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Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

Ian_Middleton
Hooked
Posts: 5
Thanks: 2
Registered: 08-03-2017

Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

Bear with me on this.  It's a long post, but it's been a long journey and it's not over yet.  I've kept a detailed diary of events so far since I had the misfortune to take Plusnet up on their very attractive SIM only deal.  I thought it might be valuable information for anyone else who's considering the same.  I'm a business journalist so I'll also be forwarding this to a number of technology magazines and probably setting up a webpage Facebook group to try to collate similar experiences to mine. Maybe together we can drag this dog and pony show into some semblance of the kind of customer service they claim to provide in their adverts.

Plusnet – We'll Do You Over – A Tale of Two Fingers - The story so far

 

16th Feb

I order my SIM by phone as the website refuses to work.  I also arrange the port and give the PAC code at the same time.

I finally get the website working and order a SIM for my partner although I don’t ask for a port at this stage for her, just in case the stories of porting problems I've read about are true.

17th Feb

2 SIMs arrive from Plusnet.  Just 'pop them in' says the cheery pretend northern chap on the envelope.  I put mine in but it's not yet been activated.

Saturday 18th Feb

Email confirmation arrives that the SIMs were active so I install mine again and it works fine both on voice and 4G. So far so good.

Monday 20th Feb

My original O2 Sim goes offline in the morning.  I am encouraged.

I gave it half a day and checked to see which number was working on the new PlusNet SIM.  It is still the PlusNet number.  I am less encouraged.

Tuesday 21st Feb

No change and still no port.

Weds 22nd Feb

Still no switchover so call PlusNet to be told that it can take up to 2 working days and that they didn't include Friday 17th (which was when they recorded the port as being requested).  I pointed out that 2 days would have been up on Tuesday, they said to give it until Midnight anyway.  I also point out that their website promises that ports will take a maximum of 24 hours.  I'm told that this is just what they say on the website, but in reality it's usually 48 hours at best but they don't like to advertise that.

Thursday 23rd Feb

The number appears to have finally ported (so that actually took 6 working days).  But in the afternoon we have a power outage due to storm Doris so all our Wi-Fi and internet goes off.  Not to worry I think, as I have 2Gb of data available on my new PlusNet account.  I then notice that I have no data connection at all on my phone.

Initially I assume that the tower may have been affected by the storm but check my partner's phone which is exactly the same model as mine and now has the new PlusNet SIM, and she has 4G.  I have nothing at all except a voice signal.

Called PlusNet and they said it was a glitch and to give it until midnight (a familiar theme)

I'll point out at this juncture that I had by now requested that my partner's number should port as mine seemed to have worked (I hadn't realised that the data wasn't working at that point).  This was done via their text request service, but so far nothing seemed to have happened.  This turned out to be a blessing as at least she still had a data connection on her phone.  I later have to request the port again by phone as their text system hadn't registered the request (even though all the correct text responses had been sent).  From the reaction of the person I spoke to about this, it didn't seem like this was the first time it had happened.

Friday 24th Feb

Still had no data and called again.  This time I was told to go through the processes of switching off the phone and removing the SIM (which I'd done several times already to check my phone against my partner's to make sure the problem wasn't with my phone – which it wasn't).  I was also told to set up a new APN with the PlusNet details (or EE's) even though the 4G had worked fine before the port on the default APN.  I do this and it makes no difference.

Finally I was asked to report back with details of 3 websites I'd tried to reach over a 6 hour period.  I pointed out that this was a charade as I had no data signal anyway and every time I went on the internet I just got a 'server unavailable' response.  But apparently they couldn’t escalate things without me doing this.  So I played along.

I called back in the afternoon with these details and was told it would be escalated as their system showed that the port was still in progress.  But after some discussion it was also decided to send me out a new SIM to see if that would solve the problem.  Again I couldn’t see how this would work but went along with it after I was told I could ring on Saturday to get the new SIM activated and the transfer would be almost instantaneous and this would probably fix everything.  Hurrah!

