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Withdrawing Large Sums of Your Own Money? Not a Chance

Run on the banks (in the UK) cannot happen and “war on crime” is a convenient excuse for it

Fiscal issues in the UK are a hot topic. The Pound/Sterling has been in a freefall since the Brexit vote (see this chart) and Brexit politicians — people like David Davis and Theresa May — can probably make a lot of money trading/swapping currencies while they make our policy. It’s like they have insider information because it’s them who call the shots and can rock the Pound with just a stroke of a pen or some words uttered to the media.

Falling Pound/Sterling is no laughing matter. Depending on what currency one compares it to, the currency here lost nearly 20% of its value in just a few months. Can one take one’s money out of the bank while it still (potentially) has a higher value? Not quite. It is almost as though you need to ask for permission to get your own money.

Remember what happened in Cyprus a few years ago. It’s a European (ish) country whose economy was collapsing. It used daily limits to impose — in a rather Draconian fashion — sanctions on people whose savings would soon be confiscated by their government. It looked like a movie plot or fiction, but even in a sane world with no hyperinflation such a thing can already happen.

Both Halifax and Nationwide, banks with which I have active accounts, impose limits which they do not state upfront, except perhaps in the fine prints somewhere. Natwest never really had such limits, at least not in theory. I closed my main/current account there and stopped paying anything into it.

Natwest’s practices are not the important topic here. But its services can be appalling sometimes. If a person tells you that withdrawing the money should be possible the following day and you even bring all the documents he or she asked for (after consulting higher up workers), then you might expect a withdrawal to be possible. But no. They put barriers and additional requirements just to put some more barbwire around the money — the same money you deposited there.

Treating everything as suspicious by default (or until proven otherwise) is unwise. It makes services rather appalling when the customer is assumed to be dishonest or dodgy. It’s almost as if war on drugs or whatever now justifies limiting people and their access to their own cash. In hypothetical case of financial emergencies, these pretexts can suddenly be exploited for other reasons like preventing a run on the bank.

Did I manage to get money out? Yes, but barely. At numerous points I was driven close to the point of surrender, but I kept insisting and escalating through three layers of management in two different banks. The process which all in all took about three hours (minimum) involved all sorts of forms which include the equivalent of financial surveillance or essentially the tracking of all payments, including cash payments. It is not hard to foresee a future which is not just optionally cashless but one in which this becomes obligatory. Nowadays when you purchase not only a flight ticket but also a rail (train) ticket they ask questions like purpose of travel as if that matters at all.

To specify some of the finer details: 3 trips to Natwest were required in addition to one online. Nationwide was two trips and two instances of online access. Halifax was a short trip and politely arguing with management took over an hour, putting aside queuing and long periods of waiting time for those who were with me (family). This whole ordeal reinforced my claim that Natwest has become a terrible bank that makes false promises and does not provide a service if there is nothing for it to gain from it. I actually left this bank after many bitter experiences (when I joined 16 years ago it was actually okay, as noted several times in the past in this blog) and having to ever visit the bank again for any purpose would give cause for hesitation. One can simply not take their word.

The bottom line ought not be Natwest but the systemic problem and the danger which is banks not having much cash at the back and not dispensing it upon demand from the clients either. Advance notice does not quite cut it as there is a lot of laborious paperwork and the equivalent of interviews (lots of questions) as if one applies for a mortgage when simply asking to withdraw the amount of thousands of pounds.

It is not impossible or implausible that years or decades down the line these mechanisms will get misused to separate people from their money at times of economic panic.

Wilko (UK Retailer): The Customer Services Fiasco Continues

Avoid Wilko

Nearly a fortnight ago Wilko’s ATM stole my money and many hours of work later (and some major inconveniences other than loss of time and money) the issue remains uncorrected. A week ago I wrote about my second visit to the store. The manager gave me a call but was unable to offer a satisfactory solution, still just offering a bunch of forms for me to fill in or me visiting my own bank rather than the ATM suppliers fixing their own error (which they can see). I asked to escalate this, having spoken to their customer services people, but they were delaying if not stonewalling until I repeated myself several times. Here are the chat logs:


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The mistake was made not by your bank but a faulty machine of yours, I shall protest against your very poor handling of this situation

Jun 3


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I have begun writing articles about my experiences with your company. This is the first: Wilko (UK) Uses Faulty ATMs that Crash, Will ‘Steal’ Money and Then Wilko Will Lie and Divert, Not Even Naming the ATM Supplier http://schestowitz.com/Weblog/archives/2016/06/03/wilko-atm-faulty/ …

Jun 3


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I’ll have to contact he authorities and ask them to revoke the rights of #dcpayments #infocash to have ATMs out there. Unfit for purpose.

