Opal Talk Talk Internet and Voltage Issues – No Internet

For 3 days I have been without Internet. This is the longest I have been without Internet since I first got dial up in 1999. OK, I am writing this by tethering my mobile (Android/PdaNet) so I do have an Internet connection, just not the broadband service that I am paying Opal Talk Talk for.

So, what is the problem? On Saturday afternoon I lost the ability to access websites. That simple. My email and Skype still show a connection, although the Skype appears to keep losing and regaining the connection. Websites just load very very slowly or not at all.

On Satuday I called Opal Talk Talk (Opal is the business to business service offered by Talk Talk, it was previously Freedom2Surf) and the chap I spoke with suggested that the likely problem with an IP issue (I have a static IP address, required to access off site servers). We changed the DNS settings in both Vista and the router to the static ones Opal use, instead of using the dynamic ones. That did not work.

So he said that he would change the IP from static to dynamic and that should clear it up. At about midnight I checked the connection and rebooted the router to be sure, and the IP was updated. But still not website access.

On Sunday morning I called Opal again, after being on hold for almost 15 minutes, and was advised that the likely problem was with the router. After the Opal technical guy reset a few things, the router could no longer authenticate, so he concluded that my router was probably faulty. I bought a new router on Sunday from PC World, spending more than I would normally, but I was desperate to be online again to work on Monday (I work 7 days a week being a self employed web designer / consultant).

I installed the new Belkin (G Wireless Modem Router) on Sunday afternoon, and lo and behold, still no website access. It seemed I had wasted my money, and insulted my trusty old Netgear 834 with the additional Netgear WG602 Wireless Access Point that had treated me so well over the last 8 or so years.

I tried calling Opal and just got an answer machine (phone calls never responded to) and so sent a message to their support group (not replied to). On Sunday night I ran my antivirus software and went to bed.

Woke up on Monday, AV said all clear, so that was good to know (I use Avast! and it updates on a regular basis). Still no web access. So I then called Opal again. Monday quickly became a very stressful day.

Firstly I was on hold for about 20 minutes before finally getting through (remember, this is their business support line, so you would hope that they were a bit quicker). On this call I explained everything (again). We decided to try the DNS settings again, and no change there. The next idea was to try another computer. I said that I had done this already but the other computer was having the same problem. But the technical guy insisted, so I plugged in the laptop. Same problem. He then asked if I had a third computer to try….. well, I did, and I tried, no luck. Shocking.

The next idea (at this point I started to feel that they were clutching at straws) was that I just had too many Internet connections and this was making it slow. I had about 40 connections whereas the “norm” is about 10 to 20, apparently. This must be the problem. I said no, I have been running this PC very well on a slower connection without any problem, and reminded him that the other computer had the same problem. And yes, I had run anti-virus before calling.

His next idea was that we connect the router to the BT test socket, so he got me to go downstairs and remove the front plate of the main BT telephone point. I did that, went back the phone and had lost connection. He failed to mention that removing the front cover would disconnect the call. This got me a bit angry. I had been on the phone with him for about 40 minutes at this point. I called back. In hindsight it was a good thing as on the next call I got someone who was capable of actually diagnosing the problem rather than taking me through the same steps over and over again.

On the fourth call I got through to a new chap, and told him the whole story (again). Oh, was on hold for another 14 minutes before the call was answered. This chap was called Robert and was actually much more helpful than the first three. After talking through the whole thing for about 10 minutes, we tried the DNS settings again. Same result. We did some pinging from the command prompt, and even when pinging Google it was losing packets. We tried booting Vista up in Safemode to check if any other programs could be the problem, but the slow web remained in safemode. Robert also got me to remove the front plate of the BT box, but he was clever enough to take my mobile number first. We did this. Oh, I skipped a part.

The next phase in diagnostics was line testing. As we had determined it was not a router problem, or a DNS problem or a computer problem, then there must be a line fault. A test with the modem in the office showed that there was a “voltage issue”. As this could be an internal problem the next step was to connect direct to the BT master socket. Another test showed that the “voltage issue” was still there. Robert agreed that an engineer should now investigate on site. I had requested this initially, but they decided that I was the best person to carry out all the tests! I spent about 2 hours today messing around with it, what with the multiple calls, being on hold for almost 40 minutes in total and doing all the rebooting, restarting, unplugging modems and connecting them up downstairs in the hallway. It was 10.35am when I fished the last call I think, having first called at about 8.30am.

So, I have been assured that an engineer will visit the relay station within 48 hours and then if the problem is not fixed there, someone will come to the office to try to fix it. Although this will cost me if it turns out the problem is internal, but Robert at Opal Talk Talk does not think so because …..

Steps to Diagnose and Repair slow Internet / Web loading problem

  1. We changed the DNS settings in the computer (Control Panel\Network and Internet\Network Connections\Local Area Connection Properties\ TCP/IPv4 Properties) and on the router.
  2. We tried two different routers, different models
  3. We tried two different computers, same problem on both
  4. Ran anti-virus on main computer
  5. Confirmed no new software on the computers
  6. Tried in safe mode (so no other programs running) and still slow
  7. Tried in test socket, still slow
  8. Line test showed a “voltage issue” that was external to the property as it appeared when the router was plugged into the test socket.

So now I am waiting for an engineer to call, hopefully with some good news. But all this worries me. Why?

My Main Concerns Now

  1. I could lose a lot more work time while waiting for the repair to be done. At the moment I cannot access secure sites on my mobile connection, so cannot analyse web server logs and manage any of my advertising or webmail. All Google applications are unavailable and that includes Analytics, Adsense, Webmaster tools, Gmail, Google Docs (all my spreadsheets, daily task lists, reports).
  2. If they cannot fix the problem, which seems crazy to think, but may happen, where does that leave me? Their contract is clear, for me to cancel I need to pay a fee of £300. Great. Looking at the Opal Talk Talk contract worries me further though, as it is a 2 year contract, but to cancel after the 2nd year costs £125. How does that work? I assume it means that the contract is 2 years, but they will automatically renew it after 2 years and then still charge me £125 if I decide I was a different supplier. Hmm.
  3. What if they argue that it is my fault (again) even though Robert said that it could not be, because of all the tests done?
  4. If it takes too long my mobile supplier will start charging for excessive 3G usage. I need to upgrade some software but that will eat into my tiny 500Mb per month bandwidth.

