Telecommunications: The Apprentice, The Assistant & Nine & A Half Weeks of Hell

“Far too many placed horses”. That was my observation to The Trainer at our end of season meeting. It was terse, certainly to the point and quite possibly uneccessary. But that’s what I felt and so I said it. 

He also collared me on my dismal lack of updates on this blog but I provided my doctor’s letter that cited “Severe Lethargy” as the main cause of inactivity. I picked up my five figure sum for my season’s contribution and walked out. I don’t need the stress.

One person who has done all of the stress and indeed all of the text for me in this edition of the blog (with minor guide editing from yours truly) is the Assistant Trainer.

Michael Channon Junior is much maligned. Indeed this happened most recently as he became a subject of ridicule in Luke Harvey’s perennially lazy column in the Newbury Weekly News. 


Cremin knew he was in trouble

So, I hacked both his email and Facebook accounts to provide you with his epic tale of anger and woe that took place in the Spring of 2013.

It all began after the arrival of our seven pound claimer Daniel Cremin who wanted to get his own telephone and broadband services and inadvertantly cancelled Michael Jnr’s last March. 


Mum? Mum? MUUUUM!!!?

The following is one man’s struggle to speak to his mother and do whatever young(ish) people do on the internet of an evening:

March 11th 2013

Michael John Channon, Facebook Entry:

There was much confusion and utter fury last week when my Sky phone line, Sky TV and Sky Broadband were inexplicably cancelled because BT had been instructed to take over my phone line because of a new customer.

All they could guess was that an idiot had given them the wrong address. Nothing had come to light until the post arrived this morning. A BT envelope for Mr Daniel Cremin (7).

He doesn’t live at 2 Hodcott Cottage, he lives at 2 Hodcott Bungalows.

He is however, an idiot.

April 2nd 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

Got a bit angry with Sky today after they announced that my phone and broadband were now “Active” again after being cancelled. My telly works which means I can watch the racing again but I sent an email response to their announcement regarding the other stuff.

MJC Email to Sky:

Right, we’ll start again shall we?

I’m in love with the information that the helpline number you’ve provided is “a free call from your sky landline”. This would in some way suggest that my landline was working.

That’s utter class that.

You’ve not worked there long have you? Or do you revel in using irony as a form of communication?


“We’ve got our best man on the job”

Broadband still isn’t working either, but you’re probably aware of this.

If you like, you can contact me telepathically – anytime, any place, anywhere.

Or send a carrier pigeon.

You are a shambolic organisation of high farce.

April 10th 3013

MJC Facebook Entry:

Why would SKY send me a customer feedback survey to complete?

I even went so far as to add one of those additional comments after ticking “0” throughout the form itself.

MJC Additional Feedback Comment to Sky:

Sky is just abysmal. The worst service I’ve ever encountered and an automated help service that is about as effective as a carrier pigeon with asthma without the gift of flight.

I never, ever fill out customer feedback forms but I’ve made an exception in this case. I would crawl over broken glass in order to advise even my most hated enemy to avoid Sky in all its forms.

Dreadful, insulting and insipid. Expensive as well when you take into consideration the fact that you get charged money for a service that doesn’t exist.

Christ, I could keep going here – I genuinely believe I’ll be married before my current broadband issues are resolved.

You don’t know me, but if that were to pass, your service would officially be slower than evolution.

April 15th 2013

MJC Email to Sky:

“Hello Faceless Person,

I want to cancel my Sky broadband and my phone line.

I’ve just tried calling Sky, but I was put through to someone with the worst grasp of English in history. I live in England and English is more or less my primary language (I can order a banana ice-cream in French, but that’s not going to help with this torrid chapter in my consumer life now is it?).

Is there any way of getting rid of this horrific service without climbing the walls?

You cannot even understand a customer who is trying to cancel a “service” that doesn’t work, is costing me money but is totally fictitious.

If I were to agree to do a days work, not turn up, not explain myself coherently yet still take money for providing no service whatsoever, I’d expect to be held accountable somewhere down the line.

I’m left, however, to merely send angry emails to a faceless, mythical “Help Centre” that clearly has special needs.

In that case, may I suggest that I offer my services to somehow help you help me?

I’ll do anything, I’ll even draw a picture if that helps.

You have my mobile number, if someone with an IQ above that of a root vegetable would like to call me up, confirm the cancellation of this service and allow me to put my life back together, that would feel like a victory for humanity in the face of mounting incompetence.

I could have had lunch with Grandma this lunchtime, but instead I’ve had to put up with this nonsense.

April 20th 2013

Two MJC emails to Sky’s CEO Followed:

Dear Mr Darroch,

I emailed you two days ago with, what I thought, was a lucid and concise summary of my suffering at the hands of the Sky Landline and Broadband “service” of which I’ve been a victim this past month or so.

