Apparently, The Mighty Google says lots of people search for “local phone and broadband engineer near me”.

Yes, I’m one of those engineers, based in the TS16 area of Stockton on Tees. I serve business and residential customers in the North East and North Yorkshire. No, this is not simply an advert, but some pointers on finding a good engineer.

Wait a Minute, Can’t My Provider Help?

Yes, providing any fault or issue is on their side of the network, that is, on their side of the master socket. If the problem is on your side, or you need additional work, such as moving a socket, cabling, etc. you’ll struggle to get their call centre staff to understand. Most providers are equally as bad – we simply need to get used to it. They will simply threaten you with an hourly rate of £130.00 for something that does not fit into one of their standard responses. I suspect that is is what has led you to this blog! More on this below. Please read on.

So, Am I On My Own?

Not really. There are plenty of qualified, independent, highly-experienced engineers around. You just have to take some care in choosing, and cut out any unhelpful middlemen.

What to Avoid

Anything that appears to be “a national centre for local engineers”. They typically brag that they can find an engineer anywhere. Their web sites will have a certain over-the-top spamminess of repeated phrases and outrageous promises. “24 hour cover in any part of the country”.”Fully-trained engineers always available”. Etc, etc. How do they work?

They advertise heavily, take an enquiry (and possibly your money), then attempt to find an engineer in your area with whom they probably have never dealt with before. The engineer might be sent out with only basic details of the problem. This will have been passed down through several people. Hence, they may arrive having been uninformed about the issue. They won’t be happy. You won’t be happy. Worse, they may not get paid. The company they have been sent by have taken your money, but not passed it on to them. Don’t be deceived by a local address, as these can be fictitious, or simply a token local address.

But Wait a Minute…

Don’t confuse these with websites which are a genuine informal collective of ex-BT engineers. These will be run by engineers themselves, who have relationships with other similar engineers. A much safer, ethical option. More on these later.

What Else To Avoid.

To recap, If your broadband/telephone line is misbehaving, then your first course of action should be to call your service provider. This could well be painful, use up several hours of your life “on hold”, and not move the issue any further forward. I have blogged on how to survive this here. Sadly, if you have an intermittent problem, simply something that is not an easy fix, or a basic simple change, they won’t want to send out an engineer for free, as this will always be a cost to them. Likewise with moves of cabling, sockets, etc. If it’ s not on their script then “computer says no”.

However, if they do happen to finally agree to send an engineer…

Be Kind To Openreach.

The majority of the UK telecommunications infrastructure is maintained by Openreach, a former BT subsidiary. Your provider may send one of their staff to your house.  Their engineers are strictly monitored and must account carefully for time spent fixing faults. They can’t spare the time to do more than a basic check if you have a problem such as slow broadband, occasional line noise, etc. This is no disrespect to the skills of most of them, it’s just they are under great pressure. Furthermore, you can’t deal with them direct – you must go via your provider, and misunderstandings are frequent. Usually, a different engineer will be sent very time if a revisit is needed, so they will have to pick up your problem from cold. Therefore, call your provider for the big, obvious things, not the fiddly stuff. For the tricky things, get a local independent engineer (more below).

They Are Only Wires Anyway – I Can Sort It Out” (said The Electrician)

Mains electricity and telephone/broadband are very, very different. Some electricians still don’t grasp this fundamental fact. Actually, I don’t mind them fiddling with telephone wires and sockets, as it generates work for me in putting things right. Enough said. Most electricians won’t have a clue about the special needs of broadband but they still have a go and often make amusing but expensive messes. A web forum of engineers I’m a member of has weekly photos of bodged work, and it’s deeply funny. A pity for the customer, but a useful generator of work for us who understand how to do it right.

Now, The Good News. How to Find A “local phone and broadband engineer near me”

As mentioned above, there are some sites which are simply contact points for informal groupings of ex-BT or ex-Openreach engineers. They are typically managed by an ex-BT person who takes a modest fee from any enquiries passed on to members, who cover large sections of the UK. The web sites may mention the former experience of members in BT or Openreach. They are worth a try. Here’s one I deal with, managed by the excellent Geoff Grove.

More Good News.

Google is clever at working out where you live and delivering search results to suit. If it turns up local telephone and broadband engineers, it will probably turn up an address. If this is residential, or small business, you can be assured that they are truly local. Don’t worry about small premises or unglossy websites. Check for a Facebook or Google My Business page, or at least some favourable Google reviews. Good! It looks like you may have found the“local phone and broadband engineer near me” ! Most will have the added advantage of knowing where local exchanges are (hence potential broadband speeds), issues with infrastructure (some areas are cabled with non-copper cables which slow broadband down). They won’t be passing high travel costs on to you. Plus, they might even know how to find you…

And Finally…

If you are reasonably local to me, then… (well you know what comes next…).

If you are not local, here’s the deal:- I’ll pass on your postcode and basic needs to a web forum of engineers free-of-charge, you provide me with a favourable Facebook and/or Google review based on the usefulness of this information and my level of helpfulness. Done? Thanks! I gain nothing else from the pleasure of finding you “local phone and broadband engineer near me”, apart from the satisfaction that you might actually get your problem solved.