Monthly Archives: June 2007

Customer’s ‘legitimate’ traffic gets throttled….

Anyone else experienced random throttling on P2P or online games?

Thoroughly pissed off I went back on their website and read their terms and conditions inside out – when I noticed a link to an FAQ. In the FAQ it stated that ‘Legitimate music and gaming services would not be effected by their traffic management techniques.’ I had them. Checkmate.

Read the whole account here!

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More threats because no one will help!

Waking up with a giant cockroach in your room when signing up for Talk Talk is probably better than The Trial. But I totally see what he means. This is well worth the read. Bolded for fun!

9 April 2007

BT Customer Services

cc: Sir Christopher Bland, Chair of the Board of Directors

Ian Livingstone, Chief Executive BT Retail

Ofcom

Dear Sir/Madam

I am writing only briefly in case you wish to make a compensation payment to me before I take my matter to the small claims court to make a more formal complaint. I think the latter would please me more as it might bring me some psychological “closure”. It is always difficult to feel satisfied when a faceless organisation simply sends you an automated cheque. But I looked into the legalities, and talked to Ofcom, and apparently I have to “give you a chance” a chance you don’t really deserve.

This is a story of incompetence writ large. Of the inability of a massive organisation to accept blame, and then assign responsibility to someone to fix things. A small error that perpetuates through the inability to put your hands up and say “sorry” and just put it right. It is also a story of frustration to the point of blind rage, of Kafkaesque processes and unbelievable bureaucracy. You might think this a small and petty problem but we customers pay your shareholders’ dividends.

This letter has two clear purposes:

1. return a bill I have absolutely no intention of paying; and

2. offer you an opportunity to compensate me for my time, stress and efforts

Let me take you back to Sunday 6 January 2007. Quite a while ago isn’t it? And to think, still, today, the problem is not fixed. That afternoon I was sitting upon my bed, as I often do, tapping away on my lovely Apple Mac. Suddenly, at precisely 12.03pm I noticed I was no longer online. This was a disappointment, as I was listening to something involving the narrative tool of suspense. I still don’t know what happened to them.

I called talktalk, my line rental and internet solutions provider (their words) and they were confused. They put it to me that some time previously I had contacted BT whom then contacted them to disconnect my line to take it back to BT. After explaining I had left BT because of their state monopoly-hangover attitude and was giving talktalk a fair chance (I am not claiming they are perfect) I was somewhat amazed anyone would think I had done this. They stood their ground (the first in a series of childish positions taken by both companies).

I then called BT who confirmed this was the case. This is when it stated to go a bit Kafka. Maybe I had asked to go back to a company I had nothing but trouble with only after three months with another company even though I had signed a twelve month contract with a £70 cancellation fee. Yes, maybe really I love BT and I was happy to pay the £70 plus higher line rental, broadband and call charges. But, no. Even Kafka was not that sick. So my first contact with BT I was essentially called a liar. Back to talktalk (for the idea you might talk to them! Ha ha ha!) where they informed me that some phone companies had been doing this sort of shenanigans a lot: deliberately moving the line rental because the checks and balances are essentially non existent. (This forms part of my official complaint to Ofcom about this incident.) But, they added, not yet have we heard about BT getting so deep into the gutter.

So were you groping around in the mud or just incompetent? I went back to BT and pretended I had been dealing with second-level complaints and finally got through to someone who decided not to be rude to me. They then admitted that BT “may” have made a mistake, or better still (for there is no way I could ever hope to verify this) “a customer must have given us the wrong address.” Were it not for a slip up by another of your phone operators I would have thought this was merely another excuse. But when I asked who the person was who gave the wrong address, so I could contact them to resolve this more easily (ie they could call and sort it out as well as me) they would not give me a name, nor if this was what had happened, but they then accidentally referred to the person as a “she” and then admitted there was a lady who had written giving the wrong information. They would not say whom. The fact my phone line is in my name (I am male) and only my name, so easily a check could have been applied to realise I had not written. So to recap: someone with a different sex, a different surname, wrote and asked to join BT and gave the wrong details (perhaps). You failed to check, revealing gaping flaws in the system and started my continuing phone hell which I shall now describe in all its painful detail so you get some understanding of the almost indescribable frustration I have and am still experiencing in not being able to fix so simple an error.

