Tuesday, December 16, 2003

>> Falling through the floor...

There are times when things work. Most of the time, most things work. Sometimes, something is broken most of the time. Sometimes, something just breaks and you realise just how crap something is.

I also never thought I'd see chaos theory in action, like a real live zoo creature. Witness.

At the beginning of the month, my friend moved out of our shared house. He'd been looking after all of the domestic bills, including the BTtelephone line, although the ADSL provision was under my name. In the interests of accountancy, he requested a transfer of the account to someone else in the house, and a final bill. But in order to produce such a final statement, BT had to actually stop the line, and start a new one, as a different account.

We thought nothing of it - the phone was out of action for 10 hours or so while they switched it over, but everything worked ok.

Yesterday evening, our internet connection died. I tried rebooting the firewall/router box, which usually does the trick if nothing else, but nothing. A thought hits me - I'd changed my bank card the previous week, as the last one was about to run out, so maybe our ADSL provider, Nildram had tried to bill us and couldn't, and had put our ADSL on hold. Alas, their sales department was closed for the evening.

I got into work this morning, checked Nildram's status tickets, to see if there were any major network outages (such as BT's Reading RAS router going down and taking out several dozen/hundred square miles, the preceding few days). Nothing there. I rang them up to give them my new card details, which was fine. Mentioning the outage, they checked the system, but the account hadn't been frozen or anything. Odd.

Luckily there were people at home, so I got them to try to restart the connection. Still no luck. Hmm.

This afternoon, I rang Nildram technical support, to see if they could pick anything up. The guy there ran a check of the number against BT's system to see if he could find anything. Aha, apparently the ADSL had been cancelled due to "line disruptions". That was strange - the phone had been fine. I called home to check. However, I was reminded that the phone had been out of action a few weeks ago, in the switchover. Maybe it was that.

Then it dawned on me. We had a new account.

What BT forgot to mention before we "transferred" the account was that the ADSL on top of the original would get cut also. Perhaps they assumed that we no longer needed it. In BT's corporate mind, an ADSL line is attached not just to a house, and nor just to a person, but to a particular person within a particular house. Curious.

So now the ADSL has been disconnected. My friend rang BT up to enquire about getting it reconnected, and the charge. Apparently BT wouldn't (or couldn't) charge us for it, as it was all through the ISP, as a reseller. That was odd, as I thought Nildram had quoted us a bit less than 60 quid for BT's reconnection charges. And, indeed, a (confused) phone call later to Nildram, I confirmed this was the case indeed. BT don't charge us, bu they do charge the ISP, who (naturally) pass the charge on to the customer.

What's more, it turns out (according to Nildram customer service) that now that the ADSL service has been cancelled, it's impossible to reconnect it without starting afresh, i.e. charging us for a new connection.

Obviously, I can't argue with Nildram, as it's not their fault. I suggested trying to get BT to rescind the charge, as they forgot to tell us about the connection in the first place, but the (Nildram) lady wasn't particularly... optimistic. In fact, she seemed adamant that BT wouldn't play ball.

And so! Therein lies the challenge! The gauntlet has been laid down. Despite about 5 separate parties being involved in all facets of the arrangement, is there any chance that BT will get their act together enough to reconnect our ADSL for free? Alas, it seems that the governing body OFTEL have been swallowed by the yet-more faceless OFCOM, and they are going through a "transitional period", which means the joys of dealing with either of them are going to be fantastic fun.

On top of this, we may take the opportunity to move away from Nildram. This isn't a reflection on the whole situation, nor the service we've had from them - Nildram are a fantastic company, with a fantastic service, and deep down inside I'm hoping we can still stay with them. But faster speeds at cheaper prices is like Aladdin's lamp to a techie (is that a good analogy?).

And so. I am left in a situation where the person making the mistake has no accountability. Or do they? The game is afoot. We shall see, we shall see...

I am, of course, blaming capitalism for all of this. If there were any doubt in my mind that the infrastructures we depend upon exist forthe benefit of society at large, then it is gone now. The sooner the monopoly that is BT crumbles, the better.

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