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Openreach to feature on BBC Watchdog
Wednesday 30 October 2013 12:16:21 by Andrew Ferguson

We will need to wait till 8pm tonight (Wednesday 30th October) to see exactly what BBC Watchdog covers in its show that is set to "investigate BT Openreach and their promises to keep the nation connected". We suspect the item will centre around the large variation in performance Openreach has been providing in terms of the length of time to repair faults and install new telephone and broadband services.

Coincidence or just random timing, Openreach has announced changes to its Service Level Agreement/Guarantee (SLA/SLG) that it offers for WLR Analogue, LLU MPF and ISDN2 appointments. The main change is that from the 1st November the first appointment will be made available within 12 working days compared to the current 13 working days. The presence of a SLG payment scheme may surprise some, and this represents what your service provider is compensated with if there is no appointment slot available, note this is not about missed appointments, but simply Openreach being too busy to even offer an install date.

"Updated SLG payment structure

"If we fail to make the first appointment available within 12 working days, this will result in an SLG payment of £2, for each of (working) days 13, 14 and 15. For example, if the first available appointment is on day 15, then an SLG of £6 (3 times £2) would be payable.

If the availability of the first appointment goes beyond SLA+3 (i.e. beyond 15 working days), an SLG payment of £4 per day will apply for the whole period from (working) day 13 onwards, up to where the first appointment is available. For example, if the first available appointment is on day 19, then an SLG of £28 (7 times £4) would be payable."

Extract from Openreach Briefing to Communication Providers

We do see people complaining about long lead times for service installs, but to date there has been little evidence of any compensation rolling back up the chain to the consumer. There are payments that will be made if Openreach miss an appointment and while we have seen providers quick to levy any abortive visit charges (where you were out when the engineer called), it is rare to see people talk about the compensation.

"All changes will be implemented on 1 August 2013.

  Existing Price Revised Price
Abortive Visit Charges £85.00 £90.00
Missed Appointment Payment £40.00 £45.00
OSA FSP3000 Abortive Visit Charge £745.00 £750.00

The change to the Abortive Visit Charge reflects inflationary changes in costs. However, Openreach has recognised that it is fair to make an equal change to the payment it makes to customers when an appointment fails due to Openreach issues."

Openreach Abortive Visit Charges/Compensation

The levels of separation that put Openreach out of contact with the consumer are not helping, as the compensation often appears to get lost, and it is sometimes not clear if a problem is down to a wrong order code from the retailer/wholesaler or a simple mistake by Openreach. All that matters to the consumer is that installs are done on time and faults fixed within a reasonable timeframe, and the retail providers who ultimately are taking the money from the consumer or SME need to step up there game, both in compensating the consumer and improving how they interact with Openreach and other wholesale partners.

For Openreach specifically a lot of the problems are down to size of the workforce and maintaining legacy infrastructure while also trying to roll-out new infrastructure. Throwing contractors at the problem might help in the short term, but more full-time staff are needed, but that means higher costs and increasing Openreach pricing at a time when politicians and communications providers are saying Openreach charges too much looks to be impossible task.


Posted by Bob_s2 over 3 years ago
AS far as the law is concerned the consumer has no contract with BT Openreach. Any compensation would be due from BT Retail or the ISP the contract was with if not BT retail
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Hence the paragraph "We do see people complaining about long lead times for service installs, but to date there has been little evidence of any compensation rolling back up the chain to the consumer"
Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
When will consumers realise that they pay the bills for all this compensation lark, and for the additional administration that it causes? The service providers (in whatever business) are laughing at our naivety, all the way to the bank. Money doesn't just appear out of thin air as the media seem to think. (Correction, it does for journos).
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
In my experience, Openreach are untouchable-it doesn't matter how much you complain to your provider, they are powerless to do anything. There is no contract that they can be held to and they alter stated response times as they see fit, if they miss apppointments or take a long time then the provider can't escalate it or do anything, they just have to book it again. I kicked up a stink with the manager of my provider but he said Openreach hold them to ransom, the fault reporting system they are given doesn't allow for any escalation.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
The providers are indeed the customers of Openreach and the end-user probably rightly doesn't have contact with them, but this is the only situation I've heard of where the supplier has no contractual obligation to the customer. The customer (ISP) pays for the service but nothing can be done if the service is not provided or if they drag their feet. It's not like the customer is able to switch and go somewhere else, Openreach have the providers over a barrel.
Posted by New_Londoner over 3 years ago
My understanding is that providers can in fact escalate, are able to prioritise specific orders. They don't always say so though as they may not have prioritised the job being discussed with a particular customer,

