ISP tech support leaves customers hanging on the telephone

5 March 2009

Every little helps, unless you're referring to Tesco Broadband. As anyone who has tried their customer support number will know, whatever help you do receive will cost you one good kidney at the bare minimum.

Which? has been delving into the murky world of ISP technical support, and the numbers revealed - in particular those that appear on your phone bill - make for a disturbing read. Like a Stephen King novel, but when he was still good.

The magazine surveyed 45 service providers, and found that 32 use premium-rate numbers for customer support. A handful used 090 numbers, which can be charged out to the customer at up to £1.50. Tesco Broadband uses such a prefix for tech support and charges an eye-watering 50 pence a minute for the experience.

Only six of the service providers surveyed offer a freephone 0800 number including BT, Waitrose, and O2.

And then of course, there's the time your call sits in a queue while you slowly lose your teeth, your looks and the will to live. Which? discovered the average wait to speak to someone was just over 90 seconds. If you're a Plusnet customer, then it's possible that scientists will have successfully developed AI by the time you're connected; the average wait was nearly eight minutes, though one researcher had to wait over twelve minutes to talk to somebody.

[Which?]

TOPICS:   Broadband   Consumer Advice   Technology

27 comments

  • -=Mike H.
    These people are very clever, they keep you waiting on purpose so you spend more money, it isn't that there's a queue or that you're waiting for a technician to become available, and they know there's fuck all you can do about it, if you hang up you only have to ring back at more cost, or you can wait for some little speccy geeky fuck to answer your call, but only when they're good and fucking ready, wankers
  • the B.
    I was with Plusnet for about 18 months, the first year was fine, the next 6 months was diabolical, bizarrely I switched to the worlds most hated ISP, Tiscali and I've not had a problem in the last 18 months.
  • the B.
    Oi, Mr Hock we'll have less of the "little speccy geeky fuck", they planks you talk to aren't "little speccy geeky fuck"s, they're actually just reading it off a database, they type in the problem and get an answer which is why they're almost invariably useless and it takes 30 minutes to make them understand the problem. If they were proper "little speccy geeky fuck"s they'd invariably be earning more and be avoiding the customers by enjoying liquid lunches.
  • -=Mike H.
    Good point Bob, well made and also delivered. Although I wasn't being specific towards TESCO broadband 'Technical Service Officers' but most Technical phone lines.
  • the B.
    I assumed you were, they're generally all manned by mindless automata.
  • James D.
    The irony here is that Which? online (the which dial up ISP) is run out of the same call centre and basically by the same people. Virgin ADSL is also run out of the same call centre. As for suggestions they deliberately keep you online to make money this is not true. Tesco is basically a rebranded virgin media product. The support is also outsourced to fujitsu services (at least it was when I worked there 2 years ago) The main aim of the call centre is to keep the PCA (percentage calls answered) as low as possible. I can guarantee you that at least in this call centre there is no intention to keep people on the phone for longer than possible. In fact the stats we that managers grilled you over every month required very low call times otherwise you were gone.
  • Derren H.
    Try fasthosts tech support. You just wonder if you are phoning an empty office with the phone ringing all while you pay loads of money to them while waiting.
  • James D.
    oh and "Real Bob" they are not reading it off a database I used to work there.
  • Will
    Pretty sure the indian call centres are often reading off a database. I've often asked a question, waited a couple of minutes for an answer 'hello?', 'yes, sorry sir my computaa is runningg slow'.
  • Will
    I've been very impressed with my O2 Broadband so far. I signed up last Thursday and have spoken to customer services a couple of times and always got through to someone willing to go that bit further to get the problem solved.
  • the B.
    Are you bragging about working in a call centre?
  • -=Mike H.
    James, you mean you had to, A: Go and ask someone else B: Consult a manual C: Google it
  • piggeh
    I've used Be Unlimited's tech support a few times. Despite the dodgy Eastern European accents (I think their tech support is based in Bulgaria?) they have been very good at dealing with any issues. You can also submit aa ticket online and it gets replied to fairly promptly, pretty good for £12 a month or whatever it costs. Nildram on the other hand, were pretty wank. Good when I first signed up but in recent years they've gone downhill. Which reminds me they still owe me £20, the swines.. Be/O2 both good in my opinion. Although I will admit both use 0870 numbers IIRC.
