back to article Tiscali executes stealth LLU migrations

Thousands of ex-Pipex customers have been suffering unexplained interruptions in their broadband service in recent weeks, as their new provider Tiscali stealthily works to cut costs. People suffering a broadband outage as a result of the work are told by customer services, recently outsourced overseas, that their line is …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    You get what you pay for?

    If people are choosing their provider on its price per month! then i dont think you have cause for complaint when certain aspects such as peer2peer are being throttled?

    You get what you pay for...

    If your are a high user then find a supplier that can support that and expect to pay more for it! I mean you dont buy a 6k car and expect it to perform like a ferrari do you??

    Commen sense is all that is required here! (oh and a little research!)

  2. neil

    Costly to the User

    This is underhanded and costly to the user. As many tiscali users will wise up and wish to migrate away to other, less low end ISPs. the fact that they are on a LLU circuit will most likely involve connection fees to put the line back on to a BT circuit and allow migration.

  3. b166er


    Aside from Zen, Nildram were usually the only other ISP high up in the customer satisfaction surveys at adslguide

    "Pipex (including Nildram and F2S) was using traffic-shaping technology also, and we will be applying the same profiles they had in place prior to migration," the spokeswoman said. 'and some of our new ones too', she allegedly muttered as she walked off.

    "The logic is that we'll save more money placing customers on the Tiscali backhaul per month than we will lose from customers migrating away," he said.

    Sadly, that's probably true, as most users affected will never know why "One Reg reader was initially told the downtime was BT's fault."

    Sigh, seems like Zen will be the only place left with guaranteed great customer service and reliability.

    (I often mention Zen, some might have noticed. I don't work for them, I just think that such great service is hard to find these days and that people should have the knowledge required to get the best service possible. If you don't believe me (and why should you?), visit thinkbroadband and compare them against any other 5 providers of your choice. If their graphs would go back further, you would see a similar story for at least the last four years))

  4. Dave Bell

    Lies, damned lies, and Tiscali fault tickets.

    Tiscali have a nice little scam on their fault-reporting system. With so many of these throttling situations being a daily occurence, they can claim to open a fault ticket on your query, and close it at the end of the next working day because you've not reported a recurrence.

    Shortly afterwards, the last guy out of the office turns on the throttling.

    I'm not much bothered by the throttling. P2P I can leave chugging away in the background. But not knowing which services are throttled, and not getting any explanation which something such as NNTP doesn't work, provokes me to snarkiness.

    Weekends are worse. I think their network is overloaded, and yet they keep running those silly TV adverts about how much you can get from Tiscali. They're advertising something they cannot deliver.

    Want to bet they'll claim it is temporary, while they arrange more capacity?

    Yeah, right. Like the "engineers" who are investigating the reported faults. The BFOH has more honesty.

    And their system works pretty well the rest of the time.

  5. Pete

    isn't the old pilots maxim

    why I have such a problem with tiscali and Opera during the evenings

    "He also claimed that Tiscali has indicated it wants to place a full block on peer-to-peer applications at peak times in the evening."

    As they probably have spotted it has a built in bit torrent client

    blocking the browser part is a bit daft though. especially as changing Operas browser ID string overcomes the problem.

  6. Matt


    "Tiscali is currently the only ISP with its own LLU infrastructure as well as customers served via BT's IPstream and DataStream wholesale products."

    That doesn't sound right. I'm with AOL and I know they neither they nor CPW/Talk Talk don't have LLU presence in my BT exchange. I guess you mean Tiscali are currently the only ISP with customers served via BT's IPstream and Datastream wholesale products at exchanges where it also has LLU presence.

  7. James Radley


    It's lovely to say that you get what you pay for. I'm paying for Nildram, with 50Gb* per month bandwith, static IP, reasonably intelligent call centre staff etc.

    I will have a hump now if I get given Tiscali ( ie cheap ) service for this money -- and will be straight off to Zen. I noticed my network went down this morning at 4am. I am certainly not getting what I paid for.

    IIRC Nildrams bandwidth throttling basically takes your bandwidth down to 64kbps if you go over the transfer limit, until the next month comes along. A bit different from the "turn of P2P overnight" approach that Tiscali seems to have.

    * Yes, I use a fair chunk of my allocation. No, I don't download warez, films, mp3z or anything else I'm not supposed to.

  8. Luke Wells
    Thumb Down

    From Pipex to ..... errr ... Tiscali

    Now it has been a few years since I was a pipex customer, but when I was a customer, Pipex were known for its rock solid reliable network and high speeds with no limits or throttling.

    Tiscali are pretty much well known as a cheap "cut corners" isp with near zero customer service and poor speeds.

    You'd think people would notice the change quite quickly.

  9. John

    Isn't there a charge for...

    ...reconnecting to BT's network after you have migrated away via LLU ?

    If so then aren't Tiscali obliged to offer the choice to the customers not just move them without warning as many are going to go balistic to find they have to pay a not insubstantial fee just to change ISP when they find out what crap it is at Tiscali now.

  10. sproot
    Thumb Down


    Pipex wasn't a budget provider, until the parasites at ticsali got their feelers on them.

    And does anybody care what ofcom think? Since they appear to have slightly less authority than ISPA? All bb contracts are carefully worded so that they can still bill you *even when you have no service* because your line is being unbundled. After all, 'no service' is just a point on a bandwidth graph.

    Perhaps ofcom can explain why they haven't stopped that? No, thought not.

