To whom it may concern at BT,
I trust this email finds you well. Unfortunately, this is where my pleasantries must cease. I am not usually a confrontational person so it is with regret that I contact you in such a manner. Last night whilst contacting BT trying to solve a quandary with my BT homehub broadband service I was reduced to angrily pacing around my flat shouting and swearing like a Milwall supporter with tourettes syndrome.
To provide a bit of background as to how out of character this is, I’d like to regale a short story to you. A couple of years back, in the height of a particularly clement British summertime, I was unexpectedly stung by a bee whilst dancing around my room to some mild commercial reggae. Chaka Demus and Pliers, if memory serves.
After the initial shock, I was hit with surge of anger which left me wanting to smash the offending bee into a sticky twitching clump with a nearby copy of the metro, but having picked up the paper, I was suddenly hit with a pang of conscience. I recalled the fact that once a bee has administered its sting, its entrails and vital organs are torn away from their housing and the bee is left to die. Despite the pain I was suffering, I didn’t want to deprive the bee of a respectful death and consequently guided it out of the window with a glass and a piece of cardboard to afford this sentient creature the chance of a peaceful death in its chosen surroundings.
I’ve since discovered via the quiz show QI that only one species of the several indigenous to the UK actually die after administering the sting. It probably wasn’t dying and so perhaps I should have killed it. But, even so, I’m still quietly glad that I didn’t. I don’t know if insects bleed, as such, but there is no bee plasma on my hands.
The only reason I told you that story is to explain that I am not the kind of person to lose my temper at the drop of a hat. So for BT to reduce me to an obscene screeching gargoyle, the circumstances must have been rather severe.
I’ll give you some background. After idle research into broadband providers, my flatmate ordered the BT homehub service on somewhat of an arbitrary whim. Of all broadband providers, BT’s name, arguably alongside Sky and perhaps Virgin (i’ve no time for Murdoch or Branson), seemed the standout provider so she felt in the heat of the moment that it would be a safe bet.
And thus our hub arrived. Having spent the previous few months desperately trying to beg, steal or borrow any form of connectivity in an age so dependent on the internet, I was delighted to have finally cast our flat free of our Luddite existence and into the 21st century.
The dizzy world of the internet was suddenly at my excited fingertips. Whether my desire was to view videos of a fat Korean boy breakdancing on YouTube, or the rather more murky worlds of Brazilian cake-farting or Japanese Bukkake porn, I could finally surf the net as I pleased.
Suddenly, I received a bill for my first month’s usage; £42. For one month. As it transpires, the tariff we’d been placed upon meant that we had a download limit of 20GB, and were charged £1 for every GB thereafter. I’ve discussed this with my flatmate and I’m not going to debate whether the BT sales department had communicated this at the point of sale, but I suspect not.
I looked online and realised for just over half of what I was paying with you, I could have unlimited broadband with a faster speed complete with Sky TV. Nevertheless, I thought, it may cost a lot, but at least I have the internet. Plus we were contracted anyway.
A few months elapsed without incident. Costly, but without incident.
Then, I was unfortunate enough to be the subject of debit card fraud, with some pilfering scoundrel snaffling every penny from my account the day after pay day before any of my direct debits were due to come out. Naturally, all payments bounced yet I solved the problem with my rent, utility bills and mobile phone without any problem as they all empathised with my situation. BT disconnected my line and demanded I paid a reconnection fee once the outstanding fees were settled.
I finally managed to get this fee quashed after a series of heated and expensive phonecalls. Yet I seem to recall the tone of the supervisor I’d spoken to being very much that they had afforded me a philanthropic olive branch of such magnitude, that any future payment indiscretions would result in me being brought before an omnipotent panel of BT directors to explain why I’d had the gall to treat British Telecom in such a manner.
Additionally, I must also point out that the process of both disconnecting my line, and contacting me to demand monies was extremely efficiently and quickly administered.
Fast forward to 17th January 2011. ‘Blue Monday’, as it was dubbed by the British media as the most depressing day on the calendar. I’d had rather a frustrating day at work, not to mention the raging hangover I was suffering from a weekend of drinking cheap supermarket cider, I arrived home looking forward to laying in bed and browsing internet pornography at my leisure.
It’s important to note that for the month preceding, the performance of my homehub had begun to resemble a wheezing, emphasemic child with rickets competing in the 110m hurdles, cutting out every fifteen minutes.
But this night, on Blue Monday, it finally collapsed.
Frustrated, I contacted BT and after 15 minutes of holding, I was put through to the contact centre in where I suspect to be India. Now, I have been party to several arguments about overseas call centres in the past as I’ve always seen it as an excuse for people to vent snobbery and casual racism. I’m pleased to say that your counterparts in India were charming and, unfortunately, shackled by the ineptitude and bureaucracy of British Telecom. Their dealing with my complaint, obsequious as it was, showed genuine altruism and I could sense the embarrassment that they were as pissed off with BT as I was.
I got extremely angered during the call, not through the dealings of the operator, but through BT’s casual stance of ‘there may be some sort of problem with the line so we’ll probably have to have a look into it and come back to you’. I explained that due to a number of commitments for which I am bound (not porn, this time), I desperately need internet access every evening. He said they would call me back at 12.30 the next day once remote diagnostics had been done. I was called at 1.30 saying that the problem had been fixed and they’d call me at a convenient time when I was at home to confirm so we agreed 6pm.
At 7pm, with the broadband still not working I called and, after being on hold for 25 minutes, (I’d also suggest a more uplifting hold music to be interspersed with hollow apologies and assurances of my importance, maybe ‘No Letting Go by Wayne Wonder. It’s a shit song but its the one I feel best incorporates the scenario in hand), I was given assurances that BT will endeavour to perhaps get an engineer out to me tomorrow, if it’s convenient. Which it isn’t as, surprisingly, I’ll be at work. I asked if we could predetermine a time so I can ensure that I could come back on my lunch hour to let the engineer in. “(sigh), I’m sorry sir, but the best we can offer is some time between 1pm-6pm” replied your Indian counterpart.
Deciding to seize the ‘bull by the horns’, I respectfully requested to speak to the supervisor. In a surreal turn of circumstance, the operator informed me that there is a strict BT protocol for which someone can be put through to a line manager, and my situation was “not severe enough to warrant a manager” as I’d only reported the problem 24 hours earlier.
This was the point that I suffered a flashback like that lad from the Bourne trilogy, albeit less dramatic, and was cast back to the moment that stripy-arsed bastard stung me those years before and with a surge of adrenaline, I unleashed a tirade of fury befitting of Gordon Ramsey trying to manage the kitchen at your average Little Chef. And for this, I am not proud, but I found it interesting that my circumstance suddenly transformed to being severe enough for a supervisor to issue me the divine honour of His presence.
Perhaps, my unabated and deep-seeded subconscious vengeance of letting that bee, masquerading as a kamikaze attacker, out of my window manifested in my angry outburst toward your operator and emotion got the better of me.
Still, despite our 20 minute conversation reiterating my discontent, an engineer may be here tomorrow, perhaps between 1pm-6pm, probably GMT.
I don’t know what I’m expecting by writing this correspondence to you, but I look forward to receiving the thoughts of BT, should my circumstance be deemed ‘severe’ enough to warrant a response of course.
Please bear in mind that my contract is shortly up for renewal, so it would take a gesture of astounding proportion for me to renew with BT for the next year, so I implore you to consider your response diligently.