How easily do you think it would be to fix this? I asked a few people, randomly selected. “Quite straightforward?”, “can’t imagine it would be that hard” and from a friend who is an expert on internet protocols “technically very simple, can probably be done remotely.” Little do they know! So the first three days were spent on hold (talktalk worse than you, I admit that). From day four onwards it was spent with each company refusing to take any blame. I gave up keeping a log of the number of times I called because you wouldn’t believe me. It was getting really silly. Check this out for a Catch 22:

* talktalk claimed they could do absolutely nothing because BT now had control of the line
* BT claimed they could do absolutely nothing because the line was dormant and talktalk had some sort of ownership of the number
* talktalk claimed they could not bring the line back to them, they can only move lines from BT into talktalk
* BT resolutely refused to contact talktalk because I was not a BT customer and they didn’t see it had anything to do with them
* talktalk claimed the only sensible thing I could do is start a new contract with BT and move it to talktalk
* BT said this cannot not be done with my old number as talktalk had some sort of control over it. A new contract would mean a 3 month minimum period (I was not prepared to lose my number or enter into a new contract)

And so on. You get the point. Belligerent ping-pong, and it went on for weeks. My colleagues were sick of hearing me on the phone and my boss sick of me wasting time on it (and one consequence of the loss of internet was the inability to work at home, something I shall simply not forgive: I love my bed).

One of the amazing things about this charade is that I learnt so much about the deliberate obfuscatory techniques of both your companies. I have been talking to Ofcom about this, and Radio 4 and the BBC are considering whether it is amusing enough to make a documentary about. Take talktalk, it takes a long time to find their contact number (I have become really good at this now, I even found Amazon’s number something a friend told me another friend told him was impossible). When you call you get shipped straight to a call centre farm. I have been to Cape Town, Bangalore and Dublin. There is NO WAY to contact head office. I tried, I got the name of the head of customer services and Charlie Dunston’s private line. Both refused to talk to me (more on this later). And BT. Oh BT! You eventually find a number where a lady (ALWAYS a lady) answers and gives you a nice tea and sympathy thing but absolutely no resolution whatsoever. One even admitted she had no idea how I could ever get out of my trap.

This went on for a long time. Me calling BT asking them to call talktalk. Then me calling talktalk asking them to call BT. “It’s good to talk” but not to rival companies who are outpacing you. So I did something I am ashamed of. Something I abhor in other people. I feel dirty telling you. I pulled rank.

Still believing you are the ones at fault but realising you really did care less than talktalk, I did some digging around on the internet for someone very high up in Carphone warehouse and emailed them explaining I work very close to the Prime Minister and I need my internet back. Within ten minutes I received a phone call from initially-very-helpful-but-now-disappeared-Arnie who did something and within 24 hours my phone line was active again with my old number. Isn’t that funny, didn’t take long after all!

However, no internet and still in a BT nightmare. I am not sure what he did but my IP access was reactivated in about a week and I can now use my talktalk internet through my (I was told, temporary) BT line. The speed of my internet currently is derisory. When I was up and running happily at full speed on talktalk’s LLU I was getting 6-7 megabit download speed. I now never get more than 0.8. I am still waiting to transfer to LLU and talktalk have now become incredibly hard to get hold of. And I would have left it there waiting were it not for your (enclosed) bill.

I always planned to write for compensation after a discussion (one of the 30 of so phone calls, I forget which) with someone from your residential semi-suicidal complainers division they admitted you would be prepared to discuss monetary compensation, but I was waiting to see how long it will take to get back to where I was. Again to recap, it is now four months or so and I still am not where I was, have bills coming from here there and everywhere and on a download speed a fraction of what it was. So, I assume the bill is null and void, I now turn to the matter of how much you owe me.

There are a few ways I could have calculated this. [Edited because I’m jealous!] £115 sounds fair. (This is 0.00000076% of your net profits in 2006, or nearly exactly the dividends of 1000 shares.)

I will end here, and give you a chance to respond. I might also add one thing to my two points above: please, please can I have my talktalk line back up to full speed. I have grown weak from trying and I know it is talktalk’s area but you could do something to make me smile?

Yours faithfully

David Brown

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Tin cans would be a better solution.

I find it disturbing that in this day and age people could be left without something as basic as a telephone line. Have a read at Ian’s correspondence with Talk Talk!

My phone does not ring any more thanks to TalkTalk, and BT Openreach did not call on Saturday morning, as Nigel S [Edited] of your engineering section said they would.

