BT Improve Broadband Network, and Ensure Prompt Payment?

My British Telecom Business Broadband Connection stopped working yet again this morning! The lights on our router would turn off as it made some loud clicking noises. The router would start itself up again and eventually reconnect us to the internet. We could browse the web for a minute or two then the whole process would repeat itself, apparently ad infinitum.  On one of those brief browsing sessions the following message from BT appeared on my screen:

BT request prompt payment for their business broadband "service"

BT request prompt payment for their business broadband "service"

As luck would have it I was already experiencing some disruption to my “service”. I certainly didn’t want things to get any worse, so I did my best to pay as quickly as humanly possible, and clicked the “Pay Online” (It’s fast and easy!) button. On the next screen BT invited me to part with my credit card details, which unfortunately I was unable to do, since the appropriate boxes were missing:

BT request my credit card details, but forget to provide the right boxes!

BT request my credit card details, but forget to provide the right boxes!

I clicked “Next” anyway, and BT invited me to part with my credit card details once more, which I dutifully did:

BT request my credit card details once more.

BT request my credit card details once more.

I clicked on “Pay Now”, only to discover that I couldn’t pay now:

BT helpfully block "Verified by VISA"

BT helpfully block "Verified by VISA"

That’s because BT were helpfully blocking access to any site other than their own, including VISA’s attempt to use 3-D Secure to prevent fraudulent transactions on my credit card account.

Since my router was already rebooting itself with monotonous regularity I figured that recommended course of action wouldn’t help a whole lot. I gave up battling BT’s excuse for a broadband “service” at this juncture, and phoned up BT’s telephone payment system instead, which did at least eventually manage to automatically take £126 pounds off me. The only trouble then was that my BT broadband router was still disconnecting me from the internet every couple of minutes.

Next I phoned my old friends on the BT Broadband helpline.  This time around I listened to an automated message that was brand spanking new, to me at least:

BT is currently doing work to improve the broadband network. This may cause some customers to experience a temporary loss of service.

I was certainly experiencing a continually repeating temporary loss of service, so maybe my tardy payment was merely a red herring?  I’d discovered I’d have to wait to find out since the “wait time is 5-10 minutes”. Unlike last time I was at least offered the option of receiving a call back from BT when someone was free to answer my questions. Twelve minutes later Mark from Dundee did indeed ring me back, but he was unable to answer my first question, since he and his computer system appeared to have no knowledge whatsoever about any ongoing “work to improve the broadband network”.  Neither had BT’s broadband status page:

BT's known broadband problems at 11:27 on November 7th 2011

BT's known broadband problems at 11:27 on November 7th 2011

Mark didn’t think my continuing disconnection problem was anything to do with BT’s methods for persuading people to pay promptly, but could offer no alternative suggestions. By this time our router seemed to have settled down, and it had stopped frantically clucking and clicking. Rather than waste any more valuable time of either Mark or myself I resigned myself to accepting just one more of life’s little mysteries.

P.S. I’ve discovered that if you lie to BT’s original message asking you if you’re the account holder, and instead tell them that you’re not, they will let you play around on the web long enough to successfully pay your account online using a credit card!

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