My broadband nightmare

Broadband has become essential for most of us, but dealing with providers can test the patience of a saint. Johanna Gornitzki reveals what happened to her when she tried to switch provider.

Your Comments

I wish there was an easy answer. I don't know ANYONE who managed to get a Mac code and a smooth changeover. I need my broadband, and PAYG dongles don't work here. So Tiscali have me over a barrell.
Thankfully they only supply my broadband

When Wanadoo was in operation I had major problems with my broadband connection, they kept blaming my telephone line in the house, I knew it was outside the house. After six months I migrated to BT and within 6 days of migration they resolved my problem, it was a line fault in the street box. Migration was simple.

BT's service has been great ever since.

I may be paying slightly more than Wanadoo/Orange, Talk Talk, Tiscali etc but at the end of the day I have a secure service with the company that is responsible for all telephone lines into the domestic homes (cable companies excluded).

The likes of Talk Talk, Tiscali etc only piggy back BT telephone lines, so why not use the company that is 100%responsible for the broadband line.

We need to make sure that everyone is aware of the difficulties with Tiscali, I had 3 months of Hell,phone calls and letters from diffrent departments and it was obvious that each department did not know what the other was doing.I had to do 3 copies of letters to different departments and even the managing director. But still it went on, no wonder tiscali sold them to talk talk. I eventually received a letter from TalkTalk telling me that the slate was wiped clean as I was being charged for the wrong telephone line, but even after that they tried to call me but I never picked the phone up.

You get what you pay for - presumably, like so many others, Johanna chose Tiscali because it was the cheapest deal. Common sense and a little thinking will enable most people to recognise that the standard laws of economics apply to all of business - if Tiscali sell their product more cheaply than their competitor, then some part of the deal must suffer; sure enough, Tiscali cut corners on customer service.

When I make purchases or choose a supplier I consider what level of service I am likely to receive - so, for utilities I consider not only the price/bill I will get, but also the level of complaints reported by that utilities regulator; I want a supplier that is easy and fair to deal with, easy to contact, one that applies common sense towards a good customer relationship of trust.
For Internet I want a supplier whose technical support hours match those that affect my use of the product, who I can contact by telephone and speak to someone who can directly affect a positive fault resolution. No menus and being pushed from one department to another. I like 24hr support on a freephone number, or, better, with alternative landline number so that I can call from my mobile on inclusive minutes as necessary or convenient.
Such providers do exist.
Tiscali have now been taken over by Carphonewarehouse under their TalkTalk brand. A recent news story indicated that some ex-Tiscali customers were unhappy at a rise in their bill at switching to TalkTalk, whilst TalkTalk claim that these ex-Tiscali customers are variously having slightly increased bills and others slightly reduced bills, a sort of price neutral situation overall.

If you start off with the cheapest supplier the price can only increase. The laws of economics are that anyone can supplier a product or service for less, but with reduced margins they may not be so available to support their customers nor to service warranty or problem resolution issues. Suppliers need healthy profit margins in order to provide good service in the long term - choose wisely how little you pay for a service you want and need to rely upon.
It should be possible to report slow MAC code delivery (where ISPs provide a code for migration of broadband from them to another supplier) to OFCOM for resolution. Best to understand your suppliers terms and conditions from the word go, and know that they have a worthy complaints department - sometimes a fax is better than a telephoned complaint, and also better than an email.

Hi, I am still awaiting your reply to my email asking for your comments on Punjab Bank.They have a high interest savings account that is higher than those you list.Is there a reason for this or have you just missed them out? Regards A.Bray

I was with Tiscali for some years - I had decided to switch from BT because of their prices and service and I went to PlusNet for all my services for landline and broadband, as they were offering such a good deal, far cheaper than BT and cheaper than Tiscali. I contacted Tiscali for a MAC code and had no problems with getting this - in fact Tiscali were so helpful I wrote to thank them for their help and to explain I was not leaving because of their service - I had a personal call from Tiscali thanking me for my letter and a letter followed in the post.

I would just add that Tiscali have been taken over by Talk Talk who are now operating the MAC codes and this may be why the service has deterioted so dramatcially.

I have recently switched and had very few problems.
1) My previous provider charged me about three weeks extra after I had left because they SAID I should have given them a month's notice, I was not made aware of this when I asked for a MAC Code.
2) It took three attempts to get my new email service up and running, evidence is that not all my new provider's technical staff are properly trained/competent.
But compared to some of the horror stories I hear I appear to have been quite fortunate -and I am now paying only £10.00 a month for 13.5mbps (previously I paid £14.99 for 7.5mbps).

