Yesterday I phoned BT's 152 number and ordered a business line for Paul. He had to be present to authorise the credit check but it all seemed to go smoothly. The guy taking the order was called Nick and he gave me both a job reference number and a system reference (the system reference apparently indicating that the order was well on its way to being completed). He said it could take up to 48 hours to activate but in fact the line was working within 24.
The problem now is that the line was stopped for long enough that Paul's ADSL supplier (not BT) seem to have deactivated his Internet connection. Fortunately that was set up for him by a friend of mine and it is not me that will have to deal with getting it restored.
On May 2nd, having noticed that his phone was not working, a friend of mine called Paul handed me an overdue notice for his BT phone line and asked me to pay it for him over the phone. I used the automated payment system and paid the overdue amount using my debit card, at which point the system told me something like "Account now cleared, may take 24 hours to reconnect". That never happened so I started to investigate.
Paul had been having ongoing problems receiving post which meant that he never received the original bill and the reminder arrived over a month late. This was not helped by the fact that BT sent it to the wrong postcode (probably because the billing address was "Holding 3" and the bill was sent to the postcode corresponding to house number 3, a mile or so up the same road). Anyway, the result was that by the time I payed the line had already been stopped, and the automated payment system did not tell me this.
So I started calling BT. I became familiar with the option menu of their 150 service number and their hold music, and with being passed from department to department, speaking to dozens of operatives, repeatedly giving details, explaining why I was acting on behalf of the customer etc. I had to get Paul on the line once to confirm that he had authorised me to act on his behalf.
I finally resigned myself to the fact that the line would not be reconnected and that we would have to order a new line. I did this and was assured that it would be activated within two days but when this didn't happen I phoned again and was told that the order had been cancelled (I had a VOL reference for the order). Someone else placed the order for me again but two days later it was still not working and when I phoned back they again told me that the order had been cancelled! I was beginning to loose hope. Finally, last night I spoke to someone called Tony at WLR3 who came up with a plausible explanation of what had been going on and suggested a course of action.
So what is this WLR3? Well WLR stands for Wholesale Line Rental and at some point BT switched from a system called WLR2 to WLR3. Paul's line had been set up on WLR2 but all new lines are set up on WLR3. Since his line was a special BT install at a council farm holding it seems that the address was never taken across to the WLR3 system. Tony said I would have to contact WLR3 again in the morning and ask them to put me through to the Network Addressing Team. He said I should ask them to move the address over to WLR3 so that it was accessible through something he called "One View" - otherwise it would be treated as a "Bronze Address" and it could take months to get a line.
So this morning I struggled for another half hour or so being put on hold and cut off and transferred around the place and giving details again before finally getting through to someone at WLR3 who was prepared to help. He wouldn't actually let me talk to NAT but said he would speak to them and put me on hold. When he came back he basically said that Tony didn't know what he was talking about and there was nothing that NAT could do. I bit my tongue and explained patiently that I had now spent about 5 hours on the phone over a period of a week and that the customer was loosing business and needed his line back and could he please let me speak to someone at NAT like Tony said I should. He didn't, but he did speak to them again and when he finally came back on the line he said that they had done the transfer and that it would take two hours to update (which is exactly what Tony had said so this was a good sign). Tomorrow morning I will try ordering the new line again and hopefully this time it won't get mysteriously cancelled - we shall see.
www.zenatode.org.uk Ian Gregory 2010