I’m aware that you are a busy man, but you must surely have an underling who monitors the numerous weirdos and tragic cases that must pester you via the inter web.

Therefore, I urge him or her to LOOK AT THIS FUCKING EMAIL and solve my problem.


The Threat of Grandma brought the Sky saga to a close – Eventually

If that doesn’t happen, I’m going to have to get REALLY, REALLY SERIOUS.

I might even break into Sky HQ and nick a stapler or even a hole-punch.

I mean it. I spoke to Grandma last night and she was lost for words.

Don’t make her come over there.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael Channon

Cancellation duly followed with an offer of sincere apology.

April 22nd 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

The Sky saga is at an end. Like a bitter divorce or a dismal 0-0 draw at Southport on a Tuesday night, I can look forward to a better future from now on.

But is wasn’t so.

April 24th 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

A letter from Sky arrives this morning to say that my installation and broadband costs will be debited from my account on 26/04/13. Just the small matter of £153.32. And I said that the saga was over……..

The Sky matter was finally resolved and he contacted British Telecom – A new dawn began.

May 3rd 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

I’m now with BT! Text message telling me that my phone line is now active which I thought was “Great News” this morning.

However, they also think that I’m Daniel Cremin (7) and it turns out that my new phone number isn’t my new number. It’s someone else’s old one.

It belongs to a woman who lives on Catmore Road in the village and I’ve just had a lovely chat with her. Her name is Kate.

Still, BT says that it works and I suppose they’re right in a technical sense.

Just not in my house.

I’m being billed for it so I hope that Kate doesn’t have friends in Australia.

Sky got a 1/10. BT might be similar.

May 4th 2013

A debut MJC email to BT:


I switched to BT because Sky provided THE WORST SERVICE IMAGINABLE.

The problem arose because someone moved to the village I live in, applied for a BT landline, gave my address and so my landline, and consequently my broadband, was cancelled.

So I tried to sort it out with Sky.

Dreadful service, little intellect and no action whatsoever taken to help me. In the end I had to contact Sky’s CEO to get the service cancelled.

I’ve been with BT for less than 24 hours and this is my situation:

Broadband Hub arrived yesterday. Text saying that broadband is now active.

It isn’t.

Text saying that my landline is now active this morning.

It isn’t.

The phone line is completely dead.

So I contact BT. (This is where the retarded magic began)

My new number is apparently 01635 28****.

The only trouble is this line belongs to a lady called Kate who lives a mile or so up the road from me. I had a lovely chat with her because the first person I spoke to from BT did a line check and came back to me saying that the line is working perfectly and that he’d just spoken to someone called Kate.

He was taken aback when I informed him I don’t live with a person called Kate.

I did the same and had a lovely chat with her and discovered that she lives on the Catmore Road just outside West Ilsley. She’s by the Barracks and on a beautiful day like today I can imagine the views are quite magnificent across the Berkshire Downs.

However, I digress.

The first person I spoke to at BT left me with a number to do a line check and book an engineer if there was a problem (08000285705).

Tell me, if you are phoning from your work office because your home line is completely dead, what’s the point in doing a line check on the line I’m calling on?

And how can you do an automated line check on a line that doesn’t work?

Being cut off when you’ve been put on hold for 20 minutes is another joy that both yourself and Sky clearly provide in unison to your customers.

What “Think Tank” came up with that policy?

Having spoken with several of your call centre employees, I’m yet to find one who can process the information I set before them.

So I’ll spell out my issues.

1. I suspect the line you are checking has not got a fault.

2. I suspect the line you are checking is 01635 28**** – This is the phone line that Kate on Catmore Road has been using as a BT customer for a number of years.

3. I know that 01635 28**** is the number that you have under my name, my address and my bill.

4. I don’t think this is a crossed line.

5. I do suspect that you’ve allocated an identical number to me, a new BT customer.

6. I don’t think I live with Kate on Catmore Road. If I did, it would mean that my residence spans and area covering well over a mile.

Perhaps you think that her house is annexed to mine, which means my property encompasses a cricket club, a 14th Century Church, two racing stables, a village pub, the village hall and the Old Rectory (a house I’ve always thought is idyllic)?

If that were the case, I’d be the tenant of a property worth well in excess of £45 Million.

The thought of the heating bills alone make me shudder, so let’s hope that BT have got something wrong here

Or I’m in real trouble.


That’s a larger area than ideal to pay for.

Is there anyone who can get a grip on this situation?

It took me two weeks to finally cancel my Sky Account and move to BT, but the sense of Deja Vu is already quite terrifying in terms of customer care and common sense when it comes to solving a problem.

To recap:

The problem is the fact that I’m paying for a service which simply isn’t being provided, with little hope from your team of ANYTHING being done about it.

