BT voted worst home phone provider

by , Technology Researcher Phone networks 24/06/2013
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It may be the UK’s oldest telecoms provider but that hasn’t stopped BT from being voted worst for home phone services by Which? members.

This is a particularly bad result for BT, which previously finished in last place when we last conducted our bi-annual survey. Worse still, its overall customer score has dropped from 49% to 45%.

How to save on home phone prices – our expert guide

Which? Home Phone Services Survey

We asked 2,178 Which? members with a home phone service to rate their landline provider – they rated them on six different factors, including value for money and clarity of phone bills.

BT customers were the least satisfied, especially on customer service with one consumer commenting, ‘Out of hours support can be a nightmare to deal with. The call centres seem to show a lack of care.’

Poor results for BT across the board

Although BT only had the Post Office, Sky and TalkTalk to compete with, our home phone survey results showed it to perform worse than its rivals across several categories. The only area where BT scored well was in the accuracy of its monthly  bills.

In terms of clarity of overall billing, BT scored badly, with one member saying ‘I’m not sure what my tie-in contract period is’ and another mentioning that ‘billing arrangements and tariffs are overcomplicated.’

Why was BT the worst home phone provider?

We asked Which? members about their experience as a BT customer. Here’s a selection of the feedback we received:

  • ‘BT customer service is dreadful… the problem is never sorted when they say it will be’
  • ‘We get lots of nuisance calls on our BT line, despite having tried to sort it with them’
  • ‘The BT call centre is terrible –  it took me over 1 hour to report my phone/internet was not working and the wrong address was given to repairman’

Have you received poor service from BT or enjoyed a better experience than our survey’s participants? Let us know in the comments section below.

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38 comments

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Billymac10

Despite the poor results I would love to try BT Infinity as this would get me the football theyve aquired and BT Hotspots (I had with 02 but they’re selling everything off and their own are rubbish but thats another story) but the problem with BT and other providers that WHICH? MUST FIX is the requirement to have a phone line and the cost associated with it.

This is plain money making from product bundling which should be outlawed by OFCOM.

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Dave

I’m fed up trying to understand what their customer service staff are saying because most of the staff I have spoken with speak in heavily accented English.
It’s supposed to be British Telecom NOT Indian Telecom, and if BT has any regard for customer service they will re locate all their services to the UK.

When they changed my telephone number without regard to me it took the best part of 3 weeks to get it changed back to my original number during which time I was not able to be contacted

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B V Jones

Yes I agree it is not Bt India or is it. I can never understand the call centre because they speak
Indian English. COME BACK TO UK BT so we can all understand what is going on.

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John

Added to which most of the people speaking Indian English do so at 200mph. When I explain to them that I have a hearing deficit and ask them to speak more slowly,they apologize for the fast delivery and then continue at exactly the same pace as before.

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robert lindemann

a shamefully bad operation.

bt cellnet – now 02, was worst, could not handle large scale business.

bt tried to bill me for disconnected fax line c.£400. overseas call centre refused to consider error possible, then bt uk sent threatening letters; bailiffs etc. contacted ofcom. they sorted. got debt cancelled, no apology from bt.another non-brilliant privatisation imo. where’s sid?

probably the worst-run company in the world, ask any bt employee. i have. they confirmed.

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oldgeorge

I agree that infinity is good! We had it until we moved to where it isn’t!
The main problem is with OpenReach who are useless at doing what they promise. Once you can get them out of the way it works as well as anybody else’s. I sent you my full saga by email on 4 April in the hope that you might identify the OpenReach problem, but your survey really doesn’t get close to the main problem. One issue is that OpenReach are the utility provider to all of the non Virgin providers without any realistic supervision and they do what they like. Even BT Retail have no influence.

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John

I signed a contract with BT in late November to install a new phone line to my business premises. It was originally supposed to be installed before Christmas but it took 5 visits and numerous engineers before it was finally completed in mid January. The biggest issue was whether they needed a ladder or a cherry picker to bring a phone line round the side of the building!

Since then despite numerous calls to BT my contract still isn’t correct, they finally got the length right, but the price is wrong and my ‘free’ calls never materialized. The second my contract ends I’ll be gone like a shot.