Perhaps Andrew could investigate?
Posted by adslmax over 3 years ago
Get rid of Openreach better for us all. I think ofcom should change this and let the customer speak to openreach instead.
Posted by jroadley over 3 years ago
You have to take your hat off to Openreach for basically sticking two fingers up to everyone.

That said, I bet they are awful to work for. I would of love to seen someone from Openreach on the show.
Posted by andrew (Favicon staff member) over 3 years ago
Odd that none of the operators appeared to say how bad things are?

There are various priority appointments available, but you pay for them.

Openreach is a cold and hard and says show me your money.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
csimon - i think your provider is mininforming you they have an escalaton pat - just depends what the SLA is between provider and openreach
Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
csimon: ever heard of National Grid or your local electricity distributor, or Network Rail? Perhaps not, but the former shows that the arrangement does work. Where OpenReach have problems, then I doubt the structure has much to do with it. In my experience it's their variable performance (as with the Post Office telephones and pre-privatisation BT), which has improved but too slowly and is sometimes one step forwards and two back, as always.) The Government could always change the law, of course. lol. But you don't have a contract with them either.
Posted by Michael_Chare over 3 years ago
@merv1. I can contact my electricity DNO and did once get compensation. I can not easily make contact with Openreach. Writing to BT does no good, as the response comes from BT Retail who clearly don't know what Openreach are doing. Openreach was created by the government to introduce competition, but has this improved service levels?
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
michael - openreach deals with CPs in an equal and equivalment manner based - openreach deals and supports with in excess of 500 communication providers (not all of these wll have the same level of service with openreach

Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
@mervl:"When will consumers realise that they pay the bills for all this compensation lark"