You see, I have never received replies from any of the emails I sent via their customer service form. This is worrying. I even said that if the problem was not resolved I would cancel the contract. That should have prompted someone to respond, but it did not. Maybe they are the type of B2B company that provides a discounted service but as soon as a serious problem arises they do not have the resources or even desire to fix it. Of all the tech support people I spoke with, only 1 was actually truly helpful and listened to what I said. The others just got me to go through the same steps over and over and were reluctant to call an engineer. Maybe “not their jobs worth”?

Anyway, thank you Robert of Opal Talk Talk, lets hope the engineer fixes it, tells Opal customer services and I get that call I have been promised.

What to look for in a home / office Broadband Internet Service Provider (ISP)

All this got me thinking (and researching) about what makes a good ISP. So I have come up with a list of things to look for / ask when ordering.

  1. Is the customer support helpline operated 24/7 with people that know what they are talking about? (Talk Talk has been criticised on some forums for having excellent sales staff on call but not enough tech support).
  2. Do they have their own team of engineers that can go the the telephone exchange and do on site checks? Do they have engineers to come to your home / office and check your systems? If so, how long do you have to wait for them to come? Do they charge you extra for this?
  3. If you wish to cancel your contract because they are not providing the service you are paying for, can they still charge you £300 to cancel? Opal do, and as the telephone line works and I can receive emails (just about) then they could argue that it is only the higher speed web broadband I am not getting, so bad luck.
  4. Do they provide any compensation for loss of service? Opal Talk Talk do not, at least no more than the cost of the service itself. So 3 days without Web access will mean I could possible claim compensation of about 99p (based on the £10 per month broadband deal). Not good when you have about 30 websites to manage and clients wanting updates, reports, analytics etc.

There are probably many other things to think about, but I am exhausted from barking up the wrong tree all day and getting nowhere.

So what next? Who knows…. hopefully I will be able to comment with some good news tomorrow.

If anyone else in Great Baddow is having problems with broadband from any provider, especially from Opal, Talk Talk or Carphone Warehouse (I think they are all the same company now) then please leave a comment below. Or if you have had problems with Opal Talk Talk, with the quality of tech support or on site engineers, then speak up.

  43 comments for “Opal Talk Talk Internet and Voltage Issues – No Internet

  1. Webologist
    June 21, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    Just found this on the BT Business website (actually only visible in the Google cache):

    Service status update: Internet Connection
    Sat 19/06/2010 at 06pm Ongoing Problem in the Great Baddow area (20C)
    Dialling codes affected: 01245 (20C)
    Estimated time to resolve: 2 hours

    We’re aware of a temporary problem in the Great Baddow area that’s causing some people trouble accessing the Internet. We’re sorry if you’ve been affected. Our engineers are now working to fix the problem, and we expect to have the service back to normal in 2 hours.

    So there was a problem on Saturday. Maybe it was fixed for BT customers but something was left broken / disrupted for others?

  2. Webologist
    June 21, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    Here is another site, this time still online (or visible to non-members):
    http://aaisp-btmso.blogspot.com/search?q=great+baddow

    Saturday, June 19, 2010
    Broadband Incident Report : : GREAT BADDOW MSAN 101 & MUX 301 : LOSS OF SERVICE : Reference 17220 : Issue FINAL :

    BT Wholesale – Broadband Incident Report

    Please read the following incident report as it could have an impact on some of your end users

    BT Incident Reference: 17220 Issue : FINAL
    Detected Date: 19/06/2010 Detected Time: 17:52
    Start Date: 19/06/2010 Start Time: 17:50
    Actual Clear Date: 19/06/2010 Actual Clear Time: 18:22

    Incident Headline: : GREAT BADDOW MSAN 101 & MUX 301 : LOSS OF SERVICE

    Incident Details: Some of your Broadband End Users will have experiencied a loss of Broadband Service.

    Progress Details: Service has been restored by completing a

    Power Cycle
    This issue may have been due to
    a Power Failure

    BT regrets any inconvenience this may have caused.
    Dialling Codes Affected:
    01245

    Hmmmm, sounds like they think it is fixed.

  3. Webologist
    June 22, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    Good news, I just checked and the Internet is back. I sent a new email to customer services today, and spoke with customer services and tech support. Not heard anything back, but can only assume at the moment that the engineer has visited the telephone exchange and fixed the problem. So apart from costing me 3 days work and £40 on a new router, everything seems to be OK. Just done a speed test and reasonable speeds too:

  4. Marc Boon
    July 14, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    Doesn’t that all sound familiar – ex f2s (for years and years, never a problem, ADSLmax was max! I can almost see the exchange from where I live), convinced by salesperson to go to Opal, blinded by lesser cost and faster speeds…

    I now find myself wishing I never bothered, the promised ‘at least 12 Mbps sir!’ never materialised, 8.5 at best. Which was 5 weeks ago, ever since then it’s been up to 4 in the mornings (sometimes!) and down to 0.5 or worse after that. And I tested with multiple modems. Simply dreadful, no response to tech support emails.

    It seems they want 300 pounds to cancel the contract, which even seems like a reasonable price to me at the moment… Just want to get rid of them and advise everyone to run a mile whenever the hear of Opal, the TalkTalk ‘business’ people, pathetic.

  5. Webologist
    July 14, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I agree. For a business service it is terrible. I have never known a business service that does not reply to emails. They even promised to call me back and did not. I left a message the other day (lost connection again) and never got a reply. I was under the impression that I had to make the move from F2S to Opal as Opal took them over. Is that not the case?

