The power of national press

national pressAfter sharing weeks of frustration with my parents over their broken BT phone line, I decided it was time to make use of my contacts with the national press and get it fixed.

Their problems first started when they arrived back from a week’s holiday to find their BT phone line dead. They have very patchy mobile phone coverage and with intermittent broadband service found it increasingly difficult to get one with everyday life. Over the following two months my father sent numerous emails, texts and letters to BT but to no avail. They could only speak to a call handler in India who refused to put them through to a supervisor or engineer. When my parents came over for a Sunday lunch their frustration and annoyance with the situation was very apparent and it was at that stage I put the idea forward of getting the national media involved.

Preparing a case study

During Monday my father compiled a list of emails, texts, letters and phone calls made to BT. I started to research what problems other customers had with BT. There has been much coverage about the problems with broadband but I was genuinely surprised by the number of people on forums experiencing problems with their BT landlines, often taking weeks to sort out.  I was also interested to read how much money BT had spent on sport rather than investing in providing decent customer service.

On Tuesday I produced a case study detailing all the issues my parents had experienced, a selection of quotes from my parents, where BT were investing money and effort (clearly not in landlines) and researched suitable media to target.

On Wednesday I contacted the Daily Mail knowing this is just the type of consumer story they like to cover. Within hours of speaking to Sam Dunn from the Daily Mail the service BT provided to my parents went from dismal to amazing.

On Thursday my parents received an email from BT with a named person in the UK and a commitment to sort out their phone line. On this day I had set up a photoshoot with the Daily Mail photographer and parents. The photographer took a range of unhappy and happy shots, to be used depending on the situation the following Wednesday when the article was planned for. On Friday three vans turned up at their house; one to move a telegraph pole, another to cut back the overhanging branches and a third to manage the road traffic. This did not fix the problem and on the Saturday morning a BT engineer turned up, identified two faults on the line and immediately repaired it. A great result thanks to the Daily Mail.

The national press coverage

The following Wednesday a full page article featured in the Daily Mail (circulation of over 1.6 million) and on their website (which has over 200,000 unique browsers daily).  The online story was shared over 230 times and received over 1,100 comments from its readers.