Posts Tagged ‘talk talk’

Online BT customers could be getting free YouView

September 21st, 2012 7 Comments By Andy Dawson

YouView 300x158 Online BT customers could be getting free YouViewRemember the YouView thing from a couple of months ago? Streaming catch-up TV via a box that’ll set you back £299? Yeah, we were all over that one weren’t we.

Well, if you’re a BT Broadband and/or Infinity customer, you can get one of these magical gizmos for FREE – well, apart from a £56 activation fee that includes delivery. Also, you’ll need to have seen out your initial 12 month BT contract (meaning that signing up now in order to get a YouView box will be a no-no).

Deliveries will kick off from 26th October. Talk Talk are also involved in the YouView consortium and their own possibly cack-handed offering is looming as well. Welcome to the future…

a child on the internet 300x182 Low marks for BT and TalkTalk in broadband test

A young lad, using the internet

Mysterious, clandestine mystery shoppers have carried out a test or two at the behest of Ofcom, so we can all find out about the way ISPs are going about their broadband business.

The findings show that providers aren’t very good at informing us about our broadband speeds. Of course, some are pretty upfront about the maximum and minimum speeds, but some are dropping the internet-shaped ball somewhat.

The worst offenders are TalkTalk and BT who are offering customers little more than an estimate speed without prompting from the customer. This is obviously awful behaviour and we should bring back hanging. Other providers guilty of this behaviour were Karoo, Sky and Plusnet.

Naturally, the problem here is that there’s usually quite a big difference between actual speeds and those estimated. This is all part of the problem with offering speeds of ‘up to…’ and campaigners are trying to get this sorted out. It goes without saying that there’s loads of reasons why we all get differing broadband speeds, such as the distance a user lives from the exchange.

Either way, changes are afoot. Both TalkTalk and BT have agreed to change their processes.

“We strongly support the Ofcom speed code of practice and ensure that anyone who buys BT broadband gets a personalised speed quote before they are committed to purchase,” said a BT spokesman. ”Ofcom has suggested we should make a minor change to mention the speed quote earlier in the sales conversation, which we are happy to do and will implement straight away.”

Ofcom have noted that; “It is vital that as the choice of broadband services expands, UK consumers get the best possible information when choosing a broadband provider.” But can they do enough to stop ISPs acting like fibbing berks? We’ll have to wait and see.

Picture 2 BT and Talk Talk lose filesharing appeal, which is niceBT and Talk Talk have lost an appeal over measures to tackle copyright infringement online. All the ISPs argued that the UK’s Digital Economy Act was incompatible with EU law, which says that they’ll have to be the ones to send warning letters to illegal downloaders as well as cutting users off.

The firms’ lawyers said that stricter measures could result in an invasion of privacy and create disproportionate costs for both ISPs and consumers.

In a statement, Talk Talk said it was now “considering our options”. They added: ”We’re disappointed that our appeal was unsuccessful though we welcome the additional legal clarity that has been provided for all parties. Though we have lost this appeal, we will continue fighting to defend our customers’ rights against this ill-judged legislation.”

A spokesman for BT said: “We have been seeking clarification from the courts that the DEA is consistent with European law, and legally robust in the UK, so that everyone can be confident in how it is implemented. Now that the court has made its decision, we will look at the judgment carefully to understand its implications and consider our next steps.”

Of course, the ISPs have been long chided by the creative industries. Christine Payne, general secretary of the Actors’ union Equity, called on the ISPs to “stop fighting and start obeying the law”. Through the medium of dance, she continued: ”Once again the court is on the side of the almost two million workers in the creative industries whose livelihoods are put at risk because creative content is stolen on a daily basis.”

Adam Rendle, a copyright specialist at international law firm Taylor Wessing, expects BT and Talk Talk to take this to the Supreme Court, saying: ”We know how keen internet users are to protect what they see as freedom of speech. When the Digital Economy Act itself was passed in the dying stages of the Labour government, there was a huge amount of disquiet that this kind of important legislation was being introduced without proper scrutiny.”

“That kind of disquiet didn’t result in the kind of action we’ve seen against Acta and Sopa. It wouldn’t be surprising to see a lot more public outcry than there was when the Act was first passed.”

