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Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

A month or so ago a leaflet dropped through my door claiming Plusnet fibreoptic was available in my area. As my otherwise excellent provider Talk Talk did not offer this I took up the offer. More fool me. The engineer who was supposed to turn up on 23rd June did not show, My phone was still converted remotely to Plusnet with no fibreoptic and no broadband and I was left without the internet. No warning was sent that the engineer was not going to turn up - I had to ring to find out what was happening, Plusnet say in its residential FAQ (and they assured me several times by phone) that there will be no internet disconnection. When I rang to find out where my internet was, the earliest they said they could connect me was after 7 days of no internet and then only to broadband - fresh tests would have to be done before I was eligible for fibreoptic. When I remonstrated with Mr Idontgiveoutmysurname in customer "support" and stated that I could not work because I could not access email etc. I was told that I should not be doing this kind of thing on a residential account anyway - I received a most contrary opinion after talking to Plusnet's business sales and residential services sales. The whole experience has been a complete disaster. I am still without the internet. It is astonishing that this operation is part of BT, who should spend less money on their patronising advertisements and more in recruiting and training managers and staff in their subsidiaries so that some basic level of competence can be attained. I am returning to Talk Talk and am willing to put up with the 2 week wait, and glad to waive the monthly reduction for the first two months that Plusnet have offered to mitigate this disaster that has left me travelling 30 miles a day to work off my parents' dining room table. The whole experience has left me angry and inconvenienced and sorry that I ever responded to that leaflet.
112 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,557
Thanks: 587
Fixes: 1
Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

My livelihood also depends in part on an internet connection. For that reason I use two business quality ADSL links, from different suppliers, configured in a resilient fashion so that if one link is out the other is available. Most businesses who make use of the Internet will have alternate links. I've been specifying business communications for over 25 years now. One thing that you learn very quickly learn is that outages and missed delivery dates occur. It's not pleasant but it is a fact of life. I've had this happen even when the expenditure is hundreds of thousands of pounds.
PlusNet configure their procedures to give a generally good delivery of new services and I've found them willing to react when things go wrong. Not all of their support staff are perfect, but they will escalate when things go wrong. The domestic services are low cost and will  be sized/resourced for a best efforts delivery. If you want enhanced support they do offer that as an option. The visiting engineers are part of OpenReach which is another part of BT, they are not directly employed by PlusNet.
If the internet is a critical part of your work, maybe you should have had an alternate connection available during the transfer process?  3G dongles for mobile internet are good for that.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

A 3G dongle is indeed the investment I made this week. My mistake was believing that I would not be left high and dry by my new provider simply because they had said said in their FAQ that this would not happen (not that there is a 75% chance you will remain connected - but YES you will remain connected) and confirmed this over the phone. I think you have a point that a belt and braces approach is sensible. However, the internet is not a new technology, and honouring one's commitments is not a new business practice. Plusnet is a subsidiary of BT who should have some experience in this area and one does not expect the simple scheduling of engineers and the provision of facilities to expedite the problem to be an issue in the second decade of the 21st century, especially from a company that provides communications technology.
Thanks for the advice, though - it's appreciated.
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

If the issue is different parts of BT not communicating properly and Plusnet have no control over this, then apologies to Plusnet and shame on BT for running such a disconnected organisation - perhaps they should allow Plusnet to outsource their installers to improve the service to end users.
Heloman
Grafter
Posts: 519
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

Yes Plusnet is owned by BT but it is run as a separate business.
PN have no more control over Openreach than  a non-BT owned ISP does. So if the engineer fails to turn up, as happens far too often, the blame is squarely with BT rather than PN.
All the installation is done on BT lines to BT equipment. I doubt there is any way it can be outsourced to PN or another other ISP/company.
Only BT can install FTTC.
At least, that is my understanding.
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

Thanks. It would be nice to read what Plusnet have to say about this state of affairs which was unsatisfactory to me and which you indicate is not unique. What representations are PN making to BT? When one deals with PN, one is not really interested in the excuse that the installation failed owing to the shortcomings of another party that PN is bound to use. One is still left without the internet and PN is left making promises (in its FAQ and on the phone) that in my case have not been kept. I should add that whereas one can accept that mistakes are made sometimes, I was infuriated by the initial response I had from PN's customer support when I was left without the internet, which I perceived to be very offhand.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

your "otherwise excellant TT" are a load of rogues, they dont give a fig and breakOFCOM rule at the slightest excuse.
Rule 1 - they should not disconnect your line, it is up to PN to deciie when that should happen
they have had a very large fine for badly charging
and they might have another for slamming customers
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

