CONSUMER: Southsea pensioner'˜s five-week battle with TalkTalk over broken broadband promises
When Graham Dean decided to move just yards up the corridor in the same Southsea retirement flats, the last thing he thought about was ongoing access to his TV home entertainment and broadband package.
For many years the 70-year-old pensioner had been satisfied with his TalkTalk service, so saw no reason to switch to another provider when he settled into his new adjacent home.
But Graham’s loyalty was about to be tested to destruction when it came to the mid- May go-live day and he was left with a blank screen and no internet connection.
After a five-week battle to get him up and running the former quantity surveyor was disgusted and at his wits’ end with the firm when countless promises to call him back to restore his service were routinely broken and his protests ignored.
He’d stuck with them through thick and thin, even when it was disclosed the firm’s subscriber database had been hacked into by fraudsters enabling them to pose as security staff, and attempt to drain their bank accounts.
‘It all started when the new order was placed,’ explained Graham. ‘I got in touch and they said that no engineer would be necessary, which I thought was a bit strange, but I took their word for it.
‘Then when it came to the day it was suddenly realised an engineer was required because I needed a junction set up between broadband, TV and phone.
‘When I first phoned them up an engineer from BT Openreach actually arrived the following day. He looked over the system and put a master socket in with the adaptor for the broadband and phone.
‘As he was leaving he said all would be okay and just to wait a few hours for TalkTalk to do the necessary at their end.
‘The next day when it was still not working I phoned them up about it. The engineer tried to help me fix it over the phone but couldn’t do it. He promised someone would ring me back within 72 hours, but no one ever did.’
Graham diligently waited the obligatory three days before ringing a second time to try to get his service fixed,
He indicated it was an ongoing problem, and ended up at a call centre in the Philippines who carried out another unsuccessful online check.
Again he was told that within 72 hours he would be called back and the problem sorted.
However to his exasperation he found himself having to ring the same call centre again when another three days later the promised call-back never came.
When he phoned a third time, he was told to switch the router off, wait a few hours, turn it back on again and it would all be sorted.
Confident he was getting somewhere at last, he carried out the instruction to the letter.
But a furious Graham found himself going around in every decreasing circles and back in the very same situation when the promise came to nothing.
With days slipping into weeks, the row rumbled on. Graham got increasingly hot under the collar after advance fee bills started to arrive for the abortive service and having to ring call centres complaining about their shambolic customer service.
A habitual early riser, what he missed most was access to email and the catch up TV feature enabling him to watch his favourite late evening programmes at his leisure the following day.
Driven to distraction with the ‘don’t call us, we’ll call you’ routine, he reluctantly felt compelled to try one final time, only to end up back at square one.
By chance, not knowing which way to turn, he mentioned the ongoing TalkTalk nightmare to a retired nurse friend who promptly suggested calling in Streetwise.
What we found inexplicable was not just the shoddy way he’d been treated but the complete failure to get to grips with the installation problems.
When we got onto the firm’s top boss, and insisted Graham’s customer service experience was totally unacceptable, TalkTalk reacted with commendable promptness.
In a positive about turn an engineer rang Graham and diagnosed a router problem and arranged to send a replacement.
When that still didn’t restore his service to full working order it was decided to send him a new set top box to fix a potential incompatibility problem.
Graham waited anxiously for the box to arrive. When it finally turned up he set about swapping it over and to his relief, almost six weeks into his move, the system was fully operational again.
He was also impressed when a company executive phoned him personally to apologise and make amends.
By way of compensation his current £57.05 bill was re-credited to his account and as a good will gesture a further credit of £32.50 was agreed to cover his July subscription.
To Graham’s delight he was also given an updated version of the firm’s desktop TV box at no extra charge.
A TalkTalk spokesperson said: ‘We’d like to thank Mr Dean for his patience while we carried out an investigation into his broadband connection, which is now working to his satisfaction. We’ve provided Mr Dean with compensation, as well as a goodwill gesture for any inconvenience caused.’
Graham said: ‘I was just so relieved to be at the end of the long winding road.
‘If you hadn’t got involved I dread to think where I’d be now.
‘All I could do is keep trying and it might have been months before it was sorted.
I’m so grateful to Streetwise. ‘Thanks a million for your help’