British Telecom — like sticking your head in a blender, but less fun

I moved back to London a couple months ago and I've been trying to get a British Telecom phone line installed ever since, and so far, all I've gotten is a comedy of errors that's played out like a cross between a Fawlty Towers episode and 1984.

There appear to be at least three departments at BT that aren't talking to each other (or themselves) and between them all, I've been put through a meat-grinder. First, there's the billing department, who seem to call me every other day to tell me that I need to put a deposit down before my line can be installed, and then, when I remind them that I've provided them with a credit card on three separate occasions, promise to call me back (and never do).

Then there are the schedulers, who keep calling to confirm a November 1 installation date, and every time I say, "No, we agreed that you'd install on November 6th — that's why I cancelled a flight and a day's worth of meetings to be home for you." Why, just Wednesday a BT rep assured me that the installation would be on the sixth, not the first.

Finally, there are the customer service people, who insist that someone needs to come out to "install" my line, even though there's been a working BT line in this flat for the past ten years, and all I want to do is switch it back on again now that the tenants who rented the place while we were in LA last year have gone.

Thursday morning, a BT engineer called to say that he was on his way (it being the first) and I told him, no, I'm not in today, you're supposed to be coming on the sixth. Since then, I've been on the phone for two days with BT, speaking to customer service rep after customer service rep, none of whom can explain when — or if — my line will be turned on (though several of them have told me firmly that no work can be done until I put down a deposit).

Now it seems like I'm going to get installation sometime before the end of the month. Maybe. Who knows? At this point, it wouldn't surprise me if BT's next step was to burn my house down and dance in the ashes.