Saturday 25th Feb

TWO new SIMs arrive!  No idea why I had 2  (and neither had PlusNet)

I called to have one of them activated and the person I spoke to entered the details and then said they couldn’t activate the SIM because their system showed that a port on my old SIM was still in progress.  We tried the other new SIM and got the same response.

I was then told that they would escalate the matter but that it would take up to a further 5 working days to deal with and this wouldn’t start until first thing on Monday morning.  Wasn't happy but went along with it again and was assured that it would be escalated first thing on Monday.

Monday 27th Feb

I called around noon to ask how things were going.  Apparently the matter hadn’t been escalated to operations as they wanted me to give them the details about which websites I couldn’t reach again (although by that point no one had bothered to call me to ask for any of this).  I pointed out that this information had already been provided and they said they had no record of it.

After a full and frank exchange of views they said they'd have to pull the recording of the call to see what had happened.  Seemed like they were calling me a liar.

I offered to give them the details again but they said I shouldn't have given the details on Friday anyway as they only accept them Monday to Thursday!  Why is anyone's guess.  Probably something to do with sunspots or the cycle of the moon!  No one seemed to know.  It was just 'the rules'.

I then insisted on speaking to a manager as all I was getting from the front line staff was the same script.  This took considerable further pressure from me and on at least 4 occasions the operator had to go off the line only to be sent back again.

At one point during the conversation the person I was speaking to - [CSA Removed] – told me "I deal with split ports all the time".  He meant this to be re-assuring but I take it as confirmation that this is an endemic problem within PlusNet, contrary to other claims that they rarely have problems.

Finally on the 5th attempt [CSA Removed] manages to get [CSA Removed] (centre manager) to speak to me and he agrees to escalate it to operations without me making up some more websites that I couldn't reach by virtue of having no connection anyway!

At this point I also started Tweeting about Plusnet and had some response from their social media team.  I had a DM conversation with someone called Ashleigh who really just went over the same ground

Tuesday 28th Feb

Still with no response.  I DM'd Ashleigh again and asked for an update.  He/she said they couldn’t talk to me without going through security questions.  I pointed out that the answer to all the questions (name address etc) were still visible on the thread from the previous day.  Also that if they were going to ask me for more characters from my password, anyone peeking in on the thread would be able to piece together the full word.  Consequently I refused to give any further security info and so they refused to deal with the matter, although we did have some general discussion afterwards.

I asked for a call back from [CSA Removed]

About 30 minutes later we seemed to have some progress.  I had a text and an email saying that the port was complete.  I checked my phone and I had data back on.  I gave a brief cheer until I noticed that I only H and H+.  I thought this was odd as I previously had a good 4G connection so checked against my partner's phone which had the PlusNet SIM and she had a 4G signal.

Contacted support again and asked to speak to [CSA Removed].  He was in meetings all day but the operator said he would get it escalated again but that it would take up to 5 more days.

Weds 1st March

I had a call back from [CSA Removed] who really offered nothing more.  I asked him to at least contact the operations dept and try to push things forward and he said it wouldn’t make any difference.  In desperation I asked him to at least find out what had been going on and why this problem was persisting.  He said he could ask but couldn't guarantee a response.  He said he didn't want to 'lie' to me that he could get a response which I thought was a very odd response.  I asked if the operations team were in some sort of bunker where they refuse to accept calls.  Or maybe they just speak another language.  I think it was more likely that they were all busy trying to decide the difference between their [-Censored-] and their elbows.

In the afternoon had another call back from Plusnet with an update (as promised by [CSA Removed]) although the update is that there is no update.  Their operations department are trying to establish why I'm not getting a 4G signal and they blame the delayed port on files not being received from O2.  There was no more information on why my data signal was downgraded.  Apparently the investigation into this is open ended.  There is no timescale on how long it will take to resolve!  Not even the usual 5 days.  It could in fact take forever.