  • Biffo B.
    Don't know if things have altered with Tesco BB lately, but I was with them for 4 years until last July. Hardly ever phoned tech support, cos nothing hardly ever went wrong - lost service only once in all that time. When I did call, the tech guys knew their stuff, were very speedy, and, if it looked like a sticky prob, they would offer to phone back when they found the answer. Add to that, that you get a free router with Freephone tech support from Tesco for the first 28 days. If the router goes wrong (and mine did), you get a new one free by express courier. Rarely among ISPs, their 'unlimited' BB is truly that: no limits, no traffic shaping, no port blocking, and that's important to a P2P man like me. I only left them because they had no plans to offer better than a 2Meg service.
  • james d.
    No I wasn't bragging, it was my first job out of uni I have moved on, I was just providing some inside information about tesco broadband technical support
  • james d.
    "James, you mean you had to, A: Go and ask someone else B: Consult a manual C: Google it" Well if you did not know how to solve the problem then yes how else do you learn things. But you use existing computer knowledge and combine it with stuff you learn on the job. There are good staff there but there is a very high staff turnover so the chances of getting a newbie are quite high.
  • Brad
    80% of the time all you need to do is restart the modem/computer or just leave it till the morning so it sorts its self out. Well you do on Virgin Broadband, though to be fair they have been very good the last few years, touch wood.
  • Dgrex
    As an Ex PLUSNET customer I can only say that the longer I was with them the worse it got. Problems that needed a call to their tech dept were always 10 mins + wait time , referrals discount was always wrong and they imposed ( without telling me ) ' traffic shaping' to spread the load amongst other users in my pipe. Now with O2 .................. What a difference !!! NO restrictions on my downloading at any time and 10mb download speed for torrents etc When I call it's instant response and plain english
  • AJ
    It's al good and well talkign about 'free' 0800 numbers, but they are not free for all, paticularly those with mobiles only, in balance, it probably should be stated which mobile broadband companies offer a free to call number (I know 3's is - though 'support' is maybe not always the best description!!) for those of us who have done away with the outdated & unnecesary landline!
  • Gus
    O2 has a brilliant tech support. Had to call them lots of times and they tried everything possible to fix my problem. Found out that the problem was caused by BT which had at some point crossed my landline with another user. Bastards!
  • iAn
    I avoid phoning anymore with Talktalk things get sorted much quicker if you post on the http://www.talktalkmembers.com/ forum - they have a techie types from CEO broadband support office!
  • Andy D.
    @AJ - you should be able to find alternative land line numbers that you can call from your mobile here... http://www.saynoto0870.com/
  • Flynn
    What I find amusing is that Which? OnLine still charge for a premium rate support. Didn't mention that in their report did they :p
  • Keith
    Ive been with many broadband providers over the last 8 years. So far I cannot come up with any negative points with O2 broadband they score 10/10 for customer service, technical support and billing from my own experience received. Tiscali on the other hand failed on every aspect of their service - I could only give them a score of less than 0/10 and I would not entertain them even if the broadband service was 100% free due to lack of basic customer care.
  • The B.
    That seems to be the general concensus with Tiscali, so maybe I'm lucky never having had to phone them or possibly because I work in IT I solve any problems that may come up and having never had a line fault I've never needed to ring them. If my Windows XP Belkin wireless card would stop falling over and behave like the identical one running under 2k3 Server then I'd have no connections problems at all.
  • James D.
    "Posted by Flynn | March 6th, 2009 at 9:08 am What I find amusing is that Which? OnLine still charge for a premium rate support. Didn’t mention that in their report did they :p" Flynn as I mentioned earlier what is even more amusing is the same staff that provide Tesco internet support provide support for Which Online? This is a Virgin Media call centre in newport wales, I used to work there.
  • Ros
    Wait until you try to leave Pipex/tiscali and start recieving bills for non-payment and £25 admin charges while you wait for the final bill...

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