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Archive for May, 2015

Self-hosting Paradigm

House

WITH the rapid growth of so-called ‘social’ networks and that rather disturbing hype around ‘clouds’ usually comes a mindset shift; a lot of people foolishly turn to other parties to not only host — in the datacentre sense — their sites (or accounts) but also to manage all of their software and control their data. I have been trying hard to resist that, especially for photos hosting. Our wedding (and beyond) album now has over 400,000 views and the albums I set up in 2005 (using Gallery) has outlived many PHP changes, albeit with some efforts (code changes and migrations).

People don’t need surveillance and censorship platforms such as Facebook in order to share photographs. Facebook is people who are lazy and irresponsible, not technically-inept.

BT Takes Two Months to Bother Fixing Faulty BT Network for Entire Neighbourhood (Updatedx20)

BT has been so bad that I’ve updated a single post 14 times so far, adding to a pile of failures.

Here is a the next step: I decided to write to Buckley’s team

SUBJECT: Severe BT Issues in Neighbourhood Around [Redacted] Walk, Manchester

Dear [Redacted],

I am writing to you with the expectation that you will pass this serious concern to Warren Buckley or another suitable person. I am writing on behalf on my neighbourhood (informally), not just on behalf of myself and my wife. Many families here have suffered enormously for many weeks due to BT’s negligence and poor handling of the case. There have been several complaints from this neighbourhood about this, as confirmed to me by the Openreach engineers. I will try to keep this punctual as I already spent around 20 hours on the telephone (all in all) with BT, so going through the entire saga may take some time.

Some time in late March (I estimate this to be the time when it all started) the connection in our area had become very poor. Packets were lost (“thousands of errors on the line,” to quote the Openreach engineer) and connections were altogether dropped very frequently. My wife and I both work remotely from home ([redacted]), so this made the situation a living hell for us. We are struggling and at times are unable to do our job.

I first reported the issue to BT in early April. BT mishandled this at many levels and I made a formal complaints at the middle of April. It was soon made apparent that not only us but our neighbours too had issues; Openreach engineers were sent to them as well and one Openreach engineer told me in May that it turns out to be a “rain issue”. It is truly insulting to me that BT tried to blame this on me for over a month; they even refused to send out an engineer to check this. They made up a lot of excuses and only after about 10 hours on the phone they finally acknowledged that I had told them about an issue with BT about a month earlier.

I have just spoken about this with the manager who’s assigned to this case (he is based in India) and he told me that there is no expectation of “rain team” work for another 10 days or so. This assures continued torment.

It is unacceptable that a company as large and wealthy as BT is unable to deal as a matter of urgency with an issue that affects an entire neighbourhood, putting aside the important fact that this issue is about 1.5 months old. Is it standard level of service to fix an error affecting an entire neighbourhood after 2 or more months? I reported this issue and gave very technical details to them a very long time ago. I tried to help them. I have considerable experience in networking, including setting up Cisco routers in bulk. They repeatedly tried blaming the issue on me, which is arrogant and insulting. They have so far failed to call me back about six (yes 6!) times at scheduled times, citing excuses that were rather poor.

I wish to raise this to Warren Buckley et al. I shall be distributing material door-to-door in my neighbourhood to explain in detail to dozens of families how BT has handled the case and how long it took BT to finally take action. There is no foreseeable solution and BT started taking real action more than a month after the issue had started (and I repeatedly reported it to them). This is an extreme delay and an extreme case of client-blaming

Please respond to acknowledge that you will make Warren Buckley aware of this blunder. We need to ensure this never happens again. It is incidents like these which can persuade an entirely apathetic population to turn angry and leave BT in a burst anger, not just at home but also at the office. I can provide additional details if you need them.

From social media (today):

  • Spoke to #bt about compensation, after 10 minutes or so on hold they hung up mysteriously
  • It has not been over 6 weeks since I noticed and reported to #bt an issue that affects the whole neighbourhood. Still unaddressed.
  • It takes perhaps, on average, 15 minutes when phoning #bt to be directed to the person who actually deals with the said case. Inefficient.
  • #bt now says that it may take it two more weeks to fix the issue. How much does it make the total? 2 months to fix issue affecting a neighbourhood
  • #bt negligence and arrogance is still showing the harms of monopoly. They take as much as two weeks to merely schedule work on faulty line

From social media (18/5/2015): I diverted my letter to Libby Barr and received a response.

  • My complaints to #bt have now been escalated to Managing Director of Consumer Sales & Service at BT. Let’s see what they can do…
  • #bt has just erroneously sent me SMS and E-mails about kit delivery to my address. Now they say it was sent in error. Unprofessional.
  • #bt #openreach says the 2-month network error occurred because of a fault that was identified near house number 34, a dozen houses away.
  • The tenant at house number 34 was not in, so #bt postponed scheduled work until the 28th, 10 days from now. Unbelievable.

19/5/2015 update: I have now been given a case number, VOL012-105965266588. Here is some correspondence which explains the nature of the problem, where names of people are [redacted] for their privacy.

