Sigh. Two days ago yet another missive came from BT, drawing attention to their fibre optic broadband, marketed as BT Infinity.
I already have 'ordinary' broadband. I switched to BT from Talk Talk in April 2012. The BT deal gave me (for the first time) wireless technology at home via a BT Home Hub router; and the package also included free weekend and evening landline phone calls (a redundant benefit now, because I've disconnected the handset to avoid those annoying sales calls, and rely instead on my mobile phone).
In June 2012, BT carried out some local infrastructure work that dramatically improved their broadband and phone call service in the village, and ever since then there has been nothing to complain about. I do perfectly see that things could be better still with BT Infinity, but I'm not prepared to pay for it. I don't download films, or stream sport, or otherwise make heavy use of the Internet. I haven't got a family with multifarious needs. I really can put up with the BBC iPlayer having to catch its breath every now and then, just as I put up with it when caravanning. Honestly, it's not a problem.
But BT keep sending letters that extol the benefits of BT Infinity to me. Go away!
I had three such letters in 2013. The first (in May) was a low-key announcement that fibre optic broadband was now available in my area. I think I checked and found that, actually, it wasn't. Not yet. The second (in September) was more pushy. It said in big letters Upgrade to faster, more reliable fibre optic broadband for free, and explained briefly what I could do with such bandwidth. I was unmoved. The third (in December) said Enjoy superfast broadband speeds - and great sport for free. Consumer programmes such as You and yours on BBC Radio 4 suggested that 'superfast' meant only 'rather faster'. And the mention of 'great sport' made me yawn.
And now their latest letter: You've been chosen for a free upgrade to fibre optic broadband. Chosen? That's an odd word to use. Surely they mean 'targeted for an offer, because your minimum contract term will run out soon, and we want to keep you as a paying customer, and if possible get more money out of you'. I suppose they wouldn't want to put it quite that way.
It's not really a 'free upgrade'. Even though they say this:
The upgrade is really free. We'll upgrade you to BT Infinity for no extra monthly charge. There won't be any installation costs and the terms of your existing contract won't change. If your contract is coming to an end, please ask about future pricing options.
Aha! Those future pricing options... An 'upgrade' will mean a fresh contract, with the clock reset and services rejigged and repriced. That will mean for instance paying my annual landline rental three months early, if I upgrade at once. That would be most inconvenient. And although I rarely now connect the handset to make a free weekday call, I see that after 'upgrading' I would face an unwelcome call charge if I did so. There are sweeteners such as half-price monthly payments for the first few months, but that honeymoon period soon passes, and then I would have to submit to an ongoing pricing regime that would prove costlier than now. After all, I'd have been given a greatly improved service: of course it will cost more in the longer term. Until it becomes old hat, and therefore cheap as chips - just as 'ordinary' broadband has.
I feel I should actually hang on, and see what happens to the pricing of 'ordinary' broadband. It ought to fall, so that BT Infinity can be mass-marketed as a premium service. And not just to the Chosen Ones.
I don't like BT's approach. I used them for broadband and calls some years back, and became very dissatisfied. The usual thing. An initial tempting offer, then left in the lurch when the service deteriorated, with an abysmal helpdesk; and obstructive behaviour when I attempted to leave them. In turn I became unhappy with Talk Talk, for similar reasons. I went back to BT to get wi-fi in my home, but that does not mean that I love them, or consider them reformed. I remain deeply suspicious of their attitude and their ethics.
It's much the same with all commercial companies. Behind every deal there will be a snare. Deals are devised simply to hook customers in, and make money out of them. Sometimes the deal will work out well. You get the desired new toy, and are very happy for a while. But in the long run it will inevitably become humdrum and not special any more. And the contract may turn sour.
I am sure that - for me - 'high-speed broadband' can deliver nothing that will significantly add to the joy of living. So no thanks. Or at least not until I have a clear personal reason for having it.