TalkTalk top yet another customer service bile-poll

September 22nd, 2011 5 Comments By Andy Dawson

TalkTalk TalkTalk top yet another customer service bile pollIt only seems like five minutes since we ran a story about TalkTalk’s lousy customer service, but here we go again. According to stats unveiled by Ofcom, the beleaguered company were the most complained about phone and broadband provider in the first six months of 2011.

Already top of the shitty pops between January and March, they held on to their disgusting crown between April and June as well, seeing off all of the others with consummate ease, racking up 0.8 complaints for every 1,000 customers for its landline service and 0.58 per 1,000 for it’s broadband ‘arm’. The least complained about company in both the landline and broadband sections were Virgin.

But there’ll be muted celebratings at TalkTalkTowers (if that’s the name of their hideout) as the number of complaints has fallen significantly over the past year. Mind you, that’s probably as a result of them sorting out the colossal mess that ensued when they took over Tiscali and were fined £3 million for the wrong-billage of 65,000 customers.

Elsewhere, in the mobile phone category, 3 were the most complained about company. Let’s face it though, it could have been pretty much any of them. It should be noted that the stats only reflect complaints made to Ofcom, as opposed to the complaints made directly to the companies themselves. Or indeed, grumblings directed at a partner or loved one that are not escalated any further.

Lettersending to file-sharers on hold for now

March 29th, 2011 5 Comments By Andy Dawson
Patchy The Pirate Lettersending to file sharers on hold for now

A musical pirate, yesterday

Government plans to send warning letters to alleged illegal downloaders have been punched in the side of the head by the strong arm of the law. If this pleases you, you might be bemused to find that the people you should be thanking are BT and Talk Talk, two companies that are widely disliked by their past and current customers.

The letter-sending frenzy was part of the Digital Economy Act, but that whole big stinking mess has now been held up by the announcement of a high court judicial review that could hold it up until next summer at the earliest.

BT and Talk Talk have lodged a series of challenges to the Act, claiming that it infringes net users’ ‘basic rights and freedoms’ – although we find ourselves wondering just what’s in it for them.

The result of the judicial review should be announced within six to eight weeks but the side that comes off worst is likely to appeal. That could mean an outing in the European courts, and maybe even the inter-galactic and celestial courts before it all gets sorted out.

In the meantime, why don’t you kids carry on downloading your Tom & Jerry cartoons and your Jeremy Clarkson eBooks with impunity, safe in the knowledge that the law is unable to send you any warning letters for now.

Make the most of it – it won’t last forever.

[Graudina]

commons floor 460 BT and Talk Talk challenge the Digital Economy Act for their own goodThe Digital Economy Act, passed days before Parliament was dissolved for the General Election, was and still is regarded as something of a sow’s ear. Deliberately rushed through with little time to be debated, passed into law by MPs who didn’t necessarily understand what they were voting on, nobody seemed particularly happy with the outcome.

The more questionable aspects of the Act included proposals to force ISPs to disconnect illegal file-sharers and give copyright holders the power to block access to websites hosting illegal content.

Now BT and TalkTalk to joined together to seek a judicial review of the Act, to clarify its legality before it’s implemented next year. And both companies talk a good game, stating that their concerns are for their customers and their “basic rights and freedoms”. Says Charles Dunstone, chairman of TalkTalk:

“The Digital Economy Act’s measures will cost the UK hundreds of millions and many people believe they are unfair, unwarranted and won’t work. Innocent broadband customers will suffer and citizens will have their privacy invaded.”

BT whistle a very similar tune – this from Gavin Patterson, chief executive of BT Retail: “We feel we have no choice. We have to do this for our customers.”

Hooray for the big guys, standing up for the man on the stree- sorry, what’s that? Of course, the devil is very much in the detail; as it stands the Act specifies that only ISPs with more than 400,000 customers must take action against customers, so rather than this being all about the consumer, this fight is actually about protecting their profits:

Andrew Heaney, executive director of TalkTalk, told the BBC: “It means we could have huge swathes of customers moving to smaller ISPs to avoid detection.”

