I was converted to broadband in 2003, when BT ran a promotion in the London Evening Standard. At the time it seemed most ISPs wanted to charge a hefty installation or equipment fee, and my finances didn’t run to hefty. So I was thrilled to spot – and accept – the BT offer that gave me a free ADSL modem, two webcams (Mac incompatible – I gave them to my brother) and a reasonable monthly tariff.
I also liked the fact I could plug the modem into my existing socket, rather than pay another firm to bring new wiring into my Hackney flat via a communal entrance hall (I did just that with a gas pipe a few years later, but that’s another story).
Convenience, then, was what kept me with BT. That and the fact the equipment just worked. The initial 512kbps modem gave way to the first Home Hub. Which was replaced by a sleeker, blacker device.
Where it went wrong
I won’t deny that we had related teething problems – being assigned a non-working Hub phone number meant I spent a day or two speaking to BT employees on several continents – but the broadband was always exemplary.
Until I moved from Hackney to Colchester.
And exchanged 7mbps broadband for a theoretical maximum of 3.
I’d have been prepared to accept this as the price of a happier life – after all, Spotify still runs happily at lower speeds – if only the connection was reliable.
It wasn’t. And it still isn’t. It cuts out often, and the lights on the Hub flash orange and red, before cutting out altogether. I can never get more than about 1.3mbps. If anyone rings me up, it cuts my broadband off. In the evenings, it sometimes seems like I’m connected to a dial-up service.
Complaining on Twitter
Some people might say ringing up BT is the way to get things done, but after my earlier experiences I felt life was too short. Instead, I had a moan on Twitter.
BT in Colchester conspires to keep me on the Information Bridleway. Why can’t I have a fast, reliable broadband connection?
Soon after, I got a tweet from @BTCare.
@benlocker Can I help?
I responded with my postcode and email address, and then got some great customer service. After being asked for details, I catalogued my troubles and got an email straight back.
I have had a good look at the line and although you are correct in that you do have a long line. I really worry about the fact you have problems in sync’ing the Hub, dropping out when calls come through and the like.
This usually indicates that the internal wiring in the property can be causing a lot of your issues. I ask you to check…
And then came lots of handy advice about iPlates (Google them) and a promise – later repeated – to monitor my connection.
Of course, a proactive stance on Twitter has to be backed up with results. And that’s the nub for any business that wants to use Twitter for customer service and brand protection – it’s a brilliant idea to give personal care using social media, but be sure you follow through with solutions.
I’d be interested to know of other firms that are good at it. I really do think it’s a cheap, effective way of reaching a motivated cross-section of consumers and customers.
In the meantime, I’ll be tweeting to let you know how my iPlate works. And if that doesn’t appeal, you can always follow @coastdigital instead.