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Margaret Anderson

The worst thing about BT is their Call Centres, You always get a foreign voice, very polite but who never understands what you are saying, or for that matter, I don’t understand what they’re saying. To get a good English speaking voice BT need to have Call Centres in the UK.

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Donald Macdonald

Having had similar problems to Margaret, I decided to use email but they don’t understand written English any better.

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Ian Brown

My experience is different from those mentioned above. I had my email account hacked into yesterday and the BT helpdesk personnel were very helpful, polite and efficient in getting my account operational again. Some of the English was a bit difficult to understand at times, but it was much better than my Hindi!

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allen mole

Why would you need to speak Hindi in Britain?

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Jim

Reported a landline fault on the BT website a couple of days ago (fortunately I have cable access to the internet) and the screen showed that the Openreach Engineer was currently working on the fault – the aim was to fix it in 3 days. Further down the page it said the estimated repair date was 5 days hence. Not being satisfied with this I phoned a number given (using my mobile) but had difficulty understanding what was being said – it transpired I was speaking to someone in India. I was told that the Engineer had not started working on the problem but would start the following morning. Why on earth do we have to phone India to be told, by someone who is difficult to understand, what is happening in our own neighbourhood?
As it happens the fault was repaired in 2 days which is just as well because some of my neighbours who were also affected are infirm, housebound and rely heavily on their landlines in case of emergency.

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Bob Green

As an ex-employee (40 years) I always had a great deal of loyalty to BT but when I tried to report an intermittent fault a few months ago the fault reception refused to accept it unless I agreed to an engineer visiting my home to make checks. Although from experience I knew it was an easily traced exchange equipment fault I had to agree to the visit. The engineer made 5 test calls but could not reproduce it and went. Not his fault because it was intermittent and he knew nothing about System X exchanges either. After about a week it was OK again so I was happy until my bill came in and they tried to charge me £100 odd for the unnecessary visit they had insisted upon. Incompetence, wasted time speaking to polite but useless people in India and no customer care followed, so finally I voted with my feet.
No matter how many cheap Call Centre people you throw at it you cannot beat giving fault handling to an experienced engineer, and perhaps keep your customers into the bargain.

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tolpuddlejohn

I recently had some discussions with BT following a misunderstanding when my son came to live with us temporarily, and had asked BT to register that fact, pending my son moving to a new address (yet to be arranged). BT mistakenly took action to treat this as a change of address, and wrote to me telling me that a customer had told them they were moving to my address, and to phone them if we were not in fact moving (which I did). We established that they had made the mistake, but I then had a letter from Tesco (to whom I had transferred my account a year or two back), telling me they noted that I was moving to BT. Rather than try to reverse that, I chose to take the path of least resistance, and return my full account to BT: I had a very helpful phone discussion with BT when I got on to them to tell them of my decision, and when I mentioned that we had been having a lot of nuisance calls, they suggested I invest in a BT6500 digital cordless answering machine, which blocks overseas and number withheld calls automatically. So far this has worked very well, and I was impressed with the efficiency of BT’s service: the new phone set arrives within a day or so, and they are transferring my number back to BT. I had no problem understanding their staff member, and had a speedy letter from Mr Warren Buckley, the MD of the BT Customer Service department, confirming what had been arranged. So I cannot fault BT on this showing!

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ViperBugloss

In September 2012, I made a one year in advance payment for my line rental. However, this was credited to my account in general rather than for my line rental. I made numerous phone calls, sent e-mails, used the interactive service and wrote letters but never found anyone who could understand and rectify what was a very simple problem. The letters were addressed to William Buckley, Managing Director, Customer Service but I received no reply except for a phone call from India about one of my letters, although they only had part of that letter. I made a formal complaint and was given a complaint number and the name of the person who would be investigating my complaint. When I called back to check on this it turned out that the name I was given was for a non-existing person. That was unbelievable cynicism on the part of BT.

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James Hogan

OFCOM website…

Go to arbitration link

Fill in online form…

Ask for full amount you paid to be awarded as compensation.

WAIT 2months….enjoy your free money…laugh at BT….

