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No broadband due to negligence

shermans
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Registered: 07-09-2007

No broadband due to negligence

We are in the process of suing PlusNet and BT Openreach in the County Court for negligence due to their combined abysmal service.  From Monday until Saturday, we were without broadband for no apparent reason.  After 45 minutes of waiting for PlusNet to answer the phone, we spent a further hour and a half listening to PlusNet trying to blame our equipment.  At no time did they acknowledge that it might possibly, with the greatest stretch of the imagination in leap years only, when the moon was in the ascendant and Halle's Comet was passing overhead, have anything to do with them - even though our router is supplied by Plusnet (Thompson), they checked the serial number to make sure and it is plugged directly into the BT Master Socket where the signal is split between broadband and telephone with an integrated filter.  In other words, there was no possibility of any interference from other equipment downstream.  Eventually and with a bad grace, they agreed to send out an engineer.  However, it would take 72 hours before they could even make an appointment ! 

That is just like our hairdresser, of course, like all hairdressers, theatres, trains, dentists and any other service company. !  When we telephone to make an appointment for a hair cut, the hairdresser always naturally says that they cannot even book an appointment for 72 hours, at which time they will gladly make one for some time in the future.  So you cannot blame Plusnet - they are just following "Best Practice" !

Needless to say we heard not a dickie bird for the next 72 hours.  Eventually there was a telephone call with my wife at which point they hid behind the Data Protection Act - of all things - as a defence  - and refused to make an appointment, even though they had asked her for the password which she gave them correctly.  What on earth this had to do with the Data Protection Act as there was no data to protect - no appointment had even been made - heaven only knows.  It was an outrageous abuse of the Act in question, and we are making a formal complaint to the Data Commissioner.  But is was all par for the course.

I then subsequently answered a call from Plusnet when I gave them an earful.  After much protestation, they agreed in very bad grace an appointment finally to send out an engineer from Openreach.  They had obviously concluded that it was all our fault and nothing to do with Plusnet.  They kept threatening that there would be a substantial charge.

When the Openreach engineer arrived, he could find absolutely nothing wrong - a better than average quality line and no noise, but try as he may, he could not make any connection  He was extremely pleasant, informative, professional and above all thorough.  Finally he returned for a second time to the exchange and called me to say that he could still find nothing wrong and was perplexed, but would now visit the roadside cabinet.

Half an hour later, we were back on line and we received another call from the engineer to explain what he had found.  Someone had disconnected our line in the cabinet from socket 402 - probably mistook our line for that of a new subscriber.  When he realised the mistake, he re-connected us to socket 403 which is the superfast broadband to which we do not subscribe.  That explains why everything appeared to be in order but there was no hand-shake because of course our subscription did not match the superfast broadband subscription.

The new engineer then re-connected us to 402 and after that everything worked.  This was a straight-forward matter of human error but amounts nevertheless at law to gross negligence.  Had PlusNet been more gracious in their dealings with us and managed the situation better, we would have been more sympathetic.  But due to their arrogance and the unacceptable delays in answering the telephone - more than an hour and a half for two telephone calls, followed by a further hour and a half while the agent sought advice, and two hours on Saturday morning with the Openreach engineer, followed by the rest of Saturday trying to synchronise my two routers (master and slave) because I had had to re-set them both to the default values, and could not find various settings in the router menus etc.to restore them to the previous set-up (I have along old house in the country and need two routers connected by Ethernet to get through the thick walls), not to mention five days without any broadband or all the stress of the situation, we are not prepared to let PlusNet get away with it.  We are therefore in the throes of issuing a writ for negligence in the County Court.

Too many ISPs take their customers for granted and treat them with disdain.  It is getting increasingly worse and unless consumers stand up to them it will get like France where all you get is the gallic shrug when things get wrong. It really is little better than that here in the UK these days, and if Plusnet genuinely score high on customer satisfaction (which I doubt), then I shudder to think what the others are like.  We all have a public duty to refuse to accept bad service even from PlusNet with whom I have been a loyal customer for fifteen years.

20 REPLIES
Gel
Pro
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Registered: 02-08-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

CodeBusters
Grafter
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Re: No broadband due to negligence

Your contract is with Plusnet so they are at fault.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-06-2010

Re: No broadband due to negligence

So, in summary, you had a fault, which was fixed in about the usual amount of time it takes to get Plusnet to get you an engineer.