I happen to live about 15 miles north of Aberdeen.


I had the same problem with PIPEX who sent me around the world but still would not give me the MAC code. First I switched my phone line to BT, and when that was completed (it took about 10 days during which time I was without Broadband) I then asked alternative ISP for a Broadband service. This was provided without any problem. No MAC number was asked. Once I had my Broadband, I calculated the amount of overcharges and refunds which were due to me from PIPEX. I added some £150 pounds approx to that amount to cover losses for time and effort of writing many many letters and e-mails to PIPEX. I issued a Small Claims action against PIPEX for this amount adding the court fee.
Within about 20 days I received a cheque for full amount from PIPEX , plus apology. All threats by their debt collectors were cancelled - and here I am with Phone and Broadband from two different providers. Perhaps this route may help others.

I would proudly promote and tell anyone that the customer experience score for Tiscali taking into account billing, technical support and customer service is LESS than 0/10. I would not go with Tiscali if they were free.

On the first day of service - Welcome to Tiscali - they disconnected the priority telephone line and after spending accumulated hours on a mobile, phoning them pleading for help - took them 2 full working days to turn it back on. The pensioner lost their payg mobile credit trying to get assistance.

Tiscali decided to charge a couple of pensioners £3 extra EVERY month thinking they would be to stupid to notice. It took Tiscali 9 months to finally stop charging the extra fee. Upon asking why they overcharged the best response they could give was err and um.

If this is the way they treat new customers how do they treat customers leaving them? Believe me You dont want to know..

The issues are all too common. I had Pipex who became Tiscali who became Talk Talk. At first no problems-had Pipex for years. Then things slowed down with Tiscali. Last month, Talk Talk switched from one server to another and I lost phone line temporarily and Broadband for a week. Attempts to contact them were frustrating beyond belief. "It will take more than 6 minutes to answer your call", then "you are in a queue of more than 9 people"...expect to wait all day...and you are paying for the calls! I could only speak to Sales people who couldn't help. Eventually I had to threaten legal action. At 2am one morning it started working again, no explanation. The whole incident had such an effect that my next action was to change ISP.

I'm now with BT, I pay more now; I'm not saying they're better, I have had issues with them in the past, but at least I'm not with a company who have let me down so badly that like others, I wouldn't be with them even if it were free.

I took a talktalk package last December at £6.49 and phone line of £11.99. The switch on/uplive date was Xmas eve. After waiting for 7 weeks the d-Day came and what a shock. Nothing worked correctly. since then, i have made more than 15 calls because the phone does not work well and the internet disconnects any time a phone call is received or ends. After charging more than £55 for connection fees and advance calls, I was again overcharged for April. I acted fast by cancelling my direct debt and asking for a check/explanation. The bill was reduced but the double charges for calls were not refunded. Meanwhile they have switched me off twice to force me to pay even when i called and reported their terribly, poor. poor services. I can't even download one page Word Documents. My colleagues who wanted to join talktalk; but refused because of the poor services I receive from the company can testify that I go to their houses to download attachments which they themselves sent to me. A friend recommended them but is also suffering the same poor services and arbitary charges. Can someone tell me how to complain and bring charges for ripping me off? Since I signed up they have increased their broadband charges to £6.99 even though I declined to sign up to that when the sent me promotional materials. Someone Help Me.

Talk talk need to talk to people n then get the products they have already on the market up n running first before promoting / Advertising more services they can't provide without faults...

Well said, I work for BT and get more and more customers who think they can get excellent service for £6.99 and then after a few months return to us.. if you want quality products do you shop at M&S or the pound shop ?

Yes, I do feel I ought to add to this comment. My friends and colleagues all seem to have had problems with their Broadband service - lots of special deals and glitzy offers, but no service when they needed it.

I have been with good old Victorian BT for many years now. In the last five years, I have had just TWO occasions when I did not have an internet connection. On both those occasions, BT responded promptly. Last time I even had a phone call the following day from the lady who had taken by call, asking if all was well!

For a very large company with an enormous infrastructure to maintain (which makes possible almost every other internet provider) VT are remarkably customer-orientated.

I don't mind paying a few quid more for a service I can rely on.

my elderly father was with Pipex who were taken over by Talk Talk. following a series of intimidating calls from a third party he decided to give up his land-line (he lives in sheltered accommodation). Talk Talk are pursuing him now thro a Debt collector for unpaid monies stating that despite agreeing he rang to disconnect back in February he should have made a second call to Pipex if he wanted to maintain his telephone number, He did not make this call as he had no desire to have a phone connection so did not need a number. he approached Age Concern locally who i am lead to believe have had similar problems with Talk Talk.
I have spoken to them and now written and awaiting a reply. I told them they were confusing me so how do they think my father felt.

