My Talk Talk hell
In June 2011 I received a call from a sales representative of TalkTalk who promised me a really good broadband and phone service deal at a great price, cheaper than my current service. What's more, if I signed up now I would get an even better deal. He told me that TalkTalk was a reliable service and that I would have unlimited bandwidth and zero problems. I could even cancel after 30 days if I decided that the service was not for me. No quibbles he said.
What followed were nine months of pain, intermittent and then total loss of broadband and phone service, and the worst customer support I have ever received in my life, ending only with the involvement of the Ombudsman service, resulting in: a letter of apology from TalkTalk, a refund, and compensation.
The following timeline was assembled from all the emails, text messages and postal letters that I collected throughout my period of 'service'.
29th April 2011
I receive a call from TalkTalk sales offering me a great deal on my broadband and phone service. He called it the "Royal Wedding Special Deal". Only for today. The deal was £20.09 for the first six months followed by £27.59 for the following six months. You can cancel up to 14 days afterwards, and because they are so confident in how good their service is, you can also cancel up to 30 days from go-live date as part of their current no-quibble policy. I was told there is no limit on the traffic and no traffic shaping in place. What's more, the normal connection fee of £30 will be waived and my service will be live within three weeks. He said he had even told one customer earlier today that he can easily expect a 300GB/month connection because the service is that good.
31st May 2011
Switched to TalkTalk. Service is live.
My previous ISP bills me for continued service. Although TalkTalk said I would not have to inform them of the move as they would do that, they failed to do so and my previous ISP wrote:
"Unfortunately Talk Talk were incorrect in saying you wouldn't need to contact us, we wouldn't of known you'd transferred otherwise.
As such I am afraid there are no refunds due as we were not informed you wished to close the account until now, the account will close on the 31st."
TalkTalk agreed to refund me the money.
7th June 2011
The first bill arrived and it was incorrect. The agreed monthly fee was incorrect (higher) and I had been charged the connection fee and no refunds were present. I called to complain and was told that it would be corrected. It was not and I was charged a different amount looking at my bank statement. I called to complain and was told that all corrections would be applied to my next bill.
21st June 2011
Called to complain that I had experienced no internet access for the last four days. Was on hold for 15 minutes and then the line was reset and the problem was resolved. I was not happy but was promised that these "quibbles" were minor and the service would be fine and please do not leave Talk Talk.
6th July 2011
Called to complain about another incorrect bill. The amounts were wrong, as were the discounts and I was still owed for the connection fee. I was told I could not leave TalkTalk and that instead I would be offered three months free line rental and the charges would be £19.85 for the next 6 months but the first three of those months would be minus £12.60 (free phone) taking it to £7.25.
24th July 2011
Called to complain about a broadband outage on my line and that my phone line is now crackling. I was told to unscrew my wall socket from the wall and to plug in a new micro-filter and to expect a call back 7pm Tuesday.
26th July 2011
I receive a text message from TalkTalk from their automated system saying to reply with FIXED or NOT FIXED regarding the state of my service. I reply NOT FIXED.
27th July 2011
I receive a text message from TalkTalk's automated system saying that my problem has been escalated and someone will be in touch within 48 hours.
28th July 2011
I receive a text message from TalkTalk's automated system asking if my problem is FIXED. Reply with NOT FIXED. No one had been in touch.
29th of July 2011
Total loss of broadband service.
Called at 6:50am. On hold until 7:02am and was told that it's an equipment fault even when nothing was plugged in. Called Customer Services to complain and was told I would be charged £129.99 if BT Openreach have to come out to take a look. I made a further complaint and was told that 50% of any engineers bill would be covered by TalkTalk. I was then transferred to first line support in the Philippines who had no idea why I had been transferred to them and wanted to go through the process of running line tests again. I complained and asked to be transferred to the complaints department. Instead I was transferred to a nice lady in Preston, Lancashire who was very helpful and filed a complaint on my behalf. She also arranged for Qube engineers to comes out to my property for the following Tuesday between 7-9am. By this time I had been on the phone for over two hours being passed around transferred between the Philippines, India and the UK.
1st August 2011
Total loss of phone and broadband service (which was never fixed).
2nd August 2011
The Qube engineers arrived at 7:50am and said that there is a fault out on the network and not at my property and that the matter would be referred to BT Openreach. They called Talk Talk and asked that a divert be placed on my line to my mobile phone. I later discovered that this divert had not been done. It was however enabled several days later (after complaining, again).
I receive a text message from TalkTalk's automated system at 8:26am saying that my problem has been escalated, followed by another 10 minutes later asking if it is now fixed. I reply NOT FIXED.
5th August 2011
I receive a text message from TalkTalk saying that they need to send an engineer out and to please call them on their 0870 helpline to arrange a visit.
7th August 2011
Received a call saying that BT Openreach had failed to find a fault and will need access to my property. The lady caller then ran a line test and said that the fault was on the network so don't worry someone would look into it and would get back to me.
8th August 2011
Received another call when I was out saying everything was resolved, but if not, call back. I said it is expensive to call 0870 numbers on my mobile if I have no phone service. The caller said not to worry as I will be reimbursed for any mobile calls made to the TalkTalk help lines (I never was because you don't get itemised bills with PAYG mobiles).
