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PC Advisor publisher sings the broadband blues: part III

Day 12: Fernando's fat pipe beckons

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.

Twelve days after moving into the bourgeois enclave of Sutton, bereft of communication with the outside world — save an intermittent mobile phone connection — hope is finally on the horizon for Fernando and his family.

Here Fernando chronicles the third part of his as yet unresolved, Kafkaesque attempts to get broadband.

To read part I click here.

To read part II click here.

THROWING SICKIES
Saturday 7 June

8am — Set the alarm early (and it's Saturday!) so I can get up in time for Telewest's call. Decide to call them at 8.15. Speak to Lesley who will chase up the engineers before they go on the road and see if there is a slot for me.

8.45am — Lesley calls back (hurrah — supervisors are obviously quite good at this). Unfortunately, about a third of the engineer crews have called in sick for the weekend, so this means they won't be able to connect me after all. The earliest date they can install is Sunday 15th — a week away.

Lesley is very apologetic and books me into the system for that date between 10am-2pm. She also suggests that I call first thing Monday to see if I can take advantage of a cancellation during the week. Trouble is, I'm at work next week... Lesley gives me her direct line number, but asks me to call Debbie first thing as, if it is left too late, all the crews will have been given their assignments for the day.

MONDAY, MONDAY — CAN'T TRUST THAT DAY?
Monday 9 June

8.30am — Call Lesley's direct line number. Voicemail. Decide to pursue Debbie Andersen instead. Call the customer care number and ask to be transferred to Basildon. This can't be done as it is all operated by an automatic rerouting system. I get transferred to Dudley and Sheffield before (quite by chance) I land at Basildon. Debbie is not in until 9am but she will call me on the mobile as soon as she arrives.

10.05am — No call yet, so I try to call her. Again bounced around from call centre to call centre. End up with telesales in Dudley. Can they email Debbie for me? Okay then. Sorry, no they can't as they can't find her name on their email list. I decide to try Lesley Boggi's direct number again. Voicemail. I leave a message.

Noon — Ask Guy Dixon, (PC Advisor's online editor) if he could use his contacts to discover who I should write to when complaining and seeking compensation for this whole mess. He contacts Telewest PR and says: "We have a reader who wants to complain, who should he write to?" PR people need to know reader details and as Guy and I suspect they won't know who I am, we pass on my data without mentioning my occupation and job title.

1.05pm — Ian Beard, a colleague of Debbie Anderson at Basildon, gives me a courtesy call to inform me that they haven't forgotten about me and will be contacting the engineering teams after 3.30pm to see if they can fit me in for Tuesday. He will then call me back and let me know.

3pm — I get a call from Emma Latham, a client services director from the office of the Chief Executive of Telewest Communications. Emma is very switched on and helpful. I'm suspicious that Telewest and their PR outfit have deduced who I am as Emma says she knows I am "something to do with PC Advisor." However, I am assured that any customer name sent through to the Chief Executive's office is handled in the same way. This may very well be true. I email Emma hard copy of the saga I've been chronicling over the past few days and she promises to call me back at 5.30pm with some form of resolution. I tell Emma that I am working from home all day Wednesday, just in case.

3.45pm — Ian Beard calls me again having spoken to the crews about tomorrow. He is very polite and apologetic but informs me that Sunday 15 June is still looking like my best bet for installation, although he will try again tomorrow. He seems mildly bemused when I say, "Fine. Okay." Having got a hotline to the Chief Exec, I'm slightly more relaxed about things now. Funny that!

5.30pm — As promised, Emma calls me back on the dot. "Good news," says she, "we can install your connection this Wednesday afternoon between 2pm and 6pm. I will personally call you in advance to give you a more accurate time. Is this okay?"

Is this okay? This is bloody marvellous. Two and a half thousand words later, my life is about to be given back to me.

I need to stress the following: all the individuals I have dealt with so far (save perhaps one) have been extremely professional and polite when dealing with my problem. It just seems that the Telewest systems don't allow for any remedial or reactive action to be taken to solve a crisis.

I've several more suggestions about how to improve the customer service and perhaps this case could be used for an internal management exercise at Telewest. But plenty of time for that. Let's get connected first. Roll on Wednesday...

Part IV of PC Advisor publisher sings the broadband blues will appear later this week.


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