Two days ago I reported a fault on an elderly neighbour's phone. She was unable to make calls (no dialling tone) and incoming calls went straight to voicemail, although broadband worked perfectly. It was as if there was a call in progress. I removed the NTE5 faceplate and plugged a known working phone into the test socket and the problem persisted thus proving that the fault was not in her premises.
Talktalk tested the line but could not see the problem so an engineer's visit is required. Before the advisor would authorise the engineer, my neighbour was obliged to say that she would accept a £50 charge if the fault could not be found or a £25 charge if the fault resolved itself and she cancelled the visit.
How can this be justified? It is Talktalk's responsibility to resolve the issue. If the problem disappears when the engineer is there and comes back the following day, will she be charged £50 for the visit and then be expected to go through the whole procedure again?
The situation is made worse by the fact that the lady is 90-years-old and the telephone is literally a lifeline. In these circumstances I would have expected Talktalk to proactively prioritise the call. Instead she has to wait three days for an engineer's visit, scheduled for tomorrow (11/6) afternoon.
Update: The Qube engineer confirmed that the line is dead and that the fault lies outside the customer's premises. He escalated the fault to BT Openreach.
During his visit my neighbour twice had to sign an apparently blank notepad screen and, again, listen to and acknowledge a call centre representative reading a Ts&Cs script.
Talktalk therefore have her signature and, presumably, a recording of her voice agreeing to their Ts&Cs. She, on the other hand, has nothing more than a verbal confirmation that the fault is outside her premises and that there will be no charge.
I remain concerned that, should the fault disappear temporarily when BT are testing the line, my neighbour will be charged for a call-out. In fact, I am concerned that, should Talktalk, through administrative error, add a £50 engineer's charge to her bill in two or three months time, she has little evidence to argue against it.
This is not cynicism on my part, but the voice of experience. A couple of years ago I was billed for an engineer although I had received assurances that there would be no charge. In this case I had emails confirming my story but it still took about six months and a call to Talktalk's Customer Liaison Manager before the charge was refunded.
Talktalk need to be more transparent in relation to engineers' visits. In particular, when a customers signs something they should receive a copy of the document, and when an engineer leaves site he should provide a written record of his findings. In this way, should there be a billing error three months down the line, all parties have the same written documentation and there can be no dispute about the facts.
Such transparency would only benefit Talktalk's customer relations and increase customer satisfaction.
Thank you for your post. I understand your concerns.
When the engineer is at the property he asks the customer to sign, mainly to prove that he has actually arrived, the second signature is so that the customer has understood what he has actually done.
In relation to the charge, as long as the customer has carried out the initial fault diagnostics fully, and the engineer replicates this and confirms this in the report, No charges is applied. If the fault is reported again soon after the engineer visit, again no charges are applied.
All charges can be disputed through the complaints process.
What was the outcome of the engineer visit on the 11th?
Thanks for your reply. My previous "update" post was about the engineer's visit on the 11th - he confirmed that there was a fault outside the customer's premises and escalated the call to BT. He said they would deal with it in 24 - 48 hours. As we explained at the time, my neighbour would not be available during most of that period but we were told that that was not a problem as the engineer was unlikely to need access to the house.
Now, 48 hours later, my neighbour is still away but when I try to call her phone it rings where previously it was going straight to voicemail, so it looks as though the fault may have been fixed... or it may just have started working.
However when I check for a fault update on My Account the information is, to say the least, contradictory. It says that a fault reported on Saturday 8 June at 10:51 was resolved on 8 June at 11:07. It wasn't. As I have said, it was passed to the engineers who attended at about 13:00 on Tuesday 11th by which time the phone had been out of action for over three days.
Then there is a second "fault update" entry saying that a fault reported on 11th June at 13:49 (presumably by the Qube engineer) is assigned to Advanced Technical Support. It does not say the fault has been resolved although, at this moment, the phone appears to be working.
Both faults are described as "No phone and broadband service" and, again, this is inaccurate. The broadband was not affected, only the phone - as I had explained to at least two call-centre reps and the Qube engineer.
