Important Service Message from BT Business Broadband – “We Suck!”

It’s Monday morning and our Technical Support Team has just spent over 90 minutes resolving an issue with a client who is running BT Business Broadband.

The issue was an odd one – our remote monitoring and maintenance tools were not working, Internet connectivity was intermittently dropping every few minutes, and the client was unable to browse to any web-sites.

Now I know I’m hardly in the minority when I bash BT for their incredibly poor customer service, often arrogant and underhanded sales practices and poor reputation – just do a Twitter search on BT #FAIL and you’ll see dozens of complaints every day, but this latest “enhancement” surely takes the biscuit.

In a nutshell, it appears all Port 80 traffic, including web browsing on any Workstation, was being re-directed to a help page which displays the following:-

Once you’d clicked on “Clear this message”, and then clicked a further screen that concurred that yes, we really did want to get our Internet connection working again and yes, we’d wasted quite enough time on this problem already, everything went back to normal and Port 80 traffic flowed again as usual.

The problem is, on many workstations – the above message *didn’t* appear and instead timed out. When faced with this situation, many IT Professionals (including ourselves) will start to troubleshoot the Broadband Internet connection – that means rebooting Routers, doing health checks, rebooting servers. Little were we to know that the ISP involved had re-directed Port 80 for what was essentially a Marketing message. We eventually found out, only by sheer chance that Internet Explorer displayed the message above on one PC rather than an error message.

Whomever the person or team at BT who came up with the idea above to notify clients about a wonderful new troubleshooting tool was making a huge assumption – that clients using BT Broadband only sent Web traffic over Port 80, that clients using BT Broadband don’t have their own IT Support team who support them, and that clients using BT Broadband will be anything other than mightily p*ssed off about losing the first hour of their Monday morning to what is essentially a marketing message.

Broadband is a utility. It is a pipe down which information flows. It should never be hijacked in this way. How would you feel if your local Water Supplier, without consulting you, started adding a strawberry flavouring to your tap water because they thought it would be a nice treat for you?

Suffice to say, this client ended our conversation by asking us to investigate moving them away from BT Business Broadband to a more reliable Internet Service Provider.

I don’t like ragging on an British institution like BT, truly I don’t, but what else is there to say once again but…



  • Richard2010-03-16 14:13:12

    Ian - thanks for sharing. I'd encourage people to spread the word so that no other IT providers get caught out with this. The fact it's irresponsible of BT aside, the less of our peers and their clients who get caught out by it, the better.

  • Ian2010-03-16 14:09:54

    We had this problem with 2 BT customers (luckily it didnt last long, and as we had two different customers/sites get the message we could reduce the diagnostic processes we went through). Just a warning though, it has come back and done it again for one customer, with a gap of about a week and a half.

  • Steve2010-03-15 17:08:50

    Mmm, Strawberry flavouring! Where do I sign up?

  • Andy2010-03-15 10:29:39

    I'm completely at a loss as to how anyone at BT thought this was a good idea #FAIL

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