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allen mole

All of the above, B.T,s customer service is at a truly shockingly low standard, weeks can pass without resolution of the simplest problems, my internet vanished over Christmas, after 2 engineers visits, they found that I had been transferred to orange! when told to transfer back they wanted a number from orange, who needless to say knew nothing about it and hence could not supply one, [understand I was the one who had to spend hours on the phone trying to sort this], after some 5 weeks, [yes, 5 weeks], the service was restored. After a few more calls to BT about this they very generously said that I would not be charged for the time offline! but I still had to pay for all the phone calls made to sort it out! HELLO VIRGIN, COME GET ME!!!

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Paul

BT recently left us without phone and broadband for 2 weeks while they traced and repaired a fault.
Trying to communicate with BT by mobile was dreadful.
Now fault repaired and refund obtained have switched to PlusNet – saving £20 per month. Also, their call centre is in the UK.

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Jonathan

(Plusnet owned by BT……)

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Don B

I had enormous problems with BT billing. They started billing me because I had not used the phone, that is not a typo. This was for caller ID service. We were on holiday for 2 months and we had not used the phone. I used to pay for anytime UK and European calls by DD and I paid my line rental 1 year in advance. They would not have received any additional money if I had made a thousand calls a day, but they insisted that it was in their terms and conditions, so I had to pay. I had numerous emails and even escalated the issue to higher management, but they simply stuck to their view on Terms and Conditions.

The consequence of all this was that I cancelled my phone & broadband contract with BT and moved to a “Which” recommended provider for less than half the price of the BT contract. I do not think BT understand the principle of Customer Service. When customers start leaving in droves, as I am sure they will, they may learn, but just too late. There are many new companies providing excellent service and customer support these days. I am really pleased that I have terminated my BT Contract, more of you should do the same.

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Y.W

It’s been 2 weeks now that our land line and broadband are not working. Although we are not with BT (we had left because of their bad service) we have now found out that we are, even if indirectly. Our provider depends on BT to fix the cables! BT, according to our provider, has no restrictions as to how long it should take them to fix a problem. I completely lost confidence in them!

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Jonathan

You pay your service provider to appoint OpenReach (part of the BT group) on your behalf. They have to give equal service to all providers of telephony including BT.

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Warwick Capewell

I will try and keep this as short as possible – We moved into a new house on a new development in early April. At the end of January this year I started to talk to BT about installing a phone line. An appointment was made or March 22, then moved to April 11. Despite e mails to ask us to be there, no-one came, phoned or contacted us. I wrote to the MD of BT and was “upgraded “to “Executive Level Complaints” with a person who rang me every couple of days to apologise about not installing the line.
Numerous promises, unintelligible phone calls from India, an Openreach engineer who told me it was “down to Lady Luck” when my line would be installed, and finally on the installation date, total confusion between 2 teams sent to do the same job.
The line was installed on the 19 June, the broadband last Thursday (27th) -nearly 6 months after I first contacted them. In 1974 when first married, it took the GPO 3 months to install a line in our new house. Nearly 40 years later the time has doubled.
BT are a complete shambles – for a communications company they appear not to do any of that , either with their customers or amongst themselves.

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peter t

I would agree that the BT support is labyrinthine in the extreme and some of the call centre staff’s accents are very difficult to understand my usual cure for this is to hang up and ring in again until I get someone whom I can understand. Time consuming and very frustrating.
However BT infinity is awesome, although I have to say that even right next to the hub the wireless speed is none too impressive, use an ethernet cable and it really flies.
Their field engineers in my experience are absolutely first class, very knowledgeable always turn up on time or at least ring to say they are going to be late.
The way they do their billing is a disgrace, if you pay by monthly direct debit, rather than showing how much the bill is per quarter and then showing you how much you have paid and whether the account is in credit or debit, they have a convoluted system, whereby as in a bank statement it shows a sort of running total which takes some time to work out how much you actually spent last quarter, it’s been like that for years argh…..
I have had experience of Sky, the problem with most of the other companies is when you ring in with a problem the first thing they do is blame BT for technical deficiencies and they are very hard to pin down as to who is going to fix the fault.
The Sky call centres are very variable, normally if the person who answers your query is Scottish or Irish the problem gets sorted there and then if at all possible, everyone else is hopeless.
I don’t work for BT but having lived in a rural area for 25 years I appreciate BT because none of the other providers are in the least bit interested in these areas, they want the nice easy high profit areas of big cities and towns, so BT are left with all the difficult low profit bits and then everyone complains about the service and the cost, a sort of self fulfilling prophecy really

