Down the Docks

January 17, 2006

Trying to Get Faster Broadband

Filed under: Bad Customer Service, Internet — ealing @ 11:56 pm

With a flat-wide consensus that the Pipex service was too slow, I was put in charge of finding a new provider. After reading Stef Magdalinski’s account of Be Unlimited’s 24 Mbps service, I thought I’d give them a try.

I do not have the service yet, but things have not got off to an auspicious start. Yesterday, the first time I tried to sign up after getting a migration code from Pipex, I had three different failures. Their automated sign-up system wanted an issue number for my Natwest Maestro card, which doesn’t have one. I called their sales support line, who suggested I try an issue number of zero or one. I did, and the sign-up system failed with an unspecified error when I submitted. I was advised to try again, at which point the system told me that my username and email address were in use by another customer. At least they know what a constraint is. I was then told that there was a fault with the system, and I would be called back tomorrow.

I’m sure you can imagine my surprise that I had not been called back by four this afternoon. I called them up and tried to explain the situation to them, which got me nowhere. Eventually I was told that the only way I would be able to submit the form is if I changed my username and email address. The username change is not a great hassle, but I don’t see why I can’t have my email address back. Call me a boring old ACID stickler, but if their transaction fails, it should be rolled back. Now I will be stuck checking an email address I will use for only one purpose.

Anyway, my order was finally placed, my line has apparently been checked, and the status of my order is ‘scheduling your activation’. They haven’t mailed me yet to say how long this will take.

I now see that dozens of others have had much worse service than I have. Perhaps things will improve from here, but I am not hopeful.



  1. I’m really interested to see how you get on with these guys. I’d like the speed, but I do not like the reports of poor customer service and the low bandwidth limits and £1/gig charge. Please keep me/us updated.

    Comment by Iain Cheyne — January 18, 2006 @ 11:17 am

  2. The customer service does look bad, but on recollection, I’ve had poor service before with Pipex, Blueyonder and NTL. The available bandwidth is partly a function of line noise, so I won’t know how clean our line is until I’m connected and can test it.
    We’ve signed up for Be Unlimited, which has unmetered downloads. The Be Lite service is the one with metered downloads, which seems crazy to me – why would you want that bandwidth if yuo were hardly going to download anything?

    24 Mbps = 3MBps. With a limit of 1024 MB, you could thoretically be paying more after just 342 s (under six minutes).

    Comment by ealing — January 18, 2006 @ 11:56 am

  3. I’ve decided to go with UK Online for my new, hopefully-soon-to-be-bought flat. Although they do a 22Mbps service, I’m going to settle with ‘just’ the 8Mbps service, mainly because I can’t be bothered to buy and configure a new modem for ADSL2+.

    If you read the forums at, you’ll discover that all ISPs are complete rubbish, without exception.

    Comment by Jonathan Beeston — January 20, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

  4. I was just saying to a guy I work with, that I thought customer service was no longer a differentiator, since it had sunk to the lowest possible level in every broadband company.
    The problem is mostly first-line people and their scripts. The scripts cover only a small number of real-world problems, and are not an adequate replacement for actually understanding the problem.

    Comment by ealing — January 21, 2006 @ 2:13 am

  5. Just to add something: There’s some Interesting
    points in your articles, it’s a must read for me
    hope everybody else see’s your posts that way.

    Comment by Broadband Isp Guide — October 4, 2006 @ 8:34 am

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