Jun 7


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In the mean time, please provide me with contact details (email or phone) for Nick’s bosses. I would like to make a formal complaint.

Jun 7


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

please provide me with contact details (email or phone) for Nick’s bosses. I would like to make a formal complaint.

Jun 8


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

please provide me with contact details (email or phone) for Nick’s bosses. I would like to make a formal complaint.

Jun 8


Wilko

Hi, please can you confirm what this is regarding to see can ensure this is dealt with correctly. Alternatively, please contact our customer care department on 08000 329 329 and they will assist you further :)

Jun 8


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This is regarding DCPayments (Infocash) and the way management at the Wilko store in Manchester dealt with their machine’s fault. I need contact details (E-mail/Tel) for central management, not local branch (I don’t trust the Arndale staff anymore, having spent an hour speaking to them in person on a couple of visits and still not getting the issue properly tackled to its full depth). I wish to escalate this to central management. Please provide me with the E-mail address. Kind regards, Roy.

Jun 8


Wilko

We would like to pass your contact number to the regional manager for the store so that they may contact you further.
Please can you provide a contact number so that we may pass this on for you? thanks, [redacted name].

Jun 9


Dr. Roy Schestowitz

[redacted number]


Wilko

We have passed your contact details to the regional manager and they will contact you further to discuss this. Thanks, [redacted].

Jun 10


That was more than a day ago (Friday) and I still haven’t received a phonecall. They never give me numbers, they just take my own number and then rarely call. So we shall see…

Wilko (UK) Uses Faulty ATMs that Crash, Will ‘Steal’ Money and Then Wilko Will Lie and Divert, Not Even Naming the ATM Supplier

Avoid Wilko

WILKO’s ATMs have a reputation for being a piece of rubbish. Quite often when I come to the shop members of staff kindly ask people not to use these, so what’s the point having them there in the first place? These machines are so amateur that one can, in principle, pretty easily pull the power cord or the Ethernet cable out, essentially pulling the plug on the machines. That’s how insecure these pieces of trash are. But worse — there are apparently lots of software bugs in there (these are often not operational, probably because something made them crash earlier in the day) and earlier this week I became a victim of one and lost money (they actually took money without giving any cash before crashing), whereupon I was transfered between no less than three members of staff (totally clueless!) before actually speaking to someone who seemed helpful. In retrospect, this manager was as useless as it can get as she made false promises (I insisted that she should pursue this and phone me if there are any issues) and now that it’s Friday the issue is still not corrected and I never received a call. I was unable to make any additional financial transactions that day due to Wilko’s error and I spent extraordinary amounts of time and effort thereafter. I also spoke to them online and it was equally useless. They’re running me around expecting me to jump through hoops before there’s any hope at all of getting my money back (the money they took and still owe me).

More than three days later I have completely run out of patience. Days of anger are just not worth it and Wilko still refuses to say which company is responsible for these buggy ATMs that are unfit for purpose. The dialogue below (with names removed) may help provide some additional context and shows how slow and useless this whole experience has been. The conversation below spans several days and at times there was radio silence from them, hence the multiple consecutive messages from me.


Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

Arndale Manchester shop, they say would correct the error and call today; not corrected, no calls

Wilko:

Hi, can you explain what has happened? I will email the Manager for a reply to your problem. would you like us to contact via email or phone once we have a response? Thanks Claire

Dr. Roy Schestowitz: I already spoke to the manager and left my number with her (“Roy”). She should phone me to explain.

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

The error is STILL not corrected. Please tell them to phone me to explain why I need to go through all this trouble, why they fail to correct this issue, etc. otherwise I’ll do public shaming again and we’ll just stop shopping at Wilko for good.

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

I am still require to know, aside from the huge hassle this caused and failure of staff to do their duties (the manager made false promises), which company provides these ATMs so that I can campaign to revoke its certification to operate

Wilko:

We’re sorry to read of the inconvenience this has caused you. We are currently investigating this with the store and will come back to you as soon as we have an update. Thank you

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

48 hours later and three hours after promises (as before) I am still waiting for issue to be rectified or phonecall to be made

Wilko:

I’m sorry for your the delay, however as previously advised we are currently investigating this incident and will come back to you as soon as we have an update. Thank you

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

Almost 72 hours later the error made by the Wilko ATM remains uncorrected and staff (managed) failed to call me as promised.

