Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Stuck with a couple of incompetent locksmiths – I sure do pick 'em'

In The Red

British Telecom have upped their game. Since last week – when I blurted about my ex-flatmate's ongoing tussle with the company over shifting his internet connection to his new flat – they have been nothing but helpful. Notwithstanding a minor confusion over whether or not they would be sending around a team on Monday morning, they have done everything they could have. Several different representatives have been in touch and, I'm assured, my former flatmate is soon to be online.

Still, it shouldn't have taken a column in a national newspaper to accomplish this. The number of people who have written in with similar complaints – not just about BT, but about everyone – is astonishing. And really, decent customer service shouldn't be that hard. A case in point has been the experience I have had with T-Mobile over the last few days.

Last week I had pretty much everything of value that I own stolen: my wallet, my phone, my house keys. It was a nightmare. And while bank cards are always relatively easy to sort out, I was dreading the palava of getting a new phone. But, so far, it has gone brilliantly. The day after it was nicked, I called up and cancelled my Sim card. Then I rang the insurance company and ordered a new phone. It's on its way as we speak. Every T-Mobile customer service representative I've encountered has been delightful.

Much less convenient, however, has been the process of getting my locks changed. I called an emergency locksmith near my home, who promised to arrive at around three. Of course, I didn't for a moment suspect they would be on time – though I was a little alarmed that an hour and 20 minutes later they were still "stuck in traffic". Things got worse when, four hours later, I was still stuck outside.

The locksmith appeared unable to actually pick a lock. "I just wish I had more experience with these things ..." he muttered. Two hours (and lots of drilling) later, he was joined by a colleague who proved equally inept. Another hour and a half later, they finally managed to force their way in – by which time it was 11.30. I had been sitting outside my flat with no money, phone, or food for over eight hours – and my door had so many drill-holes it looked like was imported straight from Sierra Leone.

The two incompetents have said I won't be charged – though we'll see. Their parent company have my card details, so I'm keeping a watchful eye on my bank balance. If they so much as remove 20p, you can be sure you'll be hearing about it.