Didn't it occur to you to backup the configuration of your routers, so that you could restore it later?

shermans
Rising Star
Posts: 1,052
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

Update

PlusNet have offered us £53 compensation to settle this claim.  They do admit that we "had been placed on the wrong circuit" but they are being legally incredibly naive to blame their sub-contractor for whom they are trying not to be responsible.  We have made it clear to them that under the law of agency, every first-year law student learns that a master is liable for the acts of his servant and that they cannot wriggle out of liability for Openreach's negligence.  We have therefore rejected their offer, and we will issue a writ for £500 compensation on 4th December unless the matter is resolved satisfactorily prior to that.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

Whether the compensation paid is £53 or the £500 the situation won't improve because the organisation that made the mistake won't pick up the bill. It needs ISPs to stand up to OpenReach and claim back the compensation from OpenReach (or BT Wholesale) they are forced to give out to their customers. As Plusnet are owned by BT I very much doubt they will make such waves! Sad

jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
shermans
Rising Star
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

Update.

Today I received formal notification that judgment has been awarded against Plusnet in favour of me in the sum of £535, which was my claim for £500 compensation plus the court fee.  This is no surprise to me because Plusnet did not have a leg to stand on.  It was no use blaming their sub-contractor because of course Plusnet has primary responsibility.

But that is not the point.  My beef was the way that I was treated by Plusnet, first waiting for hour after hour for the telephone to be answered, then being kept on hold repeated and finally trying to blame my equipment even when my router, supplied by Plusnet, was connected directly to the BT Master socket;  my equipment therefore could have nothing to do with it.  Then a week later, when my wife answered  Plusnet's request to make an appointment for Openreach to visit (as I was not at home), they asked her for the password which she gave correctly, and then they decided to hide behind the Data Protection Act and refused to make an appointment.  This was ridiculous as my wife actually pays the bill from her bank account and there was no data to protect.  If I were to telephone the train company to buy two railway tickets, one for my wife and one for me, the train company does not refuse to sell me the tickets due to Data Protection of my wife's travelling arrangements.  Making an appointment for Openreach to visit our house is no different, especially when the correct password was given !

I have been with Plusnet for nearly 20 years.  I hold no grudge against them.  If someone had said to me two years ago that I would one day take Plusnet to court, I would never have believed it.  But Plusnet's customer service has deteriorated so rapidly since then that someone had to make a stance just to bring it to the attention of senior management.  Two years ago, you did not sit on the telephone for an hour waiting for it to be answered.  Two years ago, you could raise on-line tickets and they would be dealt with quickly - today, they are completely ignored, if you can even find how to raise one, as Plusnet deliberately hides the process to stop them being used.  Two years ago the webmail service worked perfectly - it was only a fall-back as a customer service, but it worked.  Today it is a total disaster and just crashes.  Two years ago, Plusnet claimed to have the best customer service in the industry, and it was well deserved and justified.  Today, Plusnet claims the same thing but even Talk-Talk and certainly Virgin are far, far better.

My purpose in taking Plusnet to court was not to get money out of them, but just to try to draw attention to what is going on and to get improvements.  It is very noticeable that Plusnet have made no comment on this forum about my court case.  I sincerely hope they do now and that someone is taking serious note of what has happened.

I have absolutely no intention, after all these years, to change ISP.  I want to stay loyal to Plusnet - of course Plusnet may decide that I am a trouble maker and cancel my subscription, which they would be entitled to do.  But if they do, it would speak volumes about their customer service, which the Court has now found does not live up to their claims.

I hope that Plusnet and I can put this behind us and that customer service will go back to what it used to be - unquestionably the best in the industry.

Community Veteran
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Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

I admire your loyalty in sticking with Plusnet. As detailed in my Why I have left Plusnet post I decided the risk of Plusnet not dealing with issues efficiently if anything went wrong was just too high.

I hope the post detailing your experience encourages more who have experienced shoddy service to not be put off by Plusnet falsely claiming it was OpenReach's fault and therefore there's no compensation.

jelv (a.k.a Spoon Whittler)
   Why I have left Plusnet (warning: long post!)   
Broadband: Andrews & Arnold Home::1 (FTTC 80/20)
Line rental: Pulse 8 Home Line Rental (£13/month)
Mobile: iD mobile (£4/month)
Community Veteran
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Registered: 29-01-2009

Re: No broadband due to negligence

That's a long list of reasons and justifications about why you felt you were pushed far enough to pursue the court route.

