My mother, an octogenarian living alone in the UK, has been without her home phone service and internet service for 9 days now. Her mobile phone barely works at home due to lack of signal (something that mystifies me, but is a topic for a different post). Plusnet provides both her landline and her broadband, which are critical for somebody of that age in case of an emergency. Yet they are doing nothing to fix the issue.
The first challenge was actually getting this reported to them. They do not have an online form for submitting problem reports. Instead, their website literally says that to report a problem with your phone service you should call them. No joke.
Eventually, my mother managed to get through to them from her mobile, finding a place in the house where it was able to connect. They filed that in their system at 7:11pm on November 1, and simply said they had reported it to their “suppliers” to investigate.
Just one minute after that was posted to the ticket, this was added:
So, within a minute of the initial report they were already delaying until Saturday morning, 60 hours later.
Friday lunchtime they posted this message, addressed to my 80+ year old mother. When I asked about this via X they said it was intended for their internal use, but it is clearly addressed to my mother.
What that does say though is they expect something by 23:59 on November 3rd. That came and went with nothing changing. Phone service down. Internet down. Next update, which was added after I asked the X team to make sure they added updates to the ticket since getting through to my mother on her mobile is near impossible and I am in California.
This update was 4 days after the original date when they were going to provide an update. All the update says is they will have updates on Friday (which is November 10 – ten days after it was first reported). Immediately after that they added “This Question is now on hold until Friday 10th November at 7:00am.”
Openreach & Plusnet
The supplier they are talking about is Openreach, the company that owns and maintains all the wiring, and they act as though this was another company they have no control over. There are several reasons why this is not accurate.
Firstly, my mother’s contract is with Plusnet, not Openreach. Plusnet are responsible for providing her phone and broadband service. Not Openreach. Plusnet are who she pays for the service. They need to take responsibility for outages and proactively resolve them. Not just push the blame to “suppliers” and punt on updates for a week. They should be asking for updates daily at a minimum when one of their customers has no service.
Even more interesting is the fact that both Plusnet and Openreach are part of the BT Group. They are literally part of the same company. Sure, they’ve set themselves up as separate entities, which comes if very handy when you want to pass the buck on problems. Plusnet blames Openreach and Openreach says they don’t talk directly to customers, speak to your provider. Not good enough.
Here is what the Openreach site says about making a complaint:
To raise a complaint, or enquiry, that relates to the provision of telephone/internet services, engineer appointments, faults or compensation, you’ll need to go through your Communications Provider. They in turn will contact us to resolve the matter on your behalf. This is because although Openreach is the network provider, your relationship is with your Communications Provider.Openreach
When the provider just blames Openreach, and they won’t talk to end users, both companies can do nothing. Which is what they’ve been doing for the last 9 days. Nothing.
Since they seem unable to resolve a problem that literally should have been fixed within 24 hours, I have filed a report with OFCOM, the UK’s telecoms regulatory service. I doubt it will make any difference, but it is important that they have visibility into these delays in providing service. Perhaps if enough people report these issues they will do something to regulate companies like Plusnet that seem unwilling to take responsibility for the services they sell.
Update – November 10, 2023
After promising an update at 7am on November 10, and missing that by 3 hours, all they provided as an update was a new date:
Now they are claiming it won’t be fixed for another 7 days, and they won’t be in touch again until 3 days after that. Totally unacceptable customer service. I have now demanded daily updates from them (I doubt they will provide them) and to have an executive reach out with details of how they will fix this and the compensation they will be offering,
This is the “internal” summary they posted to the ticket thread as well, though the only thing I can really make out for certain from this is that there is a cable fault. A cable fault that will take them almost 3 weeks to fix.
Update – November 10, 2023
Later in the day, I received another email from the PlusNet Customer Advocates team, in response to me emailing details of the issue to both the PlusNet CEO and the Openreach CEO. In there, she stated that the case had been escalated and they would be updating me more on Monday.
Update – November 11, 2023
I received a couple of updates on Saturday. One from PlusNet:
And another from the Openreach social media team:
The Openreach one is perhaps the most frustrating, although I appreciate that they sent it to me unprompted. It amazes me that while they identified the location of the fault on November 3, it was only 8 days later they sorted out having somebody survey what traffic management would be needed.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that the crew working on the fix need to be kept safe from cars (although it is a very quiet road, there is still some traffic, and despite a relatively low speed limit, I know some cars drive fast along that particular stretch). What I don’t understand is why it took them over a week to send somebody out to “survey” the road and decide what was needed.
In cases where hundreds of customers are without any service (including, I found out, the local pub who were unable to take card payments), it would seem that this should have been arranged on the 3rd or 4th, if it is not something the team that found the fault couldn’t just request directly.
Update – November 14, 2023
Today is two weeks without phone service. The only update today was that Openreach confirmed there was no temporary fix option.
Update – November 15, 2023
PlusNet advised me that they had not received an update from Openreach at all, but that they had an estimate for the completion of the work of November 17. The Openreach social media team did have an update for me though:
Update – November 16, 2023
My mother called me to tell me that two people in yellow jackets (I assume from Openreach, but she wasn’t sure) had come over to the house, checked something at the primary socket, gone away, come back again, checked it again and then verified everything else came back online. As of a around midday (her estimate) she had working phone and internet service again.