fondue's writeup under British Telecom calls said company "fucking, fucking, fucking bastards".

fondue, meet NTL.

NTL was created by the British Government to administer the many, many terrestrial TV transmitters which were previously owned by the newly-fractured IBA. Since then, NTL have become a 600-pound gorilla, offering cable TV, telephony, broadband internet, many business services and much much more.

Right now you may well be askisg "So, what's the problem with that then doofus?".

Well, this company is FUBAR - Fucked Up Beyond All Recognition. For a start, while NTL have been happily maintaining their large number of transmitters for the last 10 years, their home customers (using the service they rebranded as ntl:home) have been suffering. For a start, NTL decided to offer a new unmetered dial up internet package called ntl:world. All fine and dandy, and for those who could get it, all was good.

However, "those who could get it" were in the minority. NTL, for some odd reason which is lost in the mists of time, did somehow not understand that millions of people would want free internet access, and made the mistake of only allowing signup through their CD. Thus, there was a one-month backlog of CDs as NTL rushed to get millions of the things pressed. Literally, a month of backlog. When it is possible to mail many CDs at once, and when modern CD burners can churn out many CDs an hour, this is inexcusable.

Then there is customer service. Really, the tech support for NTL is awful. Firstly, you have to sit through their service announcements-get used to them, you'll hear them many times in trying to get through to a human. Then you navigate through the typical Dilbert-esque options menu, and hopefully choose the one you want. Then, you are left to listen to what appears to be a bunch of Jean Michel-Jarre records left out in the sun until someone picks up the phone to speak to you. I estimate the number of people working on the helpdesk at any given day to be 5, one for each division. The tech support are, for the most part, useless. I'll give you my experience below.

I had lost all broadband service. No problem-call tech support. 20 minutes later, after going through the hell above, I was asked which OS I was using, because of the MSBlast worm. Since I was dual-booting Linux and Windows XP, but only used XP if something went really hopelessly wrong with the Linux partition, I said "any OS other than XP/2000". Thus, I got through to tech support, who told me to reset my modem, and then my computer. I did so, no dice. They then said I needed to be using XP to get any help. I asked why, they just said they don't support Linux, told me to sleep on it and essentially gave me the finger. I hung up.

The next day, no broadband. Dial up again. This time, I go into Windows XP and select the corresponding option on the menu. I am then diverted into something that appears to be some kind of safety net, and told I need patches for MSBlast to get help. I say I can't download the patches, nor can MSBlast do anything to anyone anyway, because I have no service-that's why I'm calling. They ignore this and say I need the patches. I say again I can't get them and could they please concentrate on the fact I cannot get the patches rather than the fact I don't HAVE the patches. They offer to send through a CD (which handily has the XP SP1 update on it, even though I keep that on my Backup partition anyway). They hang up.

This continues for 5 days until I threaten, finally at the end of my wick, to move to BTopenworld. THIS they pay attention to! They then give me plenty of help and I get the problem resolved. For a day or two at least...restart the computer and it doesn't work. Oh yay, let joy be unconfined.

Why why why? If they could just say "Fine, we don't support Linux, but here's some help anyway" rather than "I don't fucking care if you don't use Windows, you need the Windows patches anyway" then all this hell could have been bypassed. Now, at least, you can get an idea of exactly how bad NTL is.