Here is what BT wrote to me:

Dear Dr Schestowitz

Thank you for your e-mail. Libby is currently in a series of meetings with limited access to her e-mail, so I am replying on her behalf to avoid further delay. Please be assured that Libby reviews all customer correspondence.

I am sorry to hear of the problems you are experiencing, I will pass this to our senior service team for investigation and they will respond directly to you.

Kind Regards

[redacted]
[redacted]
Business Support Manager to Libby Barr, Managing Director, Consumer Sales & Service
BT Consumer
Email: [redacted]

Short correspondence from me to them followed, then came this:

Dear Mr Schestowitz,

Thank you for your email to Libby. I’m sorry that you’re having problems with your internet and the support you’ve received from our technical teams.

Your complaint has been passed to our department to deal. Your reference for this is VOL012-105965266588.

I note from the recent engineer visit you had that a rein case has been raised due to possible interference in your area. We would need to follow up with the rein department to find out what the next best steps are. Unfortunately, this department is currently closed so we would need to contact them tomorrow.

One of my colleagues will do this and get back to you tomorrow to let you know exactly what is going on and what sort of timescales we would be looking at.

We’ll be open from 8am to 8pm tomorrow. Please let us know if there is a time which suits you best to be called.

Best wishes,

Mr. [redacted]

Executive Level Technical Complaints; BT Consumer.

Tel: [redacted] | E:mail: [redacted] | www.bt.com

I then received a phonecall (10 minutes long) and followup by E-mail:

Good Morning Mr Schestowitz,

Thank you for your time on the phone this morning. I apologise once again for the issues you’ve had with the broadband and also for the failed agreements you’ve had in dealing with our customer service teams.

I’ve picked up the case for you as I mentioned on the phone and will be doing all I can to ensure that this gets resolved as quickly as possible. At current, we do suspect that there is REIN identified that is the source of the interference and subsequently the dropping on the lines. We’ve identified where we believe this is coming from and are just waiting to get out engineers access to the property to investigate further.

The engineers weren’t able to access on their first visit but have left the residents a contact card to contact us further. If we haven’t heard from them before then we’ll follow up on the 28th and have another visit.

My role in this as I mentioned will be to continually check in to see if the owners have made contact to allow access and also update you if they have. If not I’ll contact you on the 28th to see what happened on our visit. Ideally, we hope to be able to identify specifically what equipment is transmitting and causing an interference and then having the property owners agree to either repair the equipment to allow it to work without interfering or discontinue the use of the equipment. By law, we won’t be able to enforce this, but we will advise of the problem and expect that the best decision is made.

In the meantime if you do need to get in touch, please email me at [redacted]. Please cc the email account [redacted] to allow my colleagues to assist with any urgent matters for you when I’m unavailable. You can also call in on [redacted] Pin number [redacted]. Our offices are opened Monday to Friday between 8:00am-8:00pm, on Saturday between 8:00am-6:00pm and on Sunday between 9:00am-6:00pm.

Best wishes,

[redacted]

Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

“Thanks,” I wrote to [redacted]. “For me to remain with BT when it’s all over we will need to agree on suitable compensation at some stage. The past 2 months have been terrible and as I explained in my original E-mail to Libby, I did somewhat of a service to BT by reporting this to BT at a very early stage (only to remain unheard and suppressed).”

Here is what I wrote in social media:

  • Night: Executive Level Technical Complaints at #bt got back to me with assurance that they’ve escalated the issue here; seems like a severe issue
  • The morning after: #bt just phoned (10 minutes), this time it’s a local team and it’s promising compensation and urgent action. We shall see…
  • The morning after: Turns out the #bt issue with the connection is likely some sabotage (intentional or not) 14 houses away. Two months, no solution yet.
  • Me: 2 disconnections so far today, degraded #bt lines. Must reconnect to ipsec (VPN) every hour or so just to keep it stable… nightmare.
  • Mac Plewa: @schestowitz can you get wimax where you live?
  • Me: Yes I asked BT to cancel (to use alternative to wires), they resisted me for over an hour to prevent me from cancelling
  • True Blue Line/Mac Plewa: sucks. in Australia we have telecom ombudsman who’s quite effective fighting ISPs

Update #2 (One week later): I wrote a message to Executive Level Technical Complaints after radio silence from BT and a lack of resolution.

Hi,

It has been a week since we last spoke. Openreach checked number 34 (access was granted by the tenant/owner) and said that the REIN issue was not there. It also entered our property to do some tests and could only confirm that we still suffered from connection errors. So far today our connection has dropped twice, so the issue is not resolved. Before we deal with compensation it’s important to ensure a solution is reached. This has gone on for nearly two months and only in recent weeks (maybe 3 weeks) was there actual action on the ground (where the problem lie), despite me reporting the issue at a very early stage. I spent over 20 hours on the phone, set aside the time lost due to faulty connection, E-mail, etc. This is very severe an incident and I intend to publicise this further until the issue is rectified.

