My new tenant phoned today. He’s been trying to get a phone line and internet connection set up as soon as possible. You’d think it would be quick and easy, but it can be extraordinarily time consuming. He’s working abroad this week, so he hasn’t actually moved in yet. He rang as I was rather his last resort. He was told that he’d have to pay a £50 deposit, which he accepted – but his credit card wasn’t, because it isn’t a British one. He’s European, from a country in the EU, and has just come to live here, as a posting from an international firm he’s worked for for several years. He was told he could send a postal order (when was the last time you used a postal order?) but that would take 11 working days to process and only then could he be given a date for the line to be set up. This is a line that has only been closed for a couple of months – though mind you, Weeza and Phil had to go through the whole malarkey for a line that had been closed for one day, and were unable to keep the same phone number.
So he rang me to ask if I’d pay the £50 and he pay me back. I agreed – poor bloke, what’s a person to do? He said he’d phone BT again and ring me straight back with a direct line to make the payment. He was not, obviously, wanting my card details himself.
Several hours went past. Eventually, he rang again. He said that he’d finally got everything done, the sales person at the end of the phone filled in all his details – and then her internet connection went down and it was all lost. He had to wait for a bit and ring again. This time, it went smoothly and at the end he mentioned the deposit. “Oh no, no deposit’s necessary” he was told. He’s been given a date of 10th October, and has been assured that both phone and internet will be set up on the same day.
Apart from the hours it has taken him – almost a whole day – it’s all an extraordinarily unwieldy procedure. I don’t understand it at all. Back in the day, there was a shortage of phone lines. Do you remember party lines? Two households had to share a line; they had different numbers but if one person was using the phone no one in the other house was able to. That was all my sister was able to get at one point. But now it isn’t a shortage of lines and there is no setting up to do, as the line is already wired in. So what takes the time?