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BTopenworld hits 20,000 users

Claims customers are satisfied

BTopenworld claims it will hit a significant milestone this week when it notches up its 20,000th customer for the broadband service.

If true, then it suggests that BTopenworld's customer base is growing at a smaller rate than previously thought.

Three weeks ago, BTopenworld CE Andy Green said that, at the end of 2000, the broadband ISP had 12,000 ADSL subscribers and that it was adding customers at a rate of between 1,000 and 2,000 customers a week since January 1.

However, according to the latest figures, it seems BTopenworld is only growing at around 1,000 new punters a week - the lower end of its estimate.

No matter.

Hitting back at the barrage of complaints, BTopenworld has commissioned some independent research to find out what people think of the service.

According to the study, released to El Reg, 89 per cent of broadband customers were satisfied with the speed of the service and 78 per cent of customers were satisfied with the BTopenworld service overall.

Some 20 per cent of BTopenworld users describe themselves as gamers. And half of all users have recommended the service to someone else.

That's some endorsement. Who knows - BTopenworld might even splash out on a bag of humbugs to dish out to its satisfied punters.

But what happens when things go wrong? What of the 22 per cent of people who were not "satisfied with the BTopenworld service overall".

"We want to combat that 20 per cent and get it right," said a senior spokesman for BTopenworld.

He acknowledged that there were some problems with the service and that the ordering process was experiencing some "hiccups".*

But he insisted that the problems that have plagued BT's ADSL service would be resolved and that the telco was "sorting out other issues". ®

* A Reg reader describes the "hiccups" he's experienced

If anyone is any doubt about the kinds of problems people are facing trying to get ADSL installed, here's an example of what users are going through. We've had scores of emails all saying much the same thing. These are not isolated experiences. Details have been changed (you'll see what I mean, OK so don't write in, it's deliberate) to protect the identity of this user.

After waiting a month for an approved credit card so I could order the BT Home 500 service (I still can't figure out why only credit card holders are eligible for this service), I ordered the installation from their website and arranged for an installation date of Wednesday, 21 February. Two days after placing the order, a confirming letter arrived stating that the date for installation would be placed as Wednesday 21st February, and that a line test would be carried out. The letter also stated that if there were any problems with the installation, I would be notified within three days of the installation date.

Wednesday 21st February came around and no contact had been made by BT. "Great" I thought, "that must mean no problems". As 11.30am rolled around, I began to get nervous (I had specified an am installation time). I phoned the BTopenworld number to ask if there were any problems or delays (It had been snowing quite heavily on the last couple of days) only to be told by the BT representative that my line had apparently failed the line test.

As you can imagine, my blood pressure shot through the roof, and I spent the next two hours seething and occasionally ranting about the apparent inability of BT to keep their customers informed of their orders. At this point my other half wisely informed me that I was better taking out my anger on BT themselves rather than stalking around the house and kicking the occasional cat.

Taking heed to these words, I phoned BT back and requested to be put through to the complaints division and informed them of my plight, and generally letting them know how unhappy I was. The person on the other end of the phone seemed a bit nervous and tried explaining to me that the date of 21st February was only a provisional date, and that I should have phoned to confirm everything was alright. Naturally, I disagreed with this attempt at fobbing me off and pointed out that the letter they had sent me stated that I would be contacted if there was any problem, and I was now out a days wages waiting for an engineer who was never going to show up in the first place.

At this point, another line test was carried out, and lo and behold, this time it passed! Now, all this makes me wonder what BT's line tests are all about. How can a line fail a test, then pass it later on? Something smells quite fishy to me.

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