I assumed in our own house we would have the power to decide what we did to it and to choose our own service providers. However this appears not to be the case with telecommunications. Someone has a phone line in our house which we are not able to remove and no one is able to tell us anything about the line including who provides it.
We’ve been very happy with Plus.net as our broadband provider for many years, so chose to bundle in the phone line when we moved. As we moved two days after placing our order we expected to be without telephone and internet for about two weeks. However, after 5 weeks we still did not have either and we were told there was little prospect of getting them, unless we got a new phone line and sockets installed, leaving the existing line we don’t want in place.
The issue appears to be a mysterious black box created to enable competition. As a purchaser your only access to the box is through contact with your chosen service provider. However, in most cases they can’t make the connection so have to contact someone else in the box, who then needs to contact someone else. By this time it is so removed from you as a purchaser that you wouldn’t know who to contact even if they provided a number.
Who is living in our house?
Twice we’ve asked Plus.net to order us a phone connection in our name. Twice it has failed after 13 days, despite the second attempt “definitely happening”. The reason given for the fail was the previous owners still lived in the property. I know our new house is larger than our old one, but I really hope I would have noticed if someone else was it in it! But it didn’t matter, according to Ofcom we have the right to cancel any service in our house; all we need to do is show proof of ownership to the current service provider.
Finding the current provider
BUT no one can or will tell us who the current provider is. We’ve spoken to BT Wholesale, BT Openreach, Ofcom and 19 telephone providers. And nothing. No one want to claim the line. In fact we were told the line is disconnected even though we were calling on it at the time.
So great, we have a phone line we’re not paying for and seems no one will ever bill us. But we can’t access the internet through it and that is a big hindrance; its been difficult to find local services in a new area and I haven’t been able to work from home so my husband had to take annual leave when our daughter was poorly.
It is like a strange two way mirror. Someone in the black box is able to see us and cancel the order in our name. But when we look into the box we aren’t allowed to see anything because of competition or data protection.
In my opinion it is wrong that a service is being provided into my house that I don’t want. I’m struggling to think of any other situations when that could happen. However I’ve been told there is no solution so I’ve given in and Plus.net are installing a new telephone line next week; almost eight weeks since our original order. We may or may not get internet at the same time.
The two things I’ve learnt over the last two months are:
- the UK telecommunications market is very confusing and I have little interest in dealing with it again (maybe it is so confusing competition doesn’t work)
- there is a big difference in the customer service provided by different telephone providers.
- some really tried to help, going beyond my expectations when I called; Direct Save Telecom, Everything Everywhere, Plus.net, YourCalls, Utilities Warehouse
- some were not helpful at all; TalkTalk wouldn’t answer my questions and just tried to sell me a new line and Sky hung up on my first call, the second time absolutely refused to answer any question and it took a third phone call to find out they did not provide the line I was calling from
I really hope we are the exception to getting a phone line when moving house, and everyone else has a smooth transition.