Category Archives: LLU

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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No Talking with Talk Talk (this is a long ‘un)

Sophia wanted a divert put on to her mobile. Seems simple enough right? I think a lot of people have diverts put on. For example, if I want to divert calls to my land line I use my mobile’s menu. Easy-peasy.

For Sophia, however, it’s been a comedy of terrible errors and possibly… bald lies. Possibly (legal team.) Remember, if all else fails, blame someone else!

I have enough from Talktalk. Yesterday, Talktalk
promised divert my telephone to my mobile, but I
checked many time before I write this email.The call
divert hasn’t been done at all. Talktalk said they
have asked Opal(the telephone engineering company to
re-investigte again the fault). But when my friend
rang Opal, they said Talktalk hadn’t asked them or
given them new ticket to re-investigate my telephone
fault problem. Your so-called manager Pravin M
said he would call me in a couple of days time on 2nd
Jan 2007 to tell me the progress of the problem
solving, but he didn’t call at all. Instead, he bans
my number,
so that I completely can’t get through.
Talktalk is a layer, layer, and layer!!! Talktalk only
knows how to swindle money from its customers.
Talktalk charged me to pay other people’s bill, to pay
a modern which I had returned on Oct 2006, and even I
have no telephone and internet service, talktalk still
charged me money. Talktalk has broken the contract
with me. So, Talktalk has to compensate to me. If I
can’t get compensation as Pravin M agree over the
phone ( I have record). I will take Talktalk to court.

I am here to inform you that close my account and I
will no longer a talktalk customer!

It gets worse than the divert issue.

The horrible timeline:
* 7 December Sophia e-mails customer service regarding her bill stating that:
y November telephone bill has a lot of call to Nigeria,Italy, Belgium,and Germany which I have
never ever called. All those strange calls make the bill from normally £20ish/month to £105/month.
Please check. I think talktalk make a mistake or somebody stole my telephone line. My flatmates and I never did those call

* The response, (no date) from Nasreen M says:
have checked your account and November bill. I can confirm these calls were made from your line as I contacted an internal department to have that investigated into. All the calls displayed on your bill are extracted from your Local exchange and is therefore accurate details.

Like Talk Talk can’t make any mistakes right?

And then later on:
I can see that you have called to report a cross connection on the line and I would advise you to
contact our LLU Team on 0870 0873 527 for further assistance. If you have any further quires, do not hesitate to contact our Customer Service Team on the number provided below.

Beyond the spelling mistakes and dreadful grasp of grammar, does anyone think perhaps the crossed line Sophia reported may have something to do with those calls? I could be wrong. Please let me know if I am.

Oh, I get my evidence on December 15th when she replies to the lovely Nasreen. Sophia reported that someone with a number that her and her housemates were receiving calls from a number about 4 digits off from hers. Her theory (probably correct) is that other person, the one with the crossed line, was making the calls. I think that sounds reasonable. She’s also been without phone AND broadband for 7 days at this point.

One more e-mail I don’t have the headers for but was probably recent, says the fault was reported and wait. I’m horrified for Sophia, what a dreadful, awful example of customer service. You know how I asked the question before regarding ‘improvements?’ Well, I have my answer.

Can anyone help Sophia?

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Some help for hamza

We have some requests for assistance coming down the line. Have a gander and see if you can’t come up with something.

(As always, I promote the Things You Can Do page.)

From hamza!

i WAS with tiscali until they blessed me with LLU in may06, and from june06 when i cancelled my account up until to this day, tiscali hasnt released my line NOR has talktalk done anything on its part to actually HELP me in obtaining their broadband service which im entitled from their talk3 package! both tiscali and talktalk are a bunch of deranged monkeys that need bananas be shoved down their throats. anyone now what i shud do to come out of this ‘no internet’ stone age era iv been left in?

A different router with issues (Not a Netgear, though I suspect the problem may be the same.)

From Mark

I really cannot believe that I fell for Talk-Talk. I eventually get a password and user named that worked and I have a connection using a Voyager 205 router. However, for some reason I cannot access any websites at all! I have checked the router settings and everything ties up to what everyone is saying, but still no joy.

Can anyone help? I have stopped all firewalls etc but no joy.

And an e-mail query from Barry regarding contact info and small claims court.

Do you have a land line for their office in Acton?

If I want to cancel the contract what do I have to do?

If one wants to take them to the small claims court what sort of case does one need to have. I am theoretically on broadband but we have not been able to get either our mac or pc to connect despite several hours on the phone to the help line to people in India and South Africa. These are all very nice people but it is impossible to speak to management.

If anyone has any assistance, drop us a line!

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Dec C’s tips and tricks.

Dec wrote in to give us a healthy run down of your and their rights. I do think he’s underestimating the terrifying fiasco of Talk Talk slightly. Just slightly though. Get to skimming!

As Charles Dunstone presides over what is arguably the biggest customer relations disaster in British business history it is astonishing that so many customers are sticking with this shambles of an organisation.

I knew by the end of the first week that TalkTalk had let me down badly.

I made the mistake of believing their empty promises that things would improve and it was another five months of absolute hell before I realised the scale of this company’s failure.

I have now left and have signed up with a decent company – and it hasn’t cost me a penny more than I was being charged by TalkTalk.

What I cannot understand is the good manners of customers who go on believing that they are tied into a contract with TalkTalk, which they must continue to honour no matter how many time they are kicked in the teeth by Dunstone and his crew.

The truth is this:

Once TalkTalk has broken its contract with you by failing to provide an adequate service, you are no longer bound by its terms

You can repudiate the contract by sending TalkTalk a letter by recorded delivery stating that it is in breach of contract and that you are terminating the agreement.