    Anyone reading this who's still with Pipex: Leave now, and don't forget your coat.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blaming BT

    A few weeks of very poor performance, have slowly improved, but only at about 40% or my original speeds.

    At one stage I had a complete outage, which customer services blamed on BT, saying that BT hadn't told them they would be carrying maintenance. They told me the service would be out "most of the day".

    I'm off to Zen.

  12. Mike Norris
    Thumb Down

    Still less than 400K between 4pm and midnight

    We upgraded from a 512K connection, where we consistently got 430K whatever time of day, to an up to 8M connection on the 10th of Jan and have had problems ever since, between 4p.m and midnight we consistently get less than 400k and some times as low as 30K! yet between midnight and 4pm we consistently get 4M+, peaking at 6.5M.

    They had the audacity to tell me it was my router! I have two so confidently told them this was not the case, it has now gone back to their technical staff for further investigation...

  13. N

    You *should* get what you pay for

    I pay 25 a month for what used to be a good service with Pipex. For that I expect a decent connection. I expect to be able to connect to iTunes. I don't use P2P and I don't download movies (although with BBC and other TV station offerings I may wish to in due course).

    No iTunes, no reasonable connection speed. Very poor. Then Pipex dropped the ball badly and messed customers around with incorrect, misleading information - perhaps deliberately and perhaps not.

    Finally Pipex tech support are being allowed to admit there is a problem (below is an excerpt from a Pipex email). I'll give them a chance. My MAC is ready & waiting for use with Zen but I'm holding off for a few days.


    Unfortunately this is something that is currently being investigated. The usage and traffic management should still be done on the Pipex network - not Tiscali's, however the Pipex customers are also experiencing the same issues as some Tiscali customers. We should have more information on this issue once the Network team have investigated further.

  14. Dave

    Like a Low-Cost Airline...

    You get only what you pay for. Imagine the tariff structure - the basic amount provides you with the link and a few packets-worth of transfer. Oh, you want an IP address? That'll be £2 extra. You want to use port 80 and port 25? That's an extra £2 per port, maximum of 15 ports available. Oh, and you'll need to register for an IP address as well, so cough up the £2 for that. You can have your packets put at the front of the queue in the router for an extra £5.

  15. Test Man

    P2P throttling

    I'd like to know how they intend on getting away with a complete ban on p2p during the evenings, especially when BBC's iPlayer uses p2p to download programmes.

  16. Harvey Barker

    Terrible service

    Since 4th January I've had appalling service, including line drops, taking numerous attempts to connect etc and their customer service and technical support have been a joke. I know others on Pipex, not a million miles from me, getting similar issues and others, close by, getting no problem at all.

    Pipex used to be consistent and provided excellent value for money. But now they're just rubbish.

    Once I get my connection stabilised and sorted, I'm moving.

  17. Dcope

    Bugger them!

    Saw the writing on the wall allmost as soon as i moved in with the fiancee last year, but disconects and yesterdays login server outage just keep proving just how bad they are. Glad i got her to ask for a MAC Code last week, hopefully we will beat the rush, im off to "be" as there are no limits caps or anything and its adsl2+ LLU conection, now if only i could pick up the house and plonk it closer to the exchange. hmmmm......

  18. Dave
    Paris Hilton

    You get what you pay for

    We chose Pipex for 2 reasons: "You get what you pay for", and a satisfactory answer to "Where are your Tech Support Call Centres?". We're happy to pay the extra money for a good service.

    And then Tiscali took over.

    We noticed the change immediately, when our normally rock-solid Internet connection was down every morning, and certain stuff started crawling. I won't bore you with the details. Pick any comment in this thread and the many similar ones.

    Upon phoning up to obtain our MAC code, we were asked why. We replied that we were moving because we'd been moved to TIscali. We were then asked how we knew about the move. "El Reg" as the answer received the reply "Ah, another one."

    Apparantly, and we have this in (computer) writing, BT process 93% of their calls in UK call centres, AND if you do find yourself in the depths of OffShore Hell, you can ask to be tranferred to a UK Call Centre. Whether it will happen like that, I don't know, but it's a start.

    So, Big Thanks to El Reg, for alerting Pipex's customer base.

    Big Boo's to Pipex / Tiscali for not even bothering to inform their customers that they won't be getting what they paid for.

    I'd like to think that in the future this (Tiscali Desertion) will be referred to as the beginning of the end for Outsourced Call Centre's.

    I'd also like to remind El Reg's readers to always enquire as to the location of the Call Centre's when signing up for any service.

    Paris, because she's shedding a tear for those who will be the first against the wall...

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Tiscali rejected concerns. "Pipex (including Nildram and F2S) was using traffic-shaping technology also, and we will be applying the same profiles they had in place prior to migration," the spokeswoman said.

    That funny, because the moment that Tiscali took over Pipex their network speed has gone totally downhill. I got so frustrated with it that I called for my MAC and got out. So yes they will "implement the same policies as Pipex customers are used to" because for the past 3 or 4 months they have been changing the Pipex policies to Tiscali-level throttling.

    I am glad they are losing money, if you treat your customers with contempt and provide a shoddy service don't be surprised if they say "I will not put up with this anymore" and leave faster than rats fleeing a sinking ship.

    Treat your customers like crap and you deserve to go under.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    James Radley

    "* Yes, I use a fair chunk of my allocation. No, I don't download warez, films, mp3z or anything else I'm not supposed to."

    And in my experiance this is what high users usually say? someone must be accountable for this huge amount of illegal content that is being downloaded?

    Dont get me wrong, im not saying that you are.. i could not possibly know. just basing my assumption on experience.

