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What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

rangertim
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 13-07-2011

What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

OK, 20 days ago our phone line went dead. Raised a ticket with plusnet (thankfully I still have a separate work phone line/broadband). It is worth noting that:
1) Plusnet do not offer to cover any mobile phone costs while you're phone line is down.
2) Plusnet will not divert calls to a mobile while you're phone line is down
3) Plusnet will not stop you're debit while you're phone line is down.
4) Plusnet will not provide a single point of contact for resolving these kind of serious problems. Nor can you speak to anyone more senior. BT gave their customers a name and a direct phone number.
5) Plusnet will not provide any form of alternative communications. There are 11 houses on the exchange affected; BT sent its customers a mobile phone with all calls diverted to it thus not costing the customer anything on request.
6) Plusnet is not able to actively chase BT Openreach. There is (apparently) no way for someone to actually phone Openreach and get a sensible answer. A request has to be raised, and then everyone sits back to wait for an update. Too passive - where is the drive to get this sorted?
Thus you get drawn into an endless round of updating the original question, asking for updates and getting the same, bland response from yet another different person. Even more irritatingly they are signed off with 'Please do not hesitate to get back in touch if we can be of further assistance.' Nice humour!
There is no incentive for plusnet to solve this problem. Where is the financial imperative - my money still gets debited regardless of whether I can use the phone line or not. It would appear to be up to me to request a refund/compensation once service is restored; I can't think of another service where this would be the case.
I completely understand that from time to time major faults occur, but that is when a company's reputation is made or destroyed. How this kind of thing wins customer service awards is beyond me.
The question is #43856026.
15 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 26,657
Thanks: 883
Fixes: 10
Registered: 10-04-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

You've just listed 6 reasons why, as a close watcher of all things Plusnet, my phone rental is still with BT!
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)
dannyflounders
Grafter
Posts: 27
Registered: 12-06-2010

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

At least plusnet have people you can actually understand at the end of the phone.
I rang plusnet last month on behalf of a customer.
I said her ip profile is stuck, they said okay we'll reset it, please give it 24 hours.
24 hours later all was fine.
I tried the same on talktalk and the answer I got was, and I quote "sorry what? ip profile! what's that?"
That aside though, it's a good job plusnet do promote their english call centers because right now I don't know what else they have going for them!
Oh referrals are good too, but no doubt they'll pull the plug on them at some point... that'll be the day I leave by the way!
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Hi rangertim,
I've just passed this on to a member of our faults team to chase for you, you should be receiving an update very shortly. Sorry it's going on so long.
rangertim
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 13-07-2011

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Another 24 hours and still no phone line; here was the latest reply to my help centre question -
"Thank you for your patience. Our suppliers are currently arranging a frames task for an engineer to visit the exchange. This can take upto 24 hours. We can add call divert onto your line if you wish, however you would incur the charges for the diverted part of the call. If you would like to set this up please give us a call on 0845 140 0200 and press option 6 then 3."
Not that helpful - what on earth is a 'frames task'? I have no idea if this means within 24 hours we will actually have a working phone line, or just another meaningless update.
So, if you put a divert to a mobile, does that mean the mobile owner pays for incoming calls? Would a caller pay a mobile rate or as if dialing a land line? Will you then pay me back as part of a compensation package?
Don't get me wrong, the call centre is very polite and plusnet seem to respond quickly to messages. Trouble is, plusnet are not actually offering any form of direct help; maybe awards are given out for speed of answering a phone or something....
Matt Taylor, thank you for your post. Perhaps you could try ringing BT Openreach directly and getting a proper answer - a quick search online suggests you try 0800 223388, although they go out of their way to discourage phone calls; odd for a phone company.  You are now the 13th individual from plusnet who has responded to this matter.
By the way, what result did you get when you chased the faults team?

