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Standard User David_W
(experienced) Wed 12-Dec-12 10:53:19
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FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireguard


[link to this post]
 
I realise that Zen is completely in BT Openworld's hands for appointment availability information and which slots are confirmed. However, we got badly caught out by this yesterday - the online appointment chooser turned out to be so wrong as to be utterly misleading.

BT reached RFS on our cabinet (and the entire exchange) on 20 November - with minimal fanfare other than a tweet on their Openworld news account that I managed to miss. Having realised that I could order, we placed our upgrade order online. The appointment chooser displayed a range of appointments this month and we selected the first available appointment (18 December AM). I paid the upgrade fee on my credit card.

We got confirmation of the upgrade appointment last night - 8 January 2013 AM.


I understand that the holiday period is nearly with us, so many BT Openworld engineers will be taking holiday and a substantial portion of the remaining engineer time will likely be prioritised for faults. I further understand that the availability of appointments (and whether any FTTC installations are happening at all) might be compromised by the recent RFS and this being the first exchange for some miles with FTTx - all the surrounding exchanges and almost all their surrounding exchanges appear to be unviable for the commercial roll-out. It could also be that not all engineers working in this area are FTTC trained yet and those that are trained are taking holiday.

However, I struggle to understand why there was such a discrepancy between the appointment chooser and what BT confirmed. This wasn't a case of the first slot or two turning out not to be available, but a whole raft of appointment slots that I was offered turning out not to be available.


As things stand, Zen has my £96 (nearly double what I would have had to pay had BT managed the original 30 June RFS date) and nothing is going to happen for nearly a month. Considering I was given every indication that something would be possible next week when I paid, I don't regard this as a particularly satisfactory state of affairs - though I appreciate it is sound from the point of view of contract law and Zen's terms and conditions.


I'd be grateful if someone at Zen could probe the sizeable discrepancy between the appointment chooser and reality in our case. The order reference is 871337 - I'm the individual listed as the contact point for BT on that order. Zen must be getting data on potential appointments from BT and it doesn't seem satisfactory that BT refuse to confirm work booked for those slots and substitute a date so far into the future.

I suggest that it might be a good idea to add a banner to the appointment chooser pointing out that there may be significant delays beyond the chosen appointment over the next few weeks if ours is not an isolated case.


Someone at Zen was supposedly keeping an eye on our line, but I didn't get an e-mail from Zen pointing out that we'd reached RFS. I don't have the details to hand of who said they'd keep an eye on it, but it was a result of registering our interest via the Zen web site in connection with a previous missed RFS date - one of those infamous quarterly ones that is pushed back when almost at the end of the quarter.

If it hasn't happened subsequently, I suggest that Zen create an automated system for monitoring pre-registrations for reaching RFS. I could have done with 20MBit upload (likely to be achieved - we're only around 225m from the cabinet along the actual cable run) when I needed to upload several GB to Dropbox at short notice recently.
Standard User Magsy
(committed) Wed 12-Dec-12 11:26:21
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: David_W] [link to this post]
 
A three week delay, one of those weeks being Christmas? I don't know how you are going to cope!!! Cancel Christmas...

I am disappointed I've missed mine too but seriously, a six month delay already (which a lot of us had) and a huge part of the population won't have it for another year...be happy smile

These are residential services, not business, this happens.
Standard User David_W
(experienced) Wed 12-Dec-12 12:38:41
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: Magsy] [link to this post]
 
I should have guessed that someone would tell me:

* to get a life

* to be grateful for the charitable gifts of BT Charity and Zen Charity (how strange that we still get a monthly Internet access bill)

* to flagellate myself because I am so lucky to have an Internet connection in MMXII (though I also possess a Morse key for amateur radio use)

* that these are residential services which are provided on a 'we do our best but be grateful you get anything' basis (how strange that HMRC manages to levy tax on our home-based business, from where the requirement for faster speeds arises)


I jest - but seriously, was this a constructive response to the suggestions in my post?


If I'd gone to the appointment checker and the first appointment was for the second week of January, I would have had the factual basis for an informed decision about whether we ordered at this stage and, if we ordered now, when the installation would fit best amongst our workload. I acknowledged the many reasons why appointments are likely to be scarce at this time of the year in my original post, and that I knew BT do not necessarily confirm the selected appointment

However, it gives a poor customer experience to offer four or five slots next week, only to find they were all illusory. Zen's system didn't ask me to indicate a general preference - it asked me to make an appointment subject to confirmation. This creates some degree of expectation the booked appointment will take place. The implication of what happened to my order is that BT are not booking any more FTTC installs on this exchange until next month - though I realise that such information can only usually be discovered indirectly by trying to place an order.

If anyone is to blame for my poor experience, it is BT - they gave misleading data to Zen who acted on it in good faith. My interest is in improving the experience of others if, after Zen look into what happened, they discover I am not alone in discovering I face a lengthy and undisclosed delay.

If Zen can't get more accurate appointment availability data out of BT at this time of year (or a proportion of the indicated slots are for faults only and/or for non-FTTx work only), I was simply suggesting an appropriate rider should be added to the appointment phase of the online system. Indeed, if my experience is typical, it would be better to disable the appointment checker until appointment availability gets back to normal in January. In this scenario, it would seem better for Zen to request preferences for morning and afternoon on each day of the week, together with any slots where the customer would be unavailable, so that they can book an appropriate slot manually.