I did ask them why they disconnected the line and was told it was because PN had taken it over - and it was up to them to install the broadband - and indeed PN have taken over the line and given me a new number - albeit without internet. I checked the position with Ofcom who support Talk Talk on this. Of course, I can only go on my own experience with providers, so I have no idea about their general behaviour. All I know is that I have lost my internet service for at least a week without notice or warning during what should have been a routine procedure, despite the promise that this would not happen.
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

Hi there,
I'm really sorry this didn't go as planned. Basically the fibre and phone orders were placed as a simultaneous provide which should have happened on the 23rd June, however problems with the fibre order meant that this didn't happen. Unfortunately by the time we received the notification it was already too late to place an ADSL order to happen as part of the simultaneous provide, which is what's led to the downtime.
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

Thanks for your response Matt.
If Plusnet cannot meet its promises even owing to circumstances beyond its control then it should not make them, when it is the end user that suffers.
The General FAQ states:
"13. Will I stay online until I'm connected?
Yes, you'll still be able to do all the things you normally do online whilst we switch your broadband (and phone service, if you've chosen Home Phone) over to Plusnet. If you've signed up but not yet given us a MAC Key to move your broadband you'll need contact us with this so we can progress your activation.
Once we've let you know your service is ready you'll need to set up your hardware, activate your broadband connection and log in to your new service. Installation is very straightforward and we have lots of step-by-step setup guides to help you."
This certainly did not happen in my case and from what you say it looks as though the account simply wasn't being monitored so you had no broadband to offer when the fibreoptic failed.
And then to be told by your 'support' representative that it was 'only residential' and therefore should not affect work activity by being down for at least a week was the last straw.
You need to rewrite your FAQ and instruct your operators to tell users that the changeover to Pluset can lead to considerable downtime, and you need to properly train your staff in your terms and conditions so that they do not misinform disconnected customers who then have to get the true state of affairs from the sales departments.
'Sorry' does not get me on line - what would get me on line is some facility for expediting your mistakes, for example by having broadband on standby, which Plusnet does not have. The customer carries the risk.
Matt - it's a mess. Your company could not possibly have made a worse first impression.

phil4
Grafter
Posts: 244
Registered: 13-12-2007

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

I agree with AlaricAdair, if it's that important, have a plan B, and preferably C, D & E too.
Ok, so I work in IT, and the best way I've found to avert complete disaster is always plan for a bad outcome, and have contingency in place for it.  Always carry spares.
Regardless, the problem you had wasn't good, really wasn't good... but as others have said, PN are often left high and dry by BT Openreach, who they have no choice but to use, and no control over.
Sure they're FAQ shouldn't state something they can't guarantee, but lets take an extra example:
PN do have control, and are sure that you'll not get disconnected, they then say so in the FAQ.  At install time, a small meteor takes out the exchange, and so with it your net connection.  Is the FAQ right?  Nope, you lost your connection. 
And no, it wasn't PN's fault either time... but still the FAQ was wrong each time.
So, choice a) Change the FAQ... it'd be quite short - we can't promise anything, or b) Have lots of disclaimers.
I hate reading all the legal weasel words, that turn a sales promise into a nothingness, so I'd rather have a slightly optimistic FAQ and assume others will plan for things they rely on.
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

I certainly wouldn't ask anyone other than perhaps the government to plan for a small meteor, but I believe that I'm not unique and have heard from a number of sources including this board that Openreach are not celebrated for their reliability. The probability of failure would appear to be high enough for the FAQ and promises to take account of this and for some contingency planning - for example having expediting engineers that take less than a week to call out if something goes wrong on call or having ADSL ready (which I believe does not require an engineer) should something go wrong.
Matt gave no explanation for the failure which leaves me believing that the Plusnet's management systems, such as they are, are not up to scratch.
I still do not know what went wrong and I have no evidence that Plusnet do either, or that it will not happen again.
The impression I have is that maybe they have over-reached themselves with this product.
Comments Plusnet?
Community Veteran
Posts: 1,412
Thanks: 4
Registered: 29-01-2009

