A mere three weeks ago, I sat here and regaled you all with a long and sorry tale of BT’s total and utter corporate incompetence.  I did this for no other reason than to get it off my chest and provide a warning to all others who might find themselves in a similar situation in the future.

Then I went on holiday.  As you can see from my other recent post here, it was rather a good holiday, even if it did make me a bit thoughtful and ever so slightly preachy when I got back.

Anyway, one of the interesting, unexpected things that happened while we were away was that, somehow, our phone line was activated, complete with broadband.  All done by agency or agencies unknown.  One might even say, as if by magic.

Now, I admit that it did strike me as a bit odd, given that our new Post Office Home Phone and Broadband package wasn’t supposed to be activated until this morning.  What’s more, when we went away to Ireland, we had a physical phone line in the house, but there was nothing at all on it – not even a dial tone.  In fact, there was supposed to be an engineer visiting here this morning in order to determine what actually needed to be done to bring the line into service.  Still, in an unaccustomed mood of boundless optimism, I thought that the Post Office folks might actually have been super efficient and sorted it all out in advance while we were away.  After all, we now had a working telephone that did all the things that a telephone is supposed to do and, give or take the occasional glitch that I’m still investigating, a working broadband service that allows us to do all the usual stuff such as email, Twitter, Facebook, ordering random things from Amazon and watching endless cat videos.

However, to be on the safe side and minimise the risk of unpleasant surprises, I did call the folks at the PO yesterday just to check with them (since we still hadn’t received our new broadband router).  They were very helpful, although we both ended up equally puzzled, since their system still had us listed for an engineer visit and activation today.

I confess that I began to get a slight sinking feeling at this point.

My sinking feeling sank a little further, began taking on water and listed dangerously to port earlier today when the expected engineer didn’t arrive.

I phoned the PO guys again and, after a bit of investigation, was informed that they had submitted the order to BT Openreach (who look after all the phone exchanges and lines, etc. for everyone) and had received notification back that the job couldn’t proceed since there was already an open order for the same address.  The new line team at the Post Office were already in the process of querying this (following my call yesterday) but wouldn’t have an answer until Monday.  They are going to keep me posted, but suggested that I check with BT myself just to make sure that our original order with them had been cancelled properly.

By this time, my sinking feeling had sounded “Abandon ship”, was launching the lifeboats and had given the order “Women and children first”.  Meanwhile the captain and first officer were sharing a tot of rum on the bridge and talking about how it had been a good run and how, if they did manage to get out of this one alive, they were planning on retiring to a nice little farm somewhere.  Or possibly a pub.

So I phoned BT.  On the plus side, they confirmed that my original order had been completely, totally and utterly cancelled (at least as far as the customer-facing parts of BT and their order management department were concerned).  On the minus side, this suggests that somewhere in the dark and noisome bowels of BT Openreach there is some kind of phantom order wandering around, forever associated with our new address.  Like some kind of Flying Dutchman of the telecommunications world.  Or possibly like the Ancient Mariner’s albatross.

Unfortunately, normal human beings such as you and I have no way to contact BT Openreach directly, since their customers are the phone service providers (such as the rest of BT or Vodafone or Talk Talk or anyone else who offers home phone/broadband packages that run over standard phone lines).  So there is no way for me to talk to anyone in BT Openreach to find the phantom order and have it finally put to rest.  Only the Post Office guys can do this now and they’re already on it.  Here’s hoping that they manage to get it sorted soon.

At this point, I could wax lyrical in mediaeval terms about lily-livered, whey-faced poltroons (as I have certainly been heard to do many times before).

Or possibly turn to Shakespeare and find the appropriate idiot in BT so that I can address them as “Thou clay-brained guts, thou knotty-pated fool, thou whoreson obscene greasy tallow-catch!”

Or, perhaps, like Jack Sparrow, rail against whichever “pestilent, traitorous, cow-hearted, yeasty cod-piece” in BT is responsible for this almighty and never-ending cock-up.  (Sorry, that should probably be Captain…Captain Jack Sparrow.)

Perhaps even (given my recent Irish jaunt) just lump them all together as a bunch of feckin’ eejits who couldn’t find their own arse with both hands if they were wearing woolly gloves and velcro underpants.

But I’m not going to do that.  Since we do, at least, have phone and broadband at the moment and – presumably – we’re getting it free, gratis and for nothing since we’re not officially getting any kind of service from BT and our new Post Office phone and broadband service doesn’t start until they can persuade BT Openreach that it should.

So, I’m going to let it go and leave it to the PO guys to worry about.  Which was kind of the point with choosing an alternative provider in the first place.  And, so far, it’s an approach that seems to be working even better than I expected.  Well, sort of…