My aim was to improve the experience of other customers by sharing my experience. I know RFS dates slip for many, and that many others know they will fall outside the footprint of the commercial deployment of faster fixed services but don't yet know whether 4G or BDUK funding gives them any hope of faster services. None of this detracts from the commercial nature of the deployed services. It is in everyone's interests for Zen not to take orders based on minimally qualified but wholly inaccurate appointment data.


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Standard User BatBoy
(legend) Wed 12-Dec-12 13:45:16
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: David_W] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by David_W:
I realise that Zen is completely in BT Openworld's hands
I suspect you are referring to Openreach.


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Standard User David_W
(experienced) Wed 12-Dec-12 13:58:35
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: BatBoy] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by BatBoy:
In reply to a post by David_W:
I realise that Zen is completely in BT Openworld's hands
I suspect you are referring to Openreach.

I did, indeed, mean Openreach. (Openworld was rather a long time ago!)
ISP Representative Gorskar
(isp) Wed 12-Dec-12 15:28:14
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: David_W] [link to this post]
 
Hi,

The appointment slot you select online when placing an order is only a preference - the online appointment selector doesn't actually know what slots are available from BT - it just excludes weekends/bank holidays & dates within 5 working days.

There is a bullet point below the date picker which says "If your preferred installation appointment date/time is unavailable we will let you know as soon as possible and arrange an alternative appointment for you."

I agree however that it doesn't make it clear there could be a big difference in the preferred and available dates - I'll point the product manager towards this post.

BT have in the past been fairly good at meeting people's preferred slot, (or at least not too far out) but I'm guessing around the Christmas period they build up a bit of a backlog.

So sorry about that - if you want to cancel the order you will of course be fully refunded.

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cool ZeN Internet Systems Development_________________________ cool
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The above post has been made by an ISP REPRESENTATIVE (although not necessarily the ISP being discussed in the post).
Standard User boxst
(fountain of knowledge) Wed 12-Dec-12 15:34:36
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: David_W] [link to this post]
 
Yes that happened to me as well. I chose 11th December and the email confirming the day after said 14th December (obviously not such a long wait as you as my cabinet only went live on the 30th November).

I am not quite as annoyed as you smile but I agree that it should be made clearer that you are just stating a preference and the actual date will be confirmed after you have placed the order.
Standard User David_W
(experienced) Wed 12-Dec-12 16:28:32
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: Gorskar] [link to this post]
 
Thanks, James - that's the response I was after. I thought that the slots were those indicated as provisionally available by BT Openreach - but that appears not to be the case.

Especially at busy times, such as around holidays and during times of declared MBORC, it might be best, as I suggested, to capture preferences by day of the week and AM/PM/either, together with a declaration of any blocked slots. This avoids the 'but I thought I was making an appointment' scenario completely. Whatever is done, I suggest not using the word 'appointment' at all - 'preference' or 'visit preference' is arguably much better.

For now, we'll leave the order in place - if we cancel, we'll only slip further down the list and our desire is to get the installation done as soon as possible. We're happy to take a PM appointment or an appointment on a different day if that opens up an earlier possibility - I'd be grateful if you or someone else at Zen would check that out (it seems Zen might have been blindly following my Tuesday AM preference, which was just me selecting the first slot shown, rather than a desire only to consider Tuesdays). I selected AM purely because experience tells me that it's easier to sort a problem on the day if it arises during the first half of the working day.


I presume Zen have already charged my card. If there are delays, I suggest it is more equitable to reserve the funds on the card and take the funds a week before the appointment, much as the better online retailers do when an item is back-ordered. However, I appreciate this is difficult if Zen incur the BT Openreach charges at the time of booking the appointment.


Another issue I spotted with the online system relates to ongoing payments. We have a direct debit for the monthly payments that we wish to leave in place - I gave my card details purely for the one-off upgrade payment. Rather than the current system, which is vague as to what will happen with online payments for upgraded products, can I suggest requiring a clear choice as to whether to use the card for ongoing payments or leave the existing regular payment arrangements intact.


There was no way to order new hardware as part of the upgrade order. In my case, it makes no difference - my router is a small rack server running pfSense, which will cope easily with an 80/20 PPPoE based FTTC line. However, some may appreciate an easy way of ordering a new router, especially if Zen can take a single payment and arrange the delivery of the router a couple of days before the appointment.


Finally, when asking about care level, the system mentions there is no additional cost for upgrading to enhanced care, but does not mention the additional monthly charge at that point. This could do with being revisited to ensure that recurring and one-off charges are mentioned at the same time.
Standard User David_W
(experienced) Thu 03-Jan-13 19:22:13
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: boxst] [link to this post]
 
It appears that it is now possible for SPs to check and book appointments with BT Openreach 'on the fly' - see http://forums.thinkbroadband.com/unhappiness/t/41951...

It would be best if Zen upgrade the ordering system to use that facility.
Standard User Philce
(committed) Thu 03-Jan-13 20:46:11
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Re: FTTC upgrade - appointment chooser was a chocolate fireg


[re: David_W] [link to this post]
 
Think yourself lucky!

Ordered online with Sky on Dec 19th, booked a date of 28th Dec for all services to be done.

Got email notification of Openreach visit on FEB 6th! (yes FEB)!

Openreach really need to get their act together on this or people will not wait.

Im In Leicester on EMMONT btw.
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