I thought it was quite obvious ,But they shouldn't be able to charge some of the exessive amounts that they do to customers, It's this that help's fuel the compo culture
Posted by tommy45 over 3 years ago
^^ Openreach charges^^
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
They actually made VM and their techs shine for me. Which to be honest is deserved. Because they are always out and about
Posted by brandscill over 3 years ago
I understand that as I'm an indirect customer of Openreach I shouldn't be able to contact them with my complaint but it is such hard work having to deal with them. The confusion surrounding an engineer visit to install a new line when taking broadband from the Post Office was profound. BT Openreach had 1 day, the Post Office another and I a different one all together. It took so many phone calls to align dates. 6 weeks from order to get a phone line installed was in my opinion far to long a wait time.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
In my case,no phone & internet due to lightning that fried mstr socket,took 3mths & 4 missed appointments.I couldn't do a thing,rant & rave at my provider (and on here) but each time OR cocked up they just had to rebook & I'd have to wait another 3wks to see if they turned up next time.If I failed like this in my job I'd be sacked-all those engineers & penpushers involved in that debacle should have been sacked, & it happens a lot!We're talking a vital comms service here,not Sky TV,without that essential lifeline for 3mths. But it's impossible to hold OR accountable,they are untouchable.
Posted by mervl over 3 years ago
Hmm, so if Openreach were called something else/owned by somebody else/customers could speak to them directly, mistakes and inefficiencies could be eliminated. Pigs might fly. I don't believe it. (And I've had a phone fault - loss of service - pre-OR admittedly when it was one organisation, that took 2 years to sort out).
Posted by lenham343 over 3 years ago
Having spent 2 months this spring waiting for voice to be restored, and a further 3 for broadband to get sorted, I thought BBC Watchdog was pretty fair. The main issues for me were the quality of information flowing through to me, my ISP's ability to hold OR to account when their story suddenly changed, and the lack of anyone's ownership of the problem. OR know exactly how long all of these long-running issues have been open, and should be prioritising & feeding back proactively.
Posted by jroadley over 3 years ago
For those that have had issues - did you stop payments to your ISP/phone provider because of lack of service?
Posted by pcoventry76 over 3 years ago
never stop payments, once it goes to debt recovery it won't be pulled back. All you do is mess up your credit rating and get baliffs on your door. Just pay and get refunded.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
@lenham343 LOL, that totally mirrors my experiences! OR don't pass any info to ISPs, or the info is so vague you don't believe anything they say, their logs & reports are fob-offs.I kept telling them that my master socket is fried and need an engineer out but they kept giving me fix dates without actually arranging appointments at the house, then when I finally persuaded them that they need to enter the house the appointements were missed, then they did something externally & connected things up wrongly at the exchange...
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
@mervl: Yes, if you could speak to them directly then you could cut out the Chinese whispers. It is also unaccetable to put faults to the back of the queue again whetn they get it wrong and prioritise new connections (which is new money...) over faults. I can't believe there were no new connections actioned in the 3 months I was waiting for my new master socket.
Posted by fastman over 3 years ago
Csminon openreach will only action what they are instructed to by your service provdier -- are you absolutely sure your service provider is proving the information around your situation correctly to openreach
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
I spoke to the faults manager of the ISP several times & impressed on him as well as the front-line operators what the fault and to make sure this was down on the report and that I needed someone to come to replace the master socket. I can only assume he did that, remember I don't have access to private files and records of my ISP or OR, no company likes giving useful information out to customers. He said he'd actually spoken to someone at OR but that nothing could be done to escalate it.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
If I'd been able to speak to Openreach then I'd have been able to make sure that the ifinformation was getting through. The current system is indirect and doesn't work to the benefit of the end consumer, how can anyone argue that this system is more efficient and gets things done quicker and cheaper. We pay for these inefficiencies with increasing line rental charges as well as the bad service.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
Then there's the weekend issue. Getting a fix date for 2wks hence, being told by OR via my ISP that it will "definitely" be fixed by the end of that day, but that date is a Friday and as it approaches I'm not contacted by OR at all to say when they're coming. So I ring ISP but am told "Oh, we can't do anything,we can see an engineer has been allocated,wait until 8pm to see if anyone arrives as that's the end of the working day", but of course no-one arrives and I then can't even begin to get a rebook for a few days as it's a weekend.
Posted by csimon over 3 years ago
Then there's the missed appointnemnts issue. One one occasion, Openreach knew they had missed an appointment, when I rang my ISP I was told there was a note on the record ove rthe weekend to ask the ISP to rebook the appointment. But a. Why after I'd taken time off work did OR not actually contact me to say they wouldn't be coming?, b. Why didn't OR just simply rebook it themselves? AS the fix date appraiches and no contact, you get an impending sense of doom. But ISP won't chase OR up because the fix date hasn't yet passed.
Posted by leexgx over 3 years ago
and this is why VDSL is Virtually unbundled not like it is with ADSL currently, on FTTC service level should be the same for all ISPs unless they do not pay enough for backhaul links (think Sky or talktalk was best for this practise)

never really had any missed call issues apart from when we had all that rain or extreme cold, guess it depends where you are in the UK
Posted by mattleech over 3 years ago
BT OpenReach are utterly incompetent

OR provided install date selection, I chose, they booked different date

On install morning they call me to confirm I'd be in. I waited all day but OR did not turn up

OR told my ISP I'd cancelled the install (no I didn't!). They also told my ISP they'd tried to call me (no they didn't!)

OR booked new install date

Waited all day for 2nd time, OR didn't turn up

OR booked new install date

Waited all day for 3rd time, OR didn't turn up

OR booked new install date

Waited all day for 4th time, OR didn't turn up

Full details of this farce:
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