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Donald Macdonald

I agree with Peter T’s final paragraph wholeheartedly. Whilst I have issues with BT’s customer services, I have no intention of moving from them. As with utilities, who goes up the pole that has caught fire in the middle of a winter’s night?

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Adrian

Well, I can only speak as I find – and I have had virtually no problems with BT since I changed to them as home phone and broadband provider last year when I moved house. They came on the day they said they would to install my fibre-optic broadband; I have had no problems with it – it seems fast and reliable; when I did call once to ask a question, it was dealt with swiftly and politely; and I find the bills easy to understand. The only problem area was confusion over a previous line – and that did take repeated calls to sort out. Overall though, I must say I am quite happy with them.

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Joel

My gripe with BT is their inability to do anything except enhance BT’s income. For personal reasons I pay a quarterly bill, by cheque through at Post Offices, as this is convenient and accessible. However, not only do BT not tell you that you can pay via the PO (clearly, it’s most expensive for them, but also the way many do it, so they’re in-between painful positions), but also they make a cash payments charge each time I pay in real money. I do not do online banking – full stop.

Sorry, they apply cash payment charges for each time they think I ought to pay. I am billed for TWELVE cash payments annually even though I only have four bills. When this has been queried, the answer is always incomprehensible scripted jargon- and policy-laden gobbledegook.

My local Trading Standards Officer tells me it is now legal for the provider to set and alter charges as they like, as legislation prohibiting this was repealed some years ago. I’d like to know who by to ensure they never get any vote of mine.

BT casually dismiss my protests and the only option left, after they repeatedly ignore letters until those offering ‘further action’ are sent, when they say I haven’t exhausted the complaints process yet, despite the fact that I clearly have and they want a second bite of the cherry. This cherry, matey, bites back.

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Roger M

The worst part about BT is their terrible Indian call centre. I have spoken to their engineering department which is fine.
However they are good at reliability of service. I live in the “sticks” (or is it it “styx”) with overhead lines and get 10mbit+ internet reliably both in terms of speed and phone connection. I hear many of my friends / acquaintances complaining about their cable and other providers reliability of service. So in a nutshell – good technically, but customer service needs improving.

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James Hogan

BY are totally incompetent in every one of their core business areas.

I asked them the other day for a new remote for my BT Vision box….one of the buttons had stopped working.

FIVE minutes of them telling me to go out and buy new batteries…like ONE BUTTON needs more power than the others..In the end I said..’1 minute…Ok, used the batteries from another remote..they’re brand new…no change’…then they send a new one.

They lie, fail to answer, cut you off, fail to understand the very BASICS of their own techn ology and products and are basically THE WORST COMPANYI have ever had to deal with.

i have taken them to arbitration THREE TIMES and won over £1100 in comp over 2 and a half years…including the amazing time they took FIVE MONTHS to connect my new home…whilst all the time charging me…that cost them £500 PLUS all my charges back…and a free month,of PHONE/BBAND/TV…

I also took them to court once and got £750 as they wrongly ‘sent the boys round’ for money that…wait for it…THEY OWED ME…yup, they sent debt collectors…not once, that’d be a silly error but THREE TIMES…for a balance of an account that was IN CREDIT when stopped the services as I moved home……They also REFUSED to remove the adverse additions to my credit file…until I threatened legal action…AGAIN!!

NEVER accept their answers…believe EVERYTHING they tell you is a lie, DEMAND compensation for every error at every turn..and you’ll do fine with BT and rarely have to pay them anything into the bargain….

