Bulldog blames BT for service failures

BT denies everything

The ongoing row over customer service complaints at Bulldog took a twist on Friday, when parent company Cable & Wireless (C&W) blamed BT for some of the problems.

As first reported by ZDNet UK earlier this month, hordes of Bulldog customers have experienced serious problems with their broadband and telephony services. Many have also found it extremely difficult to contact Bulldog customer support for assistance.

Speaking at C&W's annual general meeting on Friday, chairman Richard Lapthorne said that BT had been struggling to hand over control of telephone lines to Bulldog — through a process known as local-loop unbundling (LLU).

"In broadband, over the last few weeks, Bulldog has begun to improve customer provisioning," claimed Lapthorne, who said his company was encouraged by the comments and feedback from customers who signed up for its 8Mbps broadband and telephone service.

"However, in the area of provisioning in particular, the level of service remains inconsistent as we work with BT — after their relatively recent introduction of automated procedures [for LLU] — to enhance the quality and accuracy with which telephone lines are transferred to the Bulldog network," Lapthorne added.

LLU allows an operator such as Bulldog to take control of a customer's telephone line and offer their own range of services, rather than just reselling BT's range of wholesale products. LLU has been fraught with problems in recent years, with some companies accusing BT of deliberately making the process expensive and difficult, to avoid losing control of its network.

According to The Guardian,  fewer than 60 percent of the lines that Bulldog has tried to unbundle have been supplied correctly and on time by BT, because of the provisioning problems described by Lapthorne, and one in three didn't work.

This could go some way to explaining some of the problems suffered by Bulldog customers — but BT has firmly rejected the claim.

"Across the industry, we have been delivering an average of 91 percent of unbundled lines correctly and on time," a BT spokeswoman told ZDNet UK on Monday afternoon. "Far from a third of lines having faults, our figures are an average of 6 percent or fewer," she added.

Back in February, Peter Black, Ofcom's Telecoms Adjudicator, reported that just 50 to 60 percent of newly unbundled lines were actually delivered 'right first time', against a target of 75 percent.

Bulldog's customer service problems have no connections with BT, however, but have attracted many complaints such as this one from a ZDNet UK reader: "I got so frustated that I called the sales line and enquired as to why they had plenty of staff to deal with new customers but none for existing ones — the young lady was quite abrupt and in a rather sarcastic voice said: 'Well we still have to make money, don't we.' She then cut me off," said Geoff Henshall, managing director of MK Dor-2-Dor.

On Friday, Lapthorne promised that this would improve.

"We have recruited and trained further customer support staff, in line with our plans, and introduced automated tracking systems to reduce call volumes. We expect to see material improvements over the summer," said Lapthorne.