    The common excuse is linux! well im downloading a couple of linux iso's blah blah blah! what every month? how many versions do you need? again not saying this is you. simply the most common excuse that i seem to read about online..

  21. Mark
    Paris Hilton

    Horse => Cart

    Should they not have worked out how to move these customers to their unbundled loop BEFORE deciding whether to buy them? If the revenue they could take, minus the bundled costs is less than the profit they would make by investing the money paid for the users, the purchase would be unprofitable.

    If they had worked out how to turn them profitable by moving them to the unbundled loop, what's the payback ROI of this cost? Or didn't they do their job?

    Oh, hang on, that'd be the answer, wouldn't it...

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You pay for what you get

    I have worked for both Homecall (an ISP running on Tiscali's network) and Zen. I worked at Homecall when it was just bought out by Pipex. Firstly, that was a good move because John Caudwell was a money-scounging, whip-lashing dick. At one point, Homecall used some of it's call centre capacity to prop up Pipex Technical Support!!! At the time, their average call wait was 45 minutes but only because well over half their calls were hanging up before they were answered. A dozen of us would come on at 1pm and have cleared the queue in under 20 minutes. Reason: good people, despite fighting a constant rearguard action with Tiscali.

    Myself and a few others saw the writing on the wall and moved to Zen. Everyone here, to a man (or woman), knows what they are doing. Working for this lot is a dream: they know their job and they get on with it. e.g. stale sessions. Would have to send a ticket at Homecall and it might get solved in a few days (4 weeks at one point with Homecall as it has to be handed off to Tiscali). At Zen, I can find the issue myself and have it fixed while you are on the phone, 15 minutes tops whilst having a bit of light chit-chat. First-line support here is more like 2nd-line at most other ISP's.

    Pipex was a failing company which tried to buy it's way out with rapid expansion and economies of scale. i.e. go from being a premium provider to lowest cost. Zen sticks with a price-point-type policy. i.e. you pay for what you get, not that BT doesn't manage to stuff it up for you occasionally.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Its all down to OFCOM's incompetence yet again.

    "However, such agreements are typically carefully-worded so that line speed and data allowances are not guaranteed."

    Precisely why OFCOM should do the job its officers are paid to do, and start enforcing some PROPER regulation.

    If OFCOM can come out and admit that ISP's user agreements are worded so as not to be worth the paper its written on, then surely OFCOM also has a duty to ensure that said ISPs rewrite their agreements so that they DO guarantee line speed and data allowances.

    OFCOM, we're sick and tired of this nonsense. Either have the sense to realise that you're not doing the job that the country needs, or expect mass demands for all of OFCOM top brass to resign and be replaced by user-elected people who WILL do the job that users need.

  24. Calum Morrison

    I was Tiscali'd

    I arrived home from work one day to find my Tiscali broadband down. Thought nothing of it; and gave it a couple of hours but still nothing. Called Tiscali and asked them to investigate; no problems showing with your line sir - must be your end.

    Having seen similar problems before, I asked him if perhaps my password changed; he wouldn't tell me what it was on their system, only that it ended with the letter s; no it doesn't! I got him to change it and voila my BB was working again. No sir, we haven't changed your password; aye right!

    That was the final straw; after a year of low speeds and throttling. To their credit, they both texted and emailed me my MAC within a couple of hours of request. Supplied this to Be who soon had me smoothly connected at a far higher speed (9.5Mb of a claimed 24) with "unlimited" downloads for the same price. Don't know why I didn't do it sooner!

  25. Philip Cheeseman

    Hope F2S isn't too badly effected

    I've used F2S for about 4 years. Been great (reliable and cheap). However if my service does suffer I can tell you I won't be continuing with them when I move in September.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ AC

    "You get what you pay for..."

    Up to a point, Lord Copper. But giving customers substantially less than they are paying for is one of the fastest-growing business models worldwide. If you can somehow cut your costs, by whatever means, without cutting prices, most customers will stay with you through sheer inertia. The smart money (by which I mean many of our current and future billionnaires) likes this model very much indeed. Banks do it by signing up new customers with attractive offers, then quietly cutting the benefits after a few months without mentioning it. And ISPs certainly do it too. Caveat emptor!

  27. RichardB
    Paris Hilton


    now trying to log on and see why my DD has been fluctuating wildly - looks like their account pages certificate is fried... wp!

  28. Anonymous Coward

    No regulation without duress

    The Ofcom stance on this is unsurprising. I complained to them about Tiscali and they said that there is nothing they can do except note my complaint to add to their statistics, and that I should follow the Tiscali complaints procedures and seek arbitration or something as a last resort, still via Tiscali.

    The ISPA said that as Tiscali is a member of the ISPA that they would forward my complaint to Tiscali - something I had of course already done and was merely cc-ing the ISPA on.

    I suppose that these authorities therefore have no regulatory powers whatsoever unless they are pushed by a large amount of publicity - and it is only at that point that they have to justify their existence.

    My main problem with Tiscali is that their service is not only inconsistent re broadband (and as a result, the TV service) - but their Tech support (incidently, appears to be based in Glasgow) and their Customer support (appears to be based in India) have not got a clue what is going on or how to help me. In fact, their service appears to be entirely script based and of no assistance whatsoever.

    It would mean not only that this quality of broadband/TV could be the norm, but that the service and support was not their either. Not worth the 15-20 minutes on the phone on hold before I got through - not to mention the 5-10 minutes worth of listening to them reading out scripts Q and A style.