Update #3 (27/5/2015): Escalated again because BT is ignoring the issue, even at executive level. Sent to Libby et al.:

Two nights ago I wrote the message below. I have not received a response, so last night I tried again (and no reply from you, either, so I’m being ignored). We have just been disconnected again, so it’s clear that this issue persists (affecting our whole neighbourhood) and we are not even receiving replies from Executive Level Technical Complaints at BT? Is this the standard service level at BT. Ignoring customers even at a corporate level? After 2 months of reports of issue that affects a lot of people?

Update #4 (27/5/2015): With Libby CC’d I have just received this response:

Hello Roy,

I apologise for the delay in responding. I have been and will continue to follow this up with the engineering team concerning this for you. I’ve just completed the diagnostics of your line. I’m sorry that the cause of the REIN was not identified as yet for you.

The reality of the situation is that the error is not on the BT Network. The engineers are in the process of attempting to identify an external source of interference that is resulting in the drops of connection for you. Ultimately the issue can only be resolved once this is identified and then the source of the interference agrees to stop transmitting a signal.

The engineers as you and I both know are consistently working to see what can be done going further and will attempt to do this to a point.

Unfortunately that’s all that we can do at the moment and we will continue to until the process is exhausted. Again however, the engineers are confirmed that the drops of your connection is not due to any fault on the BT network or system.

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

Update #5 (1/6/2015): BT says the issue has not been closed. I wrote: “Any updates on this?

“Two major disconnections so far today…”

BT replied fairly quickly and much to my surprise they say that they gave up. They have once again closed an unsolved issue.

Good Morning Mr Schestowitz,

I’m just getting back in touch to follow up on things. The engineer team has confirmed that after their best efforts, the rein case that was opened with your neighbour has been closed as they have been unable to identify the source of the interference. They’ve also advised however that they did a reset of the line at the exchange and this has resulted in significant improvements on the neighbours connection.

We also have a diagnostic report on your connection over the past days and we have the connection reading stable sync speeds of just over 7 Mbps with a current uptime of 3 days and 20 hours. Would you be able to let me know if you’re still having any further issues since before the weekend with drops in your connection at all?

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

I have just replied with:

Hi,

It is disappointing that an essentially unsolved issue is being closed. It took over 2 months and BT snubbed my reports of this issue (I spent about two dozen hours reporting it over the telephone). It was ignored for a very long time beforehand (about a month of my reports), leaving my wife and I unable to do our job properly (we both work from home over the Internet).

Before today, for perhaps 2 days, the connection was quite stable, but it already fell over twice today. I fear that the ‘solution’ may not be permanent.

I would like to start speaking about compensation, especially for inability to respond properly to my complaints (several times, treated as formal complaints and escalated upwards), as outlines in my first E-mail to Libby. What would BT be willing to do to keep us as clients after this big ordeal?

There was a followup question: “Can you let me know if your home hub changed colour on the two disconnections and also can you let me know how long the connection was off for and whether or not you had to reboot the hub to get connection back?”

To which my reply was: “The disconnection was of the usual type, lasting perhaps 2 minutes at 3 AM and again at around 11AM. I didn’t see the lights at the time.”

Update #6 (2/6/2015): More than 2 months later this BT issue reaches closure as follows:

Good Morning Roy,

I’m sorry that you’re disappointed regarding the closure of the REIN case. Unfortunately the engineers have exhausted all they can do with investigating any interferences both on and off the network.

I apologise also for the let downs in the customer service you’ve received. Regarding compensation, you will not be entitled to any loss of services as there were no loss of services or any issues resulting from BT’s network. However after full review of the case I am prepared to offer on behalf of BT a goodwill gesture of 4 months’ worth of your broadband charges totalling £76.60 just to apologise for the difficulties you’ve had in getting the issue looked into and getting updates at various levels. This credit is put towards your BT bill and will be available on your next billing cycle.

Please confirm acceptance of this and I’ll get this added to your account as soon as possible.

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

Update #7 (2/6/2015): We decided to accept the above offer and got this in response:

Hi Roy,

Thank you for your time in allowing me to look into the issues for you. I’m just really sorry again that it happened in the first place. I’ve got the credit of £76.60 applied to your account for the next billing cycle and will get your complaint closed off for now.

Contact details

If you have any other issues in the future, please call me on [redacted] using PIN [redacted] or email me at [redacted].

If I’m not available my colleagues can also help. The office is open Monday to Friday 8am until 8pm, Saturday 8am to 6pm, and Sunday 9am to 6pm. This PIN will last you for a few weeks but if you need to contact us after this please do so via an email. Or you can email us [redacted].

For anything else our Customer Services will be happy to help on 0800 800 150. Or you can take a look at our website www.bt.com.

I want to finish by saying sorry again for the troubles.

Best wishes,

[redacted]

Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

Giving credit to the people who helps, I responded as follows:

I wanted to point out that it was when I escalated it to your department that issue got solved — to the degree that the volume of errors descended down to tolerable levels (we are able to do our job from home again).

I want to point out and give credit to Tilak from the BT support team for he was the first person (after about 10 hours over the telephone) who was able to diagnose this issue, just over a month after the issue began. Tilak, unlike some of his colleagues, did not try to blame the caller for the issues and he had the technical skills required to understand the symptoms and come up with a plan of investigation. It took another whole month and many more hours on the phone (putting aside the impact of REIN on our job) to actually have the engineers find a sort of workaround.