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Lucy EVAND

BT is great when things go OK – I have Infimity and am really pleased with it plus Desktop Help is good for PC performance. But it is a nightmare if anything goes wrong, you change your situation in any way at all or you’re trying to make sense of your account. It’s all too complicated – if you place an order then strange cancellations can take place and the new order vanish, leaving you with nothing. I’ve had some horrendous experiences that have driven me to hysterics – almost glad to find now I’m not alone. The main problem is the Call Centre, not being able to hear the voices properly and finding little understanding of the problem although people are always polite. I would like a UK Call Centre and one individual to coordinate and confirm it all by e mail.

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Chris

I had terrible problems understanding the ‘English’ in the call centres. They might as well be speaking in Hindi! I was so sick of BT that I changed to Sky telephone & Sky broadband. Even lost out on over £120 cancelling my contract too early but it was worth it to get a decent service and a helpful customer call centre service that quickly remedy your issues and understand what you are saying.
BT often try to woo me back but I will NEVER go back to that.

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Vicky

Left BT back in September last year. Each month I receive a bill and each month I contact them to be told you will no longer receive any bills going forward…. Guess what, I received a bill earlier this week! No wonder they have been voted the worst telecoms company if the can’t even get the simple things right…… Come on BT it’s about time you smartened up you act!!!

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c.scott

when i tried to resolve aproblem with bt the advisor told me i was calling the wrong number’he gave me a new number to try which i did only finding myself talking to the same person

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Kerry

Oh where to start…
they constantly increased my monthly charge on average of £20-30 per month, which i would then have to decrease online. These increases came with no warning unless i logged on to the online account and actively searched for the apparent info telling me they are upping my monthly charge (still not seen it yet), so i decided to leave.
My account was always in credit after each bill was paid, so there was no need for me to pay extra each month.
They would try to worm out of refunding the credit by telling me they cannot do that. I would explain under UK law i am entitled to any credit i have.
They would say ok, but not process it, meaning i would have to chase them again.
On leaving, they charged me a late payment fee – even though i paid monthly and was in credit – They were actually due me nearly £30!!!!
I called and complained, i was assured it would be corrected and a cheque would be sent out for the credit.
This cheque never arrived, but a bill did for £12.50.
I called and explained they were due me money, i was again assured it would be sorted.
Every bill time for BT i now receive a bill for this £12.50, every time I call to complain, and i have yet to receive the cheque.
I left over a year ago, and this has still not been fixed.
Customer Service is non existant within BT – The Gov help keep the monopoly they have so things will never change.

Basil Fawlty offers better customer service than BT !!!

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Andrew

I had a problem and rang an 0845 BT number. The advisor at the call centre tried to help me, but failed after around 20 minutes of being on the phone. They tried to pass me on to someone else, and I was just left hanging on the line. After 40 minutes the line went dead. I range back and the same thing happened. Spoke to one advisor at the call centre, and they then tried putting me through to someone else. I was on hold for 40 minutes, then the line went dead. I rang a third time, now at a point of despair, and almost screamed at the poor girl. She apologised profusely, but simply could not help me. In the end I just gave up, my head hurting so bad I just could not face any more.

Why or why are BT so bad?

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Oldgeorge

The biggest problem is Openreach. I used Infinity in Manchester and it was very good, but getting it there relied on the skill of one Openreach employee who persisted in finding the problem after all his predecessors had given up.
Having moved to Stansted, (a new house on a new estate) we are back in the stone age with only a vague promise of Infinity sometime this year. Only getting 4.5 upload within a golf drive of the exchange on a brand new estate!
Every time I have had to deal with Openreach it has been difficult, and no chance of direct contact as they only deal with BT and we must go through the call centre, with all of its procedural bureaucracy.
But we must stay with BT in the hope of infinity, and none of the competitors will complain publically about Openreach in fear of worse!
Openreach should be detached from BT and charged with the responsibility of direst service to individual customers.

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ab

BT vision is crap. Where is the football that is supposed to be available. Totally rubbish.

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angela

Its supposed to be british telecom,i really dont think so,everyone i speak to is indian,i cant understand them they cant understand me,its a frustrating experience having to call bt. when i get off the phone i feel like im more confused than ever,they also charge an arm and a leg for there services,have deciced to go elsewhere

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