Alice-Azania Jarvis: 'BT can't connect my friend's internet. How hard can it be?'

In The Red

Remember that time my fridge stopped working? Actually, you might not: it was a long, long time ago. But basically, the temperature control malfunctioned and the fridge stayed warm while the freezer zoomed to below arctic temperatures. All my food kept going off, and my frozen stuff became unusable, which, as you can imagine, blew my groceries' budget out of the water.

Anyway, the whole thing was a nightmare: the customer service terrible (at the time I named and shamed the relevant manufacturer but this time I might give it a break; at any rate, it's on Google so if you want the whole story, you can find it).

I phoned more people than I can remember, and spent hours waiting around for engineers who never arrived. Until I called the press office, nothing happened. I was promised solutions; solutions never arrived. But when they heard I was a journalist, solutions arrived pronto, in the form of a brand new fridge the following week.

And, I'm ashamed to say, I've had to use that tried-and-trusted tactic again. This time with BT – and on behalf of a friend (my former flatmate). Since moving into a flat of his own, he has been engaged in a tussle of Goliath proportions with BT's customer-service department. Basically, all he wants to do is shift his phone and internet connection from my flat to his. Simple, surely? Apparently not.

We've called the BT moving home service a dozen odd times over the past three weeks – every time being told that, because his flat has a dialling tone, it must still be connected to a BT line. All he need do, they said, is dial 17070 and the service would be moved over to his new property "within days".

All well and good, except for the fact that this mysterious 17070 number (call it, I dare you) doesn't appear to function at all – instead it either rings unanswered or sporadically offers bizarre services (instructions for a "copper wiring test", anyone?).

Eventually, after numerous attempts, we discovered that the flat's BT line had been disconnected ages ago. Even more annoyingly, this could – and should - have been established immediately. The upshot is that BT now wants £120 for an engineer to reconnect the line, despite the fact that my poor flatmate has had to suffer three weeks of paying for a broadband service that hasn't been connected.

And that, I'm afraid, is £120 he doesn't have. As yet BT hasn't offered a solution, though if the incompetence continues I'll do my best to relay it in every gory detail.

a.jarvis@independent.co.uk

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