So I hope you can see why I remain sceptical about Talktalk's ability to record accurately what has taken place and to bill accordingly.
You say "the second signature is so that the customer has understood what he has actually done" but, although I understand what was done, I have no record of it. If Talktalk accidentally take £50 three months later I have no come-back. You need to provide a written (or electronic) copy of the engineer's report to the customer so that both parties are in possession of all the facts. This is just plain courtesy as well as good PR.
Thanks for the reply. Do you need answers to the security questions now or only if there is a billing problem? I am contacting you on behalf or an elderly neighbour. Would you need my details or hers?
Meanwhile, a further update. As I said before, my neighbour was away for a couple of days after the Qube engineer's visit. When she returned (Friday 14th) the phone was working and we assumed BT had fixed it although there was no message from either Talktalk or BT, neither on the phone, by text, or even a card through the door. I'd like to know if a fault was actually found and repaired.
Today (Tuesday 18th) the fault returned in the afternoon but this evening it is apparently working again. If the fault is still open with Talktalk and/or BT, perhaps someone was working on it this afternoon?
The fault status in My Account is still reported as "We have assigned the problem you reported to an engineer" and the problem reported on 11/06/2013 13:49:13 is stall assigned to Advanced Technical Support and still reported wrongly as "No phone and broadband service" - the broadband has not been down.
I'd be grateful for an update of the current status. As I said in my original post, my neighbour is 90 years old and relies heavily on her phone.
I have answered the security questions and received reference number 130619-000880
Primarily my neighbour is anxious to know if, from Talktalk's perspective, the fault has been fixed. She has heard nothing since the Qube engineer escalated the call on 11 June. The phone appeared to be working on 14 June but the fault recurred yesterday afternoon (18 June) for about two hours.
From my point if view, I'd like to see in writing the Qube engineer's confirmation that the fault was outside the customer's premises, plus any update from Advanced Technical Support/BT Openreach.
In My Account the fault is still active as of 19 June 11:00.
Can you at least confirm the status of the fault? It still shows as an active fault on My Account.
I have provided the security information you requested, both mine and my neighbour's. If you can't "discuss account specific information with a non account holder" why not send my neighbour an email? Tell her what's been done to fix the fault or reassure her you're still looking into it. It really is in Talktalk's interest to be more transparent and to provide their customers with more information.
If your Neighbour provided a mobile number when the fault was logged then they should receive updates via text message as soon as there is any further information. My Account can also be used to check for any updates.
In order for us to look into your Neighbours fault, we would require a seperate forum account to be setup with their telephone number.
I provided my mobile number. The only texts I received were within an hour or two of my reporting the fault, the last one being at 12:08 on 8 June. So I certainly have received no text updates since the Talktalk onsite engineer confirmed there was a fault outside the customer's premises and escalated it to BT.
Also neither of us has has heard from either Talktalk or BT by phone or email. We do not know if you think the fault has been fixed or if it was working when you looked at it. As I said in post #7, the fault status in My Account was still active on 19 June at 23:00 - but it was closed about two hours later.
This afternoon (26 June) the fault has returned. Same symptoms as before - no dial tone, incoming calls go straight to voicemail as if a call was active. Broadband is unaffected. As before I removed the faceplate from the master socket and the fault persisted. This is exactly what the Talktalk engineer did before escalating the call.
This time I reported the fault via my neighbour's My Account giving my mobile number and am currently waiting for a response.
And, yes, we shall set up a forum membership in my neighbour's name.
So far have my neighbour has been unable to set up forum membership. The procedure says her phone/account number is invalid although it was cut and pasted from My Account. Awaiting a response...
No response from reporting the fault via My Account last night so I reported it by phone this morning. They could see it was the same fault logged by me on 8 June and escalated by the Talktalk engineer on 11 June, but they could provide no information about what, if anything, had been done to fix it. We were told that an engineer would look into it and that he was unlikely to require access to the house. I provided a mobile number and was assured that I would be kept up-to-date with progress.
I again emphasised that I was speaking on behalf of my 90-year-old neighbour for whom the telephone is a vital lifeline and was assured that this was noted and that the call would be prioritised.
