A message to Talk Talk & BT Open Reach from our visitors, staff... and animals!
12th April 2016
As a popular, busy tourist attraction in the South West, Noah’s Ark Zoo Farm near Bristol is familiar with the pressures of business growth – a positive challenge as we welcome more visitors each year. Now in our 18th year, we've grown from a humble annual attendance of 25,000 to over 200,000. Unfortunately for the past year our growth has been seriously affected by the failures of Talk Talk and BT Open Reach in the provision of a much-needed fibre lease line which is required to provide effective visitor services and animal care onsite. Our IT infrastructure facilitates important operations at the park for visitors and our animals; from our Ticket Office admission system, busy office, education department and animal CCTV cameras used by Keepers for health management.
We’re not ones to usually moan (we’re a happy team looking after an amazing park filled with lions, tigers and bears..!) however for the past 16 months we have been chasing Talk Talk and BT to complete our fibre installation – a crucial part of our business development plan. With record attendance in 2015, daily visitor numbers are up again this year. Great news! And we are very grateful for each one of our lovely visitors. But increasing attendance puts significant pressure on our services, particularly to provide a fast admissions system to give each visitor efficient entry to the park and avoid frustrating queues.
Noah’s Ark has survived on a basic BT broadband package for the last decade – no better than a slow home internet service. Serving a busy office of 10 staff, a Front of House EPoS system, and chip & pin machines in the Shop and Café means we can’t manage at the level we now need to. Add to this the important animal CCTV cameras used by Keepers to monitor animal behaviour and health – our beautiful elephants are a prime example – our internet service is important to allow live streaming of footage for our animal management.
Not to mention the animal webcams much loved by visitors worldwide… which we've had to stop whilst we wait for improved bandwidth. Since signing contracts for the promised fibre lease line in November 2014 (yes… 16 months ago) we have had no completion date confirmed and instead have been left frustrated by a process of poor communication and failed promises by Talk Talk, and BT Open Reach who are doing the physical fibre routing and roadworks. Initially given a 90 day average completion time, this is now 13 months overdue. With much publicised ‘super fast rural broadband’ commitments by the big telecoms companies, we believed Talk Talk and BT would meet our needs and provide a professional support service. We’re sad to say this has not been our experience. Instead we've had months of confused updates, several missed completion dates with no satisfactory explanation or DSO resolution.
The real-time result of this process has been actual loss in revenue for the zoo – we watch with huge regret as some families choose to leave the queues on very busy days and drive away, frustrated as we are by the slower broadband-reliant admission system and not prepared to wait. Why should they? As a business doing all we can to grow, support the local economy, provide more jobs and training opportunities (as well as provide excellent service for our visitors) we are challenging Talk Talk and BT to respond to us promptly and meet their obligations to support our business needs.
And we’re not after a token gesture from a Customer Support team – we are asking for a genuine resolution which will show the level of customer care we’re sure both companies usually strive to provide. Over to you Talk Talk and Open Reach… you know where to find us.