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

I'm from a software engineering background - in telecomms - so I understand well the posters who suggest having contingencies. Telecomms operational infrastructure is designed to have a lot of contingencies built-in, so I'm pretty used to thinking about contingencies all the time.
However, the stuff that goes on in provisioning, especially when it involves physical work done by engineering staff, with diary dates to meet, has a tendency to go wrong more often than anyone would like. It would be wise to expect potential problems and plan contingencies, and wise (therefore) to have identified such issues to someone signing up. Marketing types don't like this kind of complexity in a sign-up process, and it always ends up being the support staff who get to clean up afterwards.
I too suffered a big FTTC deployment problem caused by BT's side (Openreach or Wholesale), but I took a very different attitude: I understood precisely where the problem lay, and understood how much backing I got from Plusnet staff to help sort the problem out. From that problem, however, I can agree with this:
Quote from: plusnetnoway
The probability of failure would appear to be high enough for [...] some contingency planning - for example having expediting enginneers that take less than a week to call out if something goes wrong on call...

My feeling is also that this happens to Openreach too often... and that they should have some form of expedited fixers as a redress. I know they do already allow installations to be expedited - but only after paying serious extra wonga. What is needed here is for Openreach to be persuaded to expedite work when they caused the delay in the first place...
But that won't be enough, because BT Wholesale need to do this too... and then Plusnet.
Plusnet Customer
Using FTTC since 2011. Currently on 80/20 Unlimited Fibre Extra.
plusnetnoway
Grafter
Posts: 59
Registered: 28-06-2011

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

I have taken this attitude because Plusnet, and through them their subcontractors whoever they may be, need to be left in no doubt that this kind of service is unprofessional and unacceptable. If the very installation is so seriously cocked up so that the user is left with nothing other than a promise that an inferior service may be put in place after a week - and nothing in the meantime, then what expectations will that customer have of the future relationship?
It is not good enough to blame subcontractors with no other explanation. Plusnet, as the customer facing body, are responsible for understanding, communicating and expediting the issue and as far as I'm concerned they failed each of these three tasks and I have no confidence that they will perform any better next time.
It might help if we could have a fuller explanation from Plusnet on this other than Matt's personal expression of regret. For example, why on earth wasn't I left with Talk Talk until Plusnet had its act together? Why did Plusnet take over my phoneline when they didn't have a proper service to provide?
matt_2k34
Grafter
Posts: 1,300
Registered: 09-07-2007

Re: Horrendous experience attempting to change over to Plunet fibreoptic

Quote
All the installation is done on BT lines to BT equipment. I doubt there is any way it can be outsourced to PN or another other ISP/company.
Only BT can install FTTC.

Correct, Anyone who does without BTs authorisation, is actually tresspassing, and tampering with their network, any issues which arise they would also be accountable for in terms of cost.
Quote
why on earth wasn't I left with Talk Talk until Plusnet had its act together? Why did Plusnet take over my phoneline when they didn't have a proper service to provide?


With respect, you'll probably find that TT has ceased the service, rather than doing what they should do - when a MAC is used. (this isnt the first time they've done this, and wont be the last. its probably why so many people do not leave TT).
Quote
as I'm concerned they failed each of these three tasks and I have no confidence that they will perform any better next time.

Indeed, but as above - PN do not do anything with the network itself, BT do. PN just pass on the instructions and hope that BT sort it.
Quote
No warning was sent that the engineer was not going to turn up

Is a failure of BT to communicate with PN (as they do with any ISP) - it would take PN to call BT (probably offshore Tongue) to find out why theyre not attending.
Quote
However, the internet is not a new technology, and honouring one's commitments is not a new business practice.

Your going onto a product thats been in the market less than 12 months commercially, and what, 2 years on a trial basis?
BT has had to train all their OR staff to ensure that they can do fibre installs, ontop of all the diagnostics etc. which come with the service. Not a small feat.
They've upgraded an over-subscribed, antiquated network to provide customers with a better experience.
I know, its a ballache and a PITA when something goes wrong and leaves you without a connection.. (i'll never forget the PN Tiscali LLU issues i had *years* ago, which left me without service for 2 weeks, and the flakiest service ive ever had..)
However, PN are normally pretty sharp at getting it sorted (even if all they can do is harass BT, and apologise), dependant on how long it takes, recompence is sometimes offered - however for a weeks downtime i wouldnt expect anything. Afterall - it does state that there is a chance you will lose service (as you have acknowledged).
and just a small note: I think your username is quite... rude? when you've come here to make a point/ask for help.  Roll eyes
[/My 2p Smiley ]
Regards
Matt
(a happy, 2x PN Fibre product customer)