Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Tuesday 25/11/2003BT's attitude to rural broadband is ambiguous, to say the least. As we've noted in the past, if you're a country dweller it tends to ignore you unless you show signs of getting your act together enough to provide your own service -- when BT wakes up and steals your carefully created local customer base.

Tuesday 25/11/2003
BT's attitude to rural broadband is ambiguous, to say the least. As we've noted in the past, if you're a country dweller it tends to ignore you unless you show signs of getting your act together enough to provide your own service -- when BT wakes up and steals your carefully created local customer base.

So you'd think that BT would at least be moderately grateful to the campaigners for more bits in the sticks. But no. One leading broadband activist got a phone bill for 230 quid, payable in two slugs. Not surprising given the amount of phoning and dial-up net access he'd had to do to further his cause, and like a good customer he promptly paid up. So he was more than a little surprised when he tried to log on a few weeks later to find that his line was disabled.

He called the operator, who put him straight through to Debt Recovery. "You haven't paid your bill, mate." Our pal demurred, and the discussion got quite heated. He progressed up the chain of command until he got to someone who said: "Ah, yes, you have paid the bill… sorry about that."

"But I have a disabled father. We need that phone line in case of emergencies. Even if I hadn't paid, you'd have had to go through the correct procedure."

"Er, um" said the supervisor. "None of us here know how to do that."

The discussion once again raced up the Richter scale.

In the end, BT said it would turn his line back on, write him a letter confirming everything they'd said on the phone and give him compensation. That proved to be a derisory offer of twenty quid, a letter which said absolutely nothing -- but at least he's back online.

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