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Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

audigex
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Registered: ‎16-07-2021

Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

During a conversation with Plusnet support about another issue, I found a customer service/tech support agent who was talking complete nonsense about BT's Hotspot product, to the point that they were confusing the hell out of me, as someone who actually knows the product they were talking about. Considering I'm an IT professional who deals with networking day in day out, I can only imagine how much confusion they must cause non-technical folk who don't have that frame of reference!

For background: Plusnet had managed to not inform my mother in law that the fibre she had ordered wasn't available, so no router turned up but we made no other provision because as far as we were aware her Plusnet would be live from today.

During the conversation, I asked Plusnet what we were meant to do in the meantime. The customer service agent suggested that we sign up for a BT plan for a month. Yes, really.

I pointed out that this would further delay getting my MIL back online, because we'd have to wait for a new MiFi router to arrive. At which point the CS agent told me that *we didn't need one*, and could *just connect to the BT WiFi*. I queried what device (router etc) would be providing the WiFi, and I [-Censored-] you not she told me that "it would just be there in my phone's WiFi list".

After a few minutes I worked out that she was talking about the BT-Fon network, which essentially uses other BT customers' connections to provide the hotspot. I pointed out to her that we don't live near a public hotspot and aren't in range of any neighbours' routers who have this service, yet she absolutely insisted that I just needed to sign up and connect. After spending another 5 minutes trying to explain that this made no sense, she hung up.

Fortunately I understood enough about the situation not to waste £40 signing up for a month of a service we can't actually use, which was the solution suggested by your agent - but someone with less knowledge of how WiFi works than me could easily have signed up to BT Hotspot and then been left out of pocket or trying to chase a refund for a service they can't actually make use of.

I don't know what kind of training you're offering your CS agents, Plusnet, but good god the quality of your customer service has absolutely plummeted over the last 6-7 years that I've been a customer, and there's no way you should be suggesting that kind of service unless your providers actually understand what they're talking about.

When I first joined Plusnet, contacting CS seemed to put me through to someone knowledgeable and able to resolve problems. Today I spent nearly 2 hours talking to 4/5 people, not one of which was any use whatsoever, and none of which seemed to have any authority to do anything. But seriously, suggesting BT Fon as a general solution to a lack of connectivity, who the hell is running your training courses?

14 REPLIES 14
Mav
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

Moderator's note(s):

Thread moved from Everything Else to Plusnet Feedback.

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Baldrick1
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

@audigex 

It is interesting to look at the skills required to apply for a job as a ‘Customer Service Advisor’ along with the salary and shift hours. No technical background is required. See https://www.plus.net/careers/jobs/sheffield/customer-solutions-advisor/

I’m sure that these agents have a load of hassle to contend from customers having had to wait to get through. I suspect that the main trouble is that they have not been trained to admit that they don’t know the answer to queries and do not have sufficient (or any) skilled back up to whom they can transfer the problem.

It can’t be an easy job dealing with someone with a technical background and far more knowledge then they is covered or can be absorbed from in house training. I suspect that when responding to such a person it isn’t hard for an advisor to find them self digging a big hole with no way out.

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Mustrum
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

I suspect there is more to it than seems, I wonder if there is a degree of deflecting being attempted!

What were the circumstances that lead to MIL not having broadband?

Cancelled previous supplier perhaps? Not looked to see what services were available?

Or ......?

Gandalf
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

Thanks for your post @audigex and welcome to our Community Forums.

I'm really sorry to read about the conversation you've had with an adviser. 

Coming from somebody who's been through Plusnet's training and had the opportunity (and pleasure) to coach advisers within the last 7 years, I can say that I'm confident this would be a knowledge gap rather than a training issue. 

Could you drop me a private message with the account username, and the date/time of the call or the adviser's name you had spoken to? I'd love to listen to the call and I'll make sure feedback's passed on where appropriate.

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audigex
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

@Mustrum None of those things, and in all honesty there's no deflection going on here.