  6. Marc Boon
    July 15, 2010 at 10:24 am

    Exactly the impression I had, it was going to change from f2s to Opal anyway. But it looks like f2s will just be one of the names Opal is operating under. I was thinking that day-to-day there would be very little change: same phone number, email from f2s may stop unexpectedly – as it is it still works, access to same or similar tools such as usage tracking. Phone number is the same, but no email addresses are supplied, no usage tracking page, the online billing system doesn’t work (yet, I was told).
    Since they mentioned the words ‘business broadband’ I thought that it may be more reliable than ‘residential’ broadband, what with all the TalkTalk horror stories already in existence. I’m glad I don’t run a real business…

  7. Webologist
    July 15, 2010 at 12:09 pm

    Well, I run websites for my business, so no broadband has an immediate impact on my business. Less than 2 years to go before the contract ends…..

  8. Marc Boon
    July 15, 2010 at 2:45 pm

    And even then it will cost you, check the fine print: ‘Termination after Year 2: 125’… Wonderful business practice… And we both signed for it…

  9. Webologist
    July 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    If it is a 2 year contract how can they still charge to cancel after 2 years? Best watch out for auto renewal and write a letter a month before it expires.

  10. Jim
    August 13, 2010 at 1:33 am

    I too am in web design, i moved my telphone away from Opal to BT as i had been with them for 5 years on a rolling contract but wanted to change my broadband away from freedom 2 surf because of their traffic shaping policies (an altogether other issue!)… apparently when Opal bought out ONeTel (my original supplier) they entered me into a 2 year contract without my knowledge at some point, and i was told i had to cancel on the exact date of my renewal, which they gave as March 2010, to which i waited and paid up until, but then BT moved me two weeks too early, and subsequently Opal changed the date of my renewal to June after i questioned the termination charge i has sought to avoid! (particualrly annoying as Opal at all times knew of my intention to stay with them until i was due to leave, although not happy about it).

    I should point out here that they confirmed i had been on 30day renewal up until June 2009 where they say they put an “insert” in with my paper bill telling me that they were changing my contract and it would start from the connection date. BS! I never saw it, and according to ofcom they can’t make major changes to your detriment in any event via this method, i would have to have verbally/physcially signed.

    They have sent threatening letters, debt collectos CCJ’s the lot and i have taken through the ombudsman at otelo, who have come back to me after months of deliberation and a mountain of paper work to simply say we rule in favour of Opal as we think they did all the right things, it basically looks like they’ve pandered to the telcom giant and not to the man on the street with a genuine gripe! They also say they cant comment on legal matters, so if you think you have a gripe under contract law (which it most probably will be) you’ll need to take them to court, but use a dispute with otelo to delay the debt people!

    Disgusting, be aware Talk Talk are related to Vodaphone, Car Phone Ware House, Tiscali, Freedom 2 Surf, Pipex, Opal amongst others – the old addage remains that a dodgy company needs lots of aliases to hide behind, if not why not just brand it all as one or simply leave the old profiting names in place!?

    Someone seriously needs to put Opal in their place…. currently left contemplating whether to appeal and or take them to Court.

    I’m in this idustry and i am disgusted by this company, luckily i have many clients to whom i am resposible for ADSL, so i can take the pleasure in recommending alternitives to ALL of them!

  11. Webologist
    August 13, 2010 at 1:39 am

    Shocking stuff Jim. A bizarre thing happened the other day. I was in Tesco Home and a chap asked me about my broadband, I told him I was with Opal Talk Talk, and he said “oh, you have a business line? I am here promoting Opal Talk Talk business, ha”. Or something like that. Anyway, why on Earth would a company promote business packages to shoppers in Tesco on a Monday afternoon?

    I guess I will write a letter to cancel a month before the renewal date and send email, fax and phone calls before and cancel the direct debit. Hmmmm. All sounds a bit iffy.

  12. Paul
    September 24, 2010 at 4:29 am

    Hi there Opal victims.

    I’m on Nildram. It was taken over by Tiscali who sold-out to Carphone Warehouse a.k.a. Talk-Talk who transferred us to their Opal ISP.

    It is impossible to use VOIP between about 19:00 to 22:00 daily because the service on my static line dies. When I complain the morons at Opal haven’t a clue and it shows. Oh, by the way I’m a business user now suffering from a non-continuous ADSL service.

    At 04:00 this morning everything even Google is s…………………….l……………….o…………….w it makes me angry.

    My primary purpose in writing is to tell you my understanding of England law. If your contract is not 100% fit for purpose no one can demand £300 cancellation or any cancellation fees because they broke the contract by not providing you with a fit for purpose service. If you signed a contract allowing the ISP to provide you with a sub-standard contract, the Unfair Terms in Contracts Regulations (or whatever it is called) will cancel that unfair term in your contract. Your ISP knows this but are unlikely to tell you.

    Looking at Dutch web sites and seeing the unbelievable download rates (censored here in case it gives you a heart attack) England is lagging behind in ADSL speeds and Quantity of Service.

    Please do not tolerate crap. Complain and if necessary go elsewhere for your now essential ADSL connections. I’m look at Zen with 8 free IPs.

    Nildram was always great. It started to deteriorate when Tiscali got it. Opal’s take over is the dregs.

  13. Webologist
    September 24, 2010 at 9:03 am

    So annoying when we consumers get tied into a poor service.

    I have now learnt that if anyone on a phone ever says “you will have to agree to a 2 year contract” then that is the time to change service provider. If someone is providing a good service they do not need to force you into a long term contract.

  14. Webologist
    September 24, 2010 at 9:04 am

    Another thing, I live very close to the exchange. Next time there is a problem I will wander around to the exchange first and see if there is a BT Openreach van there. That is a better indication about if a problem is being fixed than speaking to my ISP.

