Two days to go until BT Sport is launched. Great. All the TV advertising and all the buzz is coming to a head. I will soon be able to watch high profile sport on my Sky account, for free. Tennis, footie, rugby, and of course the professional insights of the likes of Lawrence Dallaglio, Jake Humphrey, Clare Balding et al.
Or so I had been thinking.
The advertising suggests (well, it actually states) that as a BT broadband customer, my Sky account can be altered at no charge to include BT Sport when it launches. However, this is only true if one subscribes to ‘Residential’ broadband. And yes, you’ve guessed it, I have Business broadband.
The reasons for my rant here are twofold. First, I have an issue with the way BT writes about its offers.
I visited the BT Sport website this morning to enter my Sky Viewing Card details and record my BT account details, but the system would not accept the BT details. Guessing what the issue might be, I telephoned BT Business Customer Services in any case, to confirm my suspicions. Which brings me to my point – the hopeless copywriting and unbounded arrogance of BT.
When the BT man explained to me that the Free Sport offer was only available to BT Residential Broadband customers, I told him that this distinction was not mentioned in the advertising. “Yes it is” was his repeated reply.
So I decided to check.
My background has been in writing for customer-focused organisations – Sky being among them, but also Orange, 3 and a handful of oversees telecoms networks. Perhaps that is why I am so unimpressed by BT’s writing. Or rather, their lack of openness in their writing.
The only place on their BT Sport Home page that I could find any mention of their Free BT Sport offer applying only to Residential broadband customers was in a legal section that was at the very bottom of the web page, behind a concealed concertina-type interactive function that required me to click it to see what was behind it.
Why is this? What possible weakening of marketing messages might have been caused if a clear subhead had been included in the main message set to indicate that this fabulous offer was available to all ‘Residential BT Broadband’ customers rather than just all ‘BT Broadband’ customers? There is no logical explanation of why the distinction had to be buried in legal terms and concealed – hidden away from the main messaging.
Perhaps the clue is in the label given to the concertina-style veil hiding the legal terms: It is referred to as ‘The Legal Stuff’, which makes my heart sink. This is, of course, the copywriter’s way of dumbing things down so that an uneducated football fan might understand or feel comfortable with it. More street, more youthful. Less formal and stodgy. More down with the fans. Oh dear.
Perhaps the writer was an over-cautious BT employee? Or a junior agency writer? Either way, it would pay for BT to get a writer on board who understands the importance of clarity, who takes the trouble to write for the purpose of explaining things properly to a reader, who holds themselves back from simply selling the benefits of an offer repeatedly… and who perhaps appreciates that the majority of football fans have IQs way in excess of their shoe sizes. BT comes across as an arrogant organisation that cares little for clarity and wishes only to sell its latest offer. Again and again.
Which brings me to the second of my reasons for ranting: I never even wanted a flipping Business account with BT! We are a micro business by anyone’s standards, and our studio and office effectively form an annexe to my family house. We only have a Business broadband account because BT does not offer a fixed IP address service with their Residential service. I had been a Residential broadband customer for 10 years or more, and the largest users of it are probably my children! I was required to transfer to a Business account 6 months ago in order to have a fixed IP address (the fixed IP address is necessary for me to log in to my home-bound server when I am working away for a day here and there, to access a file or suchlike). There are other ways to get a fixed IP address but the simplest way was to open a BT Business account.
There is neither the space here nor the time to detail the utter madness that was the transfer of my broadband from Residential to Business. It took two months and was appallingly handled by different departments within BT who never seemed to know what the other was doing. That is another rant altogether.
In the meantime, at about half its actual size, here is the BT Sport homepage from today. I realise you will be unable to read much of the content, but believe me, the mention of ‘Residential’ would not be found even if I had reproduced the page at twice its normal size.