The circumstances that led to MIL not having broadband are

1. Placed an order with Plusnet for Fibre unlimited. Just a bog standard phone/broadband switch, exactly what we all do every few years

2. Plusnet told MIL her service would activate on the 14th, set up the direct debit etc

3. The 14th came around, no router turned up

4. We phoned Plusnet, they told us that there was no fibre "slot" (provisioning at the cabinet/exchange, I'm not sure which - the street has certainly had FTTC for years) available and that they had cancelled the order. Plusnet claim to have had a "system error" which has meant MIL was not notified about the problem, but there were certainly no texts, emails, or letters regarding the cancellation. The last email we had was Plusnet setting up the Direct Debit mandate, and the last text was along the lines of "Your service will be activated on the 14th, welcome to Plusnet" or something to that effect

Obviously at this point Sky had already cancelled her account there as part of the switch

MIL's phone number has now been irretrievably lost, and Plusnet can't install (regular copper) broadband (Which will have a "guaranteed speed" of 2Mbps...) for another 2 weeks. Neither of these things were mentioned by any of the 5 advisors yesterday

I used to think TalkTalk's CS was bad, but honestly this is the most pathetic I've ever seen. I used to recommend Plusnet to everyone, and being the "Computer guy", they usually take my advice, but after this I very much doubt I'll even renew my own service again.

Mustrum
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

@audigex  thanks for the further input, and I see @Gandalf  has popped up here, so you are now at least in good hands - I hope you have passed on the info he requested. He will I am sure fill in the gaps to questions you have raised.

The first I would be asking is why did Sky cancel when PN found out there was no available ports - your MIL's order should have been rejected, not allowed to continue to fail.

 

audigex
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

That's something I'm going to have to clarify with PN and Sky - but considering that PN didn't make any attempt to inform us, my suspicion lies firmly with PN not informing Sky until proven otherwise.

Maybe Sky have some blame here too, if they were informed that the order had failed, but on the balance of probability here, my suspicion is currently resting firmly on PN's shoulders

Baldrick1
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

@audigex 

Obviously at this point Sky had already cancelled her account there as part of the switch

You say obviously but is this because MIL cancelled the the Sky account rather than leave it to Plusnet to organise the switch?

MIL's phone number has now been irretrievably lost, 

Had MIL requested and had confirnation in her welcome email that the number could be transferred before all this happened? I have read reports of Sky being reluctant to release numbers that they consider to be 'theirs'.

I believe that one reason for the failure to commision a new FTTC line is if the Openreach system reports that there is  available capacity in the local cabinet but when the technician goes to commission the service they find that there is a faulty line card.

However, I would have thought that Plusnet would be able to progress the activation of the phone line and organise the recovery of the phone number in less than two weeks, maybe a Plusnet staffer ( @Gandalf ?)  will pick this up for you.

Looking at the whole sorry saga your major complaint should concentrate on the failure to communicate Openreach's failure to transfer the service to MIL and possibly the loss of the phone number, rather than your original post.

 

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audigex
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

@Baldrick1 Yeah that was a big part of what I found yesterday - even when the advisors were unable to help, they clearly had no real ability to pass things "up the chain" to someone with more authority or knowledge

I normally try not to cause too much trouble for CS advisors - at the end of the day they're not very well paid and it's not their fault directly, I'm usually frustrated with the company not with them. But in this case, when I've explained to the advisor that that's not how it works, to keep insisting was absolutely ridiculous. As I said in my original post, it was confusing enough to me, someone with enough knowledge to know that what she was suggesting was impossible - if my MIL had been on the phone, she wouldn't have had a clue and could easily have wasted time and money on it.

I have no problem with her being confused about it - it happens, sometimes people get the wrong end of the stick and maybe she's just never lived somewhere there wasn't a BT Hotspot nearby, but it needs resolving before she sends some other poor sap off to spend £40 on a hotspot plan they can't use

audigex
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

@Baldrick1 Looks like we've got two halves of a conversation going on here at once


But yeah, we're getting a little sidetracked now by the original "main" complaint (which I'll be pursuing more directly)

The point of this post was mostly intended to be feedback about the CS advisor's nonsensical suggestions and claims regarding BT Hotspot, and trying to avoid that being repeated for other, less knowledgeable customers.

We'll be putting in more formal complains with Plusnet, and potentially Openreach and Sky depending on the circumstances, relating to the failures around MIL's broadband switch itself - right now we're mostly focused on actually getting her some broadband sorted

Baldrick1
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon


@audigex wrote:

it needs resolving before she sends some other poor sap off to spend £40 on a hotspot plan they can't use


Seeing that this service is provided by another part of BT you would hope that the access to this service would be either provided free of charge or at least refunded under the normal Plusnet guise of a 'goodwill gesture'. No help to MIL I accept, but it could help others who have a similar experience.

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Gandalf
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

Thanks for your private message @audigex 

Really sorry firstly for the long delay (Today's been incredibly busy for me) 

I've listened to the call and I've arranged for feedback to be passed on. 