  15. Angie
    October 7, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    I too am having Opal Talk Talk nightmare’s. We originally signed up a 2 year Business phone/broadband contract with Talk Talk over 3 years ago. At some point this has migrated to Opal. We have been without our broadband service for 2 weeks now and this is having a major effect on our business. We lost our DSL signal after a storm and Opal claim it is with BT Open Reach and they are investigating. I have asked for an update this week… have received nothing. Our other BT line went down on Monday and BT had it sorted within 24 hours. I have tried to cancel our contract as this isn’t the first time we have been without broadband for days on end, but we are also been told that we have automatically rolled over into a new 2 year contract as we didn’t cancel when our contract was up 1.5 years ago. I am going to contact Ofcom and trading standards as I can’t understand how this is legal, we haven’t even signed anything, Opal told me its a verbal contract between us and them and its in their terms and conditions!! A friend of mine had this same contract issue with an electricity company, they went to trading standards who contacted the company for them. Trading standards advised that they could not assume a contract renewal and this was not a legally binding contract.
    Has anyone else had this contract renewal problem and have they managed to get it sorted??

  16. Webologist
    October 7, 2010 at 9:01 pm

    Is it just me, or our consumer rights slowly being eroded in this country? I am sure things used to be simpler. A company can change your contract based on a vague telephone conversation only, not provide any terms and conditions, and sting you for hundreds of pounds should you choose to leave them.

    You story explains how Talk Talk manage to still charge a leaving fee 3 years into a 2 year contract – they automatically renew your contract for you! What happens if you just do not want Internet anymore? You have to cancel 6 months before the current contract ends? This cannot be legal and is certainly not fair.

  17. Jim
    October 7, 2010 at 10:12 pm

    Now taking the ombudsman to appeal, they said “It was my responsibility to check the terms of the contract (which I never have seen or been told about as I was a “buy out” customer from previous telecoms provider and hence just became a customer without signing a contract).
    They said Opal/Talk Talk had sent them the contract as part of the items sent to look into my complaint.
    My appeal asks “Why then did they not send me this contract when I requested it before my leaving (to BT) date so that I could do what you suggest (i.e. check the contract before leaving).

    I’ll keep you all posted….. if we could get some people together to form a single compaint on the basis of unfair contract terms or unscrupulous selling tactics/customer services then maybe we could make a dent on watch dog or group complaint to ofcom to make them sit up and take action…

  18. Angie
    October 7, 2010 at 10:20 pm

    I agree, its just a joke and I cannot understand how this can be legally binding… its an assumed contract and surely they cannot bind us to this on an assumption that we want to tie ourselves into another 2 year contract. I will contact Trading Standards and post my findings hopefully to help others in this situation. The most frustrating thing is we aren’t even getting the service we are paying for. As a business ourselves… if we charged a customer for something we couldn’t actaully provide, we couldn’t and wouldn’t charge them for it, nor could we get away with it. This is the problem with these big companies, you can’t actually get through to anyone who has any power or control to understand and be able to do anything about it.

  19. Webologist
    October 7, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    When my service failed (for a few days) I did speak with one of their client service people who said that if the problem persists I could cancel on those grounds, i.e. lack of service. But the service came back before I had that option.

    Ask the speak the floor manager / technical manager, as from what I recall they are the ones that can decide if you can cancel or not. The service team just toe company line and provide no real assistance at all.

  20. Angie
    October 7, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    I am happy to get involved if it helps, I have already contacted watchdog tonight via the website, so maybe you guys could do the same. I am sick of the service they provide and the fact they are still charging us and binding us to a contract we haven’t even agreed to… Oh and did I mention that it took Talk Talk 12 weeks to set up our initial broadband service when we first signed up!! I should have got out at the 2 year stage but things had been running smoothly and to be honest the service is ok and reasonably priced when it works, its when you get a problem that they just can’t sort it out. I will contact trading standards tomorrow and post any further advice then and I will try and get hold of a floor manager to cancel.
    I have been given advice from a friend that if they aren’t providing the service contracted, then they are in breach of their contract and we should have the right to terminate.

  21. Jim
    October 8, 2010 at 12:20 am

    I gave up talking and decided I should make a paper trail… but it seems that even this, when used to complain to the ombudsman, is simply not proof enough against what feels like a company with fingers in too many pies (what im trying to say is it feels like the ombudsman are coluding with opal, which wouldn’t suprise me as the two major ombudsman are funded by the telecommunications companies and their address is very nearby Opal HQ). I should point out i didn’t even have broadband with Opal, they just had my line and calls from when they bought out OneTel 5 years back, to be honest if I had a client for 5 years that was given to me on a plate i wouldn’t be bitter and try and charge them if they wanted to try another company. Incentivise them maybe but not charge them if i don’t like their decision, its a free country…. oh wait is it?
    I’ll give the watchdog site a go again, last time i tried it din’t work…. I was rather hoping too many complaints about Opal were being posted….

  22. Webologist
    October 8, 2010 at 12:31 am

    It is Watchdog night on the tele, so maybe their website will quieten down by tomorrow.

  23. Paul
    October 8, 2010 at 3:45 am

    Angie and everyone else,

    1. I am not a lawyer.

    2. If your service provider fails to provide a fit for purpose service then you can cancel the contract. Obviously from a legal perspective it would be reasonable for you to notify the service provider of their failure IN WRITING (and keep a copy – email and fax constitutes ‘writing’ for legal purposes), state how their service failure is adversely affecting you and then give them a few days (5 max ?) to restore the service to fit for purpose service.

    3. If the service provider fails to restore their service to your satisfaction, give them a second notice in writing again specifying the problem, the impact of their inadequate service on you and give several days to improve their service.

    4. Don’t be rude or nasty to the service provider – just be calm, articulate and firm.

    5. If the service is still bad ask for a MAC and transfer to another ISP. If the service provider refuses to give you a MAC then send a recorded delivery letter to their registered office (find it via http://www.companieshouse.gov.uk) insisting they give you the MAC and saying it is not received within a reasonable time you will sue them in tort for breech of contract and seek punitive and aggravated damages.

    6. If still no MAC then pay the transfer charges and move to the new ISP. Then write again to the old supplier’s registered office asking for a refund of all expenditure you incurred because of their failure to provide a fit for purpose service. When they don’t pay repeat twice then issue a Small Claim in your local County Court for the total bill including Small Claims cost of about £30. They won’t appear in court and you will get a judgement in default. Even if they appear in court they have no case to answer so you will still get all your money back.

