Thursday, 28 August 2008

Life is too short for dealing with BT

14st 2lb; 6.0 units of unfairly maligned wine yesterday; 1,257; India.

Another day of mind-numbing tedium at home in Northumberland, subsisting on things salvaged from the depths of my freezers, one of which reached the end of its design life some years ago. So next time it becomes comprehensively iced up, I think I shall forget about defrosting it in the conventional way and just drill down from the top using one of those ice core sampling tools scientists enjoy playing with in the Antarctic. It should assemble an intriguingly variegated meal.

It comes to something when the highlight of one’s day proves to be the pinging into one’s inbox of the University of Cambridge alumni e-bulletin. The Vice-Chancellor used to send periodic begging letters beginning “Dear Alumni”. Then some classically educated pedant with a bee in her bonnet evidently pointed out that this was sexist, so it became “Dear Alumni and Alumnae”. A fine effort, I thought, but clearly it still gave offence to some by putting the masculine first, as next time I looked it had become “Dear Alumnae and Alumni”. Oh for f***’s sake, as they say in Cambridge. Or at any rate did rather a lot when I was there. Particularly in my rooms.

I also received a stern e-mail from BT warning that my Broadband Talk account had been closed as I had failed to use it. I don’t suppose it would ever occur to them that this might have something to do with the fact that the Home Hub they have so extensively advertised with the aid of the egregious Kris Marshall, who cannot even spell his sodding name never mind act, does not bloody well work. I did try to point this out to their Faults Department, but found myself severely handicapped by the fact that this now consists of a lot of people in a big shed in India whose role is to deny that the fault you are complaining about exists. In order to do this, they receive extensive training in reading out predetermined explanations from a small selection of cards. In my particular case, after they had raised my blood pressure to life-threatening levels, they did finally admit that there might be a problem. But not with their equipment. Dear me, no. It was my fault for living too far from the telephone exchange. A fact, I pointed out with some acidity, that they could have alerted me to when they accepted my order for the equipment, or ideally instead of doing so.

A few weeks later I encountered one of their few remaining British employees working up the pole outside my house, and he told me that, as I had suspected, this explanation was utter bollocks as he knew for a fact that there was a Bloke living in the farm cottages half a mile up the road, and therefore half a mile further from the same exchange, who had a Home Hub which worked just fine. He suggested that I call his colleagues in India and point this out, and ask for a replacement bit of kit. Then our eyes met and we both knew that I was never, ever going to do this: (a) because I had already gone out and bought an alternative modem and router that actually worked perfectly, and (b) because life is far too short and much too precious for any of us to waste it talking to BT.

Though if they ever install an answering machine on their Chairman’s direct line on which one could record mindless abuse for unlimited periods, I might well be tempted to give it a go.

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