I think you reply Naive as all companies esp B T have us over a barrel, after all B T run the whole show at the end of the day.
Telephony with all it's connectivity was a publicly owned company until it was privatized, we get zero comeback now as our MP's are just big company lackeys and have no regard for the customer.
We deserve the government we vote for as we don't have the balls to stand up for our rights and until the law is changed to protect the public our ex public services will continue to do as they wish without fear of punishment.

I am also with BT and cannot rate them highly enough. OK so the speed on my line is not terrific but that is beacuase of the distance of my house from the exchange. In over 5 years I have only lost connection twice and that was fixed in a couple of hours each time. They are expensive but when you are running an internet business you need reliabilty and BT certainly provide that for me.

TalkTalk gave "sweet talk" to lure me in their trap. I was promised connection dates,which never materlalized, every time TalkTalk said it was BT's fault, no room on the line for me. Yet, I have had broadbrand for years, the only reason I had to look for another provider was because the company I was with could not then link up with "Windows 7". I ended up with no broadband for two and a half months, during that time TalkTalk cut my phone off for 13 days, from the day they said I would go "on-line". I am a pensioner with walking difficulties who relies on the phone and computer for my everyday living, plus voluntary work which I undertake. I had to rely on a mobile phone and consequently spent a lot of money on calls, especially those to TalkTalk.
I was getting stressed out with it all, and having given TalkTalk my MAC code, plus my bank details I was extremely worried.
My daughter took my case to a radio station in the area she lives, this resulted in two phone calls from one member of staff, 1) to my daughter who was from then on dealing on my behalf, 2) one to my unworkable phone, which I picked up 13 days later. The caller told both of us she was from the Chief Executives office, and she had been told to sort this out, but she did not know what it was about, was it to do with broadband or my order? She asked me if I would phone her back as she was "confused". She told my daughter I had to get BT to do a check on my line as it was BT' s fault, it was their line, nothing to do with TalkTalk.I will give BT full credit, they send an engineer out next day (a Saturday) he told me he did not know why providers kept people hanging on like this, there was no need. Two days later, TalkTalk said I was no longer their customer. Although my daughter was given a firm promise by this member of staff that no one from TalkTalk would ever contact me again, saying she had made sure everything was cancelled. Even so, TalkTalk tried to take my line over again twice, in the next two weeks, BT phoned me as they were concerned, this interfered with my application for BT broadband. That was not the end, the broadband connector arrived, followed by a letter stating I would be going "live" this concerned me as it was the same day that BT was connecting me to broadband. I have been hasseled again this week, Talk Talk phoned quoting I was going to them before but did'nt, now things had improved in this area, they could connect me! Save me money! I told them I would not have TalkTalk if they were giving it away free.

I had a night mare with tiscali who 6 months after i had left billed me 3 times saying they were providing my broadband which was a laugh o2 provided the line, it took forever to get them to get the message, i left them because of poor connection and customer service was and seems still is total useless. but i also had talk talk claim they could provide unlimited for less than a tenner and tried to sign me up but when i asked one simple question of send me the TC and then i'll think about it, they said one in post i'll call you in a few days which they did, this time my young teenage daughter answered and they said they wanted to check address to send router as her mom had signed up, he then called back and i told him i have not signed up i was waiting for TC to come through but due to the underhanding of this advisor i told them were to put there offer and should they call me again i would get a lawyer involved. the point being if they can be so underhand with this then i dont believe i would get a service i would sign up too. regards DLK

 I am trying to send an email to Talk Talk but to no avail so hopefully it will get picked up on Moneywise

Fault on phone line

Dear Sirs I have a fault on my land line it is constantly engaged every time I lift the receiver to dial out. 

As you will gather I am able to get online to send and receive email but cannot make or receive phone calls. 

Can you please have my line tested and oblige to see just what the problem is.

I have been without my phone for 4 weeks now I am desperate to get my phone line back please please HELP

I am getting absolutely nowhere with Talk Talk Technical Support I am now mentally and physically exhausted trying to sort this issue out. 

On the 25.2.12 I received a text message from a Talk Talk Mobile 07786201162 telling me that my issue has been escalated to Talk Talk senior engineering team and that they would be in touch within 48 hours. 

I received on the same day another text as follows:- We have completed investigations on your line and will provide update shortly.We apologise for any inconvenience they never did come back to me.

