Friday, August 22, 2008

ISP: It’s a Shitty Provider!

As you might know I’ve recently hinted (rather vocally, to be honest), that I’ve been having some, erm, ‘issues’ with my broadband connection.

Please allow me to vent.

When I bought Sparky Towers several years ago, one of the most unusual aspects of my property of choice (aside from the previous occupant’s massively wafty attempts at interior decorating) was the fact that it didn’t have a television ariel. To be honest, I actually didn’t notice this little fact until after I’d bought the place, but it’s not like it would’ve been a deal-breaker, so no big deal. That being the case, when I came to get my broadband package I ended up going with a company called Homechoice because they offered broadband, phone, and cable TV for a very reasonable figure per month.

And for nearly three years I’ve been very happy with the service.

Earlier this year, however, I decided that I didn’t need the TV part of the package anymore, due to the fact that about two years ago I finally got around to having an aerial put up. Good times. This, along with with the realisation that I could save a bit of cash each month if I went to a simpler package, led me to begin thinking about changing my ISP.

Now, about the same time I had my aerial put up Homechoice was taken over by Tiscali, and as everything had remained groovy after the takeover, I thought it would make sense to stick with Tiscali - mainly because they offer a broadband and phone package that would cut my ISP costs in half. Yes, I said IN. HALF.


So on June 14 I phoned up and ordered the service. Everything was hunky-dory, and the only action I needed to take was to get in touch with Homechoice to get a MAC migration code, although I did think this was a bit of an odd thing to do because they are basically the same company; still, easy enough, I figured. Um, yeeeeeeeah…

My first warning sign came when I phoned Homechoice. The representative there kept trying to get me to upgrade my TV package, despite me constantly telling him that I no longer used the TV part of the package, and that I wanted to remain a Tiscali customer, but just with phone and broadband. He then outright lied to me by telling me that a MAC code would not work when trying to move from Homechoice to Tiscali because I was “already on the system.” I responded by telling him that I’d take my business to a different provider if it was going to be a problem. The MAC code was then only supplied to me when I requested it in writing.

Despite that, I just thought I’d had to deal with some eager new guy trying to prove himself in the cut-throat world of ISP wrangling, and everything would be plain sailing after that.

Over the course of the next few weeks I actually kinda forgot about the fact that I’d ordered a new broadband service, although I will admit that every now and then I did wonder where my free wireless router was (mainly because I really wanted to try out the new app that lets you use your iPhone as a remote control for your iTunes library). And then on August 2, well over a month and a half after I’d arranged to set up the Tiscali service (during which time I had heard nothing from your company) I received a letter from Tiscali informing me that the MAC code I had supplied had expired - because they’d done nothing with it. I phoned the customer services department to have a little whinge about this, at which point I was told that the £30 set-up fee would be waived as a gesture of good will, and that my service would be rushed through once I sent them another MAC code. So I emailed Homechoice, managed to get another code relatively painlessly, and forwarded it on to Tiscali.

And then I waited.

And then last weekend my Homechoice router stopped working and I was left without broadband, a home phoneline, or the cable TV service that I no longer watch. Figuring, somewhat naively you might think, that I was on the cusp of finally receiving my free wireless router and moving over to Tiscali’s super-awesome bargain broadband package, I decided that there was no point in getting in touch with Homechoice to moan about this. I did, however, call Tiscali just to check on the status of my order.

And this is where I shall quote a paragraph from the three-page letter I sent to Tiscali’s head office just the other day:

“In the course of one hour (at which point I should have actually been working) your inept staff passed me from department to department, during which time I had to keep repeating exactly what had happened, as well as repeating my account details. Eventually I discovered my line was “due to be provisioned on August 13,” at which point I told your representative that that was six days ago, which surprised her somewhat. My request to find out why I’d not been contacted about this when there was clearly a problem was not answered. In addition, the note about the set-up fee being waived was not attached to my file and it’s clear I would have been charged this.
To add insult to injury, after being put through to your technical support department to ask where my router was (apparently your ‘account’ staff can’t help with this) and explaining once again how long I’ve been waiting, the technical support representative hung up on me.”

(I’d like to add that while I was on the phone to Tiscali’s various departments while standing outside the office, a little cat which sometimes visits us at work, which I’ve named KitKat because it’s so tiny, was rubbing round my legs. During a particularly heated moment in the conversation, I felt something on my leg, and looked down to find KitKat standing on her hind legs with her front paws wrapped around my knee, beschnuffling her face against me like she was giving me a hug. It was very sweet, and it genuinely seemed like she was trying to get me to calm down and cheer up. And before anyone says it, she was most definitely not humping my leg because there was no thrusting motion, so there)

Incandescent with rage at having the phone put down on my I returned to my desk and seethed for the rest of the morning.