Wilko:

Good morning – please accept our apologies for the delay in responding to your message.

We are currently investigating this matter with the Arndale Store.

Are you able to confirm if you have contacted your bank about the problem you encountered?

[Redacted]

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

I have not, they said they’re no need as they would correct the error

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

I wish to know the name of the supplier of the ATMs at Wilko so that I can campaign to revoke their licence. Buggy, unfit for purpose.

Wilko:

We are currently unable to confirm those details however, I can arrange for a dispute form to be sent out to you.

If you could kindly confirm your address & I will arrange for this to be sent.

Thank you
[Redacted]

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

what’s in it for me going through this lengthy process? Unless you are willing to compensate me for the trouble I had to go through that day and until now….

Wilko:

As previously advised, it would be your bank who needs to look into this further. If you would like me to send you out a dispute form then please let me know of your address and I will of course arrange this.

Thank you
[Redacted]

Dr. Roy Schestowitz:

The mistake was made not by your bank but a faulty machine of yours, I shall protest against your very poor handling of this situation


This is not over. They still owe me money, they probably need to get rid of their supplier and if they refuse to tell me the supplier’s name (apparently has lots of victims out there), I will try harder to find out myself and campaign to ensure their machines cease operation. These are not production-ready and they embarrass an otherwise fine store whose staff is obviously rather incompetent as after all this time and effort they’re still not solving the problem. Maybe the supplier of the ATMs is being unhelpful to them.

We won’t be shopping at Wilko anymore.

Getting Soaked in Beer at EasyJet flight When EasyJet Staff Foolishly Gives Plenty of Alcohol to Heroin Addict

Confrontational, loud, rude passengers are not all that unusual. What’s more unusual are serial offenders (with the police at their back), who barely make it through airport security, smuggle illegal amounts of tobacco through the plane (by their own admission), have a history of severe drug abuse (the worst drugs that exist) and who enjoy the service of sales-happy flight attendants who serve them unlimited alcohol on a plane, despite already seeing abusive and antisocial behaviour.

My wife and I happened to have been allocated seats next to the worst type of person. Worst possible! I never thought it was possible for such a person to even board an airplane (especially in such a state). We were constantly interrupted for hours and the staff hardly cared at all. To make matters worse, then gave him a lot of beer, which he repeatly spilled on my wife (seated next to him) and myself (2 seats away). She got soaked and so were her sandals, bags, clothes and so on. A 5-hour journey next to a non-stop talker (sometimes to himself) heroin addict (by his own admission) can be very unpleasant.

If that’s not bad enough, EasyJet staff refused to take responsibility for this. All they seemed to care about was making money by selling beer. As much as possible! They were unhelpful and they made an effort to even blame the victim of this, as if it’s not acceptable for the customer to make a complaint about 1) failure to identity potentially problematic passengers; 2) failing to reallocate seats once abuse was reported (probably too late at this stage as much damage has already been done; 3) serving a lot alcohol to an already-abusive passenger, who based on the smell of his breath was already drunk when he got on board.

EasyJet not only gave a terrible flying experience (worse we even encountered) but also attempted to distance itself from responsibility and and paint the sufferer as the problem, probably for fear that admission of guilt would make the company liable for other such complaint.

EasyJet is a horrible company. Not will you get what you pay for; you’ll get a lot less and then be blamed, too. Better not to fly at all then to fly with EasyJet.

PayPal Steals Money and Runs (No Real Support Mechanism)

I never chose to use PayPal. I did, however, choose to use eBay nearly a decade and a half ago (eBay is not perfect either, even for technical limitations and lack of APIs). For almost half a decade I was among the very few eBayers who were sending cheques, basically refusing to set up a PayPal account, but eventually I gave up and accepted this villainous entity, which based on this latest news is going to remain a necessity for all eBayers, even after the companies separate/decouple (almost exactly one decade after the buyout). PayPal is generally a very greedy and nasty company. It even bans accounts and potentially confiscates money for political purposes. It’s a foe of FOSS, it’s a proponent of some truly horrible new laws, and nobody should forget what it did to the likes of Wikileaks.