But which part was the judgement legally given for? Subcontractor negligence? Or one of the other reasons?

Plusnet Customer
Using FTTC since 2011. Currently on 80/20 Unlimited Fibre Extra.
shermans
Rising Star
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

This was in the Small Claims Court where written judgments are not provided.  My claim which was based on all of the above succeeded but no particular element was highlighted.  The Small Claims Court procedure is very consumer friendly and easy.  Why more people do not go down that route when other attempts at resolution have failed beats me. There is no risk as each side has to bear its own legal costs, regardless of the outcome, except for the court fees (not substantial) which are paid by the loser.  Providing you represent yourself it is a low risk strategy.  It is not a daunting task at all, particularly if it goes to Court as the judge has to simplify the procedure, and if the Defendant is legally represented, then their barrister / solicitor is required to assist you.

If more people stood up for their rights, Plusnet would have to address their unacceptable level of customer service.

shermans
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Registered: 07-09-2007

Re: No broadband due to negligence

jelv

I have just read your original post and give you full marks for spelling out so clearly the fair reasons for leaving Plusnet.  You and I probably joined Plusnet around the same time, when dial-up was the latest technology.

My fear is that as there is so little to choose between BT and Plusnet today in terms of customer satisfaction, BT are likely soon to disband Plusnet and fully untegrate them into BT.  There is no logical reason to keep two separate businesses running separate operations.  BT bought Plusnet at a premium of about ten times what the market price per customer was at that time, in order that BT could learn from what Plusnet were then doing to attract so much customer loyalty - remember, Plusnet did not market themselves and their business model was entirely based around customer referrals; in other words, if Plusnet did not maintain its position at the top of the ratings, they automatically lost market share as referrals dropped away.  It worked for the customer and it worked for Plusnet - what they call a win/win.

But now that model has been abandoned and there is nothing to differentiate BT from Plusnet, it is only a matter of time before BT pulls the plug, unless Plusnet pulls its socks up, that is.

I think that I should probably review what I said about not changing ISP.  If Plusnet is absorbed by BT, there would be nothing to keep me.  Perhaps I should jump before I am pushed.

Andrue
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Re: No broadband due to negligence

I'm surprised that you got compensation but well done. It's nice to see a CP getting a kicking in court especially one like PN which has been letting down so many of its customers for so long. I wonder if the compensation award was a way of punishing PN for claiming they weren't responsible for the acts of their suppliers?

I've looked at moving away a few times now but PN are just too competitive on price and (for me at least) the service has been excellent. As long as I never have to deal with their shambolic customer service (forum staff largely excluded) I'm fine.

You might want to send a note to The Register to increase the public shaming Smiley

Community Veteran
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Re: No broadband due to negligence

Did this ever go to court (i.e. was there a hearing)?

The fact that you've been awarded a judgment of £535, suggests not as there is no listing/hearing fee added here. Also the time scales from when you appear to issue the claim to receiving judgment seem too short, suggesting either Plusnet accepted the claim or failed to respond to the claim and you requested judgement.

22over7
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Re: No broadband due to negligence

This is precisely the issue: it does not matter if if one of the BT group caused the problem, even if it is obviously their fault. We, the plebs, have no redress against them. We can only complain about the people who we contracted to supply the service.  It follows that if it it is *their* supplier at fault, they must be able to get on their case in a serious way.

 

The BT group (of which Plusnet is now a part, no?) seems to be scientifically designed to be a pass-the-parcel game.  It is disgusting.

@shermans has my admiration for his/her tenacity and sheer logic in pressing his/her case.  I very much hope this victory over obfuscation gets widely publicised. This does not mean that I am happy Plusnet pays the 535 quid. It means BT's rotten game gets exposed for what it is.

deathtrap
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Re: No broadband due to negligence

You are optimistic I'll say that, Having had good support from at least one ISP prior to my 2yr stint with PN In that time their support was lacking So when you say that they were best in the industry that must have been a very long time ago  at least more than 9yrs ago,

Would i return to PN  not if i wanted reliability and wanted faults fixing quickly, or even  faults being handled properly something that they have repeatedly failed to do