2 years ago BT took 3 months to solve a similar issue (similar number of hours spent on the phone), so I guess 2 months is an improvement. Pardon my cynicism.

Update #8 (2/6/2015): How BT could handle REIN better: accept my report of issue, send out Openreach engineer, tweak routing. Problem solved in 3 days (not 70). Up to 70 homes negatively affected for 70 days is a lot worse than a few homes for a few days. BT negligence led to collateral damage, Internet-wise.

BT followed up with this:

Hi Roy,

Thank you for your email. I’m sorry that you have continually had these frustrations. In future as I mentioned if you do find any difficulties please come back directly to myself or my team and we’ll be happy to help you.

Best wishes,

[redacted]

Update #9 (7/6/2015): The issue is definitely not resolved. It’s happening again.

After struggling all morning I phoned BT and was then asked to put it in writing to, so I sent:

Hi [redacted] and Team,

I have just phoned you up, using the PIN code to get through to a person in the department. At around 8 AM today (or earlier) we lost our connection altogether (it worked shortly beforehand), or at least, on the face of it, no DNS lookups could be made. Also, one of our landlines (there are two devices connected to the landline, for years now) stopped working; it got no signal. It still has no signal, despite having it last night (I have rechecked the wires, too). I managed to get the connection running again only by restarting the Hub, but that only lasted about 2 minutes ago and all devices were disconnected again. I then swapped Hubs and restarted again and the connection now is sub par. My wife needs VPN to do her job (she is working at the moment), but this other Hub (Home Hub 4) is not working — and was never working — with VPN software such as openvpn or ipsec.

I can’t help but feel that it might be related to REIN because I never – — in many years — had such an issue. All devices, both wireless and wired, getting sort of paralysed (live connections sort of working but no new DNS lookups possible, hence it’s practically dead).

We cannot afford to lose our connection again during the day because my wife is on duty and she already struggled because we cannot establish VPN connections.

The person who I spoke to over the telephone is not aware of any issues or maintenance in the area. Please investigate and get back to us ASAP as this is having a severe impact on our ability to work.

Almost an hour later I received this:

Hello Roy,

I’m sorry your broadband has started dropping again, I’ve opened a new case under ref: VOL012-106736383798

I’ll ask [redacted] to give you a call tomorrow to go over things in more detail. Hopefully it’ll be sorted now

If you need to get in touch, you can call us on [redacted]. Our office is open from 8am to 8pm, Monday to Friday and 8am to 6pm on Saturday. We’re also open 9am to 6pm on Sundays and Bank Holidays.

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Team Member – Executive Level Technical Complaints

My later response (11AM):

Some symptoms serve to suggest that there is REIN issue creeping in again (very high packet loss).

It was never solved and it shows.

That might not yet explain complete loss of connectivity and also the issue with the landline (I will look deeper into it).

Can this be escalated to someone right now? We can’t wait until tomorrow. My wife is working right now and I am working tonight. We must rectify this ASAP.

Update #10 (8/6/2015): It goes on because there is still an issue persisting.

Hello Roy,

I appreciate you need the connection today but I’m afraid there’s nothing that can be done right now.

We’d need to look into things properly and speak with the REIN team to see if there was any grounds for improvement before we could progress and I’m afraid there closed today.

I’m sorry Roy. We’ll be back on top of this tomorrow to see if there’s anything we can do.

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Team Member – Executive Level Technical Complaints

They did not respond the following day as they had promised, so I wrote:

Any update on this?

The connection has just dropped again, albeit this time it wasn’t as severe as yesterday (requiring Hub swap and physical reset).

I hope we can reach closure on this without assuring low quality of service for an indefinite time span. This has gone on since March and it is clearly not resolved yet… it affects a lot of people.

To which BT responded as follows:

Good Afternoon Roy,

I can see that you’re still having some issues with your broadband. I apologise for this.

Regarding the REIN case that was opened on behalf of your neighbour. This has been closed. I would be happy to attempt the process once more for you specifically so that your line can be further tested.

Currently your line is performing at speeds of over 7 Mbps but we can see some transmission errors. I can arrange a broadband engineer to check the line and see if any REIN is present.

If the engineer does find evidence of REIN, it will be sent to a specialist team for further investigation. I do need to point out that if REIN is the cause, we’ll make every effort to find the source but we can’t guarantee a solution. If the REIN is caused by equipment belonging to a third party, we will ask them to fix it but have no authority to make them do it.

I’ll await your confirmation on the best day for an engineer and I’ll get this arranged for you. Appointment slots are weekdays between 8:00am-1:00pm or between 1:00pm-6:00pm.

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

Me again:

Hi,

As there is potential for improving the reliability of the line (it was worst in March and April, improving gradually during May), please do arrange for an engineer to come in the afternoon.

Kind regards,

Roy

BT said they’d send out an engineer here for the fourth time. So, Openreach is costing them money (salaries) because they acted too late in the first place. Meanwhile, many people suffer.

