BT personnel arrogance regarding bad broadband service astonishing

An astonishing example of BT personnel arrogance regarding its substandard broadband service and contempt for its customers was recorded by Grant Shapps, Member of Parliament (MP) for Welwyn Hatfield, when he heard them mocking a report when they failed to put the telephone down following a call.

Mr. Shapps posted a recording of the answer machine message that reveals the ‘contempt’ he claims BT shows to its customers.

The former Minister of State at the Department for International Development, and former co-chairman of the Conservative Party said personnel from BT’s press office rang his office on Friday 22nd January, asking for a copy of a report by MPs (citation at bottom of page).

‘Dire’ services despite massive subsidies

The report states that millions of BT broadband customers and businesses still have to suffer ‘dire’ connection speeds despite the taxpayer giving the company £1.7 billion to improve services.

In the recording, two BT employees can be heard mocking the cross-party report, which was backed by 121 MPs, including Labour MP Helen Goodman, UKIP’s Douglas Carswell and Lib Dem former Scottish Secretary Alastair Carmichael.

One BT employee says “It’s called Broadbad,” to which a colleague replies “Broadbad? Oh, that’s clever. That’s hilarious.”

The first man says sarcastically “Ooo! Look at that!” after discussing how the letter ‘n’ of broadband had been crossed out.

BT does not care about its customers

It looked pretty clear that the two BT workers ‘simply do not care’ about the problems their millions of customers have and the failures listed in the report.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr. Shapps said:

“There is a recording of the BT press office who accidentally didn’t put down the phone after they called my office yesterday where they are pretty contemptuous and dismissive of the entire issue. They appeared simply not to care about it.”

The report recommends that BT be split from its Openreach subsidiary so that its ‘natural monopoly’ over the country’s broadband infrastructure may end.

The report, by the British Infrastructure Group, concluded:

“Unless BT and Openreach are formally separated to become two entirely independent companies little will change. They will continue to paper over gaping cracks.”

“Whilst rural SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises] and consumers are left with dire speeds, or even no service at all, Openreach makes vast profits and finds little reason to invest in the network, install new lines or even fix faults in a properly timely manner.”

“Openreach has so far received £1.7bn in taxpayer subsidies to connect harder-to-reach areas of the UK to superfast services, but has repeatedly failed to deliver.”

BT claimed it took any criticism seriously, but added that the report was ‘misleading and ill-judged’. It said the recommendation to break up the business was ‘wrong-headed’. Were these wise words written by the press office men we hear in the recording mocking the report?

Some highlights of the Report:

– So far, Openreach has received £1.7 billion from the taxpayer in subsidies to get people in harder-to-reach areas connected with superfast services. It has repeatedly failed to do this.

– Approximately 5.7 million Britons have internet connections below the standards required by Ofcom. 3.5 million of them live in rural areas.

– Substandard internet connections are costing the British economy up to £11 billion annually.

– Forty-two percent of SMEs (small or medium-sized enterprises) say they have problems with their internet connectivity, and 29% also report poor service reliability.

– When the BT and EE merger is complete, BT will have a 40% share of the retail telecoms market and 70% of the wholesale market.

– “The time has come for BT to be forced to sell off Openreach to encourage more competition and a better service for every internet user and for the benefit of the UK economy.”

According to the Report:

“Britain should have the most developed digital economy in the world but is instead lagging behind countries such as Japan, South Korea and others… The UK is in the middle of an economic recovery which is being driven by the hard work of UK businesses.”

“It is imperative that this important work is not impeded. However, there are some serious questions about the damage poor internet connections are doing to these very businesses.”

Citation: A new study into broadband investment and the role of BT and Openreach,” A British Infrastructure Group (BIG) Report by The Rt. Hon Grant Shapps MP. Published 23rd January 2016.