Are British Telecom cowboys?

PashPash Posts: 1,601Member ■■■■■□□□□□
I live in a rented flat/apartment in a London Suburb. So I have terrible noise on my line recently and my broadband has been dropping loads, as in every 30 minutes. So I call up BT, usual phone troubleshooting has to be done, "have you changed your microfilter" "I have plugged the corded phone directly into the master socket and done a quiet line test and I can still hear noise on the line" "Yes but you have changed the filter right?" (give me strength) "Yes I have changed the filter and I have also changed the flux capacitor while I was at it" "thats great, thank you sir" Eventually they agree to send an engineer out to which I am warned I may be liable to a £125 charge if they find the fault is not BT's responsibility.

Engineer arrives this morning. He immediatly identifies the fault the the line block in the basement of our building, which is great, problem Identified, he then proceeds to work on the block and resolder our line because apparently it had worn away. While doing this one of our neighbours pops down and says there is an issue with his line thats just occured. So the engineer asks him to log a call with BT fault team and he will take a look at it. He then tells me he has to log a call to get the block replaced in our building because the wiring is old. Well thats also fine, I mean I don't know lots and lots about phone tech, so I just say thats fine. But then I get thinking, that means there is downtime on all the residents phone lines in the building. So I ask him what is the procedure for working on residential premises where there is potential downtime on people's phonelines. And he says there isn't any.... Is this normal?

So in all honesty I am still fairly ok, I mean my phone line has been fixed, no noise on the line and my broadband is syncing at good speeds. So then about 2 hours after he leaves I get a call from BT saying the fault has been fixed, Im like yeh its working fine now, thanks for sorting it out, and in the next sentance "We need to make a charge because the fault was in the wiring in the building" But there was no dampness or environmental damage to the wiring, it just looks like the soldering had worn away. I said im not paying and they could contact our building management if they felt they had to.

I mean seriously, its not enough that I deal with these guys in the day job but when I have a day off as well......

Edit: Ohh im also very aware that some of you on the boards maybe work for BT/Openreach teams, this doesnt apply to all of you ;)
DevOps Engineer and Security Champion. https://blog.pash.by - I am trying to find my writing style, so please bear with me.

Comments

  • KaminskyKaminsky Posts: 1,235Member
    BT are in a lot of trouble financially. Even though they are supposed to be seperated by Oftel now, BT Global have about £50 million debt and right across the board they are getting rid of knowledgable but expensive staff (and replacing them with cheaper school leaver with 3 weeks training alternatives) in all their susiduary companies for the slightest infringment of rediculous rules. I don't work for BT but I have their engineers in on a weekly basis and we chat a lot. OpenReach engineers are getting practically culled in order to prop up the BT Global business.

    Whether it be BT, Virgin, Global Crossing, AT&T-UK, Colt, KPN, etc. it is actually OpenReach that typically provide the last Kilometer of infrastructure that they all go across. It sounds like you have ADSL to the building which implies (whether BT contract or otherwise) the lines will come in on PSTN wire pairs that the ADSL circuits sit on top of that PSTN wire-pair circuit.

    Yes you know all this, I understand....

    However, you are forgetting demark. BT OpenReach have a contract to provide ADSL to your building upto the demark. What happens after that is not their problem. This is where they are saying your problem lies so in this case, you will have to pay for their work to fix it.

    ADSL line comes in two parts. The physical PSTN wire pair and the ADSL confured circuit that sits on top of it. This also means two different types of OpenReach engineers. The PSTN engineers typically have a phone with aligator clips and a kind of little voltmeter they use to test the wires for exchange battery power strength down this particular wire pair, etc. Purely Layer 1 type electrical analysis equipment and takes about 1 minute of analysis to get to the fault. ADSL engineers on the other hand come with test kit that looks like a huge two-handed Fluke tester and their analysis is on the actual circuit point to point, including packet loss, data rates, etc. This actual analysis can take a good 10-15 minutes of test processing just to get the results.