I have phoned every other day and have been told a pack of lies and just fobbed off. I have had promises of a call back but nothing happens they don't show any concern. I have been promised my phone line will be back on again 3-5 days 2-3 days all lies to fob an elderly gentleman off.

Please Please can somebody get my phone working. I am a 73 year old gentleman who has a heart and diabetes condition. I need my phone. 

I am at my wits end please please help me. 

I used my mobile yesterday to ring 4 times I was put on hold and listened to your totally inappropriate music namely WE COULD BE HOLDING ON FOREVER and RELAX I paid good money for that. Should you wish to speak to me you can do so on my mobile:- you have the number.

I have not been able to get into My Account since last May [2011] which was reported Ref [Incident: 110507-001820] and have not been able to check My Account details. I have a Direct Debit set up with Santander and you have not bothered to take your £14.00 monthly contract for about 6months so by my reckoning I owe you for that less compensation that they said I was entitled to. 

I did speak to your accounts dept and they said that they would send me copies of the statements to date that was 3 weeks ago and once again have not received them.

If you can't sort this mess out I am going to have to, reluctantly, move on.

My Talk Talk Account Number is 3100121357

Technical Support Numbers 6257511 and Inc 000006296184

D M Cowan

Like ·  · Share · Yesterday at 15:26 · 

 Update. I phoned Talk Talk yesterday on my mobile they refused to phone me back as they had done when this issue was first reported. Once again I was taken from one department to another being made to hang on and that inappropriate music still blasting into my ear. I spoke to accounts [I think] They said that they would send me up to date statements of my account. They said that 4 weeks ago and I am still waiting. At the end of the call I checked my mobile balance the call had cost me £8.50 ''hanging on forever'' and Relax I have not had acknowledgement of the letter I sent to Tiscali/Talk Talk. So I am no further on watch this space.

 Update. I phoned Talk Talk yesterday on my mobile they refused to phone me back as they had done in the past when this issue was first reported. Once again I was taken from one department to another being made to hang on and listen to that inappropriate music still blasting into my ear. I spoke to accounts [I think] They said that they would send me up to date statements of my account. They said that 4 weeks ago and I am still waiting. I still don't know what is happening with my phone line it is still out of order and I dont see any way forward. At the end of the call I checked my mobile balance the call had cost me £8.50 ''hanging on forever'' and Relax I have not had acknowledgement of the letter I sent to Tiscali/Talk Talk. So I am no further on watch this space.

Email to British Telecom 16.02.2012 My phone line is with Talk Talk It has not been working since January 13th I have broadband but no phone. Talk Talk don't seem to be able to sort it out for me. As this line belongs to British Telecom I would esteem it a favour if you would check and repair the line. Yours a very frustrated Tiscali/Talk Talk customer.
DM Cowan

 BT Replied stating, briefly, that they didn't have access to my account and that it was the responsibility of my Internet Service Provider. So once again I am no further on. I am still waiting for a reply to my letter sent to Tiscali/Talk Talk head office as yet have not received a reply. I don't know what the next step is. I made tentative enquiries about switching only to be told that there was a fault on the line so what's new. Keep watching this space.

Saturday 18th February 2012 Receivied a reply from Talk Talk with sincere apologies. Would you believe they have asked me to do exactly what what I have been doing this last 5 weeks. They suggested that I might prefer to phone from a friends phone to save me using my mobile. This I did on Saturday and was on the phone for 45 minutes It finished up that the issue was raised again and now have a new issue number. Also due to the fact that I was on a friends phone they are going to ring me on my mobile on Monday 20th between 14.00 and 16.00 so that they can do some diagnostic checks whilst I am sat in front of the computer. Once again watch this space.

 Talk Talk issue Ref 6357278 My phone has been out of order for almost 6 weeks 13th January 2012 to be precise. I have phoned every other day on a mobile it has cost me absolute fortune. I am not getting anywhere with you and am at breaking point.

The engineers text me asking if the issue was resolved if so text FIXED if the issue is ongoing please call Talk Talk Technical Support. I text back asking THEM to ring ME back as I only have a mobile and I just can't afford it anymore.
Please get my phone line back. Have you tried liaising with British Telecom. They told me that they would be happy to liase with Talk Talk to get this mess sorted out. Please Help David Cowan

Hi Dave,

Thank you for your comments. You can email me on and I will look into this issue.

Kind regards,


 Hi Rebecca Many thanks for your efforts so far. Talk Talk Press Office have been in touch and have said that they will look into both the issues on the phone line and the accounts. Hopefully things are starting to move now. Take Care David