My partner's phone then entered porting limbo.  I found out during some of the above discussions that apparently the text request to port her number hadn't gone through for reasons they were unable to explain.  So they manually started the port on Monday.  As with mine her old O2 number went off on Monday afternoon, but the number still hasn’t been ported to her new SIM.  This is now day 3 for her and I fully expect the next stage of the process will be to discover that they've split her port as well and this whole bloody mess will start all over again!

I also discussed this with the person who called me with this afternoon's update and he said that her number was on their 'delayed ports' list.  Again no more information than that and no explanation as to what the problem is.

Thursday 2nd March

It's now two weeks since I had the misfortune to order my Sims from PlusNet.  I still only have an H or and H+ data connection and so far today (12pm) I've had no further feedback from anyone at PlusNet.

Just checked my partner's phone and the number has finally ported.  That took a week from the first order via text.  And lo and behold!  She also has no data at all now.  So claims from PlusNet that this is all an isolated case seems to be about as truthful as their claims to have award winning customer service.

Thursday afternoon I send this diary to the CEOs of Plusnet and Plusnet Mobile as well as to a friend who deals with such issues professionally.  I get a fairly quick response from Andy Baker (Plusnet CEO) with a promise of a call from someone who will take ownership of the problem.

I also call Plusnet on behalf of my partner and log three examples of websites she can't reach (due to having no data connection whatsoever) so that they can take the matter up with their network team/

Later that afternoon I get a call from [CSA Removed] who tells me he'll raise it as a complaint and will get it sorted for me.  His first suggestion is to try to activate one of the new SIMs I have been sent to see if this will fix things.  This takes until later that evening to happen and I eagerly swap them over in the hope of a miracle.  But, as I expected it makes no difference.

Friday 3rd March

I miss a call from [CSA Removed] at 2pm and we finally talk again at 4pm.  It appears that even though he got my email at 1pm when he came into the office he's done nothing at all to further the issue.  He now reverts to the usual mantra that they need so many examples of access to websites before they can escalate matter.  It's also apparent that, contrary to what I'd been promised last Saturday, the problem had not been escalated to the network team first thing on Monday.  In fact nothing at all had been done all week!  I finally agree to collect examples from both my and my partner's phone over the weekend and email these to [CSA Removed].

The one high point of the day is that my partner's phone gets data access, but as with my phone it's only h or H+, not 4G.

Saturday 4th March

No change on either phone

Sunday 5th March

I start to collect access data from both phones and notice that my partner's phone now has 4G access. Hallelujah!  My phone is still on H and H+ though so I collect three examples during the afternoon as instructed and email these to David that evening.

Monday 6th March

I get a phone call from [CSA Removed] saying it's been escalated (finally) and that he's waiting for a response from the network team if they find a network issue.  The word 'if' rather worries me.

That evening, just out of interest, I swap the SIMs between my and my partner's phone to prove that it's not an equipment or location issue.  As I expected the problems were swapped with the SIM.  With my SIM in my partner's phone she only gets H or H+.  With her SIM in my phone I get 4G.  I also test this against a network checker and a speed tester app.  The SIM with 4G is showing a true LTE connection and the data rate is around twice that of the H+ SIM.  There's no doubt that my SIM is connecting at a slower speed.

Tuesday 7th March

Another call from [CSA Removed], and as I feared it's a cop out.  The Network team are claiming that my H+ connection is "designated" as 4G (which is rather stretching a point) and so they're unable to do anything more.  I think the implication is that it's something to do with my phone.  I explain about the tests I've done and even send [CSA Removed] screen shots of the results showing that the problem follows the SIM (see below).  I also send him links from network experts explaining the difference between an HSPA (H+) connection and an LTE (true 4G) connection.  Finally I point out that I had a perfectly fine 4G connection on the Plusnet SIM before they ported the number.  None of this seems to make a dent.

I then email all this info to both CEOs again and my friend who forwards the details to Ofcom and the CEO of BT (who own Plusnet).  As yet (Weds morning) I've had no response from anyone other than a further reply from [CSA Removed] reiterating his previous points (which I only got after I chased him). I'm completely at a loss to know what to do now.  The options seem to be to ditch Plusnet and go elsewhere or cancel the contract and take out another Plusnet SIM and accept that I'm going to have to lose my original mobile number, one that I've had for over 20 years. 