I am sure the BT line is not at fault though as it worked fine until I opened an account with TalkTalk. After that my phone went from 6 rings to 2, and now not at all.

During this time my excellent BTL R123 handset’s answering facility packed up completely. Your expert technical staff tried to blame the handset, just as Mr S[Edited] later tried to blame the BT line.

Needless to say, on plugging in a friend’s handset with answering facility by a different manufacturer, no difference was noted. I now have to dial 1571 regularly to see if any prospective clients have tried to ring me.

I have left a message on your answerphone to the effect that if you phone me, I will not be able to hear you as the phone does not ring any more.

I will dial 1571 regularly to see if you have left a message.

If you leave a message tell me when the best time is to ring you, so that I can speak to you in person.

Your local loop unbundling equipment is obviously to blame and if it cannot be fixed very quickly or an out-of-court settlement reached, I will be instructing my solicitor to sue for breach of contract, damages and compensation, as I informed Mr Dunstone last week

Ian [Edited]

From: cpw staff [Edited]
Sent: 16 April 2007 07:13
To: ian[Edited]
Subject: TalkTalk HLC [Edited]

Dear Mr Hills,

Many thanks for your email; I am extremely sorry you have had to contact Charles in search of a resolution to your issue.

My name is Kedu U[Edited] and my role is to resolve any customer issues on behalf of Charles.

I will initiate an immediate investigation into the background of your issue and will be contacting you soon to discuss the matter in more detail. In the interim, I am available by both email or telephone, my direct number is 01925 [Edited] .

Please accept my sincere apologies for having to take time to contact TalkTalk, please be assured I will do everything to help bring a satisfactory resolution.

Regards

Kedu U[Edited]
TalkTalk
[Edited]
E: [Edited]
P: [Edited]

—— Forwarded Message
From: ian[Edited]
Date: Wed, 11 Apr 2007 18:30:21 +0100
To: Charles Dunstone
Cc:
Conversation: TalkTalk – Damages and compensation claim
Subject: TalkTalk – Damages and compensation claim

As a web designer I value a working telephone and answerphone service, which I used to receive from BT on their own quality R123 handset, and which I do not receive now, thanks to TalkTalk.

Now, when someone telephones me, my handset does not even ring once. The answerphone kicks in immediately, recording pure interference. I have no idea who is ringing me. If I am in and hear this interference, picking up the handset makes no difference – the sound continues, drowning out the voice of the caller completely.

And despite regular requests to your staff to activate TalkTalk’s 1571 and 1471 services, these do not work either. Nobody can contact me and I am losing business as a result.
I tried connecting a friend’s telephone (by a different manufacturer), as suggested by your staff – and naturally there was no improvement.

I have lost business as a result of TalkTalk, and am going to sue you for breach of contract, claiming substantial damages and compensation, unless I hear from you in short order.
Ian [Edited]
[Edited]

I hope you win.

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Some tips from someone working in a call centre.

I’m not actually allowed to say if this is from CPW staff. (Thanks CPW Legal team!) However, it has some good advice.

1) *Always be polite and friendly.* I’m sure most of the time this is
the last thing you want to do, but an advisor would much rather help a
nice customer.
2) *Clearly explain your problem.* Avoid saying things like “as you can
see from my previous emails…” as this only extends the amount of time
an advisor has to spend researching the problem, making some of them
less likely to give you a proper response. Ideally paragraph but avoid
any kind of HTML or formatting as the email system we use removes all of
this.
3) *Don’t bother asking for the email or letter to be passed to Charles
Dustone, etc.* It just won’t happen. And, even if it did, I doubt he’d
have any idea of how to deal with the issue.
4) *Always include DPA details if discussing account-sensitive
information.* DPA stands for the Data Protection Act, and we need to
complete this process in order to look into your account, so it’s best
to include your telephone number, address, account number and the bank
from which TalkTalk takes your Direct Debit in every bit of correspondence.

There’s some good info as well. Like there’s a phone pilot going on? Has anyone been called back by Talk Talk staff over the last few months?

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Crap connection, crap service.

So, LLU is the solution to the world’s broadband problems?

I really can’t deal with talktalk any more, or I think I will EXPLODE!!!! I better get if off my chest here I think before I rally my energy to go back in to the ring with another of their rude, unhelpful, arrogant or just plain non English speaking operatives.

