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Rant: Kafkaesque japes with the People’s Post Office


Thinking of getting your phone and broadband from the Post Office? I wouldn't

Our local Post Office closed down recently. At the time I wasn’t particularly worried, as I hardly ever went in there – I have no relatives living abroad requiring knitted jumpers, I don’t sell anything on eBay and most Government bureaucracy can be handled online.

However, four weeks after moving house I was back queuing with the Premium Bonds hopefuls, as I decided to order my home phone and broadband from the Post Office. The whole experience has been so protracted and painful that I’m beginning to think it’s shoring up its branch-based business model by denying me access to phone calls and the internet.

The online order process was simple enough and the two-week wait pretty standard, and the assurance of text message updates meant I’d be kept in the loop. Two weeks later I’d heard nothing, so I phoned the expensive 0845 number from my mobile. The Post Office told me I’d need an engineer to come round, which would cost me £112 plus VAT. As the line was physically active – there was a ‘disconnected’ dialling tone – I questioned the need for a visit. Sure enough, they called back within the hour to tell me I didn’t need an engineer after all.

Despite this, the following week I got home from work to find a card on my doormat from an engineer, saying he had come round but we had been out, along with a letter from the Post Office. This was dated from four days previously, and stated that we needed to ring the Post Office urgently regarding our account or it would be cancelled. The company had somehow managed to make an engineer appointment I didn’t need without telling me, before taking four days to deliver a letter telling me to contact them urgently instead of phoning my mobile (apparently it takes four days to deliver a letter, even if you ARE the post office).

By this time the internet and phone had finally been activated, three weeks late, so I rang them to ask what the problem was. Apparently there was no problem, everything was fine and they had no idea why an engineer had been sent but I would not be charged.

Everything seemed to be turning out OK, until the phone line was cut off a week later. One more expensive 0845 call from a mobile later and we ascertained that the account had been cancelled. No-one knew why and there appeared to be no record of any of our conversations on the system. The Post Office also had no idea why the broadband still worked, and were insistent that it came from another provider, even though I was using a Post Office router, username and password to get online.

So now I have no phone and a phantom broadband connection that’s blocking the line so I can’t switch to another provider. I think I’d be a lot happier if the Post Office just went bust and we posted everything via TNT.

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