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delirium happy

Just keep on trying till you run out of cake

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The BT saga
delirium happy
I shouldn't be on LiveJournal right now. In fact, I shouldn't be on the internet at all. But I am. I have work I should be doing. Specificly, I need to be doing a writeup of a (particularly unintersting and unispiring) experiment. I've had this piece of work for over five weeks. It's due in in slightly under 12 hours. I have a feeling I may not be getting much sleep tonight. Yes, I suck, I know.

But quite apart from what I ought to be doing, I'm going to tell you the story of how BT are screwing me about this time (note for merkins and other aliens: BT are British Telecom. For a long while telecoms here were nationalised. This isn't the case any more, and they are now a private company with a few competitors. However, due to their long-time status as the only player in the game, they're still something close to a monopoly, hence providing a nice combination of all the worst points of nationalised and privatised companies).

Some time towards the end of last week I ordered ADSL from nildram. The order all seemed to go through without any sort of difficulty. And life was good. Until monday. Until I got an email back from nildram saying that they'd tried to place the order with BT and it had been refused because the postcode that I gave them didn't match the one that BT had on record. What, as they say, the fuck. (further note: many different internet service providers offer ADSL; however, regardless of the ISP, the actual wires are all BT's, so you can't really avoid them entirely).

So, on monday evening, I phoned BT. This was fun. For extremely small values of fun. First off, there was the obligatory maze of twisty turny voice menus, all alike ("press star if you want to hit the person who designed this system over the head with a lump hammer"). After that, there was the joy of being put on hold. About half an hour later I actually got to speak to someone who was allegedly a human being. I say allegedly because I have my doubts and I didn't have a chance to conduct a full turing test.

During this conversation, several things became evident. Firstly, they weren't able to tell me what address they did actually have listed for me. For security reasons. Despite the fact that I had called them from the phone in question. Secondly, I got told that they could send me a copy of the address they have for me which is wrong through the post. Is anyone else seeing the problem here? Thirdly, they insisted that there was absolutely no reason why the incorrect postcode should stop my ADSL order going through. Despite the fact that it obviously had done. Fourthly, they tried to blame nildram, the post office, the phase of the moon and everybody other than themselves. Fifthly, they took great pains to point out that even though the address they had for me was blatantly wrong, they couldn't correct it manually and would have to wait for it to be done automatically. Which could take several weeks. Finally, they promised that it would be looked into further and I'd receive a phone call on Tuesday.

Then on Tuesday, I noticed that I had some mail arrived through the post. And it was from BT. Hurrah! I get to see what address they think I live at. I'm not going to actually say what it was, because it was (just) enough for someone to be able to track me down, and I don't want to make this friends only. Suffice is to say that it was laughably wrong in many, many ways. For instance, the postcode hey had for me was "LA1". (further further note: UK postcodes are gnerally 6 digits long. I think they can sometimes be 5, and sometimes 7, but never, ever 3. LA1 is the first three digits for the whole of Lancaster). As a matter of interest, the letter itself was a bill.

I also failed to receive a phone call from them.

So, I sent a quick email of this to nildram, and have yet to hear back from them. Next step will probably be to ring nildram, as trying to get sense and competence out of BT is slightly more difficult than trying to get blood out of a stone. This is going to be a long, drawn-out and incredibly fun process, I can tell.

And then just for further amusement value, when I was leaving the flat this morning, I ran into the postman, and had a brief conversation with him. Apparently, he doesn't have any sort of key or code to get into the building. How the other letters appeared in my mailbox I really don't know. Hopefully this particular fuckup will be dealt with fairly quickly. And fortunately, I'm not the one who has to do so (I've spoken with my dad, and he's going to speak to the management company).

And now, I need to go back to this damn pumping speed experiment. With slightly less than 11 hours left to do it, when feeling sleepy and ill. Can it be weekend already?

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Just being a nickpicker - in fact there are such things as 3 alphanumeric postcodes - London only though - such as SE3 where my mate lives.

Good point. I believe they go down as far as two - N1 and so on... But that's London for you, getting all the sexy codes.

Actually no, SE3, SW1 etc are only part of the postcode. They have become synonymous with areas of London to the extent that people say they live in a particular area, but if you simply put SE3 on a letter, it would only get it as far as the nearest sorting office, wheras a postcode is a unique code for every street (or part of a street) in the country.

Postcodes are made up of 3 parts. The first two letters signify the sorting district. The next number (either 1 or 2) is the area within that district, and the last 3 digits (1 letter 2 numbers) narrow it down to a single street.

But when I use London address, the postcodes are always three digits, or even two digits - I never receive the full postcode.

Just checked Yellow Pages - you seem to be correct. Why do London people always give me only the first bit of their postcodes but not the second bit?

But yeah I know about the postcode system - I live in BS4 - which is rather annoying as it's a fairly long narrow swathe across Bristol - it occurs to me a lot when I do postcode searches, I get something near West Bristol while I live in East Bristol, but we share BS4. Annoying. That's what you get for living near the edge of a postcode area.

Worse, when I used to live in my parents old house, we had the SG4 postcode, but we only lived a mile away from the AL5 postcode area, so nearly 90% of the time I do a postcode search, I get something in the SG area, but never in the AL area, so I kept getting stuff really a long way from my parents house, and go there and whatever, then people say "Erm, you could have gone to that place in xxxx instead" where town xxxx is the next town from the village. Example include when I wanted my car repaired at a Vauxhall garage, and I did a search for Vauxhall garage, and the nearest garage with what I wanted was in Royston, a hour drive away, and when I arrived home, my dad asked me what I have been doing, told him, and he mentioned a Vauxhall garage in St Albans with the same equipment - 15 mins drive away.

It's just a London thing, people there refer to parts of the city by the abbreviated postcode. Elsewhere in the country, it just doesn't happen, we use place names.

Google will no doubt have the full answer, but London had 2, 3 or 4 character codes before the postcode system was introduced nationwide. e.g. N1, SW3, SE23.

A pox on them. That's impressively bad, even by BT standards.

YO30 3AS would be an example of a 7 digit postcode*, I have a feeling that double digits are allowed in the second (local) part as well, which would be YO30 10AA.

The shortest postcode would be something like N1 1AA%.

* And one which I have lived in.
% Which appears to the the Islington Sorting Office.

Hmm, interesting. Lancaster's sorting office is LA1 1AA

Wonder if this holds true for all main sorting offices

I wouldn't be surprised if all such that existed when the postcodes were dealt out are XX1 1AA, since you do have to start somewhere... :-)

Can it be weekend already?

Can it be the end of June instead?

Sympathies - I've spent many a frustrating hour on the phone to BT to get something relatively simple sorted out. Most of it was associated with moving house, too. I'm dreading sorting broadband, because I'm sure something will go wrong, and I'm sure it'll be BT's fault.

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