Gobs on Sticks

Thoughts mostly (but not always) about the voice-over business, from London Voiceover Artist, Mike Cooper

  • About the author

    My name is Mike Cooper. I'm a full time Voiceover Artist living and working in London, and this is my blog. Find out more about me on my main website (there's a link further down this column), or if you'd like to hear some of my work, check out the files below.

D-Day (or “Has anyone seen my installer?”)

Posted by MikeCooper on November 28, 2008

As I sit here writing this on Friday morning, I still can’t quite believe it’s happened. I now have an installed and working ISDN line in my home studio. A small thing, you may think, unless you’ve been reading this blog. I’d love to be able to say that Thursday (installation day) passed without incident, but actually it went something like this…

7am – Raise self from slumber. Shower and dress. I have been promised that my job is first on installer’s list at 8.

8.30 – Call BT in moment of paranoia to check that the job is actually booked and hasn’t been cancelled. Am told it’s booked, but that no one should have said it was first on the list, because they can’t guarantee that. It is suggested that I call back in an hour, when they’ll be happy to call Openreach to check where my installer is.

09.55 – Call again. Nice lady contacts Openreach installer, who was never allocated me as his first job and is somewhere else in London on another. No worries though: he’ll be with me within the next hour-and-a-half, and definitely by 11.30.

12.00 – Installer arrives (only four hours later than promised). Spends a stroky-beard half hour walking around trying to ascertain where the main BT junction box is for our row of houses. Finds said box, repleat with spaghetti wiring arrangement, on back of house. We gain access through neighbour’s garage. I ask if cable can be brought around the outside of the house, rather than through it, as my booth is in the diametrically opposite corner of the premises. This is grudgingly agreed. Fifteen minutes is now spent convincing him that if he drills the hole out through the wall from my booth where I want him to, he’ll come out on the other side of the wall where I say he will. More beard-stroking ensues, but we have a deal. I go back to work while he begins his.

13.30 – I stop work, briefly, and notice there’s no sign of the installer anywhere in the vicinity. Not only that, but his van’s gone too. Has he gone forever? Probably not, as he’s left his toolbox and a reel of Cat 5 cable in the bedroom. Would it have been nice to know he was going? Yes – especially as I’m working downstairs and he’s left all the doors to the road outside hanging open on the latch (this is the middle of London, after all…)

15.00 – There’s a knock at the (now locked) door. He’s back, with a big reel of weatherproof cable (ah, so that’s where he went!) Much hammering as cable is run around the outside of the house.

16.00 – A hole is drilled through the wall with the longest drill bit I have ever seen in my life (about a metre, I’d say) and – to everyone’s surprise, including mine (though of course I don’t say so) – it comes out exactly where I’d said it would.

16.30 – The socket is attached, a green light comes on and – to my utter astonishment – the ISDN card reports that the line is working normally.

Considering I placed my enquiry with BT on 15th October (which they then ignored), then placed my order on 27th October (which then wasn’t placed with the suppliers until I chased it up on 10th November), this has taken 44 days to get installed. That’s a month-and-a-half, for a business service that’s supposed to be supplied in 2-3 weeks.

If this is the kind of service from suppliers, is it any wonder that small businesses so often go to the wall in their first year? Luckily, for me, ISDN is an adjunct to my existing services and a way to grow my business, rather than something I needed to function at all. But I wonder how many jobs I might have lost over the last month that I might have got if it had been in if the timeline had been as promised.

Of course, I’ll never know, and there’s no point in dwelling on the bad experience (though a letter to the CEO’s office is on my to-do list). What remains to do now is to begin the proper marketing of myself to clients – existing and new – as an ISDN voiceover. I’ve bitten the bullet, joined the ranks and the rest is, largely, down to me.

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