Several hours later at lunchti- oh bugger it, let’s just have another excerpt from my letter:

“Several hours later during my lunch hour I called Tiscali again. Once again I was passed between departments. I eventually asked if I could speak to a supervisor, but this request was turned down.

By this time I decided that if Tiscali can show such utter incompetence before I’m actually a paying customer, I really don’t want to be tied to a 12 month contract with you, so I asked one of your representatives to cancel my order. She, of course, could not do this and needed to put me through to – you guessed it! – another department. This turned out not to be another department, however, merely a pre-recorded message telling me that I needed to call a completely different telephone number (why your member of staff could not have just given me this phone number in the first place I don’t know, but having realised how stupid Tiscali’s staff are I really shouldn’t have been surprised).

I subsequently called this number and for once actually got through to just one person who could actually help me without palming me off onto anther inept person/department.”

So there we have it. I’m currently in broadband limbo. The Homechoice router bursts into life sporadically before going down quicker than Demi Moore in that saucy movie she made a few years back, the little blue light on the front turning red and flickering out of existence like Arnie’s eye at the end of Terminator after his head’s been smashed to smithereens.

But there’s a light at the end of the tunnel! On the very same day I ranted massively at Tiscali and cancelled my order with them I made the snap decision to order a broadband package from O2 (a very reasonably-priced package I hasten to add, sweetened by the fact that I’m an iPhone-owning O2 customer already). Within two hours of placing my order I’d had more contact from them than I’d had in two months from Tiscali. And in the days since they’ve sent me several more emails and texts updating me on the status of my order, giving me the option of which day I want my spiffy-looking wireless router to be delivered, and letting me know which day everything will go live. OK, so it’s going to cost a couple of quid more per month than the Tiscali package I wanted, but so far they’ve been *amazing* and if this is the sort of service a couple of quid more will get me than I ain’t gonna complain.

And Tiscali? Well, I’ve not heard the last from them…

In the days SINCE I cancelled my order, they’ve actually started bothering to respond to the emails that I sent days ago. Not very coherent emails, though. Here’s some choice quotes:

“As you are aware that, already your issue has been escalated to our service engineers under case Reference Number ************** and we are doing our utmost to resolve it in a timely manner. In this case, I request you to bear with us till the issue is been resolved.”


“However, I would like to inform you that your case has already been escalated to our concerned department with highest priority and work is still under progress, it also seems that we would provide you with the resolution at the earliest.”


One of my particular favourites was thIs one…

“I have checked my records and found that you have sent us two e-mails for the same query and we have responded to all your questions in the previous e-mail with reference number **************. In this case, I am changing the status of this email as resolved.”

…which seems to suggest that a) they answered all my questions/rants to my satisfaction (um, no), and b) that there’s not a problem anyway, and everyone has to wait two months for them not to supply a shitty service (um, yes, think they probably do by the sounds of things!).

Anyway, having realised that the arse clearly doesn’t know what the elbow’s doing, and at least two of their emails AFTER my order cancellation hint that they think they’re still going to supply me with a service at some point, I also very quickly cancelled the direct debit I’d set up with them so the incompetent bastards can’t try to take any of my money.

So in conclusion, my broadband is still up shit creek without a paddle, or indeed anything resembling a boat, until next Thursday, when salvation is scheduled to arrive in the messianic form of O2. I’m doing my best to keep up to date with all your blogs and comments and Facebook (and writing all my latest posts offline, then quickly pasting them into blogger) when a window of broadband-based opportunity presents itself (or, of course, via iPhone), but things are rather hit-and-miss.

Till then - here’s some fun key words for eager Google fans to pick up!

• How shit are Tiscali?
• Tiscali are shit.
• Is Tiscali broadband any good? (no).
• Should I get Tiscali broadband (no).
• Tiscali customer services are rubbish (yes).
• Where can I write to Tiscali’s head office to complain (20 Broadwick Street, London W1F 8HT)
• I hate Tiscali (join the club).

(further rants by fellow irate Tiscali customers can be found here; praise for O2 broadband can be found here)


Dinah said...

That suuuucks. I'm happy there's a light at the end for you, but I hate unhelpful companies.

I do love, though, that you felt compelled to clarify that the cat was not humping your leg. You do know your audience!

CyberPete said...

Tiscali operates in Denmark too. A few of my friends and colleagues have been dealing with them with similar success. I think they are called Cybercity now though.

As the corp I work for have a deal with them to supply internet for us with payment through out paycheque before tax.

I decided against that because I have a great relationship with my supplier YouSee. Cybercity has a VIP service you call which is ok apparently but the people who work there are still dumb as a door.

