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Talk Talk makes it to Watchdog
Thursday 05 October 2006 13:39:00 by Andrew Ferguson

Nicky Campbell of BBC Watchdog has paid a visit to Talk Talk headquarters to talk with Charles Dunstone about the complaints that the show has been receiving since Talk Talk launched its current offer in April 2006. A synopsis of the coverage can be read on the Watchdog website.

Mr Dunstone stated that half a million have already signed up to the packages that include a free broadband component, previously figures of 476,000 customers in September 2006 and 340,000 in June 2006 have been mentioned. This does not mean Talk Talk has half a million broadband customers online yet, since some are waiting for their activation date.

The solution to the problems appears to be enlarge the amount of call centre staff that Talk Talk employ and as promised in previous press articles Charles Dunstone says they are employing more and more staff, with the aim that anyone calling Talk Talk will get through to a human not an automated voice. While we applaud Mr Dunstone with his assertion that 'I got it wrong', not all the issues we see mentioned on our forums and via email would appear to be solvable by increasing the number of call centre staff alone. Some issues appear more fundamental to the operation of the service, broadband is meant to be relatively reliable and not have a high percentage of customers needing to call support.

Talk Talk is advertising its service as an up to 8 Mega bits per second service, and while it does say 'We will give you the fastest broadband connection that's available to you and your maximum speed will depend on your local BT exchange and how close to that exchange you live', this does mean that at present until the LLU service is available on your exchange you will be connected via a fixed line speed product at 0.5Mbps, 1Mbps or 2Mbps. The company may avoid some support calls if it were to explain clearly at the time of sign-up, that a customer would connect at say 1Mbps until perhaps April 2007 when their specific exchange was due for unbundling. As yet Talk Talk has not deployed the ADSL Max (rate adaptive) products, and its support staff tell users they are in negotiation with BT about using it. Given that ADSL Max has been a live BT Wholesale product now since April 2006 and has probably well over half a million users it seems odd for Talk Talk to be still holding back on meeting its up to 8Mbps claim.

We wish Talk Talk the best of luck with its quest to change the UK broadband market, but feel while it can be said a free broadband service offers unparalleled value for money, the old adage of you get what you pay for may still be the case. Some Talk Talk users are finding the 10p per minute support and £2 support call surcharge can mount up, and make a free service not look so free.

For those Talk Talk customers not happy with the level of service from the company The Register has an interesting article. It would appear the company is relaxing its grip on the contract for those where performance has not been up to standard.


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