Around 15:15 today, one of my ISDN2 lines I use for voice, and the analogue line I use for DSL (and thus internet access) went down. The ISDN2 line is just dead, the voice line has such a loud buzz on it it’s unusable (occasionally accepts DTMF digits) and the DSL suffers accordingly. Both are meant to be on TotalCare, but according to BT the ISDN2 lines aren’t (it may have got missed off when I moved to OneBill earlier). Both faults were reported to BT between around 15:15 and 15:30.

BT claim they cannot work on the analogue fault ‘because it’s dark’. Apparently health and safety prevents them from working in the dark. This is not in the wilds of nowhere. This is in a street with street lights in London. Presumably BT also have lights. A quick consultation with this useful site suggests BT can avoid work in London save between around 8am and 4pm in the winter. In Glasgow, take an hour off that. Who knows how little time BT can work for in Aberdeen.

Now, I don’t particularly have a problem with people not working if it is in fact dangerous to do so. I can see climbing up a pole might be dangerous. However, every single fault I’ve had with these lines, to my recollection, has been a local loop fault. The last time (several years ago), I remember a chap turning up at 10pm. I’m pretty sure it was dark then. Has it suddenly become more dangerous to work in the dark?

Moreover, here’s the blurb from BT’s own web site on TotalCare:

Have you considered how much it would cost your business if your Business Phone Lines went down even for a short time? In lost customers, lost revenue, customer dis-satisfaction? … BT will respond within 4 hours of receiving your fault report and if the fault is not cleared during this period, we will advise you of progress.

And from here:

We guarantee to resolve a “Service Failure” in line with the care/service level you have chosen. For Total Care, this means 24 Hours after you report the fault, unless you have requested specific appointment date. The Total Care working week is 7 Days a week, 52 weeks per year.

Now, I don’t see anything here about not working in the dark. I also don’t think “well, it’s still dark” sounds like advice on progress.

The ISDN fault is even more comical: that, they say they will look at on Friday 26th. Assuming this means working hours (and avoiding those pesky periods where the sun isn’t shining) they’ll only start looking at it over 40 hours after I’ve reported the fault. And the expected repair time is Friday PM (let’s hope before 4pm, or we’ll be plunged into darkness followed by weekend). Fortunately I have 2 ISDN circuits so this is less disastrous for me than it would be for some people. I suppose waiting 16 hours rather than 40 hours before BT look at a fault is, in some senses, an improvement.

OpenReach faults used to be quite good. But this is frankly appalling.

Update: 24 hours after reporting the fault, they still hadn’t started looking at either of them. And despite two promises given when I rang in to escalate the faults and ring me back, I heard nothing. I eventually got hold of a supervisor (who, to be fair, did ring me back) who claimed the inaction was due to ‘snow and unforeseeable events’. Well, it’s not snowing in London (and the BT region is pretty small), and darkness has to be one of life’s more foreseeable features. Apparently they might look at the analogue line tonight and perhaps get around to the ISDN tomorrow some time. Clearly I have neither been ‘advised of progress’ nor have they met their ‘guarantee’.