back to article Brits complained a bit less about connectivity when they were allowed to go outside and see people in the flesh

TalkTalk has once again topped UK communications regulator Ofcom's complaint charts. Ofcom has collated whinges from consumers about landline, fixed broadband, pay-monthly mobile and pay-TV services. The figures the regulator publishes are relative to the size of a provider's customer base and its latest set of numbers make …

  1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    It's not talktalk's network that's the problem - we have about 50 customers all using talktalk's wholesale network with pretty much zero problems that can be attributed to TalkTalk. It's all to do with OpenWretch and their appalling network of corroding copper and aluminium, and their terrible record at actually fixing problems. How your ISP deals with them is what you see, and if TalkTalk retail don't manage them and customer expectations properly (which they don't), they'll appear to be worse than the other ISPs. It doesn't help that their customer service staff are really quite poor in general.

    But OpenRetch really do set these companies up for failure. Case in point: we have a client who is reasonably far from the street cabinet and can only get about 30Mbps / 5Mbps service. Every few weeks, the line goes through a phase of going up and down, which is no good for the client because they use VoIP. The fault indicator says there's either a high resistance fault or water ingress to something. Openreach come out, don't find a fault, charge BT wholesale, who charge TalkTalk wholesale, who charge our upstream provide, who charge us. We pay, and then we argue with them six months later for a refund, which we never get.

    OpenWretch never fix the actual line problem the right way when they do occasionally find a fault - they just patch the problem. A few weeks later, same thing happens again.

    Earlier this month we tried to order a second line for this client. Openreach turn up 4 hours late, start the job, and then run out of time. They won't continue the next day or anything obvious like that - the job needs a) re-appointing and b) paying for a re-appoint (which we need to argue about when we see the invoice and pay).

    The whole thing is designed for Openreach's convenience, not the end user. Their job scheduling stinks, and all the customer sees is their provider being bad. Presumably Openreach do a better job if they know it's BT...

    1. ShadowSystems

      At AnthonyHegedus, re: constant outages.

      Keep a log of every single time the service cuts out, with date+time stamp & duration of the outage. When contacting the company to do the repair work, add that fact to the log along with the date+time stamp of all the details WRT the service call. Log when they say they will show up, when they actually show up, the length of time they actually spend "fixing" things, if they actually fixed the issue or simply left it unresolved & requiring another service call, et al. Log *everything* about every issue you (the customer that calls you) have with the service & the (non) fixes provided.

      Then, when it comes time to talk about a bill you theoreticly owe, bring up the log & point out that you may pay for $X level of service but are obviously only getting $Y. Include a copy of the log up to that point with every email you send them so they can see that you are not only recording the level of (dis)service you are getting, but that you can also provide that data to a lawyer if it comes to legal blows. If they threaten reprisals for your "bad attitude", you can counter with a lawsuit shot broadside to remind them of your rights.

      A paper trail is almost always your best friend. The more accurate you maintain it, the more issues noted in depth, breadth, & scope, the more it will bolster your case when/if you have to take matters to court.

      I've lost count of the number of times my log of similar events about my ISP of the time has helped me get out of "early termination fees". You can't charge me ETF if you've failed to uphold your end of the contract. If I'm paying for 99.99% uptime & you can barely manage (checks notes) 67.89% instead, you won't stand up for a nanosecond in court trying to defend yourself to a judge.

      TL;DR: Keep accurate logs, they can save your ass.

    2. Claverhouse Silver badge

      The fault indicator says there's either a high resistance fault or water ingress to something.


      Earlier this year, my Vodafone broadband, which is usually around 50 Mbps went to around 12; chap came around and said water damage from the top of the nearest link ( in a road about 100 yards away ).

      I did wonder if they couldn't afford to place a little perspex cap over each link...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        There is no Perspex Cap, there is a joint with 200 wires that are crimped that has let water in. An HR fault can be in a joint or in the customers premises, I have had that fault when the customers cat has repeatedly sprayed the socket. But of course its an OR fault, how could the customer know the cat was spraying ?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      As an ex OR engineer I cannot begin to explain how wide of the mark you are. As an engineer I was reliant on the information supplied by the CP about the fault and reliant on the CP to assist with SNR resets etc. TT were notorious for heavy use of overseas call centre staff who didnt actually know what they were talking about. If you were lucky they would pass you over to a UK based member of staff, who generally were very efficient and knowledgeable and could provide assistance. As to OR doing a better job for BT, 10-15 years ago it was exactly the opposite, OLO jobs were bumped up the queue to make sure that there was no accusations of bias. Nowadays BT is just another CP and treated exactly the same as all others.Before you start bitching about OR might I suggest you book a couple of weeks leave and spend that time out in the field with a CSE and see for yourself how difficult the job is. Nah its easier to sit behind a keyboard bitching.

