Technical Issues

Our problems began in late 2014 when various BT engineers tried for nearly fifteen months to get the Mitel SIP phones working. Eventually BT sent a specialist team who finally managed to get the phones connected and working, I say working but the truth is the phones played up from day one.

From the time the Mitel SIP phones were (finally) installed over a year after their original scheduled date, we’ve had to endure ongoing problems ranging from total failure of the phone system where it completely crashed leaving us without phone lines or internet, or the phone lines themselves just kept dropping in and out with the internet. Many of our customers trying to ring in and heard the disconcerting message “this number is no longer in service” – we only realised this when some of our regular customers contacted us on social media. What would you think if you tried calling a company and heard that message? You’d understandably assume that the company was no longer trading, but in our case that just wasn’t true – clearly we were losing customers who took their business elsewhere thinking we were no longer trading. BT consistently refuse to accept this obvious fact.

BT’s engineers have been trying to fix the problem with our phones for nearly two years – well outside OFFCOM ‘s remit of two days! From the outset we repeatedly asked if we could have a ‘call divert’ to a mobile phone installed, this would at least allow one customer to get through when the system failed, better to have one call than none at all. Unfortunately this request was persistently denied, we were continually told by several engineers that our new system would not support a call divert facility.

Sometimes the phones went off for whole days at a time with nobody being able to get them switched back on and working. We had a continuous flow of BT engineers turning up to try to fix the problem of the phones crashing out and they changed various pieces of equipment, tried to rewire the whole system but nothing they did made any difference, on one occasion they actually found over a million recorded faults on our CISCO router and had to replace it, unfortunately even this did not resolve the problems and the phones/internet continued to crash.

Months of communication and online checking by BTnet followed in an effort to discover why the phones and the internet kept crashing. The 10mg leased line was actually capable of running a call centre with over a hundred phones and computers, my businesses only used 10 phones and 12 computers – so how could they continue to insist that I was overloading the system? yet that’s what they continued to do, they even made the suggestion that “CISCO Tuesday” was the cause of our problems as all CISCO routers played up on Tuesdays – really?! They also suggested that the fault may lie with the fact that the Windows 10 download was the cause of the overloading, any excuse in fact to scurrilously divert attention away from the fact that they had provided us with a faulty system that they just couldn’t fix.

My IT manager had several heated arguments with BTnet, (BT’s technical department) and actually asked them to forward any evidence that supported their overloading theory. They actually sent us two graphs showing spikes – one spike occurred at 1am, the other at 3am – on both occasions my business was obviously closed since we don’t operate night shifts! Further supportive evidence was requested but was unsurprisingly unforthcoming.

Angered by these unsupported claims of overloading the system ourselves, I resorted to having my system monitored independently by a CISCO engineer, CISCO are the manufacturers of the routers which BT use. Over ten days the CISCO engineer tried to recreate the type of crash that we regularly suffered by streaming music, films, having all the computers running at full capacity etc – he couldn’t even get close to mimicking the type of crash we have consistently endured.

His final report clearly stated that we weren’t responsible for overloading our system – that the problem lay at BT’s door. I sent a copy to BT’s engineers who ceased blaming us – a small victory for us, particularly with the senior engineer who had actually diagnosed our problem as CISCO Tuesday!! Fortunately the independent CISCO report put paid to the idea of us overloading the 10mg leased line and that excuse was never used again by anyone within BT.

We were eventually put in touch with one of BT’s SIP specialists, my general manager again raised the topic of a call divert with him – miraculously, despite being told repeatedly that this was not possible by several senior engineers, the SIP specialist kept my manager on the phone while he set up a call divert within minutes! Had this been installed two years ago we’d have certainly managed to salvage more sales – why were BT’s engineers providing us with false information? Clearly they weren’t adequately skilled to deal with the equipment – but it’s me, the customer who suffers! We’re all at the mercy of BT’s inadequately trained engineers and if that results in a loss of business and endless stress to the poor customer – tough!

Reading other customers’ accounts of their experiences with BT, it appears that BT’s only defence is to consistently blame the customer when they cannot find where the fault is themselves. How can that be allowed to continue? This is BT’s equipment, they install it, it’s absolutely shocking that they have been allowed to continue fobbing customers off like this – ruining businesses and consequently people’s lives in the process.

Just this week my manager went to fill his car with petrol, the owner of the petrol station had to refuse serving him as his credit card machine wasn’t working – further on into the conversation the owner revealed that he’d had a fibre optic line installed some months previously and he’d had problems with his internet ever since (sounds familiar) – it kept crashing leaving him without any internet and therefore a redundant credit card machine – what did BT repeatedly tell him? It was HIS fault!! Yes, since BT installed another of these faulty fibre optic lines and this poor man has been pulling his hair out with the amount of business he’s been losing, the best BT can do is blame him, the injustice of it all makes your blood boil.

Now this you’ll find very interesting – BT’s SIP specialist informed us verbally and by email that our system cannot be fixed – a fact which I have suspected for some time. He emailed us with some mind-blowing information backed up by a graph; – he stated that our fibre optic line had some ‘codecs’ that were actually incompatible with some older phones, in other words, if a customer tried to call us with a phone that wasn’t compatible with ours, he wouldn’t be able to get through!!

No wonder we’ve been losing sales! How many customers have actually tried to call us with ‘incompatible’ phones is anyone’s guess, but whatever that figure is, the ‘codecs’ problem is a VERY serious flaw with BT’s fibre optic line and should NEVER have been sold to the general public. Would you want a business phone that isn’t compatible with all your customers phones? Of course you wouldn’t, the phone is a major lifeline for generating sales, if that phone can’t connect with absolutely everyone it’s going to have a major negative impact on your sales. Had I been made aware of  this codecs problem at the beginning I DEFINITELY wouldn’t have spent over £15,000 purchasing it!

Basically the situation is this “we can receive some of our calls some of the time but not all of our calls all of the time” It would actually be quiet funny if it wasn’t so serious.

BT are selling the general public a flawed product and blaming us for that flaw – please help us bring this company to justice, without the necessary funds we cannot even think of succeeding with our campaign.

Any donation will be more than appreciated, it will help to finally bring BT to justice – everyone needs to act, one person cannot do it.

Thank you for taking the time to read our story, I hope you never have to suffer at the hands of BT in the same way.