    7. Don’t let bullies get away with lying to you that, in the event of poor service, you have to pay a fee to cancel the contract. They either don’t know the law, or don’t care or are professional crooks. YOU HAVE A LEGAL RIGHT TO A GOOD SERVICE because that is what you are paying for.

    Regards,

    Paul.

  24. Angie
    October 8, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    Hi Folks
    I have contacted Trading Standards today who have advised the following: As a business we have a trade to trade contract with all of our service providers and therefore we don’t have the same consumer rights as we would as an individual. As I don’t have the original terms and conditions from when we intitailly took the Talk Talk contract, I have no proof of the terms we signed up to and therfore we are bound by the terms & conditons in the Opal contract. If it states in the terms & conditions that they can renew our contract if we don’t advise we wish to cancel it, then they can do so. I also enquired about been able to cancel on the basis that they weren’t providing the service we were paying for. Again they advised this also would need to be in the terms & conditions to hold water. Without access to the internet, the lady I spoke to at TS offered to have a quick look at Opals T&C’s for me. She advised that the rolling contract was in their T&C’s and as I didn’t have the original Talk Talk T&C’s, we really have no choice but to accept this. She also advised their terms regarding breach of contract: these stated that Opal could terminate with us if we were in breach, but there was nothing to advise the terms if Opal were in breach of contract. She advised she had only had a quick look and I would need to read through to see if there was anything more on this but it was really a grey area when its not in the contract. Needless to say an Engineer from BT Open Reach turned up this afternoon and fixed the problem!! So I don’t have this route to follow now anyway!! I guess I am just thankful that we have broadband again!! We will just have to sit tight until April when we can finally cancel and move to a providor who can sort the problems out when they occur. But it does just seem as though our rights are slowly been taken away from us in favour of these big companies. Thanks to everyone for all the help and advise and good luck with the villains!!

  25. Webologist
    October 8, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    Hi Angie, that is exactly what happened to me. Opal were totally clueless about the loss of Internet, I actually went and bought a new router at their advice, while all the time there was a known issue (a fire) mentioned on the BT website. Opal just do not bother investigating loss of Internet, probably because they know they have us by the balls in these stupid business contracts.

  26. Anne Bennett
    February 14, 2011 at 9:05 pm

    I too have has dreadful service from Opal/Talk Talk. Ive had a contract with F2s for my Broadband for several years and in the main it has worked well. At the end November 2010 my broadband stopped working. When I phoned F2s they informed me that it was because the debit card I used for my direct debit payment for my broadband has expired. I of course had a new card but F2s had never requested that I informed them of the new expiry date and had just disconnected my broadband for not paying the monthly fee. I explained that I woild like it reconnected and I was put through to a very pushy Opal sales person who advised me that I would get a faster and cheaper service if I moved to Opal which he explained was taking over F2s. I agreed to this but cancelled the ordre the next day as I was furious with F2s and didnt basically trust Opal to deliver a decent service.
    Since then I received lots of mail from Opal about my Business Account. I contacted them (after a long wait on the phone) to request they didnt send me any more mail They agreed to this
    Last week I received a bill from Opal for outstanding fees for Broadband for December and January which I ignored as I had been disconected.
    Today I received a phonecall from Talk Talk to say that Im due them payment for broadband services for November, December and January and that because I didnt cancel my broadband sub with them I would have to pay it or they will be sending Debt collectors around to my house.
    Cant believe that this company can be so incompetent. The right arm doesnt know what the left arm is doing. Beware -dont use this company!

  27. Webologist
    February 14, 2011 at 9:11 pm

    So both Talk Talk and Opal are billing you for broadband for the same period? That should be very easy for them to resolve as they are the same company, surely?

  28. Webologist
    February 14, 2011 at 9:20 pm

    I actually had another problem last week, with a lost connection. Internet was down for a few hours in total, and once again I was told the the problem was most likely a hardware fault, and was told to buy new filters. I refused. The Internet has now been working fine since. The filter is relatively new anyway.

    It seems that whenever there is an Internet problem the first suggestion is for the customer to buy new hardware in the hope that it fixes it. I am already £40 out of pocket, and almost spent more last week on new filters.

    Starting to reconsider this as an option. Maybe those Sky packages are the way to go…. or BT.

  29. Jim
    February 14, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    FYI i am on my second appeal with the ombudsman against the termination fees for a contract that i have never had the chance to see or entered verbally or in person.
    Just seems a shame it has to take so long, i predict talk talk / opal will most likely crumble sometime in the next 12 months, free braodband may have been sustainable in boom times, but they’re gonna have to raise prices and people are going to start noticing and the contract issues are going to become huge.

    I beleive this has already happened, infact, as the ombudsman, who have 10 weeks to redress a complaint or appeal have now sent two letters saying they are sorry that it is taking so long, it makes me think they are so bogged down with complaints and the legalities of it all that it will be months if not years until I now get a decision.

  30. Paul
    February 15, 2011 at 2:01 am

    Once I was with Nildram – professional operation based in Aylesbury, Bucks. Then it was sold to Pipex. Then Pipex was sold to Tiscali. Now Tiscali’s British ISP and telephones interests have been sold to the Carphone Warehouse alias Talk Talk who transferred everything to their subsidiary Opal in Manchester.

    Since 1st February 2011 my service is operating under the ‘Talk Talk Business’ brand but I would never ever run a business like they do.

    About 3 weeks ago, at about 17:10 on a weekday the Internet went down but ADSL remained active. The fault lasted for 6 hours. It affected Opal/Talk Talk who were unable to log-in to their customer database hosted by IBM (in Scotland?).

    I could access some sites but not others. For example I could reach a web site but not another just 1 digit different. I think there was a Opal problem with a router dropping some bits.

    No one at Opal had a clue. The ‘support’ claimed the ‘expert support’ (apparently that is another department) has not responded to their internal emails for several hours.