Update #11 (11/6/2015): Just spent a VERY long time with Openreach engineers customising/changing parameters to mitigate/address issues of noise on the line. Fingers crossed.

BT caused an embarrassment, inconvenience and lack of productivity by telling Openreach 12-5PM (for this appointment) and the client 1-6PM. Mismatched like these cause everyone pain; it’s especially the engineer who had to suffer. The engineer showed up at 12PM while we were still out of the house (after he had been misinformed about the times).

Here is what BT wrote:

Good Morning Roy,

I’ve arranged for an engineer appointment for tomorrow between 1:00-6:00pm. If there’s any issues please contact the team email address following this as I won’t be back in office until Monday of next week.

One of my colleagues will be happy to assist with any urgent in the meantime.

Best wishes,

[redacted]
Executive Level Technical Complaints | BT Consumer

My response (after the visit):

Hi,

Thank you for sending our an engineer. He came here at 12PM (he was told to come between 12 and 5 and his records indicate this on numerous devices), an hour before the 1-6 range given to us, so we were both out and he had to wait in his van for an hour (we got home at 1PM). I think there was miscommunication somewhere between BT and Openreach.

The engineer spoke to about 4 colleagues, including some who were involved in this issue in the neighbourhood (house number 34 too). He ended up chatting about the symptoms and readjusting some parameters, especially signal-to-noise ratio. He showed me how to check that this remains correct even in case where the equipment at the cabinet/exchange gets rebooted/patched. I wrote it all down to better inform technical staff in case of recurrence.

We hope that the connection will now be more fault-tolerant. There were still errors on the line (as before), but by lowing the connection speed and changing error threshold it’s hoped that we can do our job reliably enough (no drops/sync/disconnections/latency/lag).

Kind regards,

Roy

Update #12 (12/6/2015): 24 hours later the connection is broken again. Here is my message, sent to BT after suffering for half a day:

Hi,

Important followup.

More than 10 weeks later my BT connection is still severely broken. It is now more broken than ever before. I’ll explain why.

Yesterday from 1pm to around 2:30pm the Openreach engineer had my connection configured to reduce interference and mask the effect of REIN. He set it up accordingly at the remote ends (by speaking to colleagues over the telephone) and then showed me what values he set things to, just in case these values get overridden, whereupon I’ll need to report to other engineers what to set these to. I was shown how to check these values, under Advanced settings in the Home Hub interface.

Today at around 2:30, almost exactly 24 hours after he had last reset the Home Hub, there was a disconnection. But that’s not the worst part. The worst part is that when it came back online there was a VAST number of errors, including CRCs. It was very hard to access sites; the connection was faulty like never before. Glancing at the values, it turns out that BT reset/changed these, probably automatically. They were set so low that in 5 hours alone 600,000 CRC errors were reported, making the connection close to worthless.

Knowing that you work until 6pm and knowing that BT’s 24/7 support would be useless at handling such cases (they probably have limited access or no access to the back end, or lack of expertise at these hours), I decided to wait and call you Saturday at 9AM when you open, using the PIN code you gave me.

As you can imagine, I am very frustrated at this stage. BT are nearly breaking their record now: 3 months of faulty connection. Today it’s worse than before and there’s nobody to talk to. Settings which seemingly improved things have been thrown away at your end and now I must chase you guys again. My wife is working from home Saturday and Sunday from 9AM to 5:30PM, so it’s imperative that these issues get rectified.

If you read this before 9AM, please do adjust the settings as follows for my line:

Noise margin (Down/Up) should be 15 dB /9dB

Yesterday it was gauged at 15.1 dB / 11.7 dB

Downstream was, as a result, at 6.681Kbps (which is fine with me) and upstream 888.9Kbps.

Other parameters of interest:

VPI/VCI: 0/38
Type: PPPoA
Modulation: G.992.5 Annex A
Latency type: Interleaved
Line attenuation (Down/Up): 40.6 dB / 23.9 dB
Output power (Down/Up): 20.3 dBm / 12.4 dBm

Right now the noise margin (Down/Up) is set to something ridiculously low (after the connection was lost). This needs to be set again to 15 dB /9dB

I will follow this up with a call first thing in the morning because, putting aside my need for a usable connection, my wife needs it to do her job all weekend.

It is unacceptable that we have had to deal with such a mess for such a long time. We have been patient and we have provided useful information to help BT tackle this issue ASAP.

Update #13 (13/6/2015):

  • Roy Schestowitz: Just phoned #BT Executive Level Technical Complaints. Turns out they needed to send underground engineer to replace/fix cabling, ‘forgot’ to
  • Roy Schestowitz: #bt says severe issue affecting whole area not resolved months later because the issue got “closed by the system”. Again! This is negligent
  • Roy Schestowitz: #bt treats residential clients as worthless. If expensive job is needed to fix the issue, they just to try work around/mask the fault
  • BTCare: @schestowitz Hi, is there a team looking into this for you? Have you been given a reason as to why it’s taking so long to fix?
  • Roy Schestowitz: .@BTCare Yes, because BT is too cheap (poor BT) to send out an underground engineer to actually fix the cables
  • Roy Schestowitz: .@BTCare I am going to ring up again Monday and escalate this to Libby. BT has no excuses for taking MONTHS to replace faulty cables
  • Roy Schestowitz: .@BTCare It seems like the residential clients are so worthless to #BT that many houses with faulty connection for months cheaper than a fix
  • Roy Schestowitz: It seems that the problem isn’t that #bt is unable to fix the issue (affecting many people) after months. They’re just too stingy to fix it.