As someone who uses mobile data a lot when I'm out and about, I simply can't accept a degraded signal.  It's also galling that Plusnet are selling these packages saying they provide 4G when their network team seems happy to try to fob people off with a lower grade service.  It's also apparent that no one at Plusnet has the foggiest idea about the differences between these protocols.

I'm also not the sort of person to let something like this drop (you may have noticed) so I'm staying on the horse and hoping that someone will finally deal with me professionally.

The saga continues…

Plusnet – We'll do you over!

Moderator's note by Mike (Mav): CSA names removed as per Forum rules.

8 REPLIES
Anonymous
N/A

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

Hi @Ian_Middleton

Thanks for getting in touch and bringing this to our attention. We certainly welcome all feedback and I'm extremely sorry to hear the distress this has caused you; I can assure you it's not something we intend. Sadly we're not able to discuss account specific information publicly due to security purposes, but I believe you're currently with our Complaints Team and I can promise they'll remain in contact with you until a solution has been found. 

 

We wish for all customers to receive a positive experience, so I sincerely hope we're able to turn this around, Ian. -Ashleigh

Ian_Middleton
Hooked
Posts: 5
Thanks: 2
Registered: 08-03-2017

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

Thanks Ashleigh

As you know we've already discussed this on social media a couple of weeks ago.  Sadly we're not much further forward and from what I could understand from the complaints handler there was nothing more that he could do.  Your network team are sticking to this rather disingenuous claim that H+ is a classification of 4G and that's all they're prepared to do.  If that is the case I'm effectively being told to put up with an H+ connection with an obviously degraded service (compared to my partner's Plusnet SIM) which I don't think is acceptable.

I hope you're right and that these is scope to improve on that scenario.  It's very frustrating to see that you can provide this service to me if you have the will and the wit to do so.  Unfortunately I have to wait until tomorrow to find out as the complaints handler is not in the office today.  If he maintains the line that H+ is the best I'm going to get I don't know where we go from there.

KateOHigginson
Newbie
Posts: 1
Registered: 14-03-2017

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

I could not have put this better myself. I was actually incredulous following my first contact with the customer service team regarding the same experience as yourself (and on further research it would seem the majority of customers who have purchased a sim from this so called service provider) and now a week later as the shambolic situation continues I am utterly stunned that I can't communicate with anyone in this communications company that is a decision maker and can achieve results. As you mentioned the Operations Team appear to work in silo from the rest of the company and nobody appears to be able to penetrate their lair where they continue to fumble around with the alleged plusnet mobile service - I am not convinced it actually exists at this stage - unaccountable to anybody.

I have been repeatedly humiliated in my attempts to find out what is happening with my mobile number.

I have been without a mobile number, network, service, since 10th March 2017 and nobody at Plusnet seems to think that this is unacceptable. Nobody at Plusnet will take responsibility for making me mobile-less, unable to communicate with family and friends, missing appointments, lost opportunities and generally being cut off from my support network.

 

There is a sense of oppressive practice in this situation as Plusnet have taken control of my mobile information and are refusing to rectify the situation and/or return it to me so that i can achieve a mobile service with an alternative service provider who will do what they say they will do. 

This kind of oppressive discriminatory practice is intolerable. This lack of accountability is remiss and irresponsible.

Several times I have expressed my dissatisfaction with the service I have received or rather not received. Several times the reply has been disinterested, incompetent, and still there is no sign of progress. I have clearly explained that I have no confidence in Plusnet as a service provider and that I wish to cancel my initial request to have a service provided by Plusnet. I have clearly requested for my number to be returned to me with a PAC - despite the fact that I have still not achieved a service with Plusnet so the temporary number and my original number are...who knows. 

What a shambles.