@audigex wrote:

1. Placed an order with Plusnet for Fibre unlimited. Just a bog standard phone/broadband switch, exactly what we all do every few years

2. Plusnet told MIL her service would activate on the 14th, set up the direct debit etc

3. The 14th came around, no router turned up

4. We phoned Plusnet, they told us that there was no fibre "slot" (provisioning at the cabinet/exchange, I'm not sure which - the street has certainly had FTTC for years) available and that they had cancelled the order. Plusnet claim to have had a "system error" which has meant MIL was not notified about the problem, but there were certainly no texts, emails, or letters regarding the cancellation. The last email we had was Plusnet setting up the Direct Debit mandate, and the last text was along the lines of "Your service will be activated on the 14th, welcome to Plusnet" or something to that effect

Obviously at this point Sky had already cancelled her account there as part of the switch

I've done some digging into this. 

I can see we passed the order onto our suppliers on the 30/06/21 and we never received a confirmed completion date, then the order rejected on the 01/07/21 due to the error "The order has been rejected or cancelled as the linked Broadband order failed". I recognise there was absolutely no proactive communication from us about this.

This is puzzling because there were 13 days between the order rejecting and the line ceasing with the previous provider where there was no open order from us, so the line shouldn't have ceased. I've checked Openreach's systems and our order fully cancelled by 06/07/21, which suggests the previous provider ceased the line anyway on the expected date.

However this could very well be due to a system error somewhere between the supplier systems and their systems. It'd be difficult to definitively say, because we can't see every supplier system, but I've built up a fair bit of knowledge over the years of how their systems work from discussing complex issues with various teams within suppliers in the past. 

Looking at the rejection itself, unfortunately as the account's been cancelled, the broadband order supplier reference (frustratingly) isn't visible anymore in our own systems, so I can't confirm the exact reason, but based on the notes from other advisers, the order was rejected as fibre wasn't available. 

However, I've put the address into BT's availability checker Here and fibre (VDSL) is definitely showing as available. 

MIL's phone number has now been irretrievably lost

Fortunately, not lost. The rangeholder of the number is BT. A rangeholder is basically whoever owns a number, it's a provider whose network a number was first born. If you type the full number in the first box Here and click Lookup Number, you'll see the Operator, which is the same as a rangeholder. Just a different terminology.

As the number was on a different network to BT previously, it's in what's known as a 14 day quarantine period (sometimes called a cooling off period). It's basically a period of time the current provider can take to get the number back before it goes to the rangeholder in an available state for any provider who uses the BT network to pick up.

I appreciate you've probably lost confidence in us but if you'd want to sign your mother in law up for phone and broadband again with us, I'll be happy to take personal ownership of the order moving forward.

The good news about continuing on with us is that based on our order failing which very likely caused the line to cease, I can ask Openreach to pull out all the stops to put things right. This includes raising what's known as a ceased in error request to try to get the number back quicker than waiting the 14 days out, as well as getting a new order expedited to an engineer as soon as possible rather than waiting for standard lead times. 

I'll also be happy to investigate further the issue with providing fibre, I'd need an open order though but if there's an issue again I can get on this straight away and raise it to the right team within Openreach to take a look at.

Finally, there's also the matter of goodwill I'll be happy to discuss once they're up and running, which may be a credit towards their next bills or a cheque refund of some description.

If you'd like to go ahead, feel free to drop me another private message with the new username once resigned up.

Once again I do sincerely apologise though for the bad experience you and they've had and if you decide to go with another provider, I'd like to wish you all the best and hope they can get things back up for your mother in law quickly.

If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button.
From 31st October 2022, I'll no longer have a regular presence here as I'm moving on to a new role within Plusnet.

 Anoush Mortazavi
 Plusnet Help Team
audigex
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

Quite frankly if we’d had this kind of response in the first instance, we wouldn’t have wasted days trying to resolve things and hours on the phone…if only the rest of your advisors were as capable

I’ve seen that you’ve tried to call my MIL today, but you’ve used the “lost” number tied to this account so it’s unavailable

I’ve PM’d you a number we can be contacted on, if you’re able to give us a call on that instead?

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Gandalf
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Re: Customer Service agents talking utter [-Censored-]s about BT Hotspot/BT Fon

Thanks for getting back to me @audigex 

No problem, I actually tried to call the mobile not the landline. If there's a problem with the mobile, it'd be unrelated to the issue. I've seen your PM btw and I'll ring as soon as I can. 

If this post resolved your issue please click the 'This fixed my problem' button.
From 31st October 2022, I'll no longer have a regular presence here as I'm moving on to a new role within Plusnet.

 Anoush Mortazavi
 Plusnet Help Team