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Wednesday, 19 December 2012

BT's Ian Livingston, I presume

Reader(s) of this blog will know that I am never one to complain and that I am not in the least the sort of grumpy old blogger type with whom it would be very stupid for BT Chief Executive Ian Livingston ever to get into a personal email correspondence about a customer complaint - a customer complaint, indeed, that began in September, generating emails on which I have sometimes been so pompous as to copy in what I assume to be the correct address for Mr Livingston, in the hope that messages addressed to BT's Chief Exec might be seen by a customer services wallah of such sagacity and seniority as to realise that I am right about this complaint (as about all things), and who might thus resolve matters in my favour.

Some of the emails to Ian Livingston have actually elicited much-appreciated responses from an "Ian" who either actually is the BT Chief Exec or else is another BT employee of the same name; I recently CC'd Ian on this email to the communications ombudsman, Mr Lewis Shand-Smith, in which I wrote:

"Many weeks (if not months) ago, BT referred me to the ombudsman service that you run, in relation to a complaint that I have about BT. I filled in your online form and the screen told me that it had been filled in correctly and would now be processed. It did not give me a reference number and I did not receive an email to confirm that the form had been received.

"Having since heard nothing, I rang your offices today and was told that there is no record of my complaint about BT, which has not been received or processed by your organisation, despite your website having told me that I had entered the information correctly and that it would now be processed.

"Mr Livingston, in light of this, could I please ask for the name of someone at BT to whom I can escalate my complaint, as it has proven impossible to refer the complaint to the ombudsman?"

To which BT's Ian Livingston replied:

"I have never heard of such a problem in all the time that I have seen cases referred to the Ombudsman. If you have had a problem with case submission for whatever reason, then I would really suggest that you do submit it again. You were unhappy with BT's dealing with this case and that is why it was referred to the Ombudsman for independent review if that is what you are seeking. We have already explained our final position and will not re-review it internally."

To which I sent a reply to Mr Livingston, including:

"It surprises me that you would simply dismiss my account of what happened when I posted a complaint on the ombudsman's website, and that you are not concerned that this happened to at least one BT customer.

"Your 'never (having) heard of such a problem in all the time that (you) have seen cases referred to the Ombudsman' might not necessarily be because such a problem has never previously occurred, but might rather be because other customers have not informed BT of problems that they have experienced not with BT, but with an external body (i.e. the ombudsman).

"I am not surprised to see Ofcom reporting this week that complaints about BT land lines moved above the industry average level to 0.21 complaints per 1,000 customers in Q3 2012, increasing from 0.19 in the previous quarter. You might want to reflect on that statistic before dismissing my complaint (which I do not believe has been looked at in detail by the right people in your office).

"I had asked for my complaint to be escalated within BT, and was told that this was not possible (for reasons that were never explained to me) and that I must instead refer my complaint to the ombudsman - it was not my choice to go to the ombudsman."

I shall now let this tedious matter go before it takes up any more of my time or my money. The Data Protection Act bars BT from disclosing any further details of my initial customer complaint without my express permission, which I do not give - and if they don't like it, they can complain to the relevant ombudsman.

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