A few hours later we find the phone is working. This is good news, of course, but again we have been told nothing. We therefore have no confidence that a problem has been positively identified and resolved.
As always, the individual Talktalk personnel have been polite and eager to help. As always they, and the customer, have been let done by failure to follow through and keep the customer informed.
Please can we have a text, an email, a phone call or a note in this forum to tell us what has happened? Just something like "Faulty component in exchange replaced by BT - no charge" is all we require.
...the next morning and it is not working. Presumably last night was just one of these periods when it starts working by itself. I'll wait 72 hours from reporting the fault or, hopefully, until I hear from the engineers that it's fixed.
Another 24 hours has passed. In spite of assurances that Talktalk would prioritise this call and would keep us up-to-date with progress via text, the phone line is still down and we have received not a single text message. My Account says there are no faults on the line, but the support phone line indicates you are working on a fault.
I hope you are actually working on the fault but the conflicting information and failure to provide the promised updates is destroying our confidence.
As I have said before, it is in Talktalk's interest to keep their customers informed. Failure to do so leads to lack of customer satisfaction.
An Openreach engineer visited this morning (1 July). He again confirmed at the test socket that the fault lies outside the customer's premises. He installed a new NTE5 faceplate - possibly he suspected the incoming wiring - then he made several other checks in, I think, a junction box about 500m away and at the local exchange but was unable to identify the faulty component or cable. He was actually from the team who deal with overhead cables and the wiring here is underground so he has escalated (if that's the right word!) to the underground team.
Unfortunately, since his visit, and presumably as a result of it, the broadband connection has also stopped working.
My Account, which is where I first reported the fault on the evening of Wednesday 26 June, still has no record of the fault.
It is now over four days since the fault was reported by phone so obviously, when the fault is eventually fixed, my neighbour is expecting a refund for the period during which the phone is out of order, and compensation for breach of the service level agreement.
A BT Openreach engineer arrived this morning (2 July). He didn't go to the house but disappeared down a manhole outside and reappeared with a bundle of wires in his hand. He confirmed again that there was a fault. At this point I had to leave but I asked him to update us when he finished and he assured me that he would do that.
He didn't, at least not in person. Instead I received a text an hour later telling me I had to call Talktalk to book an engineer - again! I have done so but the engineer can't come until Thursday morning by which time my 90-year-old neighbour will have been without a phone for over a week.
I am struggling to understand why, if today's engineer couldn't fix the fault, he didn't escalate it himself. He was outside the customer's premises, and could have explained the situation and arranged a convenient time for his colleague's visit.
Hopefully there will be a positive result on Thursday - watch this space!
The engineer, promised for between 0800 and 1300, didn't turn up. Neither have we received a text message to explain the delay in spite of Talktalk's repeated assurances that we would be kept up-to-date. Surely, apart from anything else, it is just plain courtesy to apologise for a missed appointment.
Ironically the only text message we have received, on 2 July from one Openreach engineer telling us to book another Openreach engineer, gave the wrong 0870 number resulting in a charge for the 12 minute conversation. I have been assured that the charge will be refunded. What are the chances that this assurance will be passed on and acted upon by Talktalk's billing department, I wonder?
I phoned for an update on the week-old fault and discovered that, basically, Talktalk and BT Openreach don't communicate.
Openreach tell the customer to tell Talktalk to tell Openreach to book an engineer. The engineer doesn't show up for whatever reason but he doesn't tell Talktalk and he doesn't tell the customer. He just fails to appear. Then, when the customer gets back to Talktalk to find out what has happened Talktalk are unable to ask Openreach for an update. All they can do is say that there is still an open ticket and advise you to book another engineer for the day after tomorrow.
Nobody, neither the agent nor her manager, could tell me why this morning's appointment had been missed or why I hadn't been informed of the situation. I am quite sure that absolutely no progress would have been made if I hadn't phoned again (5th, 6th time?) to ask what was happening.
So I have now arranged another BT Openreach engineer's visit for the morning of 6 July. Will he arrive? Watch this space.
In my first post I said Talktalk were letting their customers and themselves down by bad communication. Well it is only getting worse.