    It is like trying to navigate the menu of a chat-bot or phone menu (and the Tiscali phone menu is unclear to begin with, even before you get on hold - possibly to be told you have the wrong department and need to call again).

    The last straw came when I was told I could not cancel the TV service unless Tech support had written a note on the system to say that I was unhappy with the service, otherwise I would have to write in - hence all the letters to Tiscali, Ofcom, ISPA and OFT.

    I hope Gordon Brown has Tiscali.

  29. Mark

    "huge amount of illegal content"

    Is it? How much.

    There's a lot of spam, but that's not P2P. KP is also "content" and "illegal" but I'm pretty sure nobody posting here is hosting it.

    The porn is free or mostly, and that's a lot of bandwidth (and isn't illegal, or at least not persued as illegal by the concerned people).

    And then there's legal sharing (turning copy in the UK, canadian/sweden/etc downloads are allowed, and so on). Creative commons licensed stuff, You Tube et al. Google apps/desktop/maps/... probably have a large chunk too.

    Crysis demo is 180MB. XP service packs are ~200-300MB. Linux iso's are 2-4GB. WoW is big, as is multiplayer CoD4 et al.

    So how do you know it's a huge amount of illegal content? You haven't even checked.

  30. This post has been deleted by its author

  31. unsung rob

    @ get what you pay for

    i signed up to Nildram before they started 'shaping' the traffic. Now they've been sold to the worst ISP in town. I still pay for a package that was reasonable (when it capped but not throttled nntp access) but now is laughable.

    So no i pay through the roof for a service thats been sold and downgraded twice over in a year.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    What a coincidence

    My Pipex connection (commercial, so *theoretically* not Tiscalied) went down on Friday. 45 minutes wait for Support, who then said, "No problem here, we won't investigate further until you prove your hardware still works".

    Took my kit next door, pointed the router at neighbour's Tiscali account - worked fine. Back on phone, put through to network department, "Oh BT are doing work on your exchange, should be back tomorrow".

    And then Sunday both mine AND the neighbour's went down.

    The writing's on the's MAC time.

  33. DS

    Been with F2S for years

    When I first was with them, you could actually call Chris or Nick and solve the problem. In their early days they were fantastic. They offered good deals, static IP, and good customer care.

    A little of that was lost as they grew and various backend changes happened, Pipex bought them, and you have people who did not know or worse care what your issue was.

    They moved my static IP without consultation, and then on far too many days I would lose connection for large chunks. My router was blamed, which seems to be *the* bogyman to pick on when you don't know you ass from your elbow.

    *I* don't want to leave F2S, they *were* awesome. But looks like things are changing, and that is a shame :/

  34. Anonymous Coward

    Lost without connection!

    Well as I lost my connection on the 15th Jan during the stealth switch over and it still hasn't come back.

    Poor tech support .. bless them .. they just can't lie well! Maybe that accounts for the 30 minute wait time every time I have to chase them? Or perhaps it because Pipex have decided to use their premium support lines as their main revenue stream now!

    So time to get that MAC code and move on .. i just hope I don't get trampled in the rush!

  35. Nicholas Wright


    I've been with F2S for about 5 years now. Paid £19 a month for static IP and 2MB connection, and decent tech support. I was very pleased. I was paying more than the cheap-as-chips £10 for Internet.

    Then my line was upgraded to 8MB, for no extra cost. Oooo thank you very much F2S - I'm a really happy customer!

    So how much am I expected to pay before I can get a decent service? F2S was the ISP for the technical users who didn't require hand holding to install their DSL.

    Who should I turn to now?

  36. Anonymous Coward

    Time to move

    well looks like am going to move, Tiscali couldn't even handle 56k right back in the days of modems we where with lineone before Tiscali took it over, service went from good to crap, looks like nothing has changed for them,

    I never had a problem with F2S then few months ago i noticed my connection kept dropping out contacted F2S and they got me to check my router, etc. lucky i was able to borrow a spare ADSL modem prove it wasn't a fault at my end, in the end i gave up with them as when they said to try some another modem and router i left it a few days to see how it went and closed the support ticket so had to open another one, then they got back to me and said my profile had changed as the exchange and it seemed to be stable for a week or so then went again but the ticket was closed again before i had chance to get back to them.

    so at the moment i have to force my router to up the SNR margin to around double what what it was just to get it so they it only drops out about once a day

    and at about the same time i noticed that downloading files over HTTP seems to be capped around 100kbs, however i FTP or Newsgroup at full speed around 400-550kbs depending on what my SNR is set to. i know its them limiting my HTTP downloads and not the server am getting it from as i have my own servers i can test with so i know its not the server

    oh BTW for the people that say "you get what you pay for" Thats why we didn't go with Tiscali is first place but are now been forced to take their crap

    Hat > Coat > Now Point me in the direction of a great non Tiscalied ISP

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You get what you pay for?

    Will people please stop responding with the throwaway phrase "you get what you pay for"? I have been paying a premium for Pipex's rock-solid 2 meg fixed service, and it has been brilliant for over 4 years, really clean and fast and reliable with very low latency. I did my homework before signing up and selected this package and Pipex for those reasons.

    Now that Tiscali have taken over I immediately noticed the difference - although I had no idea Tiscali was even involved until I read it on El Reg some days later. At first I thought that it was most unlike Pipex to be down for a few hours or for the latency to have increased so much. But I put it down to a one-off and considered it pretty good out of 4 years solid service.

    The anomalies continued however, and I ultimately found out that Tiscali were involved. This weekend I was moved from the 2 meg fixed service to the adslmax service, with atrocious speeds - I am in the training period admittedly, but never requested this.

