Category Archives: connection problems

Is anybody out there?

In an attempt to step this up after a year of no contact from anyone willing to give their names in CPW, I’ve decided to contact them. I’m sending the below to Charles Dunstone and the press office. I’m pessimistic but genuinely hopeful someone will come back to us.

Dear Sir/Madam,

I’m the webmaster behind Talk Talk Hell, the blog featured in the Observer in December and used by your disgruntled customers for solutions (and general gripes.) I’ve been running the site now for over a year and still get around 800 hits a day (600 of those unique.) Over 100,000 people have come to this blog seeking support. And yet, I realize to you that these numbers seem small. However, our page ranking is 1st on Google for ‘talk talk problems’ and various permutations of the above. Any answers you provide will be read by your deeply unhappy customers.

In the time I’ve been running this blog I haven’t had any direct correspondence with anyone within CPW PLC willing to give their name (beyond your enthusiastic legal department.) I thought it was time to provide you with the opportunity for ‘right to reply’ and give my readers some answers to the issues they’re having.

I was wondering if someone would be willing to address some of the current issues on my website.

Amongst the most frequent problems people are reporting:

1. Billing issues. Your billing department, despite promising they wouldn’t, recently sent a 73 year old man to a debt collection agency. This isn’t the first or last time I’ve heard of this happening. In fact, on the blog now, there are 3 separate incidents within the last 6 months that readers e-mailed me about.

2. Connection problems. Despite Charles Dunstone stating over and over again connection issues are being or have been resolved, I’m still getting reports of people taking months to get connected.

3. Compatibility issues between Talk Talk’s products and popular models of Netgear routers. I realize Talk Talk states in their T&Cs that they won’t support routers purchased from other sources. However, many people still do use these products! We have a fix, but your tech support providers seem unaware. This is, by far, the most highly read article on the site.

4. LLU issues. People are still being left without phones/broadband. You’ve just launched a cheaper unbundled product. Are there any contingency measures to make sure the issues you’ve had with Openworld don’t get any worse?

5. Continued e-mail problems. There are regular disruptions to your mail service. As of yet no fix, solution or status has been provided.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Kind Regards,
Tiffany Craig

Anything else you guys want to say?

Edit: Well, that didn’t go very well!

his is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed.

PressOffice@cpwplc.com

Final-Recipient: rfc822;PressOffice@cpwplc.com
Action: failed
Status: 5.2.1
X-Display-Name: Press Office

Edit2: Decided to give it another go:

postmaster@cpwplc.com
to me

show details
13:40 (1 hour ago)
This is an automatically generated Delivery Status Notification.

Delivery to the following recipients failed.

PressOffice@cpwplc.com

Final-Recipient: rfc822;PressOffice@cpwplc.com
Action: failed
Status: 5.2.1
X-Display-Name: Press Office

Edit3: From Charles Dunstone’s office (bets on whether or not they’re popping a nice Pinot and laughing at me?)

Thank you for your email, this is a courtesy response to let you know we
have received it. We always strive to respond within 3 days

This is an automated response, please do not reply to this message.

Charles Dunstone’s Office

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CPW’s board think it’s all better now.

How many more times are they going to say it’s fixed?

Gildersleeve apologised in the report saying he was “very disappointed to have let customers down” in dealing with the initial connection delays with Talk Talk despite its broadband arm faring well against arch-rival BT.

Gildersleeve said: “We have dedicated significant additional resource in our call centres and re-engineered our provisioning and customer management processes to create a robust and scaleable platform. It is our aspiration to differentiate our broadband proposition not only on value but also on service, and this will be one of the
group’s key goals for the coming year.”

So, these ‘significant’ resources and ‘re-engineered’ thingies. Has it worked?

Mad.co.uk:Carphone Warehouse apologises for Talk Talk

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Don’t use Talk Talk if you have a home alarm

According to this Live space:

Thinking of changing your telephone provider???
Choose any one other than TalkTalk
Their customer service is crap
If you have a monitored intruder alarm system it will either not work at all or it will cost you £5.90 every time it sends a signal to your monitoring station
BT will only charge you 4.5p per signal
I am currently waiting for a reply from Charles Dunstone
CEO – Carphone Warehouse as to why it took 8 days from reporting this problem to them saying they dont support alarm connections.

Er. Wow.

ad03bandit’s Live Space

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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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