I shan’t hold my breath and will scour the globe for another company capable of employing English speaking call centre personnel with the ability to take an interest and actually do something.

Yours Sincerely,

Michael Channon

May 6th 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

Just had a grovelling apology from Christine at BT. My issues will be resolved in three working days apparently.


The BT Gang did all they could at HQ

As a footnote to our conversation she added, “May I also add Mr Channon, and I hope you don’t think it inappropriate, I’ve worked here for fifteen years and yours is the funniest complaint we’ve ever received. The whole office loved it.”

But nothing happened.

May 12th 2013

MJC Email to BT:

“Alright, long time no speak!

You mentioned three working days – that’s a long old time in BT speak isn’t?

Hey, never mind, we’ll always have the traditional form of emails to keep in touch.

Thanks for the “Discover BT” one by the way.

All I’ve managed to “discover” is the customer complaints email address in my short, but dismal time as someone paying you money for nothing at all.

Your email begins with:

“Welcome to BT Broadband. It has so many useful features. We couldn’t fit them all in one e-mail.”

I love the bit that says, “You’ve made the right choice.”

I’m glad I haven’t made the wrong one. Could you imagine that?

I currently have a BT Hub that just flashes a light indicating that nothing works.

If I’d have made the “Wrong Choice” who knows what might happen? Perhaps Virgin have a Hub like a Transformer that folds open and expands into a rapier like robot assassin capable of slicing me in half while I’m eating my lamb chops during Emmerdale.

So if that’s what you’re alluding to then yes, I have made the right choice.

So I’ll settle for a Broadband service which does what yours does at the minute as opposed to taking a risk on a service that provides broadband but might splice me in twain at any given moment.

Let’s move on to the telephone.

I remember our first cordless telephone, we felt terribly posh when we got it.


Damon loved Debbie – And she loved him

It was made by BT funnily enough and we got it the week when Damon was murdered by the side of a canal in Leeds on the off-shoot of Brookside called “Damon & Debbie”. It was a sad time in our household.

I can honestly say that none of us – my Mum, my Sister or myself saw it coming. They were so happy together and I vividly remember how hard it hit Sheila.


Bobby & Sheila – Devastated

Bobby was his typically gruff self, but he was visibly shocked and although the Corkhill family did all they could, the Grant household, once a place of joy and laughter, was never the same again.

Even now, all these years later, I often wonder if the loss of his younger brother instigated Barry’s spiral into Merseyside’s criminal underbelly.

Where was I? Oh yes, the phone line. Can you get the phone line to work?

That would be really handy because my Mum (the one mentioned above) can’t get hold of me at home on my mobile due to the dreadful signal we get in West Ilsley. Vodafone is only eight miles away, but that’s another bugbear of mine..

I’ve sort of paid for the landline you see as I’d like to contact people telephonically.

As you might have gathered, I’m an avid watcher of “TV” and what with all the advances in technology like that whole moon thing, the pneumatic tyre and our ability to live beyond an average age of 32, a “Landline” would really move me into the modern world no end.

I know you’re obviously terribly busy, but the three working days thing is dragging on a bit now.

In fact, I’ve just come back from a three-day holiday in the North West of England. Marvyn, one of my dear friends, looked closer to solving my Broadband and Landline issues and he spent a large part of the weekend falling in love with a cast iron spiral staircase in a pub beer garden (See photo attached).


Marv – BT’s Managing Director. Possibly

Like I say, BT’s response team don’t strike me as having “Imminent” as a buzz word.

I’m not even going to comment on your invitation to ‘Set up my BT bill online”.

The irony is just too much – Do you purposely provide your dissatisfied customers with such ammunition?

I’ve asked Marv to get off those stairs and come down to sort out my landline within “three working days”. He does a lot of temping does Marv so ‘Three working days” can span up to three months at times.

Is Marv your MD?

Love ya,

Michael Channon

May 14th 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

Phone call last night: Christine from BT has made me a “High priority customer”.

May 15th 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

Text from Christine: “The line has tested to a further fault in the frames unit at the exchange so the issue has been passed back to Openreach engineers.”

There could be something going on here.

May 16th 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:.

After nine weeks and six days. I have a “Landline” which works. A full statement will follow when the full impact of this event sinks in.

May 17th 2013

MJC Facebook Entry:

They say that anticipation is everything.

Yes, anticipation is everything until you realise that the pinnacle towards which you strive is a massive disappointment.

Nine weeks, six days and seven daft e-mails and I finally have a “Land line” on which to converse with my Mother when I’m not driving, trying to understand a Norman Collier impressionist or appease a Paternal tantrum at work.

And what happens?

Mum’s fucking voicemail happens that’s what. I might just send her an email instead.

About Lord Ilsley

Attractive gout sufferer, kind to geese, against striped cardigans. Not a spokesman for Mick Channon.
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