October 13, 2005

Business Broadband services

by Brian Turner

Business broadband services reviewed:

BT Business Broadband

BT

Set-Up

Setting up was not easy – BT did not have up to date information on newly built properties, so they were unable to process my actual postal address.

They instead insisted on registering the account with the building plot number, which caused serious problems later because this address was not recognised by the postal office for delivering bills.

Otherwise, staff were friendly and helpful, though a little confused at times as different people picked up the order to help with setting up.

ADDED: I recently found out that British Telecom may fail to check broadband access on a newly installed line.

The result was two weeks without broadband, and 17 support calls. Not a good way to enjoy broadband.

Support

It usually takes about 90 seconds to get through to telephone support – but once connected, you get through to a human voice very quickly.

So long as you don’t have a problem with the BT Business Broadband service, then support is good. As expected, they have support scripts showing how to set up e-mail, etc.

However, the big problem with BT Business Broadband support is that no one really has any control over the system.

Instead, there are a handful of departments, who are all unable to communicate properly with one another.

So in the event of a problem with the service itself, you simply get passed around in circles to the same different departments.

Additionally, the whole set-up is one big automated process that the support staff seem unable to actually have any influence upon.

This has the ironic result that BT Business Broadband support is better at helping you with your computer operating system, than actually helping with Business Broadband issues.

In the instance of their having an improper postal address, I found my account in the process of being automatically disconnected for bills unpaid that I never received.

Even though I managed to get the service restored after 3 hours of phone calls one day, the service simply automatically cancelled my account without warning a few days later, and BT Business Broadband support were impotent before this process, simply telling me to apply for a new account and wait a few weeks for it to be reconnected.

This is hardly what any business should expect.

The BT Business Broadband complaints department have yet to reply to my letter of complaint, even though it is two months since I sent it.

ADDED: Business Broadband support staff also suffer from poor training.

When a newly installed line failed to connect to broadband services, it took a number of support calls and a few days before one bright spark at Business Broadband support was able to suggest a free dial-up service – Freedial – that BT are supposed to provide in such instances.

Other support staff had no clue about its existence, and I actually had to help teach one support member about this service.

Connectivity

I experienced no problems with connectivity at first – certainly I did not find the connection cutting off without warning during normal operations.

However, as above, once serious problems arise with connecting with BT Business Broadband, support staff are not able to deal with the matter.

ADDED: Broadband speed can vary quite extremely. Sometimes it drags along at dial-up pace – other times it flies through. Looks like bad network management here.

OVERALL

Considering the above, I did not consider the BT Business Broadband to be a satisfactory service.

Their error – and inability to address that error – jeopardised my business, and I had to book into a local hotel, just to have broadband internet access.

Overall, I would not recommend BT services, and I have since heard additional complaints from businesses about the company.

ADDED: In the two instances I’ve been with BT Business Broadband I’ve been very dissatisfied with their service.

Frankly, support is polite but often clueless and unable to help about actual BT Business Broadband issues.

I could never recommend this service to anyone else, and the sooner my contract with them expires, the better.


Pipex Business Broadband

Pipex

Set-up:

It wasn’t a good start when I didn’t receive my account details in the post.

I ended up having to contact the original salesperson I had ordered with – who to be fair was very friendly and helpful, though not all are – who e-mailed me the account information I needed to logon once the service was connected.

The original welcome letter containing my account information eventually turned up a few weeks later – it had been posted without a stamp.

Some of the account information was actually wrong, which meant that I could not connect to e-mail without having to contact support.

Support

Pipex broadband support is very poor.

For a start, there is no dedicated business section, so business customers pay extra for accessing the service, but are simply shunted in with residential customers for support issues.

Telephone support has been especially appalling – my first telephone support request took 23 minutes and 40 seconds to get a human reply.

Even my second support call at 9:20 in the morning still took 12 minutes and 13 seconds before receiving reply.

I sent in a single e-mail support request that was never answered.

There is an online support support database – but again, some of the information is wrong. For example, it tells you that to set up e-mail, the SMPT protocol is smtpauth.dsl.pipex.com, when it should be smtp.dsl.pipex.com.

Connectivity

Error 0680 There was no dial tone
Error 0734 The PPP link control protocol was terminated

Connectivity problems have been extensive, with the service repeatedly cutting out throughout the day, which is especially frustrating when in the middle of using FTP.

It’s possible that there was a line error – but to determine this I would have to leave my broadband off for a long period of time while logged in to a BT test username.

To get that set up, I would need to ring Pipex for the BT login (20 minute support wait), then ring Pipex the following day to see whether the test showed anything (another 20 minute support wait).

But there’s not a chance I am wasting 40 minutes of my life in their awful support system, when it takes 5 minutes to swap to another supplier.

OVERALL

According to Which?, Pipex were voted one of the best broadband suppliers. Which in context of the above is pretty astonishing.

With no proper support for business services, there seems little point actually using Pipex business broadband.

Additionally, the support and overall organisation is rank amateur.

Pipex were keen to bill me with an invoice for 12 months. They actually put a stamp on that envelope. I put up with them for 4 months before moving on.

Despite there being no minimum contract, Pipex insist on charging an extra month after cancellation, even if not actually in your terms when you sign up.

Frankly, Pipex are a joke when it comes to Business Broadband, and cannot be recommended from experience.


Tiscali Business Broadband

Tiscali

Overview

While looking into Tiscali Business Broadband Services, I thought I’d better call their support lines, to ensure that they provide a faster support service than Pipex.

Quite surprisingly, Tiscali only offer business customers support between 8am-8pm Monday to Friday. So pretty useless if you work from home.

Residential support is 8am-12am (midnight) – and was pretty fast when I tested it (actually, much faster than their sales department, which took nearly 5 minutes to answer).

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