Named Engineer trial

We have been receiving a large number of calls and emails in relation to the:-

North West Named Engineer Trial

We would like to make our members aware that we do not support this trial; we were not made aware of the intention to run it, nor briefed on how it would be run and rolled out.

BT policy, “Divulgence of information procedure” states

‘Obtain the individual’s consent to release the information. NB this does not apply where the request concerns statutory/legal obligations, or the release of information in the case of an emergency, for example the release of details to emergency authorities following a fire
Providing individual consent has been obtained, factual information to a third party may be released even when BT is not required to legally provide it.’

We are unaware of anyone being asked their permission to allow BT to release their name or number to a third party: many members pay ‘MY Call’ charges, therefore this is their personal number; also informing a third party the name of your employees is, in our view, a breach of the above policy and data protection.

BT has responded: This is about the provision of a named engineer to CPs where the end customer may have specific security concerns e.g. data centres, banks, prisons etc. This is not a new service and is one that has been in place for a long time though previously it was done through ad hoc local arrangements or maybe via a closed user group. Via industry forums, CPs asked for Openreach to develop a specific reliable product that that can address these more sensitive end users’ needs and which would be available to all end users who wish to pay a premium for such a service. The ‘Named Engineer’ is that product. A proof of concept has been running in London and Docklands since the beginning of December 2013 on this and it has now been extended to trial in Northern Ireland and then the North West. In that time since December 2013 across these locations the product has been used on 350 occasions. 

The product involves the CP ordering a copper provide and a Named Engineer, using the Service Based Solutions (SBS) portal. The Control receive the order and two days before the appointment they send the CP an email with only the name of the engineer they expect to attend site, as well as the name of a second, back-up engineer. The CP is not given any other information about the engineer, just their name. See attached a copy of what the engineer will see – which is purely the engineer’s name. 

The trial is planned to run until the beginning of September and we are hoping then to be able to launch this product nationally from 8th September, to be in line with the rebranded WLR Premium launch on the 22nd September where this will be one of the products available as part of that premium service. We are looking for the trial to show that:
•       our customers can use the ‘named engineer’ product easily 
•       our Controls can process the orders easily
•       our engineers can complete the orders easily
•       we can bill our customers correctly  

This product not only provides our customers with the premium service that they have been specifically asking for some time now, but it also helps us to reduce wasted engineer time and improve efficiency by reducing instances of no access.
I note your reference to ‘“Divulgence of information procedure” – that policy covers the BT approach to handling requests for information from outside organisations and individuals (for example, prospective employers or the police) on current and former BT employees. All this customer service offering is to provide an engineer’s name to the customer in advance where they request that.

Your Branch Officers have not changed our stance, we believe this is a breach: unless individuals are asked and give their permission and have agreed it. What we now think, is that it has been a breach of policy for a long time! 
The advice to our members is to contact your manager and state if you do not wish for your details to be given out, and that you do not give your permission/consent for this to be done. An email or some other form of written notification is recommended; at hand if needed later as proof that you did not give your permission. 
However, not contacting your manager does not mean that you do consent – our view is that the managers within BT should be seeking your permission before any data is released to any third party.

We have conferred with other branches and our CWU national team; they were unaware of the trial taking place in the North West or anywhere else in the country. The NW branches object to the way this trial is currently being run and briefed; we also object to the disclosure of any individual’s information if consent has not been given.
Please keep us informed and make sure, if you have concerns, you raise them with your manager and with us.
We will continue to challenge this scheme.