    Whenever there is an ADSL fault, they always send these two teams in order. PSTN proves the line is ok then if the fault still persists, the ADSL team come in.

    So,
    Firstly you only mention one BT engineer vist which implies the PSTN engineer turns up. Does some testing and starts soldering which implies there is a physical issue on their side of your building's PSTN infrastructure - hence their side of the demark. You know it is their side of the demark because, if it wasn't, they would have walked away (with copious amounts of teeth sucking and mutterings of "dunno what cowboy did that" in the typical carrier engineer fashion) and telling you that you need to get it fixed yourself... "Our side of it is fine. blah..blah test results .. blah blah .. that will be £125 quid please! "


    As you say you only had one engineer in, my guess is it was the PSTN engineer though why the hell he was soldering anything sounds too bizarre for words - external cream multi core cable to internal black multi core (multiple internal lines always work this way) uses a krone patch box to go from outside cable to internal cable. Never seen an engineer with a soldering iron... doubt they would know how to use one.

    Another clue
    When an ADSL circuit is first provisioned or upgraded, they start off with low bandwidth and over the course of two weeks, they steadily increase the bandwidth watching until high levels of packet loss start occuring on the line. (this may sometimes result in rapid router resets at the client end when they get to the limits of the physical capability) Then they will cap that line at at best/lowest packet loss bandwidth. This process can take upto two weeks and is completely dependant on the quality of the physical wire pair and intermediary patching from the exchange. You neighbour could quite easily get a different up/down bandwidth rate than you completely dependant on this physical limitation.
    You said that once he finished soldering you had a nice data rate which implies again that it was a physical problem as the circuit came back up to the established ADSL configuration once the physical problem was ironed out.

    SO, physical problem, their side of the demark, they fixed it by soldering hence, their problem. The call center person that told you that you need to pay is just trying it on to see if you are an old grannie and will cave in with a bit of tech talk.

    In answer to your question. You/or your building owner don't need to pay squat ! Their infrastructure... their side of the demark... their problem !



    I am a WAN tech for a big data centre and I have these guys in all the time. They do try it on. I have had to jokingly threaten to break their legs before now (seriously) if they unpick one of my live circuits just so they can make a phone call to their boss. He tried the "but it's our infrastrcture - we can do what we like" line with me to which I very quickly and very nicely replied with the "true but you will be to walking out of here on stumps if you do". He decided not to... Wise choice with our £14k per minute SLAs

    To be fair to them. They are under rediculous pressure. For instance.. When a PSTN engineer installs a circuit, they own that circuit and any problems with it, for the next 3 months. I had one guy in who was late as he just got a written warning from his boss for three of his circuits failing in the same roadside green cab. The fact that the night before, a drunk driver totalled that cab was irrelevant. He was on a warning.... I kid you not.

    Another BT OpenReach engineer told me of this recent one. One BT guys emails an Irish joke to several colleagues. Some pass it on and some are seen talking about it. 30 people ended up being sacked. In England, our right to tell Irish jokes is written in the Magna Carta.. or should be ... (UK version of Dec of independance)

    BT OpenReach unions are right now in strike talks. Not about pay rises or bonuses but about the way they are being treated. The latest thing to hit them is your standard 8 hour day BUT at any start time the company wants you to start at with no bonus for unsociable hours. So you go form 9-5 to say, 2am to 10am with no extra payments and no consideration of how that will affect your home life at all.

    OpenReach engineers are under a lot of grief right now so don't be too hard on them. Their call centres just take the pi$$ though so scream and shout at those muppets all you want. If they don't like it they can get a better job at McDonalds. Won't get a pay rise but at least they will get a free lunch.

