have faced with respect to your Direct Debit and paying a fee for reconnection, I would strongly suggest you to set in up a Direct Debit Monthly wherein we send our customers the monthly telephone bills and directly debit their bank account for whole of the bill amount. The required bill payments are claimed 7 calendar days after bill production. Monthly Billing is now only available to customers with Direct Debit Monthly.

Should you have any further queries do not hesitate to contact us again.

Obviously that’s not acceptable and has represented the final straw. I replied with this:

Let me get this straight, you’ve charged me £24.50 in payment charges, £4.50 payment processing fee and £20 for reconnection?

None of this was actually explained to me and I wasn’t notified of any of it. I wasn’t disconnected as my Internet worked uninterrupted throughout the last few months. My last bill was paid late because of your error with the bill in the first place and your taking several weeks to respond to every query… all of which is documented by me.

You have hit me with hidden charges and not even notified me of such. That is not on my friend. You expect me to set up a direct debit? So you can take money from account without even telling me what it’s for, without any notice? Do you think I’m stupid???

I will not be paying any payment charges, processing fees or reconnection fees.

You either rescind those charges so that I can pay for the service I am getting or you can consider this my written notice of cancellation.

I will not be held to ransom by you like this.

If you think you can take me to court for the money I remind you that I record all of my phone calls and keep all of my correspondence, which means I have the original phone calls with your salesman and the customer service reps who both lied to me about the direct debit charges. This is all displayed on my website for download. I will gladly produce this as evidence and for the Trading Standards Authority.

So you have two choice, rescind the hidden charges you have unlawfully added to my account or cancel my service and we can call this a day. I’ve had nothing but bad experiences with BT since the day I joined you and would gladly be shot of your lying, deceitful company.

Again I look forward to your reply.

If I don’t get a satisfactory reply I’ll just sack BT off and go to Vodafone. I could use one of their packs then on my laptop wherever I am. I never use the landline for BT anyway so I’m wasting money having the line rental.

I think this could be it for me and BT.

BT are up to their old thieving tricks again

I just received an email from BT insisting that I pay my bill or face a £7 charge for late payment. Not one to back down from these kind of threats I responded with kind.

My bill is once again inaccurate. This seems to happen with every bill, so there’s no great surprise there.

I pay £11 per month for line rental and £21.99 per month for broadband. I have no other services. This totals £98.97 per quarter, not £127.81.

You were close, but no cigar.

Please provide me with the correct total for my bill so that I can pay it. I refuse to pay for your mistakes once again.

I cancelled my direct debit with you imbeciles after you took £136 out of my account for one month’s services, when it should have been £33. If I had even the slightest confidence that you could work out the correct total for my bill I would use direct debit again.

I don’t.

I look forward to your reply.

Let’s see if they come back with anything approaching an intelligent response.