And there we are . Nobody would have cared if they’d said they were challenging the Act in the interests of self-preservation. Always best to get your story straight before talking to the press.

Talk Talk open new Xanadu for customers

April 20th, 2010 10 Comments By Andy Dawson

Screen shot 2010 04 20 at 12.51.06 Talk Talk open new Xanadu for customersTelecoms giant Talk Talk are trying to make themselves look a little bit groovy these days. They recently railed against the Digital Economy Bill, vowing to refuse to co-operate with The Man when it comes to shutting down the accounts of file-sharing offenders.

Now they’ve gone a bit Apple and opened a swanky new ‘Customer Experience Centre’ slap bang in the middle of London’s fashionable London. On the ground floor there’s free internet along with some chaps and chapesses that will help you with your Talk Talk queries, or maybe just try to flog you stuff.

But on the first floor, if you’re already a Talk Talk customer, there’s an exclusive ‘customer lounge’, with hot and cold refreshments, and ‘relaxed surroundings.’ Which had better be scatter cushions and free segments of Terrys’ Chocolate Orange.

Any of you lot been in to this Broadwick Street pleasuredome yet? Let us know what it’s all about then.

TTLOGO All change for Talk Talk   free calls, charges, packagesWhen BT decided to change the hours of free evening calls for their customers, it wasn’t the most popular of ideas. From April, free evening calls will begin at 7pm, not 6pm, a change BT attempted to justify by simply reiterating the facts: “We’ve looked into it and 6pm to 7pm is a busy time for calling, but it’s the time when people make short, organisational calls. It’s between 8pm and 9pm when they sit down to have a chat.” Of course that made no sense whatsoever, since BT were admitting they were going to charge you for those ‘short, organisational calls’ that used to be free, and make even more money at a ‘busy time for calling’.

Clearly there’s plenty of profit to be made during that golden hour, because Talk Talk is also changing their terms of service to redefine the meaning of ‘evening’, and shift their free calls back from 6pm – 6am to 7pm – 7am. But rather than rest on their laurels, Talk Talk are also raising the cost of daytime/peak rate calls (and calls that exceed 60 minutes at any time) from 4.6p per minute to 5.8p per minute – an increase of 26 per cent. Their call connection charge is also increasing to 9.9p per call, an increase of eight per cent. The increases come into effect on 1 June and are detailed on their website.

If you’re hip-deep in your Talk Talk contract, then according to the terms and conditions (PDF file), the increases mean you may be able to cancel your contract without penalty:

9.16 …should we increase the Charges we shall provide you with thirty (30) days notice of such increase and the increase will take effect from the end of that period. In this instance you may, in accordance with and subject to the provisions of clause 15.1, be entitled to terminate our Services made available under these Conditions.

15.1  …to the extent that such changes are to your material detriment or relate to an increase in the charges, we will give you at least thirty (30) days notice of such changes by writing to you and/or publishing them on our Website.

Another change spotted by avid Bitterwallet reader John is that the Talk Talk Essentials package no longer offers free anytime local calls – now if you want these, you have to pay for a £4 ‘boost’ add-on. Digging through the support forums, it appears this change came into force last month and is only applicable to new customers; existing customers on Talk Talk Essentials shouldn’t be affected. That said, check your allowances if renew your Essentials package in the future – it’s likely free anytime local calls won’t be included, though you may be left to assume they are.

spotify logo copy1 1 Spotify play it free and easy with the Data Protection ActThere’s a new social media network out there for the kids. It’s called a serious breach of data protection laws. Not a sexy name, but here’s how it works – just submit your email address to a company, and wait for some ten-thumbed prick to cut and paste your address into the CC box of an email, along with hundreds of others. Boom! Dozens of strangers have your personal details and the company in question drives a tank through the Data Protection Act.

It worked for customers of Orange, and now Spotify have done much the same thing. Avid Bitterwallet reader Jack has been in touch about a joint promotion Spotify are running in conjunction with TalkTalk – entrants submit a favourite Spotify track and their email address, and winners receive a premium subscription to Spotify. Not that you have to win to receive a prize – yesterday, Jack was lucky enough to get a mailing list of over 240 email addresses, all CC’d into an email sent by Spotify. Obviously he was less than delighted to note his own address amongst those distributed to all recipients.