    It seemed to me that Opal was being run by a bunch of inexperienced kids who lacked any genuine technical skills. Being a very experienced expert in dealing with this type of failure I had to wait hour after hour while people who didn’t have a clue about computer systems and just didn’t know what to do – neither to determine the point of failure nor to measure the scope of that failure.

    The Talk Talk press office (young dolly birds speaking with refined accents) were not bothered and no comment was ever forthcoming for publication.

    The Talk Talk switchboard was manned by a bloke from a sub-contractor who wasn’t connecting calls to anyone who didn’t know the name of the person they wanted to speak too. Because of the Internet failure I couldn’t log-on to Companies House web site and download for £1 the names of the directors.

    The next day ‘support’ knew NOTHING about the previous evenings 6 hour long breakdown.

    Opal Talk Talk Business seems a disorganised mess.

    To add insult to injury, I was updating files on a remote server at about 00:15 when the Internet went down again. I complained to ‘support’ who told me there was major changes to the core network. When I asked why Opal Talk Talk Business (OTT) did not email its customers notifying then of the planned 5 hour long cut in a 24 hours a day service, I was told it was NOT company policy.

    After recovering from that ghastly event I was happily working on a server problem, whilst listening to soothing Beethoven and thinking I should have fixed this in just another few minutes. I was feeling good and was pleased I had quickly identified the problem and my solution would fix everything.

    DOWN goes the Opal Talk Talk Business continuous Internet service available non-stop 24 hours a day. Really angry I rang ‘support’ and eventually got directed, without any intervention from me, to the Meridian Voice Mail System which asked me to enter a voice mail box.

    Not impressed by the OTT service, I redialled support again and after about 17 minutes got the Meridian Voice Mail Service again. I still didn’t know the voice mail box number so I swore several times. My blood pressure went up and being tenacious I tried to call support again.

    Third time lucky. I eventually got through to support only to be told there was another 5 to 6 hour black out because of ‘massive work on the core network’.

    I abandoned the server problem and when to bed.

    BT are installing fibre to premises (FTTP) and fibre to local green cabinets (FTTC). In my area the go-live date is July 2011. My present speeds are 600 up and 2400 down. BT’s fibre is offering for about another £10 a month 6800 up and something very impress … down.

    I can not tell you what that speed is because I can’t reach the BT Fusion line tester site. OTT has cut-off my ******* Internet again. Its 00:30 and I have subscribed on the Nildram web site to ALL the relevant notifications but NEVER received any notification. They are really ******* *****. Please excuse my anger and annoyance.

    I am willing testify as a witness that OTT are crap; have absolutely no concern for their customers and offer a sub-standard service.

    Support – thankfully my phone service is NOT run by OTT – don’t know what the problem is.
    My Thomson 585v7 has 4 greens, including one marked Broadband, and 1 red/unlit LED marked Internet. Support seem helpful. I guess they know how absolutely delighted I am with the latest ‘5 star’ service from OTT.

    20 minutes later and the service is back. Support said there was ‘an outage window of 20 minutes for network testing’. Despite being on the mailing list for notifications I received no emails.

    I’m waiting, increasingly desperately, for BT’s fibre to arrive. All I need is one or two static IPs and a 24 hours a day service. Is that too much to ask when in Holland the speeds are super fast and costs reasonable ???

    Paul.

  31. Webologist
    February 15, 2011 at 9:30 am

    Thanks for sharing that Paul, must have taken a while to type out on a phone! I dread what would happen if I experienced a prolonged outage while updating one of my sites. Opal sell business broadband and yet do not seem to realise that Internet businesses need 24 hour connections.

    The first outage that I experience was on the day I was due to start a new contract (the only contract I had actually) which required constant connection, very embarrassing for a new business trying to win some work.

    Also I still do not understand that strange terms for cancellation. Seems I have to pay £300 in the first 2 years, but even after that they can still keep up held in? Baffled about that. Waiting for a reply from customer services at the moment, I simply asked when my contract expires and what are the terms for cancelling sooner, and asked for confirmation that when the “2 year contract” is up the service will cease. No response.

  32. February 19, 2011 at 12:03 pm

    Hello all,

    Just thought I would share my experience regarding Opal which has now recently changed back to Talk Talk business.

    I too am a web designer who currently employs 7 staff and totally rely on our “business” broadband service. I woke up on Friday morning with my usual routine reaching for my Iphone and checking my emails only to find that unusually I had not received and through the night. Anyway as I had to travel quite a way for a meeting I went straight from home instead of going to the office first.

    I received a call from one of my designers saying that our broadband was not working which explained why I was without mail as we run an Exchange server in our offices. I asked my colleague to call Talk Talk Business and report the fault. He did just that and after waiting for around 20 mins on the phone got through to support who initially said everything checked out fine on the line test and that it must be a fault with our equipment. Fair enough we also do IT services so have spare routers on the shelf so proceeded to replace the equipment only to find that we still had the issue which was showing the error username and password rejected by your ISP provider. After many calls to Talk Talk support and my entire team sitting with nothing to do we were told that there may be a fault on the exchange. By this time it was after lunch and now work had been done in the office and we had the embarassing situation where we had to explain to our customers that we were unable to provide support to them as we had no email, FTP access and could not even access web pages. Whats more our IT engineer was unable to access the server by VPN and thus unable to download the files required to complete an installation he was working on.

    I spoke to my colleague again and asked him to push for time when the service was resumed and what we should do regarding compensation for loss of business. Immediately the tone changed from their support person saying that Talk Talks terms regaring outages are purely to cover loss of service and that they are not responsible for loss of business. The person then added “I’m not been funny but if you are a web design company and you rely that much on your broadband service the don’t you think you should have a second line to fall back on if one fails”

    I immediately called them as I was now fuming and concerned about the impact this was having on our business. After the usual wait to get through I spoke to another support guy and explained my concerns. I explained what the previous support person had said and that I thought his comments were ridiculous and that the fact that if I rely on my car for my business which I do then should I buy another one and have it sitting beside it on the off chance that 1 might not start in the morning? His response was that the previous support person should not have made the comments and that sometimes they can be tackless. We then proceeded to change passwords and the usual tests we had done previously only to be told that there was probably still a fault at the exchange. We were told we would be updated by text if the fault was rectified. I explained that I needed to know roughly when it would likely to be on as we would have to work the weekend to make up the lost time. This again would cost my business as overtime would then bneed to be paid.

