Paul Simons: How does BT/Openreach get away with such lousy customer service?

Early last week our part of the country was hit by very high winds and horizontal rain. Officially a storm I was told.

Later in the day the phone started to play up and then stopped working; to my amazement the broadband continued to work at that point but it also decided to wave the white flag a day or so later. It is now a full week since this happened and we still do not have a landline working. In our village some shops can’t use their card machines and most homes and shops seem to be phoneless.

When I called BT on my mobile last week I was told a) the problem is with OpenReach and b) BT didn’t know when the fault would be fixed. Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish; not good enough. My account is with BT and it is paperless, i.e. all online hence they know how to get to me. They manage to do so with ease when they want to sell something and bill me every month.


But here we are a week later and I have not heard a dickie-bird from BT – zilch, sod all, nought, zero. I am shocked at the time it has taken to sort out this fault and also with the absence of any word from the service provider. It is a terrible reflection on the quality of BT’s customer service which remains pretty poor. I have had several issues with BT since moving a year ago and my heart sinks when I am compelled to call them as it is always a miserable experience.

To make matters worse it is not easy/impossible to get through to Openreach. Their website instructs us to report our fault to our service provider, i.e. BT, who in turn will inform Openreach of the issue. They are having a laugh, trying to get this to work is not going to happen without a lot of shouting and swearing. Last time I lost my rag on a call to BT the gentleman in far off India or somewhere similar offered me £10 for my troubles.

Perhaps by now the origins of BT have drifted out of the memory of a big slug of the population and we could rebrand it using the same initials: Bloody Terrible.


At 09.07 this morning I received a call on my mobile and it was BT. A very pleasant lady was on the line from their Press Office who had read the story in MAA this morning. She claims my story was being elevated in BT to find out why a village could be without service for a week. Fingers crossed as my telephone still isn’t working after a week now.

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About Paul Simons

Paul joined Cadbury-Schweppes in brand management and then moved to United Biscuits. He switched to advertising in his late 20s, at Cogent Elliott and then Gold Greenlees Trott. He founded Simons Palmer Denton Clemmow & Johnson in the late 80s, one of the leading creative agencies of the 90s. Simons Palmer then merged with TBWA to create a top ten agency. Paul then joined O&M as chairman & CEO of the UK group. After three years he left to create a new AIM-quoted advertising group Cagney Plc. He is now a consultant to a number of client companies. Paul also shares his thoughts on his blog. Visit Paul Simons Blog.


  1. You may not have had a phone for a week, but your blog hasn’t been updated since January 2014.

  2. Had exactly the same problem a couple of weeks ago. They said my phone would be back on in a couple of days. Guess what, it wasn’t. Went without landline for almost two weeks, despite several shouting matches with the hapless Indian call centre wallahs who don’t appear to have a clue what’s going on and are clearly reading from a script. I demanded a refund on my line rental. They flatly refused! How do they get away with it? Easy – they’re a monopoly. We have no choice, sadly.