This isn’t just an inconvenience, or an irritation – it’s a breach of the law. And of course, Spotify took the matter very serious, and certainly didn’t just knock out a trite email to anybody who complained in the vain hope they didn’t take the matter further:

Hi There,

Spotify would like to apologise for the previous email you received today regarding the current TalkTalk competition. Spotify inadvertently copied all users who requested information on the promotion into the same field, which exposed your email address to others.

Privacy is of the utmost importance to Spotify and we’ll be reviewing our processes to ensure this type of error will not happen again.

Yours sincerely,

The Spotify team

Plenty of those who received the email are now co-ordinating plans to complain to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) about the breach. Some just want a free Spotify subscription for their trouble. Of course mistakes happen, but when they’re mistakes that break the law, there needs to be some gesture by the guilty party beyond a piss-poor excuse. Over to you, Spotify.

In recent months, Talk Talk have been vocal opponents to the government’s proposed Digital Britain Bill and its plans to introduce a ‘three strikes’ attack against repeat illegal downloaders.

They became so enraged that a competition was launched, with the remit of finding the best artistic attack against the government and in particular Lord Mandelson, the mandroid behind the ridiculous new law-to-be.

Sadly, the winner was a song (below), ‘Only Idiots Assume’ by comedians Liam Mullone and Hils Barker, better known as The Broken Dongles. By any stretch of the imagination it is elbow-chewingly awful, the kind of thing that the Sex Pistols might have trod in while scarpering from one record company to another back in 1977. Imagine if Chumbawamba had never given up the day jobs – that’s how wretched it is. Listen for yourself…

They got three grand for that! Three grand! For a song that opens with the lines “I own the works of Nietzsche; you might assume that I’m a racist!” We’re not a gang of Stephen Sondheims here but it’s hardly “You were working as a waitress in a cocktail bar when I met you” now is it?

One of the judges, Stephen Fry (proving that he definitely doesn’t know everything,) says: ‘I am insanely in love with Only Idiots Assume. It’s got the anger, the wit, the musical skill – all in a wonderful package that reminds me of the high days of my youth when punk roamed the land and the young were angry and funny and spunky and spiky.’

Co-writer Mullone said the song was “a ska-punk reply to Peter Mandelson.” Hmm, we’ve put some actual ska below for you to use as a reference point against the aimless, tuneless dirge above. Jesus, the ‘winning’ song has got us so wound up that we almost want the Digital Britain Bill to be passed as law NOW, unopposed and with a ‘one strike’ clause welded on to it.

Could they not have just hurled some green custard at Mandelson instead? Gah!

[Chortle]

peter mandelson green custard 268x300 Illegal file sharing   Number 10 petition goes live to fight the future

Lord Peter Mandelson - as clumsy with hot leek and potato soup, as he is at tackling file sharing

We’ve been hearing for weeks about the Government’s plans to disconnect internet users who indulge in a spot of illegal file-sharing, which according to some have more gaping holes than a hen night in Hull. Perhaps they’re not quite phrasing it like that. Two of the biggest concerns are that if the Digital Economy Bill is introduced as it stands, users would be cut off from their ISPs and potentially criminalised without trial, and there’s no way to discern whether a user has had their wi-fi hijacked by a third party – a relatively straight forward procedure.

Lord Mandelson, the Government minster who inspired the Barry Manilow’s 1975 classic, is hellbent on pushing the plans through despite reasonably critical opposition. And of course the music industry, which have been rattling on for such legislation for years without taking a moment to consider that a combination of its own actions (and inaction) has created its own demise, is delighted with the news. Says the body that represents the interests of record labels, the British Phonographic Industry (BPI):

“It is good news for fans of British music that Government is now introducing legislation to tackle illegal downloading. The creative sector in the UK needs new measures implemented urgently that address this problem for now and the future if the UK is to lead Europe in giving consumers innovative and high quality digital entertainment.”