  2. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse


    Playing devils advocate a little... I only have the bare bones basic VM broadband, and whilst also being at home working full time - I can't remember a single outage or issue with them over the last 18 months.

    Vodaphone however obviously decided that the best way to retain a customer was to sneakily keep raising the cost of my business mobile package to an almost eye watering amount; for again, what is a very basic package. I've now happily left them for much cheaper pastures new, and their regular mewing "customer special" marketing emails are almost too pathetic to read. Perhaps they should have thought about that before I left. Wankers.

    1. Evil Scot

      Re: Oh...

      Same here. But, my PiHole needed a rebuild and I had to go outside for my DNS. Then I noticed Virgin are not as good as BT at DNS management.

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Oh...

        My Piholes talk to Cloudflare over DoH, so completely avoid BT/Plusnet's DNS.

    2. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Oh...

      It would be interesting to see the split of VM customer complaints by the infrastructure, VM's cable versus Openreach lines.

      I'm on VM cable and <touch wood> it has been stable and reliable for almost two decades (blueyonder when I signed up), with only occasional issues and they are usually fixed in a few hours (couple of days the time to modem died).

      Just to add, I put my VM 'router' in to modem mode and have my own OpenWRT router using another DNS, might be a factor as well!

      1. PhoenixKebab

        Re: Oh...

        VM cable user here for last 6 years when I moved to this address. Choice was VM (any of their offerings up to 200Mb/s at the time) or "BT/Openreach" (offered up to 2mb/s and could not even guarantee that).

        VM is mostly reliable except for the occasional area-wide problem that always coincides with brief power-cuts to a nearby town. I guess the power-cuts are knocking out some VM equipment until it can reset after a few minutes.

        I've also just had free upgrade as I also have an O2 mobile contract and VM/O2 have partnered up. Double the data allowance on my mobile and the broadband has been upgraded to the next speed up. The download speed does not really matter, but the faster uploads help.

  3. adam 40 Silver badge

    Free Broadband

    Just moved from Virgin-on-the-ridiculous (as their outages were getting too much and fan-out in the village means I only got 50% of the bandwidth I was paying for)

    My old BT line was reactvated by Now TV, as I signed up with them. This line had a preexisting fault* (line break in one conductor) so broadband was at about 20Mbps and no voice.

    So I got free broadband until they fixed it, and 6 months off my bill for the inconvenience when they eventually did fix it.

    Now I will pay under half what I did for Beardy's Necker Island fund, and get better speeds.

    * P.S. the reason I moved from PlusNet to Virgin was that they wanted £150 to fix the old fault. In their line. Screw that for a game of soldiers!

  4. Shalghar

    Same error, different causes

    While i am not connected in England, i also have encountered several seemingly identical downtimes with a multitude of real causes to them.

    First big one was two weeks downtime until Telekom finally acknowledged (after exchanging router and modem twice) that one of their outsourced technicians should have a look at the cable. It was a corroded cable on the outside of our house.

    Second big one was a failure of the siemens whateverblackbox in the switchbox around 117 meters down the road. The funny thing is that Telekom "support" always does a line reset and a remote "measuring" and the text i got from that callcenter individual was exactly the same as with the cable issue.

    Third big one was somethig serverside, so immense that, again "measurement" showed the same result while traceroute had some other opinion about the real cause.

    My last issue was while upgrading to better bandwidth on VDSL. Before the switch i was told (in a Telekom shop, no less) that my actual telekom issued router would be able to cope. After the switch, reality stepped in to show me that it could not.

    It took them a week to do a check up on the now huawei hardware in the switchbox down the street. According to the technician, two wires were connected falsely.

    So i got faster internet now ? Nope, intermittent with strange errors.

    After several talks with real people and "support" i bought a telekom router again which bricked after the mandatory firmware update. Not really outstanding when hardware from your provider does not work. Suspiciously, the login page of that "smart 3" router showed the identification of a teledat w700, something out of the "DSL is the new thing" era. Says a lot about their code quality.

    So its a fritzbox now and all those strange issues have vanished for now.

    In each case the fictitional "line reset" and "line measuring" gave the same results. Not surprisingly always a "it must be on your end".

    Long story short: unless you learn of the real cause of your problems, dont believe a single word from your priovider.

    At least its better than vodafone, letting a whole street full of customers without any connection for 2 months. Their issue was lack of parts to repair that streets switchbox. To mitigate the flooding of complaints, they put their "support" line on a pay per call mode, officially to "suppress prank calls".

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