    Expect to see BT OpenReach strikes on the news very shortly.
    Kam.
  • PashPash Posts: 1,601Member ■■■■■□□□□□
    Thanks for your reply Kam, helped me understand a little about the PSTN boundaries, thanks! The engineer did indeed use a soldering iron. The block on the wall of our basement had the lines soldered into it with a wax face at the back, the wiring was very old in our building though, like pre-30 years ago. There is only a single socket (master socket with the capacitor in it) in our flat and its just an old type (not the modern NTE5 type), so it is fairly old I beleive.

    Anyway, yeh I think the guys on the phone were just trying it on, I wont read too much into that. And to be fair the engineer was only trying his best to get the fault fixed, which he did, so I probably shouldn't moan.

    He was telling me exactly what you have said about the hours they have to work at the moment, they are being asked to work from 2pm until 10pm, without any adjustments to pay, that does seem very harsh indeed.

    You have taken the energy of my rant against BT, I can't remember what I am angry about now! icon_lol.gif

    DevOps Engineer and Security Champion. https://blog.pash.by - I am trying to find my writing style, so please bear with me.
  • TurgonTurgon Posts: 6,313Banned
    Kaminsky wrote: »
    BT are in a lot of trouble financially. Even though they are supposed to be seperated by Oftel now, BT Global have about £50 million debt and right across the board they are getting rid of knowledgable but expensive staff (and replacing them with cheaper school leaver with 3 weeks training alternatives) in all their susiduary companies for the slightest infringment of rediculous rules. I don't work for BT but I have their engineers in on a weekly basis and we chat a lot. OpenReach engineers are getting practically culled in order to prop up the BT Global business.

    Whether it be BT, Virgin, Global Crossing, AT&T-UK, Colt, KPN, etc. it is actually OpenReach that typically provide the last Kilometer of infrastructure that they all go across. It sounds like you have ADSL to the building which implies (whether BT contract or otherwise) the lines will come in on PSTN wire pairs that the ADSL circuits sit on top of that PSTN wire-pair circuit.

    Yes you know all this, I understand....

    However, you are forgetting demark. BT OpenReach have a contract to provide ADSL to your building upto the demark. What happens after that is not their problem. This is where they are saying your problem lies so in this case, you will have to pay for their work to fix it.

    ADSL line comes in two parts. The physical PSTN wire pair and the ADSL confured circuit that sits on top of it. This also means two different types of OpenReach engineers. The PSTN engineers typically have a phone with aligator clips and a kind of little voltmeter they use to test the wires for exchange battery power strength down this particular wire pair, etc. Purely Layer 1 type electrical analysis equipment and takes about 1 minute of analysis to get to the fault. ADSL engineers on the other hand come with test kit that looks like a huge two-handed Fluke tester and their analysis is on the actual circuit point to point, including packet loss, data rates, etc. This actual analysis can take a good 10-15 minutes of test processing just to get the results.

    Whenever there is an ADSL fault, they always send these two teams in order. PSTN proves the line is ok then if the fault still persists, the ADSL team come in.

    So,
    Firstly you only mention one BT engineer vist which implies the PSTN engineer turns up. Does some testing and starts soldering which implies there is a physical issue on their side of your building's PSTN infrastructure - hence their side of the demark. You know it is their side of the demark because, if it wasn't, they would have walked away (with copious amounts of teeth sucking and mutterings of "dunno what cowboy did that" in the typical carrier engineer fashion) and telling you that you need to get it fixed yourself... "Our side of it is fine. blah..blah test results .. blah blah .. that will be £125 quid please! "


    As you say you only had one engineer in, my guess is it was the PSTN engineer though why the hell he was soldering anything sounds too bizarre for words - external cream multi core cable to internal black multi core (multiple internal lines always work this way) uses a krone patch box to go from outside cable to internal cable. Never seen an engineer with a soldering iron... doubt they would know how to use one.