Update #14 (13/6/2015): More from social media (14:50)

  • Roy Schestowitz: Connection a disaster again. Suggested workaround from #bt has not worked. Just had to reconfigure everything, all in vain.
  • Roy Schestowitz: #bt executive level complaints said wait 2 seconds on the line. I waited for 10 minutes, then it got hung up… how professional.
  • Roy Schestowitz: Phoned #bt again (after it got hung up at their end), now they say it’s “underground fault”, not REIN. “Closed in error” they say.
  • Roy Schestowitz: #bt keeps closing reports of widespread issues “in error”. Not the first. This is beyond incompetent, it’s like they do this deliberately.
  • Roy Schestowitz: Time spent on the phone with #bt so far (since this issue manifested itself): 25-30 hours all combined, I estimate (on phone)

I wrote the following to BT in a rush:

Hi,

I am learning some new things regarding this issue now — things that we were never told before (my neighbours and I).

Today at 9:30 I phoned BT Executive Level Technical Complaints. Turns out they needed to send an underground engineer to replace/fix cabling, but somehow ‘forgot’ to. BT says that these severe issues, which are affecting a whole area, were not resolved months later because the issue got “closed by the system”. Again! This is negligent. BT, based on my humble assessment, treats residential clients as worthless. If expensive job is needed to fix the issue, they just to try work around/mask the fault… because BT is too cheap to send out an underground engineer to actually fix the cables? Is that it the case, perhaps we’ll need ring up again Monday and escalate this to Libby. BT has no excuses for taking months to replace faulty cables. Is this really the case? A second person from BT corroborated this just now. It seems like the residential clients are so worthless to BT that many houses with faulty connection for months cheaper than a fix. It seems that the problem isn’t that BT is unable to fix the issue (affecting many people) after months. They’re just too stingy to fix it.

My connection is a disaster again. It happened yesterday 24 hours after the visit and it started happening again today 48 hours after the visit. Yesterday the issue lasted at least 12 hours.

When I phoned at 9:30 today the man on the phone didn’t agree with Openreach’s advise on adjusting parameters. The suggested workaround from BT was that I rest the Home Hub with a PIN. I did this an hour ago when the problem came back, but this has not worked. Just had to reconfigure everything (passwords, Wi-Fi etc.), all in vain. I am not getting much work done and my wife is literally on the job right now. She needs to monitor live systems and respond.

I last spoke to Executive Level Technical Complaints 15 minutes ago (they said they would phone back in 10 minutes and I am still waiting). The first time I phoned they said wait 2 seconds on the line. I waited for 10 minutes, then it got hung up… how professional.

Phoned BT again (after it got hung up at their end), now they say it’s “underground fault”, not REIN. “Closed in error” they say.

BT keeps closing reports of widespread issues “in error”. Not the first time. This is beyond incompetent, it’s like they do this deliberately.

Time spent on the phone with BT so far (since this issue manifested itself): 25-30 hours all combined, I estimate (on phone).

When will there be a permanent solution?

Update #15 (15/6/2015): I have had three days of bad connection in a row now and after dozens of hours on the phone and with engineers in our house it feels like I know most of what there is to know about their skills. Yesterday I tried speaking to BT by phoning 3 times at a time they’re supposed to be open and nobody picked up. I phoned again this morning. Just spoke to BT again (waited 2 hours for the callbacks). Seems like the issue may be faulty cable that they refuse to fix without telling us. They are looking into it and are trying to reduce errors by changing noise margins. Not much progress has been made since the issue began; it’s as appalling as connection as it was at the start.

Update #16 (15/6/2015): It turned out to be another terrible day for the connection. I have sent out an angry E-mail after speaking on the phone with no sign or progress until tomorrow at lunchtime (when a call is scheduled).

Hi,

4th day in a row, on the job (my wife too), unable to get things done, having to try to reattempt things many times (in vain); the noise settings have not been fixed. I have just phoned up and was told that you had reset the connection at 12PM, which I know about, but even if it takes 24 hours to take full effect I don’t see any signs of improvement.

Having just checked various attributes on my Home Hub, as per the instructions from the Openreach engineer:

Noise margin (Down/Up): 4.5 dB / 5.6 dB

This has actually been lowered, you said you would take it higher. There are millions of errors, still.

I also lost the connection a second time today, not long before the worst issues started. 5 minutes ago we lost our connection the third time today. I had to go downstairs and reset the Hub to get things working again. It was just going nowhere. It’s only getting worse! Ever since the Openreach engineer was here things got only worse, not better. I cannot do my job; it’s as bad as it was back around April!