I have just become a victim of PayPal’s bad systems and bad service as well. I lost money due to their error and they’re not even fixing it, they’re just wasting time, probably hoping that I will lose interest in pursuing this any further. I already provided all the necessary details to the vendor, which after a couple of days said that this issue was at PayPal’s end and that PayPal needs to be contacted. What I didn’t quite know is how much trouble this would be. First of all, PayPal tried to bounce me back to the vendor (playing ping-pong basically) and then replied very slowly (days apart) without taking any action, just wasting more time and taking another day… and another day… now almost a week. These people don’t seem to want to be held accountable to their own mistakes and their own server glitches.

If possible, avoid PayPal. By any means. Companies like PayPal deserve to fail.

Update (3/9/2015): Over the past 10 days or so I’ve nagged PayPal on almost a daily basis to rectify this matter. Earlier today they even tried playing ping-pong again (referring me back to the vendor), but after hours of nagging they finally rectified the matter. It wasn’t worth the time. To just issue a just correction worth several pounds I had to spent a very long time and do a lot of legwork. Here is the final message from PayPal:

Dear Roy Schestowitz,

Thank you for contacting PayPal via Twitter. If you did not initiate this contact, please let us know immediately by replying to this email.

I’m sorry to hear that you were unable to locate those account credits and would be happy to assist you further.

From reviewing your account, I can see that 2 credits in the amounts of £2.78 GBP each were issued to your PayPal account balance today (transactions [redacted] and [redacted]).

_____

Prior to these credits being issued, you had received £10.00 GBP from [redacted] (transaction [redacted]), which left your PayPal account balance at [redacted] GBP. After those credits were issued to your account, they brought your account balance to [redacted] GBP. You then received £10.00 GBP from Annette Trevelyan (transaction [redacted]), which has left you with a current balance of [redacted] GBP.

If there is anything else that I can assist you with, please let me know.

If you would like to reach me directly, my telephone number is [redacted] and I work Wed, Thur, Sat and Sun from 6:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. Central Time. In addition,please feel free to contact PayPal’s Twitter Support Team at askpaypal@paypal.com if you have any questions or concerns or if we can be of further assistance.

Sincerely,

[redacted]
PayPal Twitter Support
PayPal, Inc.

Copyright © 1999-2015 PayPal. All rights reserved.
PayPal (Europe) S.à r.l. & Cie, S.C.A.
Société en Commandite par Actions
Registered Office: 5th Floor 22-24 Boulevard Royal L-2449, Luxembourg
RCS Luxembourg B 118 349

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,

Why I Believe British Police Serves and Protects Only Itself (and Maybe the Rich/Powerful)

Manchester Police

EVERY adult person will sooner or later (quite inevitably in today’s world) have an encounter with the police, either as a reporter of a crime, a victim of some crime, or an accused party. This is another rant about the police, but it isn’t just about police violence, which unless caught on tape is typically being justified (I wrote about it before) and defended by the powerful media establishment. It’s too easy to pick on the police, including Greater Manchester Police (which this post is all about), based only on sheer aggression and misuse of force. These people are tough — even too tough — perhaps because they live in a tough world and witness/confront a lot of very tough people, so it’s no wonder they often take it all out on the weak and innocent bystanders — those who want no problems with the police, let alone violate any particular law. Outbursts of violence often come from those who were themselves victims of violence — people who experience a lot of fear and pain as children, at work, and so on. There’s a reason why so many British cops (not just British) kill their wives and it’s not because their wives ask for it.

I was never accused of anything by the police or even reported to the police (I am very law-abiding), but I did report incidents to the police (on behalf on myself and others, either family or complete strangers), I provided testimonies, and I was also a victim of crime. Not even once did the police really help. I can barely say that I’m thankful for anything, not even any encouraging words (some cops were nicer than others, but words and attitudes don’t solve crimes).

Here are half a dozen memorable examples, spanning a period of time no longer than a decade (the first one being 2006 when I was foolish enough to provide a report into violence I had witnessed in the streets).

DDOS attacks

In 2008 or thereabouts my site came under a massive DDOS attack which rendered the site complete inaccessible for several days. The webhost couldn’t take it, there was nothing I can do (I were effectively censored), my sysadmin skills did not help, and the only thing I could do after days of downtime was contact the police (as a non-emergency report through a non-emergencies contact number). The conversions, which I mentioned several times online, were long and unproductive. It didn’t go anywhere. The police didn’t know what DDOS even meant, let alone offered any remedial action, a contact I could use to pursue this further, etc.