    For those who want to stay with Tiscali, give Pipex Options a call and request your MAC - I was offered the 8 meg package for under a tenner a month if I'd stay. But that's not what counts here, so I'm waiting for the MAC and am moving to new pastures.

    I was happy getting what I was paying for until Tiscali decided to barge in and give me much less than that.

  38. AnonyMouse
    Thumb Down

    Pipex Good Tiscali Bad

    Years ago I was a tiscali customer (out of mistake rather than anything else), their service was painfully bad and I resented paying them even a fraction of a penny.

    From there I migrated to Pipex and thought they were wonderful. I always had the fast end of connections, there was no apparent throttling of my usage and connections were reliable and consistent.

    Since last summer (sadly 3 months into a 12 month contract) the service has been criminally bad. I have gone a month without any connection at all (blamed on BT at first, but they wouldnt allow me to speak to BT about it, then eventually Pipex/Tiscali accepted it was something they had done), my connection rarely goes above 2MB(vs the 6mb before their "work" took place), and the connection drops out with almost routine regularity.

    As you can probably imagine, as soon as my contract term is up I am changing providers.

  39. Arathorn Lore

    A pre-emptive move

    I moved from Pipex in October (after 10 years with them). Following the Tiscali takeover the writing was well and truly on the wall. Did my reasearch, as I had done a decade earlier when Pipex was probably the best ISP around, and moved to IDNet. Their CS is outstanding and they sorted my stuck bras profile out quickly and efficiently. Can't praise 'em enough.

  40. John Munyard

    Two fingers to Pipex Customers

    I've been with Pipex for over ten years now, and currently pay what would for most people be an above average cost for unlimited 8mb service,

    Now this isn't the first time I've written this on here, but I'm STILL waiting for Tiscali to even write to me as a Pipex customer and tell me they've taken over that company, It occurs to me that isn't an expensive thing to do, and considering I'm a paying customer it is also good customer service to communicate what is very important Customer Information.

    But what concerns me further is when I read articles like this, I find it simply appalling that I have to read via a third party that the new owner (Tiscali) in fundamentally altering or downgrading my previous high speed service to save a few quid without even bothering to notify me about it. Furthermore it is even more aggravating to find this is being done even though I am paying a premium price for a premium, unlimited service and apparently being thrown in the keepnet with the economy users that Tiscali has built it's loss-making business around.

    Am I to be expected to keep stumping the current price for a capped, naff service? Are Tiscali even going to bother to write to me and tell me, or offer me the alternative of a chav-rate for the reduced service?

    If anyone from Tiscali HQ is reading this then you are on borrowed time my friends. I joined Pipex, not Tiscali, all those years ago because I wanted a premium service and was prepared to pay for it. If you bastards think you can take me and other premium Pipex users for mugs cut chopping away at the service we pay so much for you may very soon find yourself losing all that meaty Pipex Customer Base you paid so much to acquire last year.

    Start by actually writing to me and introducing yourselves and announcing the change of ownership, Then tell us how you'll guarantee the high-end service we were paying for. And you can tell us about the new Customer Service centre you've replaced the sacked Pipex one with. That's a start... it's called Customer Service and you havn't made a good showing of it so far.

  41. system

    same old same old

    Plusnet did exactly the same thing back in 2006. They eventually stopped when it started costing them money, due to the amount of customers sending solicitors letters demanding the cost of a switch back to BT, or just plain refusing to pay any bills.

    In the end, they caved and offered to not only give warning before unbundling, but also to allow account holders to lock their accounts out of any "upgrades".

    Perhaps ofcom could introduce that idea on a larger scale. An anti-MAC, so your line can not be unbundled without authorization. I wont be holding my breath for any action from them though.

  42. Steve

    Bah, unbundled.

    I got home today to find my connection has been unbundled and stolen by Tiscali. I don't do much in the way of huge downloads and it's pretty much all legitimate stuff - linux ISOs and the like. Performance now is atrocious, although it seems like it's a Tiscali web filter causing the problems - speedtest over the Tiscali line gives me <1Mbps rather than the 6+ I was getting last week, but if I VPN to the office and run it again I get around 6 still, so I have the bandwidth down...

    The two things that are not acceptable though are that the upstream bandwidth has been slashed from 448 to 288, and that the static IP that Pipex charged extra for has been thrown away without asking or warning, and now I have a dynamic Tiscali address for the same money, which is no use at all when I want to connect home.

    Sadly I renegotiated (and am presumably bound by a new 12 month contract) just before Tiscali bought them, so I have another 5 months to go. But if they think they can hold me to a penalty clause when they have crippled the connection, discarded my static IP and generally caused me a lot of inconvenience, then they have another thing coming.

  43. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Well, the rot has clearly started. It started back when Pipex got involved but obviously is progressing rapidly.

    So far this hasn't particularly affected my setup, it's unlikely my exchange will ever support LLU so that shouldn't hit me and I haven't had transfer rate problems that I've noticed.

    But I see that there's been a change ('improvement') that involves changing to the Tiscali DNS servers. Though it seems I'd only know that if I looked at the website as I don't seem to remember getting any email about it. And why exactly would I ever look at the website when I already have the product? Am I meant to wait for the DNS settings to become invalid and *then* go to find out why?

    The customer service page is interesting though, I assume the questions & answers are sorted in popularity, in which case it doesn't look good for Nildram as there's a definite slant to the popular questions; they involve cancellation & migration...

