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Archive for September, 2017

I’ve decided to go public about our on-going internet issues. Those of you who have stayed this year know the difficulties we’re experiencing and until tonight, everyone has been so understanding realising that it’s completely outwith our control.

Tonight … well tonight was a different story. The internet dropped out completely so there wasn’t a thing we could do about it but one set of guests complained so bitterly that I ended up phoning a local hotel and moving them there!

Well, if you’ve got a spare 10 minutes then please read on (go on, make a cuppa and put your feet up and share our utter frustration). If you’d like to help us …. please share far and wide … we cannot be the only ones going around in circles and I’d like to find some kindred spirits:

 

Dear Mr (name/position withheld for this post),

 

I’d hoped that after all of this time, I wouldn’t need to bother you again with our internet/phone issues but we find ourselves back to square one … no, actually, we are worse off than that!

 

As you know, when we first contacted you and you were kind enough to help us, our internet was running at between 0.2mbps-0.8mbps (when it was working) and we were suffering from ring trip. BT had told us not to contact them again because they were fed up with us complaining that the internet kept dropping out telling us that there was nothing wrong with the line!

 

Let me briefly explain what has happened in the intervening months: mostly because everything over the past few months has just blurred into one huge communications nightmare that is affecting our health and our small businesses both financially and on the practical day-to-day running of them both more than I’d like to attempt to make it brief!

 

Your guys from Open Reach have been here so many times that the dog doesn’t even bother to bark at them anymore. They’ve tweaked and fiddled and done what they’ve been told to do from whomever they answer to. They’ve found a number of faults with the line between our house and the exchange that have subsequently been repaired. There have been experts here from ‘down south’ (can’t remember where) fault finding at the exchange in Ballantrae as that’s where they believed the fault was.

 

Despite this, no one could sort the ring trip issue out so they divided our service with the phone being on one dedicated line and the internet on another. At the time we were led to believe that this would remain in place as a viable solution. It was a huge improvement in terms of ring trip (as it didn’t happen any more!) although the internet was still running very slow (generally under 1mbps) and still dropped out several times a day which your guy Jim in Leeds (or is he BT’s guy?) said was ‘acceptable’ to him … but then again, he doesn’t have to live with it!!! They did continue to fiddle and tweek and we did reach the heady heights of 1.8mbps on several occasions but it was short-lived. Foolish thoughts of uploading more than one photo to facebook at a time and updating an app on my phone in under half an hour were cruelly dashed.

 

Your guys were then given orders to put our service both back onto one line (as the fault had been fixed apparently) and low and behold, not surprisingly, everything has gone ape shit again! (Excuse the language but I can’t think of a better description!)

 

Jim in Leeds, who clearly has never been self employed and never had to rely upon communication in order to generate income, decreed that it was the 1470 service that was at fault. His solution was to increase the length of time the phone rings to 25 rings before the answering service activates which would stop the fault. I pointed out to him that no one …. ABSOLUTELTY NO ONE … will hang on the phone for 25 rings let alone leave a message after all that time but he went ahead and did it anyway. Feeling proud of himself, he phoned back a couple of days later saying he could get it down to 50s or possibly even 40s … he wasn’t given to most welcome of responses to this news! Most businesses, as you know, have a three-ring policy and from a survey I did on FB/Twitter, without exception, everyone who replied said that they’d put the phone down after 4-6 rings! His only solution was for us to buy an answerphone that we were forced to do because God only knows how much business we had lost in the intervening few days and would have continued to lose had we not.

 

He also suggests that it’s the distance from the exchange to the house, quoting resistance figures, that is to blame. Well excuse me for saying but to the best of my knowledge the exchange in Ballantrae has not been moved in the past year and the house has not moved in almost 200 years so I’m at a loss to understand his reasoning for this. The internet worked at about 1.8mbs for a number of years; we could certainly watch iplayer until last year and did not suffer ring trip until this year and I can no longer facetime my grandson and mother which saddens me greatly. I’ve moaned to many, many people about our internet woes this year and you wouldn’t believe how many people are experiencing similar issues. One lady last week who lives about five miles away said that her problems also started early this year and both she and her husband work from home but their service is currently so bad that she often has to drive to her office just to use the internet!

 

Jim also suggested that we had too many devices connected to the wifi (two phones, a router, Sky box, a printer and a computer … not excessive in this day and age) which was why the internet was so slow! So basically what he’s now telling me is that the internet works just so long as we don’t need to actually use it!!! He even had the audacity to suggest that it was our fault for living here and what did we expect?! Well, we expected to at least have the same level of service that we had when we moved in and (as it turns out) stupidly expected that the service would improve over time especially given the multi-billions of pounds the UK and Scottish Parliaments have given to communications companies to develop better coverage.

 

To complicate matters, our phone line was dug up by a tractor (so we were told) about six weeks ago leaving us without phone or internet for several days and the ‘temporary’ repair is still sitting above ground in a passing place on the bend of a narrow road about three miles from the house so with the dark evenings upon us it’s probably only a matter of time before it’s destroyed again despite the orange cone.

