When PC Advisor publisher David Fernando and his family moved into their palatial new home in South London, they were dreaming of a new life in the broadband fast lane courtesy of cableco Telewest.
Some 11 days after moving into the bourgeois enclave of Sutton, bereft of communication with the outside world — save an intermittent mobile phone connection — that fat pipe dream has turned into a broadband nightmare.
Here in part II, Fernando continues to chronicle his Kafkaesque attempts to get broadband.
To read part I click here.
Wednesday 4 June
11am — I get the first ever cold sales call on my mobile phone — a guy trying to sell me 02 mobile telephone services. Where did he get my number? He can't really say: "Probably from one of our partners..." Is Telewest a partner? He thinks so. (Telewest categorically denies handing the mobile phone numbers of customers to third parties — ed.)
No calls from Telewest all day. But when I return home from work I notice that the bright blue cord has been yanked from the ground and helpfully tied to my front fence. The Telewest man has obviously been. But I'm still not connected and have been without a phone, email and cable TV for six days now.
Thursday 5 June
4.42pm — Still no call from Telewest, so I call them again. I speak to nice James Worrall at the Sheffield call centre. Can he tell from the notes on my account exactly why I'm calling? "Not really as we use a different contact database than your local area which is Sutton — that's some way away."
Finally after some digging, James finds some notes on my account. "You've already paid £50 — have you not been connected yet?" Look again, James. "Aha! It says here that your cable was finally cleared today! Paul Baker in South East sales should have called you to tell you. I'll track him down, please hold." I hold.
5.05pm — James is back, "Hello Mr. Fernando — I'm having some difficulty getting through; I'm being passed around myself so I know what you feel like! I'll keep trying..."
5.22pm — James again. "Hello Mr Fernando. I've been on hold to the install department myself for 15 minutes... are you okay to keep holding?" Yes, I am.
5.37pm — James returns. "Mr Fernando, I have been holding for 25 minutes and I can't get through. No one has heard of Paul Baker. I'm quite disgusted with the way you've been handled. Can I get the install department to call you tomorrow?" I ask James to check the mobile number they have for me on the Telewest system. Three digits are incorrect.
Friday 6 June
11.50am — No call from Telewest yet. I call them on the main customer care number — 0845 142 0000 — and end up speaking to Sarah Hernandez at the Yorkshire call centre. She needs to put me through to my local area call centre — Basildon. I am connected to a Nicky Benstead. Nicky asks what the problem is.
Now I'm beginning to get really annoyed. This is my seventh day without a phone, email or internet access at home. I had to ask a friend to search the web for my daughter's homework project last night, download 25 pages of info, print them out and drive four miles over to my house to deliver them.
Nicky says she will contact the install team and get me the earliest possible date for an installation. After 10 minutes Nicky comes back and says she can install my services on Monday 23 June — a full three weeks after it should have been done. I ask why it can't happen this weekend and she says the system won't allow her to book that.
As Nicky helpfully points out, there was a problem with my property in the first place so it's not really Telewest's fault. I blow a small gasket while at the same time telling Nicky that I am not angry with her, just the situation as a whole. Nicky says she will try to get another, earlier, install date. She comes back and says the earliest will be 23 June after all.
I demand to speak to someone in customer complaints. Nicky says she will transfer me to her supervisor Debbie Anderson.
I tell Debbie the whole story in a very calm voice and say that surely, there must be a way to install my services over the next two days (the weekend) so I won't have to take any further time off work.
Debbie says she will try and speak to a supervisor in installations again. She also says she is going to remove the £25 installation fee that I have already paid and call me back on my mobile (I have to give her the number again) asap. Will Debbie end up being the hero?
1.15pm — Unbelievably, Debbie calls back and informs me that the Telewest contractors are going to try and "squeeze me in" this weekend but that they won't be able to confirm this until 8am Saturday. Can I be available all weekend just in case? I say I will make the entire 48 hours available if it means getting connected.
Catch is Debbie isn't in the office herself tomorrow, but assures me that another supervisor will call me. I ask for her name — Lesley Boggi. Okay, let's see.
Part III of PC Advisor publisher sings the broadband blues will appear tomorrow.