    Saturday morning; no emails means no connection in the office. I called tham again and got through to another support guy who checked the status and said there had not been any updates as yet. I then did my own research and checked the BT exchange status for our exchange which had all green ticks stating that there were no current issues. I called Talk Talk again and got the same guy this time who said there was no updates. I explained my findings that there were no issues reported on our exchange and to add to the mystery another business that shares the same offices gets their broadband from the same exchange and their connection was fine. I then started suspecting that maybe I was not been told the truth. I asked if I could have the contact number for their bt centre so I could speak to an engineer. Tone changed again and I was told that they would not speak to me as I was not a BT customer and that my contact was with Talk Talk and their contact was with BT. I then said that basically if if had an outage again I would be better having BT as a provider as I could speak to them directly and perhaps get the issue solved quicker. I said I was not happy and that I was considering changing to BT as I could not rely on their service (happened many times with 1 outage lasting over a month and nearly costed me my business :-(

    Tone changed again and I was then getting a default response read from a hymn sheet that they did have up to 7 days to resolve any issues causing broadband outage. OUCH! this would definately cause unrepairable damage to our business reputation.

    So there you go; I’m still sitting here with no VPN to the office; no emails and basically out of business until the service that I am paying for is resumed.

    And yes we are looking to move providers and will make sure we steer clear of anything related to Talk Talk including Opal, Pipex, Tiscali or whatever they decide to call themselves.

    Oh and by the way I WILL make sure I let every business I know what they are likely to expect when dealing with such a company especially if your business depends on it.

    This is the first post of many as I have lots of time on my hands at the moment :-)

  33. Jim
    February 19, 2011 at 9:09 pm

    Not sure if i mentioned earlier, but I had a freelance friend who is contracted out as a network admin. He had to spend some time on the Talk Talk system as top level support, basically he was filling in for another guy while he was on his hols as an outsider.
    Any way he confirmed what i had suspected, which is that Talk Talks network is a shambles, and the top level router/firewall failover wasn’t configured with the same info as the primary and so any fault or bad change would affect masses of network nodes and therefore customers.

    He brought this up while he was there (all of one week!) and they said they took the view if it isn’t broken we don’t touch it.
    He was also taksed to do some cabling tracing, and when he asked his talk talk counterparts where each port led no-one onsite seemed to know!

    Anyway, Darrell, I sympathise with you greatly, as I run a similar business. If i were you i’d spend your time looking at their terms and finding a way to end their contract without getting stung!

    I spent some time looking for companies that dont traffic shape/manage and that are still independants and now use Zen, they are a little pricey and have usage Caps, but because of the downturn i think reduced cost and free broadband providers are all going to start faultering somewhere along the line because there just isnt the revenue to support the service as well as provide it! (and in some cases even provide it!!)

  34. Paul
    February 23, 2011 at 3:17 am

    Everyone knows the Carphone Warehouse’s Talk Talk Opal operation is lacking in technical expertise. Obviously the directors’ dash for cash has blinded them to alien concepts like quality, perfection and technical competence. Never mind about the customers who usually get a sub-standard service. The company presented their latest example yesterday.

    An email server sent-out, presumably, an email to alert the Opal Talk Talk (OTT) subscriber to a new monthly invoice.

    The OTT mail server was operating on IP address 213.246.179.50. That IP address has a DNS A record named emailfilter2.opalbilling.co.uk – so what, you think, it looks normal.

    When the TTO mail server contacted one of my mail servers to deliver the Opal email, the Opal service announced its identity as “mail.vartec.co.uk”.

    My mail server, keen to avoid junk, spam and all the other crap, did a look-up (using the Linux Bind command ‘host’) of “mail.vartec.co.uk” and got an authoritative answer that the IP address of “mail.vartec.co.uk” was 217.68.129.200.

    My mail server, Exim from Cambridge University, is clever enough to know that IP address 213.246.179.50 is definitely not the same as IP address 217.68.129.200, so very politely my mail server refused to accept the suspicious email. My mail server even pointed-out the error to OTT but will OTT ever read their rejection logs? Probably they don’t know what an error log looks like.

    Subsequently enquiries reveal Vartec.co.uk is registered to:-

    Vartec Telecom Europe Ltd
    (Company number: 3565511)
    1st Floor Belgrave House
    No.1 Greyfriars
    Northampton
    Northamptonshire
    NN1 2TT
    United Kingdom

    and that IP address 217.68.129.200 is registered to

    VarTec Telecom UK Limited
    Regent House
    2 Muirfield Crescent
    London
    E14 9SZ
    +44 207 001 9084

    Once again Opal Talk Talk or, more accurately, Car Phone Warehouse’s off-shoot OTT, confirms it has not got a clue how to run anything to do with the Internet.

    Regards,

    Paul.

  35. Paul
    March 18, 2011 at 4:29 pm

    After a few weeks of 24 hours a day continuous broadband from Talk Talk Business Broadband, alias Opal formerly Tiscali formerly Nildram, the clowns were keen to reassure me they are still capable of cutting-off customers without warning.

    At the beginning of this week at about the now familiar time of 00:15, down went the Internet whilst, on the Thomson 585 router, the ADSL LED continued to glow brightly green.

    I rang Technical Support. The man claimed there was no work in my area. Talk Talk was completely ‘innocent’ he claimed. He could not explain why the ADSL LED was on and the Internet LED off.

    It was was my fault the TalkTalk man said. If I was doing “mission critical work” I should have gotten another telephone line and a second Internet subscription from a different ISP.

    Broadband is never a continuous service he repeatedly declared before repeating his “mission critical work” assertion with a strong emphasise on me, the customer, being to blame for the TalkTalk network being down.

