INQUIRER READERS have welcomed the news of BT's slap on the wrist for raising people's expectations about when they would get its high speed Infinity service.
We reported this week that the UK Advertising Standards Agency had taken BT to task over its Infinity promises. Some 15 users had complained that BT promised availability soon only to update this with the bad news that actually it was months away.
The ASA said that the affected punters "expected BT Infinity to become available on or around that date; not for the date to be subsequently extended by three months".
BT said it was disappointed at the decision.
"This is a disappointing ruling. People clearly want to know when fibre might become available in their area and so BT has been publishing its best estimates on a regular basis. Those plans sometimes have to change however if local planning permission isn't granted or we find that a third party can't meet our deadlines," said the firm in an emailed statement.
"[Fifteen] complaints is a tiny number when you consider that BT is enabling tens of thousands of cabinets."
But if BT was disappointed, that was nothing compared to our readers. "It is SHAMEFUL that BT have tried to belittle this matter. We all know they did wrong, they know they did wrong, the ASA told them they did wrong," said one user called Urban Haze, who blogs about his position, and claims to know of 200 other people affected.
"Now it's time for BT to hold their hands up and admit they did wrong - but suggesting it only affects a few people is a shockingly cheap tactic".
Other people, who did not complain to the ASA but have complaints about the service also commented. "I too have been affected by this. Our exchange was enabled months ago and half our town have been able to get Infinity however my cabinet and all cabinets within a [one] mile radius of mine haven't been enabled yet," added another.
"The website changes every [three] months with a new deadline. If I had known it would take a year to enable my cabinet I would have switched to Virgin's fibre service to bridge the gap rather than constantly suffer from 2mb ADSL."
There is a suggestion that this is a cynical ploy on the part of BT, and that it dangles one date like a carrot only to switch it when it gets closer. Two readers have been staring at the carrot for almost two years, one talked of a year's delay, and one said that they got theirs two months early.
"BT dangled the 'Infinity carrot' in front on me for over [two] years," said David Moors. "The date changing every [three] months".
"I was promised 'definite installation' on March 15 2011. It's just slipped again to 'Maybe 31st March 2013'," added another. "It's not incompetence. By deliberately moving the goalposts, customers won't move to Virgin, etc."
It is not all criticism. One reader offered a suggestion that could mitigate the situation. The idea is that BT launched a sort of ticker that would give people an idea of how many Infinity wanting customers there are in that area and how many are needed to give the high speed internet the go ahead. We asked BT what it thinks about this.
"The reader is speculating that we need to receive a certain number of orders before we install and enable a cabinet, but that's simply not the case," it said in a statement.
"BT makes an economic assessment of the costs to install each new fibre cabinet in an exchange area based on a whole range of engineering, planning and population factors. In the meantime in terms of the website and as we said in the statement, we'll work with the ASA to make changes where we can."
We were hoping for something rather more satisfying.
"I rather hate BT over this, i infuriatingly live somewhere that despite the street having virgin cables I cant get it. Over a year ago BT started saying infinity was coming sept 12, then it moved to Dec 12 and now its March 13," complained mark2410.
"Words cant express how much I hate them and their utter inability to just let you know what if anything is happening with your exchange!!!!!" µ
Plus the cost of ambition as moonshots eat into the coffers
Spoiler alert: it's probably VeriSign
Did we say cuts off? We meant traps them inside their own home