I’ve moved to the UK for my second year of University this September. You might notice that I have actually spent my last year here as well, but due to various reasons, this year became utterly and totally different. Living here in my first year proved to be challenging but on a very different level. I have spent 9 months in the UK (with some breaks though, adding up to a nearly balanced timespan living abroad and home), all in the most expensive and luxurious hall of residence that was available. This meant floor heating with a thermostat and a king-sized bed for myself in an en-suite room. You might imagine that it did help a lot in concentrating on my studies.
This year’s beginning (ending today, as I hope) became an absolute nightmare compared to what I got 3 months before. I moved in this flat on 9th September, quite early for the start of teaching a week onwards. I thought I will get internet, take my time and manage everything by the time I have my first lecture. I was proven wrong. First of all, here in the UK, in the 21st century, you do not have internet connection in every flat by default, not even in a University managed property. Well, at least we had a working phone line, that should help a lot, i thought. Again, proven wrong. I thought that because BT owns all the lines in the country, it is best to contact them for internet. Who might be cheaper, easier? Well, it turned out that everyone is cheaper and easier to set up than them.
I contacted BT on the next day to my arrival. You remember the date, it was 10/Sep/2013. My first surprise was that the online chat advisors did not understand what I wrote to them. This might be because I have a very strong accent in typing, but I highly doubt that. Second, after finally getting what I want from them, they told me there is a student special plan that is “just” 31 pounds per month for 9 months. This seemed okay, I did not expect it to be a lot cheaper – bad idea. Third, I was told that it takes 2 weeks to set up a working connection (I am a computer science student, I know that it takes exactly one click if they have a working phone line for which they know the number, but never mind, burocracy). Then, when I started the order, I had to find out myself that this 2 weeks is actually 3 weeks. Well, better than nothing, I thought. I ordered the internet to be connected at my house on 1st October.
Three weeks passed without BT trying to contact me (except for my direct debit details). Then, one day before the engineer visit, I got this:
Hello – This is a message from BT. We apologies [sic!] but we are unable to transfer your number from your current service provider (in reference to your order BT*******). If you would still like to have service with BT we can provide you with another telephone number, please call ******* to progress the order between 09:00 to 17:00. Thank you.
Well, unexpected message (grammar nazis shut up, sic), I called them. They told me they’ll call me back in 30 minutes. I called them again after 3 hours, they told me they’ll contact me by the next day. My broadband package (wifi router) arrived on time, no call. No call means I call. They changed my activation date to 10 October, I got an email about that. Meanwhile, I started to worry about my service. (Oh, I have to mention that I lived through these weeks on mobile broadband, never try that at home) In two days (this was 3 October) I got the same message as above, with the grammar mistake corrected to American English. Well, good move, British Telecom :D I contacted them again, with no use. Nothing happened for a week, then:
Hello – This is a message from BT. We would like to speak with you regarding your order for telephone and broadband service. Please call us on ******* quoting your order reference VOL******. We are open Mon to Fri between 08:00 and 18:00 Kind regards BT.
I contacted them on chat instead, the advisor told me that my order has been marked as impossible, so I have to place it again. At the possibility of waiting some more weeks, I got my bus to the nearest town and went to another shop. I thought I might have a mobile connection and a router that would be okay for 7 months that were left of my stay in the flat. I had to change my mind in the EE shop. The guy there said that I don’t want to live on mobile broadband forever, which was absolutely true. He offered me a USB dongle for the time they set up broadband via my phone line that contains unlimited access up to a fair use policy (which my sister successfully overused in 10 days for youtube and stuff, although facebook and email still worked). I got home. I cancelled my BT order, renewed my mobile broadband and gave the dongle to my sister. This was 11 October 2013.
It is 29 October now, and I am writing from my new, working EE broadband. They did not ask anything, they did not do anything special, just got me an engineer today and switched on my connection. That was all I needed. I have no idea why BT was unable to set it up, but now I don’t really care. The only thing left to worry about is what to eat each evening. I forgot to mention that the hall was catered too. And this flat is a little cooler and has no thermostat, which would help us a lot in keeping the temperature. But it costs about half of what I payed last year, or 75% if I count bills and food too. I hope you will get the approriate conclusions out of this essay.