I never even bothered phoning again, not even when my sites came under more DDOS attacks in the following few years (the last time being last year).

Attempted break-in

At around 2AM in the morning someone tried to open my flat’s door. That someone first tested to see if someone was inside. I never found out how the person got inside the well-guarded (by two levels of doors with electronic keys to each), but eventually he opened by flat’s door and showed up at the doorstep. It was a guy who spoke nonsense, looked seemingly drunk or stoned and repeatedly groaned “help me!”

I shouted at him to leave, which after about a minute he finally did (he just stood there for a while, staring as though he was not sober, until I stepped towards him with assertive requests that he exits). I locked the door, at which point he started banging on it, whereupon I phoned the police (because of the banging).

What did the police do? It phoned me back quite a while later (maybe an hour later) to check everything was OK. It didn’t even try to catch the guy who could meanwhile move to another target (a different flat). I guess it would be different if I was “Sir” or “Duke”; the police reacts differently to different reporters.

It was 2 years ago that I phoned the police because of this dodgy guy who was trying to enter my house, I assume or presume in order to rob me or something (my friends said he could also try to rape someone, perhaps an unwitting female). This was the last time that I really bothered phoning the police about such incidents. The next incidents near the flat I only reported to the neighbour’s landlord (by SMS) and later to the management of the building (RMG). Those too were fruitless, despite access to CCTV etc. More on those incidents below…

Man beaten up in the street by a gang

The first real encounter that I had with Greater Manchester Police was in 2006. I gave testimony to the police because I was the closest person to the incident (at the time). I saw nobody else providing a testimony and I as a not-so-faraway bystander could accurately describe the perpetrators and what they had been up to in the street minutes before hand. I wrote about it in USENET at the time (also in this blog). I’ll never forget what happened. I saw three guys smashing a poor skinny lad, probably because he was Irish (based on what was later discussed), to the point where he lost consciousness and was just laying there motionless. He thanked me later when we spoke to the police and to give some credit to the police, they handled me politely and took a lot of notes for quite some time.

The problem was this; the police dropped me off (I gave testimony from within the police van for my own protection) near the scene of the crime, where I believe I then saw once again one of the perpetrators (there were several of them who soon dispersed and the police never caught all of them), who could easily follow me to my nearby house (I looked behind myself like a paranoid). I didn’t feel safe for several days to come, thinking I may have been an attractive revenge target for my testimony (the guy could probably just assault me right there at the street, if not just follow me). I phoned angrily to make a complaint to the police, but a nearby guard (non-police, just security at my home) strongly discouraged me, persuading me away from taking this any further, saying they would try to frame me for libel or some other abuse in order to cover their own behinds. I did eventually give up on this, following this guard’s advice (he knew the police here better than I did).

A few years later I witnessed a similar incidents at almost exactly the same place. I saw many guys attacking one guy at the telephone booth where he was trying to hide from them or maybe even phone the cops. I was there almost alone and the guy asked for help. Having already encountered that bittering experience in 2006 I did not report it to the police or get involved. Hopefully that latter guy was OK; I watched for a whole to check that they didn’t slaughter him or something. Later on I started seeing dedicated and well-shielded (at the chest) cops attending that area even in daytime (the first incident I saw was later at night, the other around noon), so presumably the police had by that stage recognised there was a violence issue there. One can perhaps save another person from one thug, but not a whole gang of them (even if they have no weapons), so the least one can do in these circumstances is provide the police with concise information.

Online scam

A relative on mine in the UK got scammed by a man in Africa, or a group of men working together within some kind of network/syndicate. It’s like she lost an entire house to them over the course of nearly one year and finally I got her to report it in December 2013. It has already begun a cyclic scam, almost like a racket. I spoke to the police on her behalf several times because she was shellshocked and terrified; it affected her health, her speech, her marriage, her entire life basically…

The police didn’t do anything (only promises and redirection) and at first even refused to visit the terrified victim, which was rightly (and rationally) afraid for her safety after she had reported the perpetrators to the police with my help (they knew were she lived, and some were seemingly based in the UK or other parts of Europe as well, based on evidence she had).

