Crying over the phone

Crying over the phone

06 May 2015 | Lloyd Hughes

Hell hath no fury like a town crier scorned.

BT faced the wrath of Wells’ town crier this week after he took objection to a nine-week delay in fixing an issue with his phone and Internet connection.

Having been thrust back into the Middle Ages thanks to his lack of connectivity, Len Sweales resorted to a similarly archaic tradition in hope of drawing attention to his plight.

In his capacity of official town crier, the bellman prepared a poem made up of rhyming couplets, which he then proceeded to cry out to the public whilst dressed up in his full regalia.

The poem – admittedly not Wordsworth-esque – certainly raised smiles and laughter from passers-by, with the line “BT always apologises for my communication loss, they say sincerely, but they don’t give a toss” generating particular merriment.

Now you might think that this is a rather frivolous abuse of a prestigious office, but Mr Sweales claims to have missed out on some of his town crier duties due to his communication troubles. So in that regards it’s a fair cop to use his office as a platform from which to criticise. It seems to have worked well.

The novelty factor of the story has seen it go beyond the usual regional press and make it up to national level meaning it’s bad PR for BT. The majority of the comments on the Mail Online are less than favourable (although they seldom are). A company’s name getting thrust above the parapet in the form of a bad news story always makes them a target for a good social kicking, which is exactly the case here.

Stories of tardy repair work from BT, Sky and their ilk are a common frustration and its no wonder that Mr Sweales reached boiling point. I’m sure many onlookers who heard it first hand felt sympathy for his predicament as did those reading it in the press.

A BT spokesperson in the article covering the debacle explained the elaborate reasons behind the delay (in fairness to them, it looked like a heck of a job to fix it) but the provider will surely be cursing the associated bad PR in an industry where competition is fierce.

I don’t expect their rivals to be making much of an Oyez about it though. They’ll probably just be thankful that this time it wasn’t them being lambasted for dragging their heels over repair work. Bad PR to you, BT.