    While things remain more or less unchanged I'll be sticking around as I can live without the hassle of migration, but as & when the degradation really hits I'll be off - there's no way I'm going to continue paying a premium for a non-premium product, especially one from Tiscali.

    And I'll make sure to tell as many people as possible just how shit a formerly good ISP have become. Good luck with picking up any new customers!

  44. Andy

    Tiscali are bandits

    Their customer service reps will lie to you repeatedly; even the England-based staff further up the chain are happy to mislead you.

    Was with them last year. I cancelled my direct debit to them well before the end of the contract. They've been too inept to follow up so far; it's been 9 months.

  45. Ben Tasker Silver badge

    Having problems with Tiscali?

    There are a few easy criteria to meet, but google for CISAS I got a hundred quids compensation because Tiscali severely failed in their duty of care.

    They are Tiscalis chosen arbitrator. They are free to use and you don't have to accept their final decision.

    More importantly you will instantly get the attention of Tiscalis high level complaints department. They offered to settle with me but I carried on out of spite and came out better off.

    If anyone doubts Tiscalis customer service is crap then go to

    and search for Tiscali (its also in the disputes archive)

  46. Terry

    If you don't want to stay don't pay!

    Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations 1999

    'A contractual term which has not been individually negotiated shall be regarded as unfair if, contrary to the requirement of good faith, it causes a significant imbalance in the parties' rights and obligations arising under the contract, to the detriment of the consumer'

    Log performance before and after the transfer to LLU if you can. Tiscali can't significantly change the service provided at whim and still maintain the consumer is locked in.

    The banks and building societies tried a similar wheeze when they decided that standard variable rates (SVRs) were only for existing borrowers (and put them through the roof) yet had much lower tracker rates for new customers who were not locked in. The banks had to pay considerable compensation (I received £5.5K from Abbey). Similarly the banks decided to massively increase the redemption fees on mortgages, and despite a clause saying they could vary the charges at will, because the change was obviously unfair they have had to pay compensation again (I received £250 from Standard Life).

    So, if it seems blatantly unfair it is, and Tiscali can't force you to stay. If you are in contract and don't want to stay, don't pay!

    PS What a terrible shame that OFCOM lacks the will and consumer focus of the Financial Services Ombudsman.

  47. Andy Worth

    Re:You get what you pay for?

    To the original Anonymouse Coward in this thread, quoted from your own post - "Commen sense is all that is required here! (oh and a little research!)".

    Perhaps you should have done a little more research before posting?

    Consider that Nildram have always been a not-exactly-cheap ISP but ones who prided themselves on great customer service, low contention ratios and excellent reliability. Their customers did not go there because of price, but because they offered among the best overall service around. Oh and Nildram, certainly while I was with them, never had any bandwidth throttling. Now they are going to be bundled in with every other user, and probably still paying a premium price for it.

    So where does the "you get what you pay for" analogy work in that situation?

    Simple, it doesn't. All I can hope is that people quickly switch away from Tiscali to a point that they are put out of business. They are a poor company to deal with and you see very few people praising their customer service.

  48. Anonymous Coward

    Blame the router

    I work for a global ISP (All business in the UK, No residential but we backhaul a LOT of traffic for the UK ISP’s) and I can tell you that the first line fault diagnosis is always the customer equipment. The number of times I have been allocated a trouble ticket to go to a customer site to change a router when the IP team haven’t even tried to check the line is unbelievable. The main reason for this is that once a ticket hits your groups queue you have a set time to deal with it, if you can get it out of your queue quickly it soon becomes someone else’s problem, you have met your mean time to repair target and your boss is happy.

    In my experience unless the router is powered off or has smoke coming out of it then the problem isn’t the customer equipment. This is just one more way to hit targets without worrying about the customer "Experience"

    Oh, as an aside, want to campaign against "Unlimited" broadband then sign here:


    Pipex in 2007 only supplied advertised bandwidth during holidays

    Having been a very satisfied Pipex customer for many years through dialup to become first BB user on our BT exchange I was persuaded to sign up to the fastest service last February.

    Everything went pearshaped and, until Pipex gave up, my bandwidth never exceeded 1247kbs and averaged out at 247kbs. This was lower than my average on my previous 1000kbs service. This continued for 9 months.

    However there was one bright spot. During school & public holidays the bandwidth went up to around 4mbs only to sink immediately holidays finished.

    I was in continuous email contact with Pipex, ran all their tests, the BT engineers checked my installation many times with no negative reports.

    Although I cancelled my Direct Debit instructions immediately I had realised the service was non existent, Pipex did not give up until last October. I then switched ISP. This has given me excellent performance, although never reaching the 8mbs sales pitch, at no more cost than Pipex/Tiscali wanted to charge me.

  50. b166er

    @ AC working for Zen

    Have Zen got any plans for more LLU? Unfortunately we don't all live in Rochdale!

    When I left Zen, they asked me why, and I told them that (at the time Zen still only did 512KB) I wanted more upload bandwidth and to be LLU because I abhor BT (they sympathised). I also said that if they ever rolled out LLU where I live, I would be back without a moments consideration.

    I notice I can now get 8MB/448KB, but still have to fork BT their £11.

    Come on Zen, how about some more LLU, PLEASE! Will pay extra.

    And OFCOM/EC, how about abolishing the 'redundant phone line' ripoff?

    Yes I know that the revenue from the phone line would have to be applied to the broadband tariff to a greater or lesser degree, but really, with mobile contracts as good as they are, who needs a phone line anymore????? Should be an option, not a requirement. blah, blah, blah, emergency services, blah, blah, blah, whatever!

