Thursday, 21 July 2016

Talking to TalkTalk

It's good to talk. But sometimes it isn't easy. Talking to TalkTalk is rarely easy.

Company policy is - never call a customer back. I know that's company policy, because almost all TalkTalk staff conform to it. There's a couple of exceptions, but I think they're breaking the rules. I won't name them because A) I don't want to get them into troiuble with TalkTalk for being helpful and B) they're *MY* contacts, you find your own.

I ordered something from TalkTalk in October 2014. Yes, getting on for two years ago. I'm still hoping. It got escalated from their Provisioning team to their Customer Escalations team. Then it got escalated to their Customer Escalations Escalations (thats not their real title, I forget what they're called) team. In May of 2016, I was told that the next time it would be looked at for planning would be September 2016. As you can guess, I made a lot of fuss about that. That's not a promise that I'd get anything in 09/2016, not even a promise that they'd start work then. Just a promise that they'd not even think about it until then. As per a suggestion from TalkTalk, I contacted my local council. Because according to TalkTalk, the problem was that it was taking months to get a "Road Traffic Order" (i.e., permission to go down a manhole in the middle of the road to see what's what). My local council referred this to the roads people, and the roads people were *very* unhappy that they were being blamed; they said they usually give permission within a day or two.

Apparently, I'm not supposed to talk to the Council, the roads people or BTOR. I'm only supposed to talk to Talktalk, who are supposed to make stuff happen.

So this bounced around a bit between the Council, the roads people, and BTOR (Openreach, the people who furnish the lines) until a missile was launched from all of them to TalkTalk. Talktalk responded by escalating the issue to The Office of the CEO.

That sounds impressive, until you realise that this is just another bunch of overworked employees who get all the "Too difficult" stuff foisted on them. Still, Graeme Hughes at the Office of the CEO took on my case, and he was prodding BTOR.

BTOR responded by sending a couple of men, including Kevin, to have a look at the situation.

I welcomed them, gave them tea, and we talked. The original problem was the running the line South from here, had encountered insuperable blockages in the conduit. So in December 2015, they decided to go North from here. But in May 2016, they encountered insuperable blockages in that conduit, so considered laying a new conduit. But that would have to cross 11 driveways, and it isn't clear who owns the land - is it the council, or is it 11 property owners? And getting permission from 11 owners would be a big deal.

"What about running it overhead?" I asked. It's only 500 meters, there's telephone poles all the way, and I know you can run fibre overhead because that's what Energis did countrywide. "Yes," said Kevin, "That's technically possible." He had a look at the 500 meters and said "There's a couple of trees overhanging two of the poles, they might have to be trimmed, but apart from that, yes."

Then I got an email from Graeme to say that BTOR were going to replan taking the Southern route. And I had two concerns. A) does the person making this plan know that this has already been tried and rejected as infeasible, and B) what about the overhead route? So I emailed Graeme.

No reply. So after a few days I phoned Graeme. And got a recorded message saying that he's left the company.

So I emailed the Office of the CEO to ask who was picking up the issue. No reply.

So I contacted one of the people I'd previously spoken to, one of the few people in TalkTalk who disobeys company policy and actually calls you back. I explained the issue to him - I currently don't have a contact taking over from Graeme.

He tried to contact the Office of the CEO and got much the same result as I did. But he did give me another number at the Office of the CEO.

So then I decide to go ballistic. I emailed Dido Harding at; she's the CEO, including the sentence "I know that when I was running a major UK software company (the Dr Solomon antvirus and computer security company), a situation like this would have been deeply embarrassing for me. I expect it's deeply embarrassing for you.". I posted on the TalkTalk facebook page. I Facebook-messaged TalkTalk.
And I realised that the Office of the CEO has a range of phone numbers, being around 0333 003 1150 to 0333 003 1170 (and they might also stretch higher and lower). So I phoned these numbers one at a time - each one was on voicemail, so I left a message giving my number, a very brief explanation of the problem and a request to call back.

Then I phoned "Customer support" and wasted an hour because they assumed I was "residential" without telling me that, couldn't find any trace of me except for an old AOL account (what?) at an address I left 10 years ago (and they asked me for confirm the postcode there, which I couldnt, of course). And eventually Darwin (after suggesting that I place the order all over again, to which I explained why that would be a very bad idea) escalated me to his manager, who was absolutely certain that there was no such thing as a 100 mbit ethernet link and I must mean broadband, and it was at that point that I realised that the people I was talking to were pure residential and the best they could offer was broadband. So she offered to transfer me to TalkTalk Business, then before she did so asked me if I was happy with the support I'd had, and obviously no I was not, and she asked why, and I explained why, and she said there was nothing she could do about it, and I said yes there is, would you like me to tell you what you can do about it, and she said yes, and I resisted the temptation to get obscene and suggested more staff training on the fact that TalkTalk also have business customers.

So she transferred me to David. Obviously there's a zillion Davids in TalkTalk so I asked for his other name "in case we get cut off and I have to call back", which he wasn't allowed to give, so I asked for his employee number, and he said they don't have employee numbers "So we'd better not get cut off", he said, as if that was something that either of us could control. So I explained the problem, and he wasn't able to help, but he'd escalate this to his manager, who would get someone at the Office of the CEO to call me back by close of play tomorrow ("what about today?" I asked, but that's not possible). So I asked for the name of this manager, which he gave me, in full, so much for not disclosing people's full names, and asked that he call me back whether the OCEO calls me or not, because in TalkTalk there's another rule that says that as long as you can find someone else to dump a problem on, you don't have to check that anything happened. To be honest, that's a rule in most companies.

So, continuing my campaign of "let's get some sort of answer from TalkTalk" I phoned the person at Customer Escalations Escalations that I'd been talking to before it was kicked up the OCEO. He wasn't there, but someone else was, and she told me that the OCEO has already emailed me. But I didn't get that email. So I asked what address it was sent to, and sure enough, they'd left off the last letter of the email address, sent it to .co instead of .com. So I got her to forward that email to my correct address, and at last I had a name in the OCEO who was supposed to be handling my case.

So I phoned her. Voicemail. I left a message, hoping against hope that maybe she would be another of the rare people who flout the company policy of "never return a call".

And I sat at my computer, googling for who else I could chivvy at Talktalk. And the phone rang!

So now Jodie at OCEO is on my case, she agrees that the overhead route isn't being taken seriously enough, shares my concern that the Southern route has been tried and found wanting before, and is trying to get BTOR to escalate the issue to BTOR Escalations Escalations.

It's good to talk.

No comments:

Post a Comment