You have a right to a MAC code within a reasonable period – a few days at the most.

Because it is TalkTalk and not you who is at fault they cannot legally force you to pay a disconnection fee – no matter what the contract says.

If they do try just remind them of The Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999 which will protect you from any threats they may care to make.

I was amused to see Charles Dunstone’s press statement about rail passengers who accept their fate once they are given an explanation over why their train is late.*

What he should realise is that nobody needs to be on his train. The scale of his failure means that no court in the land would support any move he now makes to try to force disaffected broadband customers to abide by his tarnished contracts.

So feel free to leave and find a broadband provider you can trust – they are plenty around.

And remember – a bargain is only a bargain if it works.

To the people who run this site I would offer this advice – don’t be bullied into silence. Everything I have seen here is “fair comment on a matter of public concern” and that is a good defence against accusations of libel.

In fact TalkTalk’s reputation is now in such tatters that I don’t believe anything that anybody says here could make it worse.

Thanks Dec!

And thanks for the advice Dec, much appreciated. As you can imagine CPW’s legal team were fairly aggressive.

* Charles Dunstone should hear me on the phone to Northern Rail if he thinks that’s even moderately true.

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Welcome to Observer readers

Mornin’!

The Observer has kicked off the campain I alluded to on Friday. Good timing with new mail server issues. If you’ve drifted in from Google or repeat visits have a read.

If you’re an Observer reader, then welcome. Hope you find something useful here.

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Geronimo goes the Ts and Cs!

Geronimo has done a brilliant write up of some of Talk Talk’s guidelines and how they don’t actually work.

It does seem like the LLU process is dramatically effects phone service. Almost all of you have reported up to 2 weeks of communication black out. In some random form of PR speak, it does confirm a lot of the issues you guys report. Just substitute the ‘kind of bad’ stuff for ‘this is going to kill your connection’ and you pretty much have it.

No 1. “Will my internet service be affected? No. If you use a dial-up internet service which connects via a free phone number (e.g. 0800 or 0808) calls to this number will continue to be free. If you have broadband, switching to TalkTalk won’t affect your service.”

Comment:- UNTRUE! if you’ve been unbundled. TRUE if you haven’t. So a lie nevertheless.

No 2. “Only £10 for broadband – still a great deal – We’ll still give you the fastest broadband technically possible (up to 8 Meg, depending on your exchange) for only £10 per month.”

Comment:- UNTRUE! This is TalkTalk’s broadband product for customers in an area where TalkTalk are not going to install their own equipment in the customer’s BT exchange. In reality this turns out to be a fixed rate 0.5, 1 or 2Meg BT Wholesale service and certainly not an ADSL Max service (up to 8 Meg).

TalkTalk are supposed to be “trialling” ADSL Max with the intention of rolling it out, but why didn’t they offer it in the first place? After all ADSL Max is now available at 5388 exchanges out of the 5591 UK wide. They are telling PORKIES again.

No 3. “At TalkTalk we recommend that all our customers use the TalkTalk ADSL 2+ modem. It costs £29.99 but it’s worth it because:

It uses the very latest technology – technology which has only become available in 2006 (so if you bought your modem before 2006, the chances are it’s not as good as the TalkTalk ADSL 2+ modem).
It means we can offer you full customer support – should you ever run into a problem with your broadband service, the TalkTalk ADSL 2+ modem will allow us to resolve your problem as quickly as possible.”

Comment:- UNTRUE until October 2006! TalkTalk have only been supplying the Huawei ADSL2+ modem since October 2006. The earlier supplied Sagem and Speedtouch modems are just ADSL1 capable not ADSL2+. i.e. TalkTalk have been lying again.

Thanks Geronimo!

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Some theories about BT and Talk Talk’s LLU issues

I’ve heard this before, by people who work for other ISPs. Nothing from BT (Darren, you still around?) that confirms it but then, would you? Have a read through and click the link. Well, unless you came from Money Saving Expert. Hi guys!

With all due respect to long suffering TalkTalk unbundled customers, they do have a point in blaming BT for generating faults. This is because the change in wiring at the telephone exchange when being unbundled from BT to TalkTalk is done by BT OpenReach engineers. Although OpenReach are supposed to be independent of BT they are in fact BT employees.

The latest figures released by Ofcom show that only 20% of transfers from BT to TalkTalk and similar LLU ISPs like Bulldog and Be go right first time, whereas transfers from BT to other broadband operators using BT Wholesale broadband services go right first time in 80% of cases. This is an amazing difference and cannot be explained by TalkTalk or Opal’s incompetance alone, as the figures are a measure of OpenReach performance.

So it would probably be right to suspect that BT are playing dirty tricks to make TalkTalk look worse than they really are, which isn’t too hard to do. To get faults caused by OpenReach fixed at the exchange TalkTalk have to again request Openreach to fix the fault. Opal and TalkTalk are only allowed to touch their own equipment and not any BT stuff.

Although my unbundled TalkTalk service is working reasonably well now, I had my fair share of faults and the customer service is appallingly bad. All I can say is that things seem to get sorted out in the end but as Eric Morcambe famously said “not necessarily in the right order” and well after they say it will. It is obvious that there are not enough Opal engineers working on TalkTalk’s network either.

The best tactic to use is bad publicity. Try and get the local press to get interested and if they do the potential bad publicity will get your fault fixed very fast. See http://forums.moneysavingexpert.com/showthread.html?t=311122 All I can say is that when they get it working properly, it does work quite well and is very cheap.

The CPW do seem to respond to bad publicity. Go for it!

Talk to BooBoo (heh.)

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