    Another clue
    When an ADSL circuit is first provisioned or upgraded, they start off with low bandwidth and over the course of two weeks, they steadily increase the bandwidth watching until high levels of packet loss start occuring on the line. (this may sometimes result in rapid router resets at the client end when they get to the limits of the physical capability) Then they will cap that line at at best/lowest packet loss bandwidth. This process can take upto two weeks and is completely dependant on the quality of the physical wire pair and intermediary patching from the exchange. You neighbour could quite easily get a different up/down bandwidth rate than you completely dependant on this physical limitation.
    You said that once he finished soldering you had a nice data rate which implies again that it was a physical problem as the circuit came back up to the established ADSL configuration once the physical problem was ironed out.

    SO, physical problem, their side of the demark, they fixed it by soldering hence, their problem. The call center person that told you that you need to pay is just trying it on to see if you are an old grannie and will cave in with a bit of tech talk.

    In answer to your question. You/or your building owner don't need to pay squat ! Their infrastructure... their side of the demark... their problem !



    I am a WAN tech for a big data centre and I have these guys in all the time. They do try it on. I have had to jokingly threaten to break their legs before now (seriously) if they unpick one of my live circuits just so they can make a phone call to their boss. He tried the "but it's our infrastrcture - we can do what we like" line with me to which I very quickly and very nicely replied with the "true but you will be to walking out of here on stumps if you do". He decided not to... Wise choice with our £14k per minute SLAs

    To be fair to them. They are under rediculous pressure. For instance.. When a PSTN engineer installs a circuit, they own that circuit and any problems with it, for the next 3 months. I had one guy in who was late as he just got a written warning from his boss for three of his circuits failing in the same roadside green cab. The fact that the night before, a drunk driver totalled that cab was irrelevant. He was on a warning.... I kid you not.

    Another BT OpenReach engineer told me of this recent one. One BT guys emails an Irish joke to several colleagues. Some pass it on and some are seen talking about it. 30 people ended up being sacked. In England, our right to tell Irish jokes is written in the Magna Carta.. or should be ... (UK version of Dec of independance)

    BT OpenReach unions are right now in strike talks. Not about pay rises or bonuses but about the way they are being treated. The latest thing to hit them is your standard 8 hour day BUT at any start time the company wants you to start at with no bonus for unsociable hours. So you go form 9-5 to say, 2am to 10am with no extra payments and no consideration of how that will affect your home life at all.

    OpenReach engineers are under a lot of grief right now so don't be too hard on them. Their call centres just take the pi$$ though so scream and shout at those muppets all you want. If they don't like it they can get a better job at McDonalds. Won't get a pay rise but at least they will get a free lunch.

    Expect to see BT OpenReach strikes on the news very shortly.

    Totally relate. They have some capable people internally, but the crappy management is screwing things badly. Lots of capable people being messed around and demotivated by company policy, reorgs, bad decisions and stupid targets. The MBA's cook the numbers to get the right pie chart at head office and a nice bonus, while the workforce gets shafted and the shareprice nosedives.

    They should start loving their technical specialists again and start listening to them before they don't have any left.
  • lambov12lambov12 Posts: 23Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    i can /agree with bt being cowboys at the minuite, different problem to yours mine was with thier credit referals people and the call center muppets. who tried to tell me that i had been living at an adress for a year and a half when i just moved in lol and thus they wanted to charge me £230 for my line lol
  • nelnel Posts: 2,859Member ■□□□□□□□□□
    Turgon wrote: »
    Totally relate. They have some capable people internally, but the crappy management is screwing things badly. Lots of capable people being messed around and demotivated by company policy, reorgs, bad decisions and stupid targets. The MBA's cook the numbers to get the right pie chart at head office and a nice bonus, while the workforce gets shafted and the shareprice nosedives.

    They should start loving their technical specialists again and start listening to them before they don't have any left.

    Urgh, that scenario feels way to familiar to me.

    Are BT cowboys? Yes definately - if they can get away with it.
    Xbox Live: Bring It On

    Bsc (hons) Network Computing - 1st Class
    WIP: Msc advanced networking
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