I checked the line and there is no dial tone or broadband service and I even checked with a fixed-line phone directly plugged into the wall socket.
9th August 2011
Have since called back several times on my mobile and each time I am put in a queue and my mobile credit is slowly eaten away to the cost of many pounds. The one time I did get through to someone he had no idea what I was calling about and said he would like to start again running a line test. I said I would like to complain and he put me on hold. I had to hang up as I ran out of credit. No one has since called me back and I feel as if I have been forgotten and left with no phone or broadband service.
I have now complained many times via phone and email and have raised an official complaint but nothing has been done. Each time I call to find out what progress has been made or to complain and I end up getting transferred from call centre to call centre around the world where people read from scripts and no progress is ever made. Every bill I have so far received is wrong and I am now paying for a service that I am not receiving and that I believe was miss-sold and miss-represented to me.
10th August 2011
Wrote an official letter to TalkTalk CEO Complaints department as per complaints procedure, stating that I believe I have been miss-sold a service and have received nothing but bad service.
15th August 2011
Contact the Ombudsman service and I am issued as reference number.
17th August 2011
I receive a text message from TalkTalk's automated system asking if my problem is FIXED. I reply NOT FIXED and receive another text saying your issue has been escalated.
18th August 2011
Receive a letter from a different department in TalkTalk saying that they are unable to validate who I am and can I post them the answers to my security questions. WTF?
Write a reply asking them to call me on my mobile number and informed them that I have contacted the Ombudsman service.
I receive a text message from TalkTalk's automated system. Reply NOT FIXED.
26th August 2011
Talk Talk send me a further incorrect bill. I don't think I have had a correct one yet.
Contacted TalkTalk to complain about incorrect bill.
29th August 2011
Received an email from TalkTalk saying they were unable to verify who I was so could I email them the answers to my security questions.
30th August 2011
Received an email from TalkTalk apologising for the lack of service and to note that they are crediting my account with £5 as a good will gesture, and could I email them back once the problem has been resolved.
5th September 2011
As TalkTalk are changing their prices to the detriment of their users, I'm informed that I can get out of my contract so I contact the Ombudsman service for advice.
9th September 2011
Ombudsman requests all forms of evidence supporting my claim in digital form.
12th September 2011
Ombudsman contacts me with a case number.
14th September 2011
A representative of TalkTalk CEO's complaints department emails me to let me know that she is on the case.
19th September 2011
Received a phone call and letter from the CEO department of TalkTalk. They are going to disconnect my service with no penalty charges and enter talks with the Ombudsman service regarding refunds and compensation.
23rd September 2011
TalkTalk account still active and I receive an email saying they are increasing the charges for my service (what service?).
24th September 2011
The next bill arrives.
28th September 2011
Receive email from CEO department saying they could not cancel my account in time but it will all be taken care of shortly.
30th September 2011
The CEO department appears successful in cancelling my account but they failed to tell the billing department as evidenced in the email they sent in which they wrote:
"I can confirm that your account had been disconnected on the 21st September 2011. You will be charged a contract breakage fee as your contract was due to end on the 15th May 2012.
A Contract Breakage Fee is the amount customers are charged when they cancel their contract with TalkTalk within the contract period. TalkTalk have agreed these early cancellation fees with Ofcom."
1st October 2011
I explain to TalkTalk billing that the cancellation was carried out by their CEO department but they ignore me and send me further details about the penalty charges I will incur for having cancelled my account early.
7th October 2011
I am contacted by the Ombudsman service as I have now been issued an Investigation Officer who is dealing with my case. He outlines the process and a settlement package if agreeable by both sides.
10th October 2011
The Ombudsman service informs me that TalkTalk has agreed to the terms of the settlement and will settle within 28 days.
24th October 2011
I receive another bill from TalkTalk but I cannot access it due to ongoing maintenance on their web site.
29th November 2011
I receive another bill from TalkTalk. My bank tells me that if I cancel the direct debits then TalkTalk can just set up a new one using the original authorisation and can put a mark on my credit history.
28th December 2011
I receive another bill from TalkTalk. This one shows that they have refunded me all monies owed plus the agreed compensation. Not exactly within 28 days but at least I have my money back.
25th January 2012
I receive another bill from TalkTalk for a zero amount. This is the last bill I received.
At the time of writing TalkTalk is officially the worst broadband supplier in the UK as voted by its own customers. I have written up what happened to me here as both a warning for anyone that is currently tempted by the prospect of cheap broadband and phone service. Do some research! Are they really as good as they claim to be?
We have since moved and now live in a rural area where TalkTalk are unable to supply broadband, not that we would ever go back.
The UK government is currently looking into ways to improve broadband speeds in rural areas, and while I'm not exactly experiencing amazing bandwidth, it is a reliable service and the bills have so far been correct. Maybe they should also focus on quality of service in the areas that have good coverage?
If you have any feedback regarding this article, or you have a suggestion for a new article, or just want to say thanks for the info then feel free to drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Article date: 9th March 2012