I hope. O2 delivers but they sound good. With my feeling towards cats I would probably have kicked it if the phone call was that bad

Tim said...

Dinah - It suuuucks massively. It's just taken me about 10 minutes to get online now, and I expect the connection to die any minute now!

Cyberpete - The people who work at Tiscali ARE dumb. I want to glove slap them all.

What's with the hating at cats?!

CyberPete said...

I'm allergic so that may have something to do with it. Plus my evil brother and his ex wife Le Bitch used to have one. It clawed my fingers once. I was not happy.

Other than that, I don't know. Cats are so unpredictable.

Tara said...

Dang, what an infuriating experience! I hope that O2 continues to be a much better service for you. And that the light at the end of the tunnel doesn't blink intermittently like bad broadband, but is a solid light.

Down with Tiscali. No more. What incompetent bastards.

Tim said...

Cyberpete - I think an allergy is a good reason to not want to get near cats ... But kicking it? C'mon, show some love -it was trying to make me feel better!

Tara - Down with tiscali indeed! The revolution starts here!!

CyberPete said...

That's your side of the story.

Maybe what it really was doing was positioning itself to cough up worms on your fabulous work trousers. You never know with cats.

I'm the same way with pidgeons too. They are disgusting and I'm scared of flying creatures so it's a defence mechanism. Cats aren't disgusting and I'm not afraid of them. It's just that they could also carry some hideously disgusting disease or hairballs.

But yeah kicking a cat wouldn't be kool. I admit it. I'd probably just move away before it got too close.

Tim said...

I like the way you think I have fabulous work trousers, when in fact all I wear is jeans!

Dinah said...

I also wear jeans to work. It's wonderful!

CyberPete said...

I suppose I should expect that from a Trekkie

I still can't get over the fact that you are a trekkie! You seem so normal (and by normal I don't mean boring and ordinary, it's more like sane).

Tim said...

Dinah - damn right it is, although I still want to do a dress-up Friday...

Cyberpete - I don't know what to say ... Um, sorry? What did you think I do?

Inexplicable DeVice said...

I think CyberPetra thinks you hang around half-clothed for my entertainment.

Which you should do, of course.

Oh, and thanks for the inspiration (not the half-clothed thing, the birthday thing).

CyberPete said...

Don't be sorry. It's very kool!

It was just news to me. A bit like IDV being gay and all..

I thought you would be working at some smarty pants media something rather company designing ads and stuff. Why, I have no idea.

CyberPete said...

Oh, and as IDV said, or almost.

A go-go boy at night.

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Oh, CyberPetra - What a delightful image I have in my head now. Go-go Tim will keep me go-go-going for the rest of the week!

CyberPete said...

tell me about it!

Of course he teamed up with Bingowings. You know it!

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Ha! That's only in your dreams!!

Cyberpete - you mean like a superhero? Genius media-type by day, hot dancer by night? I could fight crime with my fresh moves!!

CyberPete said...

As long as you do it in nothing but a thong, I'm all for it

Tim said...

As unique a costume as that would be, I don't think it would do much to hide my secret identity.

Or my modesty.

CyberPete said...

Who cares about hiding your modesty.

We can allow you one of Robins (from Batman and Robin) masks

Or maybe just put on a pair of glasses like Clark Kent?

T-Bird said...

I'm going to just comment on the adorable image of KitKat smooching your leg. She's not a stray, is she?

Tim said...

Cyberpete - A mask? Oh I suppose that makes it all the more, erm, acceptable...

T-Bird - Nope, she's not a stray - she lives just over the road and often comes to visit. She's tiny and so adorable - she used to be out playing in the street when she was a kitten and she's not much bigger now!

Inexplicable DeVice said...

Ooh, yes! Wear Robin's mask - But remember to put your guy-liner on first!


watch*paint*dry said...

Spit in the general direction of Tiscali! They once tried to charge me for a repair to a router that their techy broke while trying to install it.

Sounds very similar to my dealings with Vodafone. Idiots!

T-Bird said...

You should totally kitkat nap her. Seriously. She sounds adorable and snuggly!

CyberPete said...

Exactly! Look at what IDV suggests.

I'm very supportive of that.

Tim said...

Inexplicable Device - Guy liner? Do I have to? I thought my eyes were bottomless pits to my soul without artificially enhancing them. I'd feel so shallow.

Watch*Paint*Dry - I damn well do! Ptt! Spit on them and Vodafone! Pttt, pttt!

T-Bird - I don't know… she's a feisty little bugger - I think I'd be kissing goodbye to my sofa if I welcomed her in…

Cyberpete - Are you two in cahoots?

BEAST said...

Yikes!! your being perved by both IVD and Cyberpoof now(both of whom would probably ruin your sofa ).
A pox on Tiscali ,O2 seem to be good