Peter Reynolds

The life and times of Peter Reynolds

Posts Tagged ‘BT

A Fundamental Problem At The BBC

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I am very close to being the BBC’s biggest fan.  It is a remarkable and entirely unique institution.  Somehow it occupies a place between the state and the people which I can find no comparison for.  It would be easy to define it as some sort of socialist idea but it is genuinely independent from the state.  I do, however, have some concerns about its accountability.  I am very concerned about the way it handles complaints.

No Complaints Accepted Here

I have grown up with the BBC and I trust it.  In fact, I think that it’s done a better job of maintaining Britishness and values of integrity, tolerance, fairness and justice than any UK government of any political complexion.  That’s why the curmudgeons in all political parties turn against it.  I think Jeremy Hunt’s recent attacks and comments were particularly poorly judged.  He hasn’t a had a good start in government at all has he?

I made a complaint to the BBC recently and I am very, very unhappy about the way it has been handled.   The subject is not relevant here.  I shall write about it in future but for now it would distract from my point.  I am horrified to discover that the BBC does not handle complaints itself.   They are outsourced to Capita in Belfast which describes itself as “the UK’s leading outsourcing company…at the leading edge of redefining and transforming services to the public.”  For me that needs a huge pinch of salt, a mountain in fact and even then I’m choking on it.

Handling complaints should be at the very heart of an organisation.  It is the essence of your brand.  There is no more important management function.  Contracting them out is an abdication of responsibility.  More than that, it is a complete failure of integrity, a massive mistake.   If an organisation is truly committed to meeting its customers’ needs it must be as close to them as possible.  This irresponsibility strikes at the very heart of everything I value about the BBC.  I am deeply disillusioned.

If this disastrous decision had resulted in a well administered service then that might be some consolation but not a bit of it.  It is dreadful.  Every bit as bad as any horror story you’ve heard about British Gas, BT or yes, even a bank.  This is the British consumer experience at its very worst.

Not What It Used To Be

In sharp contrast to the rest of the BBC’s websites, try making a complaint online.  It’s like something from the very early days of the internet with clumsy, badly aligned fields and an archaic feel.  I almost expect to hear a modem whistling away in the background.  From a complainant’s point of view it’s quite useless.  You don’t get any option to save a copy of your complaint or email it to yourself.  You don’t even get an acknowledgement once you’ve completed it so you’re left with a completely unsatisfactory feeling of uncertainty.  Did they get it or not?  Will I get a reply?  When?

It gets worse.  Complaints are lost.  They don’t get answered at all.  They certainly don’t get answered within the 10 working days promised.  One answer I received was just laughable in its anodyne, crass simplicity.  It was nothing more than an patronising acknowledgement of what I was “unhappy about”.

Useless

I could go on even further but I won’t.  It does get even worse and it becomes embarrassingly so when Capita start to trot out the oldest excuse of all about “system problems”.  It is an excruciatingly bad, defining example of appalling customer service.  I’d say it takes the biscuit.

All this is the inevitable result of outsourcing your complaints procedure.  That aspect of business that should be one of your most important tools.  What’s worse is that Capita are absolutely useless at doing the job.

It is no exaggeration to say that, for me, this rocks the very foundations of everything I believed about the BBC to the very core.  It is not the organisation I thought it was.  I feel betrayed.  I am “disgusted of Tunbridge Wells”.   In fact,  I am very, very, very disgusted of Weymouth, Dorset.

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Why Are Withheld Numbers Allowed?

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It's Me!

Recently I started to receive a series of silent telephone calls.  Sometimes the caller would ring off as soon as I answered.  On other occasions  it would be some time before my line cleared.  It’s happened to me before as it has to most of us.  What makes me angry though is when you dial 1471 and find out that the caller was from a withheld number.

At one time I’d have assumed – no, correction – I’d have known that it was a deranged ex-girlfriend but not any more.  I’ve cleared all that sort of dross out of my life.  Now it could be one of those dreadful automated telemarketing computers which all sorts of otherwise reputable companies seem to think are an acceptable business tool.  I don’t.  I think they’re pretty much akin to an offensive weapon.

But why, oh why are withheld numbers allowed at all?

What possible reason or excuse can there be for allowing anyone to make anonymous telephone calls?  We have the technology.  Caller ID is now virtually universal.  What possible justification can there be for anyone to hide the number they’re calling from?  If they’re initiating the communication,  whoever they are, why should they be able to hide their identity?

So I thought I’d take advantage of BT’s “Anonymous Caller Rejection” service.  Now, I’m probably going to have to cancel it because so many people are having difficulty getting through to me.

First it was my electricity supplier.  Then it was a government department that I was doing some writing for.  Then it was my MP’s secretary who comes from the doctors’ receptionists charm school and was quite affronted, told me off even, that my phone won’t accept anonymous calls.

Sorry, Wrong Number!

Just what is it that makes these (mostly) rational people and organisations think it is acceptable to contact me anonymously?  Would they send me anonymous letters or emails or arrive at my door and refuse to identify themselves?

No, of course they wouldn’t.  It would be entirely wrong and it is entirely wrong to use anonymous or withheld telephone numbers too.

Generally I’m opposed to laws.  We have far too many already but in this instance we should legislate.  It’s ridiculous, deceptive, dishonest and unnecessary yet many of our biggest organisations and institutions do it as matter of course.

It’s unacceptable and it should be stopped.  Ban withheld numbers now!