At the very end there was a cop kind enough to visit my relative and give her advice that would help protect her. He did not, however, try to resolve the crime. When I asked him why the police could not use GCHQ data to track down the perpetrators (I was partly joking, as Snowden’s leaks were having the biggest impact at that time, back in early 2014) he said that it cannot be used for such cases.

All in all, my relative saw none of the money had she lost. She now has to work for many years to pay back debt. The syndicate gets to keep all the money and move on to more victims. Well done, police! It’s worth noting that this is the only case where Yorkshire Police, not Greater Manchester Police, was involved. It actually did better than Greater Manchester Police in some sense. It was kinder and it at least tried to do some things right. It just wasn’t effective at all. Police is supposed to solve crimes, not merely provide mental support.

Domestic violence

My neighbour across the hall (not a friend at all, we never socialised) abused his girlfriend. One day he allegedly punched her. She screamed, but I wasn’t sure what had happened until she left the house and made a noise, saying he had punched her. A neighbour seemingly called the police about it, whereas I just sent an SMS to the neighbour’s landlord (I had spoke to that landlord before, but never to the neighbour, whom I find a little menacing). Why did I not phone the police like I presume my neighbours did (because the police later showed up)? See the above experiences. This later incident was in 2013. By this stage I lost faith in the police.

The police later knocked on my door, I suppose for me to provide with some testimony (like things I heard from across the fall). I didn’t even answer the door as I don’t wish to be used as a witness against a violent neighbour. There’s a lot of risk in being a police tool against a person next door. Weeks later I got mail delivered to my box (by accident). It was intended to go to the neighbour, but the postman made an error. In the envelope I saw a letter from Greater Manchester Police, whereupon I understood what happened, the impact/severity, etc. It wasn’t long thereafter that this neighbour left (or was evicted). The landlord’s daughter and her boyfriend moved in. They were a lovely couple which my wife and I got along with. But it wasn’t the end of abuse in that same building, which we have since then left. See below.

Intrusion and (nearly) assault

In that same building, one of the Three Towers, there were other negative experiences, including one that affected my wife and left her somewhat terrified. The details are all in this older post. The neighbour above us was thankfully at the scene at the time and he protected my wife. She still remembers this. It was last brought up 2 days ago even though the incident is about a year old.

I did not even bother reporting this to the police, having gone through all the above experiences to no avail. The police wouldn’t have helped; neither did RMG. It’s all useless. Maybe they’ll care only when someone dies. They must be busy protecting precious copyrights of rich people or finding people who smoke joints in the streets. If the goal of CCTV (there was footage in this case) is to prevent, deter or solve cases of violence, then this was a great example of this ideology’s profound flaws and severe failings.

Stolen bicycle

Two years ago, in a post titled “CCTV Not Effective”, I already wrote about this incident. Not much has happened since. Greater Manchester Police doesn’t have time to deal with theft. They phoned me weeks later just to say it’s unlikely they’ll find anything. Hours of phonecalls, reports etc. were basically a waste of time. There was hardly any use to reporting the incident in the first place.

Concluding

There are no other experiences that I can recall involving the police, probably because these were very minor and I have since then dodged any interaction with the police. People say that once you are known to the police (for good or bad) they can frame you for just about anything and cause you trouble if they don’t like you (unlike the intelligence community, cope can easily resort to violence and find/manufacture ways to justify this later), so it’s generally a good idea to always stay below these thugs’ radar, outside their scope of interest. To me, based on my experiences, this advice rings true.

Can we generalise all this to Manchester’s police force or to British police? Well, given the increasing size of the statistical sample above (so far nearly 10 incidents), it does seem like there’s a pattern and that pattern indicates that the police either won’t help or will just use the sources (witnesses) like tissue paper.

Update (6/11/2015): I have just recalled another incident where the police failed to help and in some way made things even worse. About 15 years ago someone at Manchester Town Hall attempted launch fireworks from within a dense crowd. Suffice to say, it wasn’t declared in advance and it didn’t go well. The fireworks exploded near the ground, sending sparks flying at people. Thankfully, none hit my eyes (this can easily cause permanent blindness), but one spark hit my hair and made visible burns (not just to the hair but the skin too). After this happened I approached the nearby police for attention, but they pretty much ignored me. Instead, all I got was the slobber of the horse one of them was riding, as the horse swung its head, hitting me in the face. That’s as far as ‘help’ from the police went in this incident. The police was apparently not interested in this kind of incident, even if one person did something illegal and another (who shortly afterwards approached the police) was physically harmed.

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