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Spend & Save

Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'Why does BT find it so hard to connect with its customers?'

In The Red

Alas, I spoke too soon. Last week I mentioned that my dealings with BT had improved somewhat (previously they had been awful; as you'll be only too aware the past fortnight has seen me and my ex-flatmate engaged in a David-and-Goliath-esque struggle with the company over shifting his internet connection to his new flat).

The thing is, it was all looking so good: I'd hear from the company's head of corporate communications. And my partner had been given the direct line of several BT top brass.

Yet still – despite his taking the entire week off work to try and resolve the situation, his internet connection remains elusive. The problem, it seems, is the sheer incompetence of their telephone operators (the irony, oh yes). Each one appears to suffer from an individually mutated form of David Brentism.

Instead of approaching the task at hand with an attitude of "let's do our best for the paying customer" or even "let's do what's minimally required as part of that thing called customer service," they appear to maintain a constant ethos of "Oh no sir, you're so simple-minded you will never understand the complicated ways in which we work."

The internet, we were told would be working from last weekend. Of course, when it actually came to the weekend it wasn't. Every day since, we have called BT attempting to resolve this. Every day we've been told that some new minor detail has gone awry, and that we would be connected from the following day.

The final straw came on Wednesday, when they suddenly announced that the flat's previous occupant had neglected to disconnect his broadband, so in fact they wouldn't be able to connect us at all. Of course, it's all been a complete nightmare – though this may, at least, prove comforting to those readers who've written in with similar tales of BT incompetence. Now we know that – even with the threat of bad publicity – you can count on British Telecoms to let you down. At least they're democratic.

Likewise, little progress had been made in my dealings with the locksmiths. I mentioned last week that I'd been told I wouldn't be charged after they took eight hours to pick my lock, eventually forcing their way in by drill, and leaving me with a horribly mutilated front door.

Well, over the weekend they attempted to withdraw - wait for it – £300 – from my account. Can you believe it? Luckily, I've got the Guild of Locksmiths on my side, which is proving very useful indeed. As it turns out, poorly-trained conmen are not uncommon in the lock-picking world. Service, eh?