    (why is it that I can have a low user tariff from BT (£6 I think), but that product is incompatible with broadband?)

  51. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Mark ""huge amount of illegal content"

    Crysis demo - not p2p

    XP service packs - not p2p

    linux - not p2p

    All of the above is normal http traffic that with any isp using traffic shaping or not will all be given the same priority as normal browsing.

    But then service packs you only download each time you do a build? its not like your downing them every week? same as linux iso's if you are then prehaps a dvd burner may be a good investment.

    Online gaming - average 30mb per hour so.. lets say 2 Hours per evening 7 gays a week. thats around 2.1gig per month approx. this is not going to fall into any ISP's high usage. unless you are on somthing daft like a 2gig per month limit in which case! i fall back onto my original statment. Research!!!

    how much youtube you watching? oh and again.. normal http traffic.

    Porn? really again normal http traffic.. if you are downloading enough porn to fall into some ones fair usage or cap limit. You really need to get out and get laid for real! dont have an issue with porn! but what are you doing? hosting your own server?

    Legal sharing..

    BBC, Sky, Channel 4's broadband TV Services. agreed on this. their is a sideeffect on this. however this is down to the ISP to ensure these services work and are given a priority such as http traffic. (My isp uses traffic shaping and i have no issues with channel 4's 4OD service)

    Anything i have missed?

    Im open minded please feel free to correct me. but i have been over this time and time again with people. and the figures never add up.. ( I have checked on many occasion its my job!)

  52. Anonymous Coward

    change of contract!

    Isn't it the case that you have to be notified of a change of contract/terms? If you have nopt gotten any sort of "Hello" letter from Tiscali, informing you of your new ISPs owner and changes to the way your broadband is handled...isn't your old Pipex contract and the new one void? SO you can request a MAC and leave?

  53. b166er

    @ its my job!

    Maybe you should consider, that many people use torrents to download Crysis demos/XP SPs/linux dists etc, to reduce the burden on developers systems, I'd have thought that would be obvious if you're in the industry. Linux distributors mostly ask people to use torrents for exactly that reason.

    Also, your gaming estimate is wildly optimistic. At peak, I was playing Quake2 60+hrs/week :blushes:

    Granted, the more sensible of us would download the years worth of MS updates for XP since SP2 and have them on a network share, but many people will still reinstall XPSP2 and them initiate WindowsUpdate.

    Anyways, I'm off to use my connection however I damn well feel like and there's nothing anyone should be able to do about that. I mean, it's not like I get told I can't use my electricity to power the computer and router that I might use to download copyrighted material is it?

  54. ElFatbob

    Same profiles: my arse!...

    "Tiscali rejected concerns. "Pipex (including Nildram and F2S) was using traffic-shaping technology also, and we will be applying the same profiles they had in place prior to migration," the spokeswoman said."

    Funny how my Call Of Duty 4 online worked fine on the old Pipex profiles, but since moving to the Tiscali network (does Tiscali actually mean 'shite everything' in another language)? doesn't work AT ALL during their traffic shaping periods.

  55. NickC

    Tee-he - Saw this one coming... moved from Pipex to BT. So far so good. At least they have an 'Unlimited' offering as I had with Pipex.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    Many people do im sure, however if the torrents are slow then move to a HTTP link, that will work no problem. if you dont want to then prehaps using a better service from a more expensive provider.

    60 hours a week.. i cant cater for every one so i had to look at an average prehaps my average was a little low but im sure its not as high as 60 hours, but if we look at the numbers approx 10gig per month which should still fall below most FUP's

    How often are you rebuilding?

    Your electricity is metered you pay for what you use (or at least thats how its meant to happen! thats a whole other debate but i'll hold back on that one) Prehaps we should have a pay for what you use broadband? with guranteed no throttling, no capping and perfect pings! I'd put money on it the most high users would not touch it because all of sudden your 12.99 per month service is costing in excess of 40 quid and then some.

    Im not saying that all this throttling is good! im just saying.. if you want a service that is going to meet your demands and your demands are high then dont cheap out on it! your gonna have to pay for it

  57. ian

    loyal 2 pipex till now :-(

    My connection to pipex was off for 6 days. On average 3 calls per day to their so called technical support, average call wait time 25 mins, god help me when I get my phone bill :-( Finally re-configured my router & hey presto back online. Now evereything seems to work although seems slower except FTP & I canf for the life of me get cuteftp to sucessfully upload my web pages. This worked fine until their maintainance.

    Throughout the 6 days offline I kept complaining to both tech supp & suctomer services about my loss of service each time they smugly told me to (ha ha send then an email, or complain online!!) knowing full well I couldnt get online.

    Smug manager of customer services (or so he said he was) Adrian Anderson offered my 1 free month while stressing to me how generous this was as they are really only contratualy obliged to give me 6 free days :-)

    Personally that doesnt compensate me for 11 hours (roughly) sat on the phone, nor for my phone bill, nor for my 6 (yes 6 days) offline.

    Lets home my ebay customers are also with pipex & wont notice why my good responses to questions has recently diminished.

  58. Anonymous Coward

    Pipex are nou useless!

    Pipex migrated me to their LLU Tiscali network on the 15th of Jan and since then nothing has worked properly, I couldn't connect as they didn't tell me I needed to change my encapsulation. MSN messenger never now connects and I can't send emails using my pipex account.... I have had appalling customer service with regards to logging and correcting the fault.... they didn't seem to care or even log the fault when I phoned them on 3 occasions so now I’ve given up with Pipex/Tiscali as I don't think they will ever fix my problem. I'm going to use another ISP.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    End of an era - PIPEX R.I.P.