It does not look like anything is getting done to address this issue even months down the line. Nothing effective anyway….

Has there been progress finding out why a BT ticket requesting an underground engineer was “closed by the system,” to quote multiple BT staff whom I spoke to? Is there a cabling error or REIN? Is is both? Is this cabling issue still being pursued at all? I was told on the telephone that you were checking/looking into it, this is affecting my neighbours too…

Is there any hope of us getting our connection working again for the first time since late March? If not, just say so, please… so I can cancel my BT account and find some wireless alternative, even cellular. I just cannot go on like this with false promises. I have lost count of how many times BT assured me that the problem would be imminently resolved. I have pretty much lost hope, let side faith, in BT. The infrastructure seems to have rotten and nothing has improved in nearly three months. I’m not the only person to have reported this.

I have also escalated this to higher management:

Dear [redacted],

As you may recall from my previous E-mails, there is a large-scale issue here in my neighbourhood — an issue that I first reported more than 2 months ago only to be repeatedly ignored, with tickets raised being closed “in error”. After a month of phonecalls (perhaps 20-25 hours on the phone all in all whilst also suffering 24/7 from a dysfunctional connection) I finally got the issue acknowledged by BT and since then Openreach engineers have been here more times than I can recall. They also visited other houses in the area, in an effort to identify this issue which affects many of my neighbours too (they independently reported it).

I have already spent many hours speaking with the people in Newcastle and it seems like a ticket was raised concerning work requiring an underground engineer. This ticket was “closed by the system,” according to two members of BT staff in Newcastle (or that same department). They independently told me the same thing. This is worrisome because many of us had been told that it’s a REIN issue (basically blaming the clients), not an issue with BT infrastructure. Alonzo is looking into why it got closed, but after suffering on a daily basis since March (so has my wife and obviously other people in the area) I can’t help feeling a bit of rage.

My wife and I have been struggling to do our job because the connection here in unbearably poor and it even got worse in the past week. There is no sign of progress or improvement. We cannot do our job properly. It puts at jeopardy more than just our connection and ability to surf the Web.

The original case, acknowledged by BT over a month ago, has been closed as unresolved and without a solution. What worries me is that underground work seems to be needed, but it is not being done, as if residential clients are of no value or interest, so the issue is being masked or worked around rather than permanently fixed.

Please reply to confirm that you may look into it and better understand how such issues can linger on for so long, despite repeated reports. I will be sharing this information in our area and online, as I casually do, for no solution seems to be imminent until or unless BT reopens tickets and works to actually tackle the problem.

I have become very frustrated with BT over this and I envision a lot of people leaving BT as their landline/Internet provider over this.

Kind regards,

Good Morning Roy,

Update #17 (16/6/2015): BT wants to send another engineer here. They increasingly acknowledge possibility of physical error, almost 3 months late. Here is what BT wrote:

I’m just getting back in touch following your email below and the contact made to my department last night.

I’ve had a word with the engineering team. I can see based on the previous engineer notes that he has called his coaching team as he’s told you and was told about a PAT fault that had been closed in error. In speaking with the engineering team I’ve been advised that no PAT fault was raised or closed on your line.

Nonetheless PAT faults are actually raised by engineers on the back of the visit. As one hasn’t been raised following your last visit, I’ll need to arrange a further engineer to go out. I’ll escalate this appointment in the engineering department and provide the information from all engineers for this visit. I’ll also have them evaluate and confirm the need for PAT fault to be reopened and carried out if necessary.

I understand you are frustrated at the moment but I’ll like to evaluate all options and then be in a position to set your expectations. If you’re happy with this please let me know the best day for an engineer visit for you. Otherwise if you prefer to cancel your contract let me know and I can help you with this as well.

Here is my response:

Having another engineer here would be fine. I’m happy to do what it takes to resolve this issue, but I am just a little hesitant because following the last visit by an engineer my connection was in a very bad state every afternoon and night (maybe 40 hours all in all), after it had been made somewhat manageable for some weeks prior to the visit. This sometimes required hard reset of the hub and the main issue was huge packet loss/errors that made some sites/IPs completely unreachable/scarcely reachable for many hours at a time, rendering some parts of my job impossible to carry out (not just temporarily).

As I pointed out in my E-mail from Thursday, I was given the wrong times for the engineer’s visit, so he arrived an hour earlier (he was told 12, I was told 1-6) and I then had to rush home, cutting short a day out with my family.

Wireless alternatives would be difficult to manage for many devices (some wired), which is why I’d rather see the cable that feeds our whole area fixed, not abandoned and/or ‘DoA’. I believe that it’s BT Openreach’s responsibility to maintain their cables and assure good transmission of packets, which is why I (re)escalated this to Libby last night.

Update #18 (16/6/2015): More of our time is going to be needed, with downed connection for investigations at our house.

BT:

Hello Roy,

The engineer visit time slots we’re provided to offer all customers on broadband jobs is between 8:00am-1:00pm and 1:00pm and 6:00pm as to why the engineer arrived earlier I honestly don’t know.

