The misery of moving, part 2: You can have any colour...

So Virgin Media are finally appeased (see Part 1: Virgin on the ridiculous), the new flat (complete with terrifying mortgage) is on the way, so it's time to look at what’s available broadband-wise in my new home. I already know Virgin Media can’t connect me via cable (and my recent experiences mean I won’t be calling it anytime soon for its ADSL deal), so what can I get down my BT line?

The beauty of the Broadband Genie search is that, when you put in your postcode and telephone number, you get a list of what is actually available in your home. The only downside, of course, is when you find that your choice is limited to pretty much zip. It’s embarrassing, as someone who spends a third of their life reading and writing about broadband, to find out you’ll be connected at a maximum – maximum – of 8Mb. Now I realise some of you in rural areas may snort at the prospect of me moaning about this, but it’s what I do for a living.

The problem? My exchange. It’s relatively new and, thus far, none of the operators who provide fast ADSL services (Be Broadband, O2, Eclipse, TalkTalk and Sky Broadband) have deemed it worthy of investing in. Credit to Virgin Media – it does at least have some of the area cabled, just not my nice new block of flats. As for the others, shame on you – this is a growing urban hub packed with young, bright professionals (and me) who are crying out for a half decent broadband connection. Get it sorted! One quick email to me and I’ll let you know the exchange number: then watch the new punters rolling in.

…So long as it’s black

So here I am, stuck with the exchange that time forgot, and faced with a great big list of providers with ‘8Mb’ in the ‘Speed’ column. I don’t really need a fixed-line phone deal, and my swanky new TV has built in digital tele, so need for satellite or BT Vision. My mobile is fine, and I intend to hang around for while, so don’t need a short contract. What do I do now to choose? I’m left with at least 10 internet providers offering things that look very similar at a quick glance.

It’s at this point it pays to do that little extra research. Ask around your friends, read our user reviews, and click through to the providers’ own websites to see exactly what they’re offering. In my case, the fact that I had my mobile phone with O2 meant I could save money by signing up with its fixed-line broadband too. While these deals may look very similar, there’s always going to be one that suits you more. Decision made, I got on the phone to the house seller to see what was currently installed.

Tiscali! For both the phone and the internet. Rats.

It’s something that should be so simple. Company ‘a’ hands over to company ‘b’. If you want to do it with gas, or electric, it’s a simple phone call to your new supplier and Bob’s your uncle. To switch broadband and phone lines, it’s a quick call to each provider, a quick read through the five sides of A4 you’ve just written trying to work out why both companies said things that were completely contradictory, a few swift pints, and then a few more calls to try and get to the bottom of the whole situation. And that’s just the phone line – we’ve not broached the subject of the internet yet. Finally, you conclude that Bob’s not your uncle but in fact a family friend you don’t really like and never want to have anything to do with ever, ever again.

BT vs Tiscali

Things didn’t start well. The seller tried to call Tiscali on Friday evening, to be met with a recorded message saying they’d be back Tuesday, after the Bank Holiday. Great. When Tiscali returned after the weekend, well tanned I hope, it reliably informed us that lots of things had to be done by BT, not Tiscali, oh no. So we phoned BT.

BT disagreed. According to both customer service people I spoke to, Tiscali needed to put a stop order on the line in place for when the seller was moving out – once on the line, BT could then have its way with the line and revert it back to its own, as I’d requested. Simple. So the seller went back to Tiscali with those simple instructions, and it duly obliged. Apparently.

Three days, and three daily calls later, there was no stop order on the line. In frustration, I gave up – it would take 11 days the long way, bypassing having to deal with Tiscali, and seeing as I would be on holiday for the entirety, that was good enough for me. Until then, mobile broadband would suffice (I hoped).

But really, is it so much to ask that customer service staff know their stuff? What makes it more galling is the amount of questions you get asked by the answering machine before you get to an actual person - who then doesn't understand what you're talking about! After 10 minutes of narrowing down your query to something concise as, say, wanting to change supplier, you think the person answering might expect you to mention, perhaps, changing supplier?

This transaction should’ve been simple, but instead my seller became another unhappy customer with another company he won’t return to on his list. Until broadband and telephone providers realise the importance of customer service, the industry will continue to have a rather murky reputation. So come on - instead of cutting costs, put some of that money into advanced staff training. You might be pleasantly surprised by the results.


  • neutral

    by Maria at 18:00 on 30 Jul 2009 Report abuse

    Thanks for that. Hope the new connection is eventually managed, without too many further acts of twittery by nitwits. I'm about to change my ISP simply because I can no longer bear the calls to customer service abroad.

    For this site.
    I'm visually impaired. The security process below was too blurred for me to read, so I clicked audio version and heard various people talking, counting down, but nothing useful to assist me.

  • unhappy

    by Pam at 17:31 on 4 Aug 2009 Report abuse

    We moved into a flat 11th July. We were told there was a sky dish and connection, so we took the bullet, and signed on for TV and Broadband services.

    The first installer booked for the 14th July left, as he couldn't use the cables in the flat within the time frame of 20 mins to install us.. More calls to sky to rebook, and on the 25th, a wonderful knowledgeable man installed Sky TV using existing cables. Then to try to get broadband has been frustrating to the point of canceling any further dealing with Sky

    During the process, we found we were being charged for phone calls to organise provide information for their records/system. The full costs of 7 calls is over £69.00 in one week, so Sky will no longer trap us into ringing to build the new income stream .

    Can anyone reading this contact Sky via their web site, and let them know this an unacceptable practice. Sky have organized a method of making money for not doing their Job. The less calls they answer, the more revenue they make as customers wait 30 mins plus at the end of the automatic response questions.When you get onto customer service, after you have told the problem, they handball you to the installer department, so you can duplicate the information to someone else who will not help.

    I am tired of being bullied by bureaucracies without real people answering real and valid questions. We are not making the industry or speak complex!!

  • neutral

    by Kriss at 19:42 on 16 Sep 2009 Report abuse

    Is O2 really better for you?

    I ask becaue I just went through the pain of comparing all the available options for a new flat and since I really just do not care about a phone line. Tiscally ended up the cheapest.

    Every other broadband deal had a +11quid charge to BT for a phone line that I do not even want. Tiscally include this in their 15quid charge. So unless you managed to get broadband from O2 for less than 4quid. (I know it come close but I don't think it quite gets there) Tiscally would be cheaper.

    I'm working on the principle that they will all provide bad customer support and services and such things are easier to accept when you know you are at least using the cheapest one :)

    Thing is I would happily pay more for the service I actually want, but the 11quid excess to BT for a phone line I don't want pisses me off.

  • Chris Marling - EditorEditor - Chris Marling

    by Chris Marling at 9:53 on 17 Sep 2009 Report abuse

    Hi Kriss,

    Firstly, having dealt with O2 customer service before and been involved in a number of customer service surveys and awards over the years, yes, I do think the extra cash is worth it for better service.

    Second, you say you don't want a phone line - you need a phone line to receive fixed-line broadband. If you already have a BT line, you won't need an extra line, but you can't get Tiscali without one.

  • Ciaron Dunne - EditorEditor - Ciaron Dunne

    by Ciaron Dunne at 9:30 on 19 Sep 2009 Report abuse

    ... but Kriss is correct is saying that Tiscali include the line rental in their charge. So, for example, the £14.99/m Tiscali package includes line rental (which I believe now costs £12.50/m, plus a possible £122.50 charge if you don't already have a line installed) worth £11.99/m. One thing to be aware of is that you can't get these cheap Tiscali packages everywhere - make sure you use our postcode availability check.

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