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Last Updated: Wednesday, 23 August 2006, 06:00 GMT 07:00 UK
Battling with broadband
Breakfast's Susanna Reid
Susanna found Talk Talk's helpline unreliable
The internet market has become fiercely competitive recently, with deals for high speed internet access becoming cheaper all the time.

Carphone Warehouse really shook things up when they offered free broadband, for customers signing up to a phone package. But how easy is it to get connected?

Broadband gives customers faster internet access and the ability to download music and films.

There's now an overwhelming range of offers, deals and free services from various providers.

But as Breakfast presenter Susanna Reid found out when she signed up for Talk Talk, the service operated by the Carphone Warehouse, getting connected can sometimes be a test of nerve.

Today on Breakfast, our business reporter, Susannah Streeter investigates some of the stories that you told us about, after yesterday's programme

Susannah reported that we've had almost 1,000 emails in to the Breakfast office.

Your emails have been complaining not just about Talk Talk, but other service providers including BT and AOL.

Susannah followed up the story of one Breakfast viewer, Alex Philpot.

Alex told a familiar tale of woe with trying to install her Talk Talk package - and the lack of service available from their helpline.

Alexandra Philpot
Talk Talk customer Alexandra Philpot - her case is being investigated by the company

Talk Talk, which is run by the Carphone Warehouse gave Breakfast a statement yesterday, but so far their chief executive has been unavailable.

However, Talk Talk have asked Breakfast to pass on some of the emails to them, which we will do.

And they've promised to look into Alex Philpot's case.

What should customers do?

Susannah got advice from Which? They say that you should:

  • Complain to the company involved
  • Keep a record of your complaints - copies of letters and notes of phone call conversations
  • After 12 weeks you can complain to the two industry bodies, OTELO and CISAS - links to their websites are on the right hand side of the page
  • Which? say it's important not to cancel your direct debit with a company once you have signed a contract, however tempting that may be as you could then face legal action.
  • More about Broadband

  • If you want to find out more about broadband, and what you can do with it please follow the link to the BBC's Action Network site to the right of this page
  • If you are thinking of subscribing to a broadband service, you should seek advice and shop around for the service that best suits your needs
  • Susanna's story

    It all began when Susanna signed up for Talk Talk's free broadband service.

    The package costs her 20 per month and included line rental, national and international calls, plus free broadband.

    She's had no problem making calls, but experienced difficulties when installing broadband.

    It should have been easy - just insert the CD, connect and go.

    But Susanna couldn't get connected to Talk Talk's broadband service. So she called the helpline.

    She kept getting cut-off from the free Talk Talk helpline so she tried the broadband technical helpline which costs 10 pence per minute.

    Susanna still couldn't get connected so she called in a computer expert and got the service up and running.

    But the problems continued. Susanna found that the service often would not connect and frequently drops out while surfing the net and the problems with the helpline goes on.

    Not just Talk Talk

    Surfing the internet for blogs, Susanna found she wasn't alone, and the problems are not just with Talk Talk.

    Declan spoke to Carphone Warehouse Chief Executive Charles Dunstone on 6 June 2006, shortly after his company's Talk Talk service was launched.

    He said 340,000 people had signed up to Talk Talk's broadband offer, but it was "double what we'd anticipated".

    He added that it had caused some issues as the service and call centre tried to cope with twice as many subscribers.

    Mr Dunstone said his company was doing everything to improve service - but it would take four weeks to recruit and train new call centre staff.

    Back in June, Mr Dunstone also commented on the new service on his Talk Talk blog page, dedicated to the his company's broadband service.

    He said his staff were working "tirelessly to deal with the much greater than anticipated volume".

  • You can read Mr Dunstone's blog, from June via the first link to the right of this page.

    Talk Talk's statement

    Talk Talk gave Breakfast this statement about some of the problems Susanna had experienced:

    Since Talk Talk pioneered free broadband in April demand has been above and beyond even our own expectations with 476,000 applications by the end of July. Our focus has therefore been to add extra capacity to call centres to cope with the high number of customers switching to our services and we are confident that the changes we have implemented are having a noticeable effect.

    We have been mindful of getting the balance right between the fastest possible recruitment and making sure people are fully trained in our call centres. All customers signing-up for free broadband are informed of the waiting time and the date when they will go 'live' and in many cases customers have been activated ahead of this date.

    We are committed to ensuring that our customers make a smooth and timely transition to free broadband.

    Have you had problems with any broadband service? e-mail us your stories now

    Your E-mail address
    Where you live

    The BBC may edit your comments and not all emails will be published. Your comments may be published on any BBC media worldwide.

    Susanna Reid reports on Talk Talk

    Susannah Streeter follows up your stories

    BBC Breakfast



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