Community Veteran
Posts: 1,817
Thanks: 11
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

I have often considered changing my phone to pn along with my bb. Having read this I will be staying well clear.
I think that is an appalling state of affairs esp for a company which generally has most things sown up.
Being at the mercy of openreach delays is the reason for so much frustration and needless delay.
Will not be recommending on phone to anyone. Sadly my patents and in laws have already taken the jump
Disappointed
Podman
Thanks for the post I will now have to go and explain these short comings to all those I have recommended on to.
There should be a minimum set of standards a phone provider should provide and those short comnins you have mentioned shuold be in that minimum
Community Veteran
Posts: 5,560
Thanks: 588
Fixes: 1
Registered: 21-03-2011

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Have you thought of using Skype while you wait for PN to sort out the phone side of things?  Or if you need an incoming number - Sipgate.co.uk last I heard they give you a free number as well as reasonable rates.
Now Zen, but a +Net residue.
rangertim
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 13-07-2011

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Another 3 days, and still no service. Latest reply to the help centre question:
'Our suppliers are still investigating the cause of your phone fault on your line at this time. The estimated repair time is 23.59 on the 18th. We will continue to check for updates on this matter for you after this date and keep you advised. If we divert calls you will be charged your mobile network rates. Thank you.
The next action on your Help Assistant Question is due on Tuesday 19th July at 9:00am. This Question will remain open with the BOT - Phone Faults - Logged until this time.'
So, if I do get my calls diverted then I have to pay to receive the phone calls - this is while I am still paying for the non-existent phone line. When I was with BT and had a fault, calls were diverted with no cost to myself.
Thanks for the post, AlaricAdair, I hadn't thought of Skype; will have a go later.
No reply yet from Matt Taylor as to how he got on chasing the faults team - Matt, are you out there?
My neighbours, who are with BT, got their telephone line back two weeks ago; the engineer told them that there was loads of spare capacity at the exchange so quite why we haven't all got our lines back is a mystery.
The service from Plusnet, while things are going well, is fine. The switchover last year was done with no problems, and I have had no issues up till now. I repeat the point, though - it is when things go wrong that a company's reputation is made.
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Hi there, apologies for the delay in replying. The latest notes state that Openreach believe the fault to be fixed as of around 2:15p, this afternoon - is everything now working for you?
rangertim
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 13-07-2011

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Thank you for your reply, Matt. Indeed, after 25 days without service, we got our phone line back - hurrah! It would appear you are as hamstrung with the system as your users; you need to sort out communcations with Openreach as a matter of urgency.
Anyway, that brings us onto the subject of refund and compensation; these are obviously two separate issues. The refund is simple; I have been paying for the line rental, call package, broadband for the whole period, and that amounts to £21.50.
As far as compensation goes, this is how I see it: -
No doubt plusnet will be making a claim against BT Openreach for their failure of service. The suggested fixed rate compensation (FRC) is of one months line rental back if the fault is 1 - 3 days long, two months for 4 - 6 days, up to a maximum of 4 months line rental.
Therefore a sensible level of compensation would be 4 months line rental charges - i.e. £39.96.
I had to use my mobile phone for the duration of the fault. Taking the last six months invoices from plusnet, it can be seen, on average, I call landlines for 5 minutes every day and mobiles for 1 minute a day.
So, over 25 days I usually have 125 minutes to landlines and 25 minutes to mobiles.
Under my plan with Orange mobile this has cost me £30 (150 mins @ 20p/min)
So, the total compensation I would be seeking from Plusnet is £69.96, and a refund of £21.50
This makes a total of £91.46.
That seems a sensible and costed level of compensation. This request I duly posted to plusnet, and received the  following reply:

Thank you for getting back to us. We would be happy to arrange for a discount for the broadband for the next 3 months which would be 3X £12.99 totalling £38.97.
We would not be able to offer you a refund and compensation as we would only be able to re-compensate for the downtime with your service. As you stated in your message this totalled £21.50 so the amount of compensation is, as a good will gesture, almost double what you paid out during your phone and broadband fault.
As far as re-compensating your mobile phone calls is concerned, unfortunately your telephone is not a guaranteed service as we do encounter faults which are completely out of our control. Because of this we would not be able to offer you any recompense for these calls.
I have now added the 3 months discount totalling £39.97. Again please allow me to apologise for any and all inconvenience cause throughout this fault.

