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Archive for April, 2013

BT’s Culture of Outsourcing

Emergency phone

MY BT Internet connection has been faulty since the beginning of this year. I have spent no less than about 10 hours speaking to support representatives in an offshore call centre, all of whom go through the script and a list of steps that “test” the connection, never mind if a dozen people before them ran the same tests. I have been polite but assertive, especially after these issues persisted for months. But never ever did they send out an engineer (meaning, a UK-based person paid at UK rates) to address the issue. At one stage they sent out a replacement router, but unsurprisingly this did not resolve the problem.

Imagine having a flaky connection when you work from home (in the employment sense). Calls are dropping, SSH sessions are dropping, IRC logging and conversations are choppy, and even Web browsing is very erratic. Imagine this going on for about 4 months. Imagine having your ISP refusing to just fix the issue by sending an actual person to the site for investigation.

My issue have been escalated internally numerous times and I have just spoke to their manager about it. No compensation can ever recover or make up for the time and work lost due to BT’s systemic incompetence. But wait, it gets worse. Not only is BT too ‘cheap’ (must increase shareholders value!) to send out an engineer; it is unable to even follow up with calls that it promises to make. The automated phone reminder which says they would call works correctly, even phoning me to wake me up at 7 AM on a Sunday. But the actual representative ‘forgets’ to call. Oops. I guess the customer does not matter enough to inform. If the customer stays home for a 2-hour time slot allocated for a call, they can just be left out in the cold, right? Well, that’s BT.

My issues with BT were serious back in 2011 when they were unable to simply set up my connection, incurring weeks in delay. I should have taken the hint and taken my money elsewhere, but BT has a monopoly on the lines. So I stayed with BT, only after their cancellations department was very insistent and successfully persuaded me to give them another chance. They also compensated me which was an admission of guilt more than it was a compensation for all the time lost and the agonising experience lasing weeks.

BT’s issues are not technical. BT’s issues are systemic. The company assumes its customers are dumb. It insists on running simple tests rather than addressing low-level issues that have been ongoing for months. It would rather have you suffer for days and talking to poorly-paid employees than send out a person who — through direct physical contact with the infrastructure — can probably remediate the issue immediately.

BT is not a company that cares about people. It cares only about money to the extent where it forgets what customers actually mean and why bad service will give them bad reputation and discourage new customers from joining,

Today, after months of bad service, BT said they would send an engineer (at long last!) to my house, but only in two days from now (I stood firm on quick action), meaning that I would suffer from faulty connection for a couple more days until I go on vacation (Monday). I also need to wait at home for a five-hour time slot on Saturday. Great, eh? See how much bad service from BT impacts one’s life on a daily basis.

If you never relied on BT for anything, do yourself a favour and never do. BT doesn’t care about people, it will take your money and run up a tree, then tell you that you must be dumb and the fault must not be theirs. You are just a fool with his/her money

2013: Twitter Has Jumped the Shark

Twitter in Alexa

ALEXA data is not an accurate measure of site popularity (see my views from 2005 and from 2006), but trends as judged by Alexa can sometimes — especially for large sites — indicate if a site is going mainstream or going away. With statistically-meaningful deviations from the baselines it is now fair to say that Twitter has jumped the shark. The amount of communication I get in that site is definitely not increasing and it seems to be turning more and more into a hub for celebrities, perhaps because 140 characters are enough for them or their PR agents to communicate with. Many former Twitterers seem to be logging in less (some never at all), or reading less, certainly communicating less in the comments — something which is also a growing issue in Facebook and Google Plus, less so in JoinDiaspora, which is my favourite social network these days.

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