We moved in October 2006, and requested that our phone line and broadband be transferred to our new address. After many promises verbally and in writing, non of which where honoured, we finally got our broadband on the 2nd January 2007.

The service was absolute rubbish, the speed was pathetic, I would have been better off on dial up, the connection kept dropping, and I couldn’t get on when I needed to due to a variety of error messages. Suddenly my service was dropped over one whole weekend, for 48 hours without warning. No telephone, no broadband. No-one would give me a straight answer as to when it would go back on, and despite their insistence that they had sent me a letter to tell me that they where going to suspend my service due to upgrading the line, I never received such a communication. When the service was resumed, the broadband was worse than ever. I was assured I would have up to 8MB, I would be lucky to pull 3 on a good day with the wind in the right direction. The little monkey on a bike at talktalk was obviously not peddling hard enough, as my connection just kept cutting itself off every 5 mins. I decide to steal myself for a conversation with their technical department on Mars, charged at 10p a minute, the cheek of it. The guy told me to click the broadband icon, and see if talktalk would connect. ‘There you are then’, he said. ‘ Is there anything else I can help you with today?’ I said I doubted it, and went and banged my head against a brick wall. This morning [11th of May] our service was cut off completely again. No phone and no broadband. I rang and asked for the MAC code. Talktalk’s own little ray of sunshine, John (wouldn’t give me his second name) was arrogant, rude obstructive and unhelpful. I have now put my husband on to the lovely John (send kisses) he could try to speak to him like that, but I wouldn’t advise it.

From crappy collections to shoddy service. Good luck Kate!

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73 year old cancer sufferer SLAMMED by Talk Talk

Oh man. I’ve seen a lot of stories here… but this is one of the worst. Brian was slammed in January after trying to upgrade his long distance plan. For 5 months Carphone Warehouse and their bully boys, Corporate Credit Media, have been hounding him for a service he didn’t want. What’s worse is they did so AFTER they said they’d refund him the money.

It’s horrifying.

I’ll summarize since the docs are in pdf format!

On 12th of January Brian received a document in the mail thanking him for signing up to Talk Talk broadband. He called on the 16th of January to cancel.

On the 20th of January Brian wrote to Charles Dunstone by letter telling him he wasn’t happy being slammed.

1, Feb they received their broadband username and password. Phoned again to cancel on the 7th of February.

22 February received first broadband bill. Called again on the 27th.

Sometime in March received a letter from credit control saying account was overdue.

Replied (with solicitors cc’d in, good move Emma and Brian!) on 16th March notifying them they pay by direct debit.

17th of April received confirmation broadband cancelled on 2nd March (?!!)

18th April received final notice for broadband bill with a different disconnection date

19th April Brian wrote saying he wanted confirmation this was cleared.

2nd May received confirmation from CPW that the 11.33 for broadband was credited to his account.

5th May 2007 received notification from Corporate Credit Media about an outstanding debt.

12th May 2007 received ANOTHER notice from Corporate Credit Media about same outstanding debt.

13th May Brian sent a sternly worded letter to CPW via his solicitors with correspondence attached.

Not sure where they’re up to now. So, debt collection law. Anyone know anything?

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So tired, tired of waiting, tired of waiting for youuuuu

More e-mails in the box. If you think my silence was indicative of an improvement in service? Oh hell no. CPW’s lousy product chugs on as bad as it was a year ago.

We have been customers of TalkTalk since June 2006, having signed up for
their package of telephone calls and free broadband. As yet, we have not
received any broadband connection, despite many phone calls and emails.
We
still use Tiscali broadband, which our son has been paying for. Phone calls
to the company usually end up in Mumbai, being answered by very polite and
apologetic individuals who promise speedy action. We have dealt with six
different individuals in letters and emails, never the same person twice. On
21 August we had a letter apoloising for the dealy and asking us to contact
BT re ADSL, which we did. On 23 April 2007 we were promised connection
within 14 days, but still no sign of it. On 17 May 2007 an individual
emailed to say she could find no record of our order for broadband!

We have emailed TalkTalk now to tell them we consider they have failed to
provide the service they contracted for and that we will be seeking
compensation and recovery of the costs of continuing to pay for Tiscali
broadband when we should have had the free connection from TalkTalk. We
have also informed them that the direct debit arrangement for paying their
bill has been suspended. Perhaps this will inspire someone there to get in touch.