The new engineer visit is scheduled for tomorrow again between 1:00pm-6:00pm as per the time slots we have from the engineers. I’m going to escalate the visit within the engineering team to ensure that all checks are made and again it will come down to the engineer’s review to see if a PAT fault is required and they will have to request it to be opened. I’ve highlighted this in my discussions with the engineering team as well.

Reply:

Hi,

Will it be possible to make it morning (tomorrow) or Thurs. afternoon? Tomorrow afternoon is not possible for us.

This is a never-ending saga.

BT:

Hi Roy,

I’ll follow up with the engineers, confirm which time is available and let you know as soon as I can.

Update #19 (18/6/2015): Here is the latest on this.

BT:

Hello Roy,

Unfortunately we weren’t able to secure a slot for tomorrow morning.
I’ve been able to confirm for Thursday 18/6 PM slot between
13:00-18:00 for you.

Best wishes,

Roy:

Yes, please, that would suit us.

BT:

Hi Roy,

This is booked in for you now. I’ll request full engineer notes for review following this visit, seek to get a final position on what is going on with this and update you further.

I responded to BT today:

OK, so the engineer have just been here and although the issue remains unresolved (lots of errors on the line), he repeated last week’s actions, which was undone 24 hours later. The guys have no guarantee this won’t happen again, so now we have an issue on top of another issue, and no foreseeable solution.

To make matters worse, based on what I was able to gather, BT could probably solve this issue a week ago, if only it followed the instructions I sent last week (early Saturday). I never received a reply to that and have not yet heard why an issue about underground work “got closed by the system,” to quote two separate people from BT. I have just sent our some rants to my 5,000+ followers online, hoping to increase awareness of this issue. Among the postings:

- #openreach engineer confirms that all houses in the area have the same issue and it may not be a REIN issue

- After an #openreach engineer set the connection to mask errors (not fix them) some git quietly reset them, unless it was done by system

- Had a somewhat workable connection for 24 hours before someone decided to break it for a whole week, or the system did it on its own

- Turns out there are many calls being made with executives involved (4 this morning I’ve been told) regarding our #bt messup (whole area)

- The issue, assumed to be REIN with no clear evidence yet, might lead to class action suit if cabling issue demonstrated at the end

- #bt was, according to #openreach engineer, able/capable of fixing/masking my issue a week ago but said it could not or would not do it

- The big #bt fiasco here isn’t that an error manifested itself (affecting hundreds) but inability to fix, or no will to fix, just hide

- The errors we are experiencing with #bt likely part of national/nationwide pattern of bad service; many won’t fight, no technical background

- Newspapers in the #uk keep moaning about connection speeds (as advertised); should focus on connection failures, bad service

- My rants against #bt not at all motivated by will to post online or fight BT for sake of fighting it. My job and my wife’s depend on it.

- As many of my neighbours are clueless about technology they don’t know how badly they’re being screwed and blame selves for Net issues

Update #20 (19/6/2015): Here is the latest on this.

Yesterday afternoon I wrote:

2 hours after openreach visit the Home Hub self-reboots and disconnects everything again. No real fix.

BT wrote back yesterday:

Hi Roy,

Many thanks for your email. I’m awaiting full report from the engineering team as to exactly what has been found and also what the next steps are.

We’ll contact you as soon as we have an update on that. Again if there was an issue regarding the underground cabling this job would have had to be reported and raised by the engineer that visited today.

We’ll investigate further once all the information has been received from their team and provide you with what next steps are.

Best wishes,

And it got reassigned the following day. BT then wrote today:

Hello Mr Schestowitz

I hope you’re well, unfortunately I’ve been unable to reach you today.

I’ve picked up your case as [redacted] is unavailable for the next week or so. Following yesterday’s engineer visit a case was raised to the REIN (Repetitive Electrical Impulse Noise) Team to look into a potential external noise interference.

I’ve spoken with the REIN team and they’ve confirmed this is now in hand and they’re looking to have a REIN trained engineer out to investigate the possible cause, unfortunately this can often take some time, they’ve confirmed that the case will be reviewed again on two weeks’ time.

Rest assured [redacted] will follow up with you and update you of any progress, sorry for the delay and hopefully we can get a resolution to your problems soon.

Best wishes

[redacted]

Executive Level Technical Complaints – Team Member

Me:

Hi [redacted],

I received the voicemail and thank you for taking over the case. Just to keep you updated, we got disconnected at 2 PM yesterday (2+ hours after the engineer’s visit) and then again briefly after 7 PM yesterday.

We for disconnected briefly after 7 PM today, so there is recurrence (it has been like this for quite some time), however settings at the cabinet/exchange were retained (interleaved, not fast, with suitable error margins to prevent massive errors and timeouts).

We eagerly look forward to hear about work by the REIN team or underground engineers because we continue to be disconnected every day and plenty of errors are (for now) being masked, not eliminated. It affects now only ourselves. The Openreach engineers said to me that my neighbours reported the same symptoms, so it’s a large-scale problem that must be tackled. I will try to keep neighbours informed of the progress.

Regards,

Members of the Quarter

Members of the quarter

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