15 Nov 2011

Hestia....is hanging on the telephone (again)

At some point after I reluctantly signed up to give Childline money on a monthly basis in the doorway of Tesco in Greenock on Saturday, my landline telephones went all pre-menstrual on me.

'What's your bank account number?' asked the chugger as I desperately looked for a tin to drop a few coins into instead.

'Ah, is it not on my card?' says I peering sans spectacles at my bank card.

'No,' said the chugger brightly. 'It will be on your bank statement.'

'Strangely enough,' I replied (with sarcasm dripping so heavily that I thought I might need wellies) 'I don't have a bank statement on me SEEING AS HOW THIS IS TESCO'  Actually, I didn't say that last bit at all.  But I thought it very deeply and pointedly, so it's the same thing.

The chugger took my telephone number and promised to call later that day, some time after 4.30pm.

He still hadn't called by the time Russell and Flavia took to the floor in their weekly glitter and eye-liner fest. Which I thought was odd.

Anyway, no-one phoned me on Sunday.  Apparently.

This morning, just after Sonshine had departed for school, ripstick in hand, the Meerkat's mother appeared at the door (again looking effortlessly glamorous in black jeans and the sort of luxuriously soft sweater that Customs and Excise won't let you bring into the country).

'Where have you BEEN?" she asked, thrusting a new packet of oatbran into my hands (Dukan Diet, don't ask - I have an arse like a ripped paper bag).

'Nowhere.  I've not been anywhere.'

'I've been trying to phone you for DAYS.'

Thus I learned that my phone was not working.

So I phoned BT's automatic line test.

'Please tell us the telephone number of the line to be tested. Do not hang up the phone while the line is being tested', said the M&S advert lady voice.  I type in the number. 'The line for this telephone number is currently in use.  Please hang up.  We will call you to let you know whether your line has a fault.'

So I hung up.

And of course my line DOES have a fault.  The bloody phones don't ring.  I stare at the phone and of course, the M&S advert lady voice does not ring back.

I recall that the lady said that in the event that she did not call back, to phone 151 and follow the process for Fault Progress.

Reader.  I will not bore you with the endless looping voicemail but there is NO Fault Progress bloody process.  I selected EVERY option (necessitating many calls to 151)  I was approaching the weeping stage and Sonshine had learned some new words.

I call 151 AGAIN and zero out until a gentleman from a distant continent answers the phone.  By this time I am more pissed-off than a Syrian Dictator.

'I've been told to follow the Fault Progress procedure and THERE'S NO SUCH THING,' I rattle down the phone to the poor fellow in my heavily accented English.  There is a pause while he tries to digest my rant.  He offers to phone my mother to give her the results of the line test.  I agree.

I hang up and then remember how my mother was recently sucked in to an internet scam by an Indian Gentleman a couple of weeks back.  I blanche at the thought of the tirade of abuse that Juno will vent upon his unfortunate head.  I frantically try to call her on the mobile and I manage to get her before he calls her.  Thank God.

I wait a few minutes and phone her back.  My line doesn't appear to have a fault in it.

So, dear reader, this afternoon I have spent the hours that I should have devoted to the ongoing creation of the Great British Novel squatting down behind the hamster cage amongst the crumbs and crispy poops that Nibbles manages to fling from his/her cage on a regular basis, torch in one hand, screw-driver in the other, a vast quantity of borrowed telephones that would shame a BBC Telethon, a mobile phone, a print-out from the computer on how to unscrew your BT telephone point and test it......to discover that really, I have not got a bloody clue why the phones aren't ringing.

Apprehensively, I dial 151 again and this time get a very nice lady from the subcontinent this time.  Within a few minutes she has organised a visit from a BT engineer (which will set me back about £170 for his first hour's visit if it turns out that Nibbles SOMEHOW a the bottom of all this, and about £80 per subsequent hour.

I wonder whether BT are aiming for all its customer base to be Russian oligarchs because only those with a yacht the size of a Balkan State will be able to afford someone to fix their phones at those rates.

The poor man from Childline will think that I've taken excessively DRASTIC evasive action to avoid giving him my account number for the monthly deduction......


  1. Love your arse description. My favorite is "Arse like a Japanese flag".

  2. When I was pregnant we had a fault with our line which affected our internet router. Ringing from the kitchen in the basement, "You have to ring from a different number to do the test." Well, we just have the one phone line. "What about a mobile?"

    In order to speak to the person on my mobile I had to go up to the third floor (we live on a hill, so of course the reception is sh**). "Please, madam, can you go and look at which lights are flashing on the router?" I troop downstairs, minus my mobile in case I lose the call by dropping out of coverage, then troop back up. "Ok, we'll just try something this end. Can you tell me which lights are flashing now?" I troop back down three flights and back up again. "Oh, that doesn't seem to have worked, can you try pressing the button with a phone symbol on it?" By this time, my 8 month pregnant self had had enough and I burst into tears. Our phone line is currently absolutely dreadful - crackly and the router drops out all the time - but I'm just too traumatised still to call them :(

    All of which to say GOOD LUCK! Knowing BT, you'll need it.

  3. Oh yes, I know all about the nightmare that is BT fault testing. Talk about going round in circles...
    But you've made me laugh, even if you feel thoroughly pissed off!
    PS. Got to say the Dukan diet sounds awful! xx

  4. How awful (and how awful for Inner Whispers, above!), and sorry about the Dukan business too. I'm not very au fait with diet and exercise terminology, but I understand in some circles (!) getting ripped is considered a good thing. xxx

  5. Firstly, get cable.
    Second, don't sign up for direct debits to charities. The people that tout for signatures on the street are not usually from the charity in question. They are paid commission to get sign ups at an average of £20-£30 a pop. Therefore unless you are exceedingly generous, the charity won't see a penny of your money for a long time. They'd be better off if you just sent them a cheque direct.

  6. BT? Ahh the fond memories of hanging on for hours trying to get some PERSON on the phone instead of a badly programmed loop, the consistent way in which their engineers DON'T turn up at the appointment time or even day, or one one memorable occasion, month.

    Actually I'm surprised that BT have an engineer based in Bute, I'd have thought they'd parachute one in from Greenock as required; maybe they do, which is why the charge is so extortionate.

    Enjoy the bran, beware the methane.


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