I hate BT because BT hates me!

I don’t care if BT want to give me free football, free lunch, free calls, I will not be a subscriber to their new pack of services, even if it saves me money.  That’s right, I would rather pay more than to use BT and I am sure I am not alone.

That is because BT hates it’s customers, or it certainly feels that way.

I write this week’s blog not just in the hope that someone from BT picks it up, but because it allows me to express my thoughts on customer loyalty, a subject that has interested me for a while and is at the core of my strategic thinking.

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Experiences

I have used BT before and will briefly explain some experiences:

When I was younger I had a couple of trading business which I ran from the spare room in our very small flat and this necessitated phone and fax lines. Shortly after getting married and in-between jobs, we went travelling for 4 weeks. Despite alerting all my utility providers, when I came back BT had cut off all my phones and demanded £150 per line for reinstatement, despite my written correspondence to tell them I was going away. It is easy for me to conclude that by their actions, BT hates its business customers.

As an early adopter of mobile technology, in the late 90s I moved from One2One to BT Cellnet as the range of handsets were better, plus Cellnet offered WAP. But it was a nightmare. Poor billing, duplicated charges, long calls to Indian call centres, legal letters, it was a terrible experience. It is easy for me to conclude that by their actions in operating Cellnet, BT hates its customers that seek innovation.

As a homeowner, our property was fitted with an internal system that feeds off the BT mainline, which was fitted before we moved in. We have long since changed the calls provider, and have a Virgin telephone line in, but for a variety of reasons, we still have a BT line that I cannot cancel. The billing is sporadic- I go quarters without any billing, and twice I have been cut off without warning, only discovering this when I am told that someone called and the line was down, or that one of our services that piggybacks off the BT line is down. Then it takes time and effort to resolve the situation. It is easy for me to conclude that by their actions, BT hates its domestic customers so much, it makes life difficult for them.

Not only this, BT has a perception (certainly in legacy, if not today, which I cannot verify) that it was more expensive to call through BT and customers felt exploited as BT took advantage of it’s market position, by demanding a premium by not automatically offering customers opportunities to save money.

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Theory

BT is not alone, as identified by McGovern and Moon (2007);

“Some companies consciously and cynically exploit customers in this way. But in our conversations with dozens of executives in various industries, we found that the majority of firms that profit from their customers’ confusion have unwittingly fallen into a trap. Without ever making a deliberate decision to do so, they have, over a period of years, taken greater advantage of their customers. In most cases, there’s no defining moment when these companies crossed the line. Rather, they found themselves on a slippery slope that led to an increasingly antagonistic strategy.”

I like ease. Virgin get it right, great customer interaction and strong brand loyalty. Sky has had problems with technology, but their customer service 90% of the time sorts it out, and they are easy to deal with. Moreover, they make life easy for me- skygo and sky+ allow life to be easier.

There is a premium for this, which I and many others are willing to pay.

No BT for me.

I am potentially a profitable customer for BT at home and in business, but I hate them.

I hate how they seek to exploit their customers and their poor service and sub-par offering and the fact that their service is cynically calculated around the margins of customer retention.

No matter how much free football they offer, such is my hostility to the company (and brand) my experiences of feeling exploited have driven me, not just to avoid their products and services, but to set aside several hours over a weekend and dedicate this week’s blog to why I hate BT.

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