 

I’m also about to remove the ‘free wifi’ feature from the B&B business advertising because it’s now so slow and completely unreliable that guests were complaining and as any B&B business is only ever one bad review away from being completely destroyed I’m considering re-branding … how does ‘turn your clock back 40 years and relax!’ sound? It certainly reflects the infrastructure that Jim seems is ‘acceptable’ but will hardly attract modern travellers who, according to Visit Scotland, today travel with an average of THREE wifi enabled devices each!! We’ve even installed USB chargers in our rooms to assist guests. Reputation and excellent reviews are of paramount importance in our industry. Free wifi is the top feature people look for when booking a B&B these days behind cost/location and ahead of free parking according to the Visit Scotland assessor who visited this summer. The internet has failed twice this summer whilst I’ve been in the middle of taking card payments; not only is it inconvenient, it’s stressful it’s embarrassing and completely unprofessional and I can only say that it’s only thanks to some extremely pleasant and understanding guests who waited patiently until the whole process could be gone through again that I’ve managed so far. Every time the internet system drops out I am disconnected to whichever secure site I’m using (internet banking, B&B booking systems, Booking .com, Visit Scotland intranet, etc) which means that not only do I have to go through the often lengthy process of securely logging on again but I then have to waste more time finding out whether payments/processing etc were processed or not before the connection was broken.

 

My husband, who has had the patience of a Saint throughout this process, is losing out on business too. Over half of his work comes via Facebook and it’s a sorry state of affairs when people are waiting for replies but he hasn’t even received their messages because they won’t load! The rest of his work comes via phone. People leave messages when he’s out of the house which he used to be able to pick up via the 1570 service and respond to them fairly promptly and could sometimes get to people the same day which was particularly important to some elderly customers who do not have family in the area to help them.

 

It’s not like we can even rely upon accessing the internet on iphones/ipads/devices as there is absolutely no phone coverage at all in this area for any of the service providers. I have to walk out into the middle of the farmer’s field to send a text! I realise that is not your fault but I mention it to give some sense of the situation as a whole.

 

Do you actually realise how many lives and businesses are being affected by this woefully poor service and how much stress you are inflicting upon people in our situation? I challenge you and anyone else sitting in an office somewhere in your organisation to come here and attempt to go about their work under these conditions!

 

I also wonder how much money is being squandered in the vain attempt to stabilise a system that quite clearly is not fit for purpose and unable to cope with the demands of modern-day communications when what seems to be needed is that the physical connections themselves need to be replaced by something that were at least manufactured in the 21st Century!

 

So now, in summary, not only are we out of pocket for the cost of an answerphone, we no longer have access to the 1570 service which allowed us to access messages when we were out of the house (which was our primary reason for paying for the service), we are also back to square one with the ring trip issue and we are losing business opportunities.

 

Low and behold the phone has rung twice this morning (Thursday 14th Sept) whilst I’ve been writing this email on the computer and twice the internet has dropped out! You couldn’t script it! EDIT: As we were awaiting replies from the emails that Howard sent to Jim and yourself I didn’t send this email straight away … it’s now Sunday evening (17th Sept.) and I’ve had a huge problem with a set of guests who were complaining so bitterly about the internet which was not working sufficiently well for them to even get logged on that in the end I telephoned a local hotel and found them alternative accommodation. No income for me today and as I’ve already bought food for breakfast I’m actually out of pocket. No doubt, given how disgruntled they were by the time they left a dreadful review is indeed in the offing now … thanks for that!!!

 

To say we are fed up would be a gross understatement. I’m not even sure if I know sufficient colourful words to describe the frustration, anger and stress this is causing us and believe me I know quite a few! Enough is enough! We cannot carry on like this. The situation is damaging our health. The situation is damaging our businsses. To this end, I’ll be sending copies of this email (or hard copies if more appropriate) to absolutely every single person I can think of in the vain hope that someone may be in a position to help. BT and OpenReach have already missed Phase 1 of the government’s big plans and I’m not waiting until 2020 for them to miss the rest. Something must be done … not just for us but for countless thousands of others in similar positions.

 

  • “to provide superfast broadband coverage to 90% of UK premises by early 2016 and access to basic broadband (2Mbps) for all from December 2015 – “Phase 1” 
”
  • “Ofcom currently states that a connected speed of at least 10Mbps is necessary to deliver an “acceptable user experience” of broadband – this is based on a typical household’s uses, including basic web browsing, video calling, catch up TV and film streaming in HD. “

House of Commons

Briefing Paper No CBP06643, 9th March 2017

 

I’ll also be sharing the contents of this communication as far and as wide as I can on social media: we’re not the only ones suffering and going around in circles and it would be nice to find out just how we fare in comparison to others throughout the nation.

 

Regards,

 

 

Are you still reading … thank you ever so much … I hope your cuppa was nice :0)

Cordelia

So what was it? Put your clock back 40 years and relax!! I’m only taking bookings until the end of October as I need to do some maintenance work this winter.

 

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I was delighted to welcome Lindsay from Home Cook School to Balkissock on Thursday. She came to give a private cooking lesson for myself and a B&B guest and just look how wonderful the end result was.

Scottish cranachan

Using local ingredients such as beetroot from Lindsay’s own garden, Pieroni’s hot smoked salmon and Ayrshire bacon coupled with Glen Moray whisky, Macsween Haggis and Scottish pinhead oatmeal the meal was a wonderful mix of traditional Scottish with a modern twist.

haggis needs and tatties

If you live in Ayrshire and want to find out more about cooking in your own home or in Lindsay’s home in Maybole then please check out her website for details. Lindsay also does a range of other tasty dishes.

hot smoked salmon

If you’d like to couple a cooking lesson with a short break at Balkissock Lodge B&B then email me for details. Lessons can be taught for guests here at Balkissock Lodge for up to four people.

Cordelia @ Balkissock Lodge B&B

Why not book yourself a lovely short break and learn how to cook something this lovely too?

(c) 2017 All rights reserved

 

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