The campaign against the plans becoming law is growing quickly; even some service providers have sworn to fight them. We recently told you of the Open Rights Group’s attempt to send a message to Mandelson, and now an online petition has been created on Downing Street’s official website, which already has nearly over 8,000 signatures and features other heavyweight voices of reason such as Stephen Fry. It’s worth a look and a signature, if you’d rather the Government stopped pissing about with draconian mandates, as if the internet dates back to the 18th century, and put some serious vision and thought into the digital future of the country.

Read any newspaper website, and there are sure to be several stories that make no sense whatsoever. Like a Magic Eye poster, you find yourself staring at them for several minutes before all becomes clear – it’s complete bullshit. And so we cross to The Telegraph for a high profile news story that warns of a catastrophe awaiting broadband users in the UK:

Picture 2 500x118 Headline hysteria   will 100,000 homes be forced to give up broadband?

Yikes! Grim times ahead for low income families using broadband, as Government taxation will mean they have no choice but to disconnect from the internet. And this won’t affect just a handful of society’s most vulnerable, but 100,000 homes. It’s a tragedy in the making warns Charles Dunstone, chief executive of Talk Talk – one of the country’s largest suppliers of home broadband. Dunstone explains more:

“As well as being unfair we estimate that the increase in price will mean that over 100,000 mostly low income homes will be forced to give up their broadband lines. This is wholly inconsistent with the Government’s plans to tackle digital exclusion by increasing uptake and use of broadband.”

Goodness, it’s now over 100,000 homes that will have no other option whatsoever – like switching to a cheaper broadband tariff, perhaps – other than to regress to life in the 1980s. But what is this crippling taxation Dunstone speaks of? The Telegraph explains:

Mr Dunstone estimates that around 100,000 lower income households will be forced to give up their own internet connections in able to cover the 50p per month tax that will be added to all domestic phone bills to fund the roll-out of next-generation broadband networks.

The tax, which was first proposed in the Digital Britain report, published in June, will last for around seven years, costing each household a total of £42 and raising about £1 billion for investment in high-speed fibre networks.

And there we have it. No, really – that’s it. At no point does Dunstone reveal how he arrived at this figure, nor does the Telegraph seem interested in the maths. Surely some thinking would be useful in justifying the headline or the statements that follow? But no, you don’t need to know anything else – just accept that over 100,000 homes that currently can afford a broadband service, won’t be able to in the future.

Right. A couple of questions from us, then. Why is Dunstone arguing against the tax based on these numbers? Look at the Government statistics – 63 per cent – or 16.5 million homes – have a broadband connection in 2009; Dunstone is arguing against the tax based on barely half of one per cent of homes losing broadband. And that’s based on the current numbers; in seven years time, all indications are that the number of broadband-enabled homes will be far higher, and that’s ignoring the proposed benefits of the tax over that time, which includes a rollout of a minimum 2MB network to reach all UK homes. Read the rest of this entry »

tiscali slant1 Carphone Warehouse buys Tiscali UK   will service improve? Who uses Tiscali? Despite their stinkingly bad reputation for customer services, about 1.45 million people in the UK do. In spite of themselves, the Italians are the fifth biggest supplier of UK domestic broadband, but they’re carrying about £500 million worth of debt. Perfect pickings for the increasingly-irrelevantly-named Carphone Warehouse then, as they continue their quest to rule the uberverse.

As well as owning AOL UK and its own Talk Talk brand, Carphone Warehouse are now shelling out £236 million for Tiscali’s UK operation. The deal will mean Carphone Warehouse having over 4 million broadband customers, and 25 per cent of the whole market.

Although the intent is to unify all of the indivudal operations under one brand, there’ll be some mopping up to do as far as Tiscali’s reputation goes. There are hundreds of complaints to be found online, including Tiscali Sucks. After a nosey through the gripes of former users, you have to wonder how Tiscali manages to have any customers at all. Then again, Carphone Warehouse has its fair share of punters who like to piss and moan too.

So if you’re a customer of Tiscali, do you see this deal improving your service? If it’s Carphone Warehouse currently pumping salty german porn broadband into your pleasurescreen, what do the Tiscali customers have coming to them?