For 6 months I suffered the tyranny of the BT Broadband Office email system. My new school was using it as their main email system, and the most common question I was asked in the first month of my tenure was “What can we do about the email system?”
Even for end users, it was a painful experience. The usernames and passwords bore little relation to the ones used for everything else, so staff frequently forgot them. It was slow. It was unreliable. It would log you out after 15 minutes of inactivity – and that was if you logged in with the ‘I am on a private system’ flag enabled. The worst was reserved for me, however, in the form of the web-based management console, which was nothing short of an utter disgrace.
When 6 new staff started in September of last year, it took me over an hour to create their accounts. Even when the system didn’t time out, it would take minutes just to navigate between individual pages, of which there were far more than necessary. Occasionally it would spit out generic and mysterious error messages, as if regurgitating my carefully-crafted input half-digested, in a sign of displeasure at my request that it actually do something useful. I hated it with a passion mere mortals can only dream of.
I began deploying our in-house Exchange server shortly after Exchange 2010 was released. After a delay due to illness, it went live over Christmas, and last month, I called BT to give them the boot. It was then that I learned the delicious truth: BT’s own staff had no backend system to control the email platform. They had to use the same console that I had grappled with all this time. Only they didn’t have one or two accounts to take care of now. Not even the 6 which had ruined a late autumn afternoon for me last year. They had to delete all 89 of our staff accounts, one by one.
The despair in the woman’s voice at the other end was palpable, thinly masked by the cool professionalism that only comes from a rigorous staff training procedure and a large dose of Prozac at the start of each shift.
It’s fair to say I was… unsympathetic.