Friday, 24 December 2010

Telephone insanity

My mum’s phone has an intermittent fault. It sometimes cuts out in mid conversation and sometimes it doesn’t ring.

I have tried to report this.

I rang BT. They ask me what number I am calling about, then take me though umpteen menus ending up by telling me that it is not a BT line, so they can’t help.

After four attempts, trying different menus and coming at it via the 100-operator number or through the 0800 route I always end up being shut out in the same way. So far, all I have talked to are tape recorders.

So, I phoned Tesco, who do my calls, after a couple of false starts when their tape recorder told me they were closed, but open every day at times that included my call, a conversation with a friendly human actually took place. They couldn’t help either unless I knew who was the provider for my mum’s calls.

Why don’t I phone her up and ask her? because her phone isn’t working. I am reminded of that song, ‘there’s a hole in my bucket.’

My next attempt was to call Ofcom.

Why can’t BT or Tesco pass on my fault report to my mum’s provider? because it would infringe competition rules. One provider can’t know who is providing to other numbers. So, it is official policy to have a fragmented system that does not connect.

All they need is a central fault service that is independent of the phone providers. I suspect that a computer and a few tape recorders could do it.

How did we manage to set up a telephone service where competition is more important than service?

The insurance companies have a central fund to deal with car crashes involving uninsured drivers, and all those companies are in competition – ask any Meerkat. So why can’t the phone operators have a way of dealing with faults that is foolproof.

I at least have done my bit and suggested to Ofcom that they might look into it. It is their responsibility to regulate the whole system. My guess is that I won’t hear anything from them and nothing will be done. I suspect that the underlying assumption is that we all have mobile phones and can fend for ourselves.

The Ofcom chap implied that I should know who was providing my mums calls, so I asked him if he knew the provider of his mum and anyone else he cared about. No answer to that.

‘Can’t you phone her?’

There’s a hole in my bucket.

Happy Christmas everyone.

No comments:

Post a Comment