    I've been a PIPEX customer since the time that they started offering broadband, and their service has always been rock-solid. So solid that even up to last year, I recommended a friend to them. I didn't know they were a Tiscali unit - I myself signed up to their MAX Unlimited £24.99 service when it really was unlimited, in June 2007.

    I noticed from around the New Year that my Internet connection was flaky. After a number of tests, and a new router which I needed anyway, I've found that Tiscali are doing aggressive traffic shaping - not just throttling data going through ports but also doing protocol-based throttling, so it doesn't matter which ports you try to sneak non-standard traffic through:

    Port 23 - Telnet, 0.3Mb/s, port-wide throttling

    Port 80 - HTTP, full speed for HTTP traffic, 0.3Mb/s for other traffic

    Port 443 - Secure HTTP, full speed, encrypted of course so no sniffing, no throttling

    Port 119 - NNTP, 0.3Mb/s, port-wide throttling

    Port 563 - Secure NNTP, 0.3Mb/s, port-wide throttling

    I can only assume other ports behave the same way. I also note that port 8095 also works at full speed when used for the ThinkBroadband speed test, which only strengthens my suspicion that they are using Deep Packet Inspection, rather than just throttle-by-port.

    They've also moved their Technical Support to an 0871 number, to raise revenues. I never had this nonsense under the real PIPEX - but they are now just a label, a badge-engineered ISP.

    The sad fact is this: if you want to use the Internet for anything other than HTTP (i.e. web browsing), witness the 21 Gun Salute and Missing Man Fly-By, then get your MAC code and leave, seriously.

  60. b166er


    I've paid well for every broadband service I've had over the years.

    BT (Openreach) just haven't pulled their finger out and it's no good blaming consumers for maxing the network.

    Why even bother considering fibre to the home if we're gonna start this throttling crap?

    More and more content is gonna come online, illegal media sources will be replaced by reasonably priced media distribution models, so stop making 'illegal content' excuses for a lack of infrastructure investment.

  61. Tom Adair
    Thumb Down

    Pipex broadband? not at narrowband speeds it isnt!

    I appear to have been migrated over to the Tiscali equipment of late, first noticed it when my hostname was * instead of *, is registered by tiscali.

    At first speeds were 50% improved over my usual 512/256 speeds (usually connected at 576kbps, was then connected at 864kbps)... four hours later, they were 10% slower than they were originally (512kbps), and havent improved since.

    The final straw was this evening, when I logged on, at the blistering speed of 160kbps, barely 3 times above the venerable 56k modem thats sitting in a box in the roof. I shall be asking for my MAC as soon as I have time to call them.

  62. Slaine

    service packs, games, updates et al in download format

    @ Shame ...By b166er, and others.

    I too have suffered with tiscali. I too changed and, I too to Zen... much sincere thanks due. I am, however now venturing off to Be because the 20 gig cap is just too limiting - I'll let you know how it goes.

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sick of Pipex/Tiscali

    I want to move, I'm sick and tired of Pipex, sorry Tiscali, but why should I be forced to pay around £35 a month when I've been, up until January 4th, fine with my £25 a month with Pipex?

    I've been doing great on Pipex and it's unlimited usage, been trundling along merrily, but now... God it's so annoying. Everything I do is going to mount up, Windows updates, the odd game patch.

    Soon as my connection stabilises, if it ever does, I'm getting the Mac code and off to another ISP. Guess I'd better hope the connection stabilises before I move, don't want to take my problems with me.

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I think you may have misunderstood.

    I totally agree, the web is very media rich. which has only made it better. who would have thought 10 years ago we'd be able to pick and choose television programs to watch. listen to radio or watch stupidly funny user submitted videos on youtube?

    All i was saying was those that are high users are not really in a position to complain if the service they use is capped or throttled when they are paying very little for it. their are so many providers available with so many options you need to research and choose one that will meet your needs. It sounds to me as though that is what you have done and do. But many dont they see an advert on the TV and thats it a done deal. and they have not even looked into it or done on research.

    Their are some people on various suppliers using 200/300 gig a month in some cases more. If every customer used this sort of bandwidth on every ISP they would all go under. the costs to sustain it would be just to high. If you only have a handfull of users like this then its fine it will all ballance however this very quickly going the other way more and more users are downling more and more and again this across all ISP. Somthing has to give... or somthing has to change.

    i think the main two points are.

    Consumers need to do more research before signing on the dotted line. and ISP's need to manage customers usage better or at the very best their expectations so people can see clearly will the service suit their needs.

  65. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Tiscali/Pipex meltdown

    I had the misfortune to try and migrate whilst Tiscali were in the middle of switching me to LLU. MAC code useless. New provider couldn't help. Pipex kept telling me that I wasn't being migrated to LLU even though BT Wholesale told me I was. Oh and don't bother asking to speak to a supervisor at Pipex as they won't let you.

    To add insult to injury my BT phone line was cut off due to some botch up at the exchange when they were doing the LLU work.

    Now I have ordered a new MAC code and am told that it will take 5 days.

    Oh and of course my broadband is now very flaky.

    And how much are Tiscali making from the new 0871 'support' no?

    I hope Tiscali lose all their customers so it can't be sold.

    If I could be arsed I would set up some sort of anti-Tiscali website.

    Is this anyway to run an ISP? I'm sure even Paris could run it better.

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