    At times like these it is difficult to argue with such a dogmatic person. He gave me a 7 digit reference number. Two hours later it was still down so I went to bed cursing TalkTalk because all the phones, except one, were also down (VOIP/SIP).

    About 3 days later TalkTalk called me back quoting the 7 digit reference number. I wonder what the problem was, I thought, as I dialled 0800-298 2981.

    TalkTalk, Opal’s, 0800 number was not very responsive. Despite being told to press 2, the system refused to accept any DTMF input (tones) until it had laborious announced all the available long-winded options. Obviously TalkTalk was living up to its name, TalkTalking its callers to sleep.

    The TalkTalk Business Broadband technical support was …. em ….. em …..er …. “different”.

    The man said TalkTalk had carried out a thorough investigation and had decided it was my fault for turning-off my router when I pack-up for the night.

    I explained that when the TalkTalk service stopped (Internet LED off; ADSL LED on) my router had actually been ON – powered by electricity – otherwise none of the LEDs would have illuminated.

    He could not answer that. Instead he said TalkTalk were certain the outage had been caused by me turning-off my router every night.

    TalkTalk’s technical support could not understand that when I am using my Internet connected computer (a solid and very reliable Linux system) everything is on.

    Only when I finish for the night do I power-down everything.

    Golly, why do TalkTalk employ computer morons? So the directors can make a bigger profit because genuinely competent people cost more than the minimum wage?

    I’m waiting for TTFC – BT’s Fibre to the Cabinet – to arrive in July then switching.

    In the meantime I now have unlimited broadband on 3, plus 7,000 minutes a month all for £25. My broadband dongle plugs into my small portable hub (Ebay about £20) and the wifi and ethernet cable can connect to my internal network. Just have to discover how to alter the default gateway on my network away from TalkTalk, when it breaks down, to use the 3 alternative.

    Best regards,

    Paul.

  36. Webologist
    March 18, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    Whenever I have lost Internet connection and called Talk Talk, they have said either:
    1. I need to replace my router, it must be broken
    2. I need to replace the filter, it must be broken
    3. I could have a virus or a problem with the firewall blocking my connection

    Also Paul, that is not the first time someone has said that they were told they should have a 2nd backup line.

    I have now sent 2 messages to Talk Talk customer services, and they have ignored both. I will probably have to get legal advice before the year is out about cancelling my contract, or at least going elsewhere when, and if, it ever expires.

  37. webologist, on molbile
    March 23, 2011 at 1:22 am

    Well, it is 12.15am on 23rd March 2011 and my Talk Talk Business broadband has gone offline again. No doubt if I call I will be told to replace the filter, then the router, then run AV for1 hour, then reboot before being told that they cannot send an engineer. Will see if there is a status update from BT about the local exchange.

  38. Paul
    March 23, 2011 at 1:49 am

    To Webologist,

    Your Opal / TalkTalk Business Broadband ‘service’ is likely to be down for several hours, perhaps as long as 5 hours.

    TalkTalk’s dreaded and dreadful disconnections always start at 00:15 hours :-(

    Best regards,

    Paul.

  39. Rob
    November 16, 2011 at 10:15 am

    I switched from AOL to TalkTalk a year ago and had intermittent trouble connecting to the internet. Talk talk support blamed my computer, which was running windows vista, as my TV, smart phone and netbook connected fine.
    In the end, after trying all recommended fixes, I replaced the shitty little Talk Talk router with my older Netgear AOL router. Since then I have had no problems at all. Try changing your router!! Talk Talk should not be sending out routers that do not work properly with all systems.

  40. Webologist
    November 16, 2011 at 10:21 am

    Talk Talk technical advice have told me to change my router on several occasions. The first time I did and it made no difference, the Internet came back later with no explanation from Talk Talk. They also told me to change my filters. I’ll never forget the time that the engineer called me on my landline and then gave me instructions to remove the front plate of my main telephone point and pull something out – needless to say, the line broke.

    Every single time I have lost Internet it has been due to an external problem with their lines, or BT lines, and every single time I have called the blame has been put on to me. Get a new router, a new filter, a new computer, a new house etc. etc. Once there was a fire at the local telephone exchange, they did not know about it. I saw a BT Open Reach engineer in the village one day and started chatting to him. He mentioned that sometimes ISPs “fiddle” with the settings to see if they can improve performance without updating hardware, and this sometimes causes more problems!

    Maybe they are all just as bad. Although in the 5 or so years I was with Freedom2Surf I had no problems, and was assured when I transferred over that the service would be the same, if not better! Happy days.

    Touch wood … not had any problems for a while.

  41. Alan Brown
    March 12, 2012 at 3:35 am

    TalkTalk are thoroughly unprofessional in nearly every aspect of my dealings with them but the alternatives are almost all as bad.

    @Rob: FYI, AOL sold all UK operations to Opal Telecom some years ago. Opal/CPW/TalkTalk setup a “AOL Europe” in Lichenstein to obscure this. but when you check the connectivity of AOL users they’re always assigned IP addresses in the same ranges as TalkTalk cdomestic users.

    As all my problems with them seem to boil down to bad line cards and/or poor copper loop (latest diagnosis is “water in cable joints”, which as a former telco engineer(*) I know is a major problem on old infrastructure) – neither of which will improve if I switch ISP.

    I’m waiting for FTTC to be rolled out on the basis that if that doesn’t fix the issue then it’s time ot jump ship entirely and try Virgin, etc (but I hear as many bad stories about them as any other ISP and the fact that they’ve had 72 hours downtime on my prime employer’s 1Gb/s circuit in the last week doesn’t make me confident in them.)

    (*) “Engineer” = with a degree. Not a white-van driving cable monkey.

  42. April 4, 2014 at 10:54 am

    TalkTalk get so much bad press, but they really do offer one of the most comprehensive services compared to sky or virgin, at a fraction of the price! This just confirms that even more!

  43. Webologist
    April 4, 2014 at 10:56 am

    BOOLOCKS

    My two years with Talk Talk were the worst two years of Internet I have had since 1999 when I bought my first computer.

    Freeserve on dialup was better.

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