Colin_Maybe
Pro
Posts: 397
Thanks: 79
Fixes: 8
Registered: 17-12-2016

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

"and on further research it would seem the majority of customers who have purchased a sim from this so called service provider"

 

Absolute nonsense, and the rest of your post is just self-entitled waffle.

Ian_Middleton
Hooked
Posts: 5
Thanks: 2
Registered: 08-03-2017

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

If by 'self entitled' you mean she feels she was entitled to a decent service then you're right.  If you think that's waffle I assume you'd be happy to be treated in the way she was and I have been.

Ian_Middleton
Hooked
Posts: 5
Thanks: 2
Registered: 08-03-2017

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

By way of an update I now have my 4G service reinstated.  It took their operations manager to get to the bottom of what had happened and it finally transpired that the problem was down to something called the MVNE (mobile virtual network enabler) that Plusnet use to provision the services they offer (data, roaming, voicemail etc.)   4G simply hadn't been provisioned on my profile.

This was something that I repeatedly suggested to all the various people I spoke to at their customer services centre only to be told that it couldn't be as simple as that.  Instead they preferred to put me through more and more inconvenience and fob me off with claims that an H+ service was actually the same as 4G

Happily there is someone at Plusnet Mobile who does actually understand how their systems work and was finally able to get the service I had signed up to established.  But he is a rarity in this organisation and it takes a lot of effort and time to get to him.  In the end the whole process for me took 3 weeks from beginning to end.

I'm quite happy with the service now and hopefully I'll continue to stay that way, but I'd really advise against anyone taking out a contract with Plusnet Mobile if they intend to port their number. 

It's apparent that their front-line team, whilst being well meaning, are totally inept and very poorly trained.  Even the complaints handler that I was referred to after I got the CEO involved had no real knowledge about the differences between data services, he simply parroted to me what he'd been told by their operations team.  In turn, this was a team that seemed to have a complete lack of technical understanding of the different data profiles available.

I am in the process of discussing compensation with them now, but considering the hours and hours I spent on the phone, writing emails and communicating through other channels, simply to get to someone who took the problem seriously, I doubt we'll ever agree on anything approaching the personal cost and effort I had to expend. 

I'm also rather saddened that I had to take such an aggressive stance with so many of the front-line workers just to get to someone who could properly deal with the issue.  I don't enjoy berating people on the phone, but in some cases there's no alternative.  I don't doubt some of the recorded conversations I was involved in will feature in future training seminars on how to handle an irate customer.

I just hope that they learn from this experience and apply better training to their staff and, above all, instil a more responsive customer service ethos into their staff.  As we all know, Plusnet is actually a division of BT who have a well deserved reputation of appalling customer service.  It's clear that the Plusnet claims about good service were an attempt by them to distance themselves from this. 

It just goes to show that it takes more than a logo and some clever marketing to offer a genuinely positive customer experience if the infrastructure, training and communication skills just aren't there in the first place.

If anyone needs more advice or input on this you can Google my name along with Retail Week Magazine and find my contact details.  I'm happy to pass on any knowledge I've gained during my experience that might help others.

chocolatefish
Newbie
Posts: 1
Registered: 21-03-2017

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

I'm having similar problems. Told something different every time I ring. Been without my number and without mobile data since Friday 17th March. It's not that easy to 'tell family and friends your temporary number' - what about the other people needing to contact me like my health provider who I am waiting for a call from? In no way does my experience live up to what is promised on their website... I did not even get the promised text telling me there was a problem with porting my number, so was unaware that I was not on my old number for a while.

I'm furious.

Ian_Middleton
Hooked
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Registered: 08-03-2017

Re: Porting problems and degraded data connections. Incompetence, disinterest and shoddy service.

Sorry to hear this is still going on.  I'd suggest emailing the CEO as this seems to be the only way to get the customer services department to lift their heads off the desk.  If I put his name here they'll censor it so just Google it.  His email address is fairly widely circulated by others in a similar situation.  Or you can find me on Twitter (@IanMiddletonX) and I'll pass it on.