This shows a confusion between a refund and compensation; they are entirely separate issues. The £21.50 should be credited straight back to my bank account from which it was debited, and the level of compensation discussed. This I posted, and then received the following reply:
'Thank you for getting back to us. With regards to the refund for the time you were without a service, I can see that my colleague has placed a 3 month discount on your account, this is generally the preferred method of issuing discounts to customers.
In order to discuss this matter further, or to continue discussions regarding your claim for compensation, I would advise that you raise a complaint to speak with our complaints team about this. They will be able to most effectively deal with the points you have raised. For assistance on raising a complaint, please visit http://www.plus.net/support/service/policies/complaints_code_of_practice.shtml.'

So, still no comprehension of the difference, and all of a sudden the only way to contact plus net about this issue if via post to the complaints department. I have requested twice that a deadlock letter is sent if the compensation outlined above cannot be agreed.
So, Matt Taylor, can you answer these questions:
1) Can you arrange for the £21.50 refund (i.e. money that plus net has taken from my bank account for a non-existant service) be credited to the account you hold for my direct debit.
2) If plus net does not see my compensation request as fair then you arrange immediately for a deadlock letter to be sent so we can go to arbitration with CISAS, as per your policy.
3) Why is up to me to write to a department in the same company, when they can easily be directed to the lengthy question/answer in the 'help and support' section?
I look forward to your reply
AxeMurderer
Grafter
Posts: 164
Registered: 18-05-2011

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

If I have read this correctly, Plusnet seem to be offering you £38.97 of discount spread over three months instead of the immediate refund you are seeking of £21.50. This has nothing to do with compensation, as you have highlighted, and as Plusnet's latest response seems to acknowledge.
It may be that to trigger the possibility of compensation you need to actually raise a complaint, and that is what Plusnet are asking you to do. It does seem a bit silly, but other companies also operate in this way. The complaints department probably have the authority to do things that other Plusnet staff do not.
It is possible that your complaint would get a more sympathetic response if it wasn't all over this forum, but that is entirely up to you.
Good luck!
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Hi there,
Apologies for the difficulty you've had in obtaining the discount, I hope I've been able to help there. To address your queries:
Quote
1) Can you arrange for the £21.50 refund (i.e. money that plus net has taken from my bank account for a non-existant service) be credited to the account you hold for my direct debit.

Please see my response to your ticket, I hope that sorts things to your satisfaction.
Quote
2) If plus net does not see my compensation request as fair then you arrange immediately for a deadlock letter to be sent so we can go to arbitration with CISAS, as per your policy.

I'm afraid that's not something that I can arrange, though if you wish to pursue things further please respond to the ticket and we'll make sure it's escalated through to the appropriate team for you. I hope this also addresses your third question.
Hope I've been able to help, and sorry for the trouble you've had with this. Glad to hear that the service is now working again for you.
rangertim
Newbie
Posts: 6
Registered: 13-07-2011

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Thank you for your post, Matt Taylor; I am glad you have understood the argument, and now arranged for a refund of £21.50 directly to my bank account.
That leaves the matter of compensation; I have replied to the ticket to escalate it and also written a letter to the complaints department as requested.
I believe the fully costed and rational compensation outlined in previous posts is a fair one, so will be keen to see if plus net agree. If not, I suppose arbitration beckons.
Thanks for the post, AxeMurderer. I agree, not sure if posting to a public forum helps or hinders, but it seems Matt Taylor is the only person who can get things sorted; if I had stuck to the ticket system I would still be no further forward.
When I looked into swapping to plus net the first thing I did was look at the feedback forum to get a gauge of their performance, so it is important these issues are shared to allow people an informed decision. As stated before, service before this fault has been fine and the switchover was hassle-free, but it is in major issues like this one that a company's reputation is made or lost.
pierre_pierre
Grafter
Posts: 19,757
Registered: 30-07-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

yes but you dont have to quote chapter and verse as each case should be treated on its own merits and as per another thread this week it can cause antagonism
Plusnet Alumni (retired) orbrey
Plusnet Alumni (retired)
Posts: 10,540
Registered: 18-07-2007

Re: What happens when you're phone line goes down - a lesson....

Hi there,
I've passed the ticket through as per the comments on there. You should get an update shortly.