A year?!!! Wow, Tim is way more patient than the rest of us. Can anyone beat 15 months?

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A plea for help.

Hey guys!

I know I’ve been a most negligent Talk Talk Hellion recently. Lots going on in the old personal life. I’m still moderating the comments though. I find most of the issues from last year (!!!!) are still relevant, a lot of the answers are still on the site.

I’m pretty disappointed that I’ve been running this blog for over a year and the CPW still hasn’t shaped up their act. It’s bad business. I’m also disappointed people claiming to be employees are still leaving abusive, ignorant comments. You guys aren’t saying anything new. I give the readers free reign to rip into these jerks.

Here’s a letter from someone being chased by debt collectors:

i’m glad i’m not the only person to suffer at the hands of the single most incompetent, negligent, and frankly outright company of liars it has ever been my misfortune to call a service provider. I would be genuinely interested to know if the case i am about to recount is unique (although i think i already know the answer!) and if there is any legal action that could be instigated.

In september of last year i moved house. I was previously with talk talk and had contacted them prior to the move to arrange transferring the service. At that time they informed me they had started the process and that i would need to establish a bt line when i moved in and let them know the new number. From that point they said to allow 10 days to get up and running. This was done. After about 15 days i contacted them to find out why i still had no service and was told they had no record of the request. This was a little annoying and i politely informed them that as they had not fulfilled their end of the bargain i no longer wanted their service, a service at that time i didn’t have. They agreed and told me that as no request had been made (by their records) they would go away and i would never hear from them again. Great. I was happy.

I continued to set up a line with sky and for the next 3 months experienced a similar level of incompetence from them (or so i thought), sky unable to transfer my service from bt. In January sky finally managed to set up the service from bt. About two weeks later i received a letter of impending court action from a debt collecting agency acting on behalf of Talk Talk (cpw). This was a little confusing so i made a few phone calls. It transpired that a week after talk talk had confirmed they wouldn’t set up an account, they went ahead and established a phone line anyway, which explained why sky had had so many problems taking the service from bt. As i had not set up a direct debit with talk talk the line rental and call charges accrued until january when they finally passed the outstanding debt to the debt agency. During this time i received no bills or notification that they would pass the debt to a collection agency. I was blissfully unaware i had their service.

In this instance is it not illegal to act in this manner, passing a debt on without informing me i owed them money in the first place?

After a long and heated conversation with several talk talk employees ( well actually several phone calls because they kept cutting me off and not returning calls) they agreed that as their records clearly showed i had cancelled the request that didn’t exist in the first place, the fault was theirs and they would credit the account with the sum and go away and never contact me again, again.

I was a happy bunny… for a while.

About two months later i received another threatening letter from a second agency. Apparently i still owed talk talk money. How so?! I contacted talk talk again to enquire why. They informed me that after having told me they would credit the account with the full sum (again their records confirm this), they decided that they would only credit the line rental and i still owed money for the charges. I was no longer a happy bunny. Although this decision was made after telling me differently no attempt was made to let me know of their change of heart. Following further heated discussions and my continued refusal to pay for a service i didn’t want they again agreed to honour their original sentiment, credit the final outstanding balance and go away and never contact me again, again, again. The manager i spoke with promised me he would credit the account personally and contact the credit agency himself. Wonderful. I was a little happier.

Today, a week later, you guessed it. Another phone call from the same credit agency informing me that unless i paid the money owed there and then they would issue a county court judgement against me. As bunnies go, i was the single most annoyed bunny in the world. Another phone call, another round of apologies and more promises.

As i write this i am sat here waiting for a knock on the door from a debt agency maintaining i still owe them money!

I cant believe these actions are legal. Passing a debt to an agency on two separate occasions without informing me i owed them money must be at the very least dubious business practice, if not outright illegal.

I am in the process of compiling evidence to support this sorry tale, their records of conversations, my phone bills, etc, with the intent of at least sending this to the ombudsman and watch dog. If there is any way this could be taken further or incorporated in a larger complaint by others in similar positions i would gladly involve myself actively in exposing talk talk for the criminal bullies they are.

thanks for taking the time to read this and i look forward to any comments you might have.

This is not an isolated story, sadly. I don’t really know what the ins and outs of credit collection laws are. Does anyone have any advice they can provide? Any pointers to laws (they have to be breaking some) they’re in breach of?

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