back to article TalkTalk customers decide to StayStay after £3m in free upgrades

TalkTalk's profits plunged by 56 per cent during 2016 to a mere £14m, but chief exec Dido Harding claimed the company "bounced back strongly in the final quarter". That quarter was certainly unusual. The firm recorded its lowest ever churn in Q4 despite experiencing a massive data breach just seven months ago. The fall in …

  1. Ye Gads

    If Only...

    I could push

    "There has never been a clearer space for a trusted value champion and our learnings from and experience since the cyber attack have helped to focus our plans for the year ahead"

    through Google Translator ("marketing gibberish" to "English"). I suspect I'd get the following:

    "People don't seem to care or understand about security and have short memories. We've given some people a bung to stay with us and now it's business as usual. I'm looking forward to my bonus."

    And what the heck does "our learnings" mean, anyway?

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Re: If Only...

      And what the heck does "our learnings" mean, anyway?

      I think it means "I failed my SAT, but because I'm a greedy fuckwit with no regard for ethics I'll do OK"

    2. VinceH

      Re: If Only...

      ""People don't seem to care or understand about security and have short memories. "

      ^This.

      It's not just existing TalkTalk customers, either. Despite the hack being significant enough to have made mainstream news, I know of a few people who have since signed up with them.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: If Only...

      One word translation: Bollocks

    4. Frumious Bandersnatch Silver badge

      Re: If Only...

      And what the heck does "our learnings" mean, anyway?

      It is an Internet Servings Providings company, after all.

      (and no, just because gerunding (oo-er, missis) verbs can be done, it doesn't mean you should)

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: If Only...

      And what the heck does "our learnings" mean, anyway?

      Probably that they can get away with f*ckall for security and still make a profit. Possibly more if they fire the IT Security types.

      Since most customers everywhere only care about "price"... well... they too get what they pay for.

  2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    You can fool some of the people all the time.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      And we call this group of the population "TalkTalk customers"

      1. streaky Silver badge

        And we call this group of the population "TalkTalk customers"

        Yep. If you put up with the service (connection quality and customer) before the breach it's not exactly a huge shock that you'd stick around if they bend you over with a massive data breach - you're obviously not one who cares.

        My concern is it might give other companies licence to be lax "because nobody cares anyway".

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "You can fool some of the people all the time."

      As BT are so fond of saying privately.

  3. Sir Sham Cad

    providing free upgrades to customers.

    It's called "fucking off to a different provider".

    Anyone here a TalkTalk customer who can give some examples of the "upgrades" offered?

    Increase in broadband speeds? Extra TV channels? If it's the former then all they've done is decrease the throttling they've put on your "up to 8Mb" line that you were getting 2Mb on and now get 4.

    1. streaky Silver badge

      Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

      I'd be *amazed* if anybody who reads the 'reg is a customer of these clowns.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

        "I'd be *amazed* if anybody who reads the 'reg is a customer of these clowns."

        My home connection comes via them, but is further subcontracted out...

        Frankly it's a data pipe - and it works well enough for enough of the time that I'm OK with it. I'm not trying to run a business from it - and I have servers hosted in data centres for things that need that level of reliability and connectivity.

        1. Zimmer
          Stop

          Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

          "I'd be *amazed* if anybody who reads the 'reg is a customer of these clowns."

          Well, be amazed, then.. Some of us have been taken over many times since 2002..Nildram-Pipex-Tiscali-TalkTalk.

          Some of us have had no real problems in 14 years.Some of us have had cheap deals to keep us sweet. Some of us cannot afford (on a pension) to lavish our money on super fast fibre and and bl***y unnecessary TV being piped down the Internet (or cat videos for that matter) .(Some of us managed to play Quake II online on a dial up connection before the advertisers and Big Business got their claws in the Web.)

          Some of us realise that, no matter the company, any of our data online is always at risk from someone, somewhere....so manage the risk. Jump to another supplier? How much?? Too much..at the moment.

          But let's see what the BT offers will be now Spurs are in the CL this time around..maybe I can squeeze a bit more from the wife's pension....

          (Is that sufficient trolling, ED? oh, ok... LINUX! FTW..and for good measure...Arsenal supporters think the Internet is what keeps them from the Away fans...that should do it... back next week when the flames die down...)

          1. Chemical

            Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

            Have an upvote for Quake II :-)

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

          > My home connection comes via them, but is further subcontracted out...

          Ditto - and that means I get to speak to a UK techie, plus not get passed from pillar to post when things go wrong.

    2. Sir Barry

      Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

      "Anyone here a TalkTalk customer who can give some examples of the "upgrades" offered?"

      I'm not a Talk Talk customer, but I found the list:

      1) TV channels – open to existing TV customers only

      Only those who currently have TalkTalk TV can opt for this one for free. You can choose from one of the following TV boost packages – films, kids, entertainment or Sky Sports, which will be free for three months.

      This upgrade would normally cost between £5/month and £30/month depending on the channels.

      2) A 12mth mobile Sim – open to all customers

      Any current TalkTalk customer can choose this option – a 12-month mobile Sim. It's very much a value option though, with a monthly allowance of 100 minutes, 250 texts and 200MB of 3G data.

      If you go close to your allowance, it'll send you a text message. If you go over, you'll be charged out-of-bundle fees, which are 40p/minute to call landlines and mobiles, 15p per text message and 15p per MB of data. TalkTalk Mobile piggybacks on the Vodafone network.

      Normally this Sim costs £5/month.

      3) Unlimited UK landline or mobile calls – open to broadband and home phone customers

      For those who already have a TalkTalk landline and broadband, it's offering calls to mobiles or 01, 02 and 03 numbers (excludes 084/087/09 as well as 118 numbers) free for 12 months.

      While it's 'unlimited', TalkTalk does operate a 'fair use policy' of 1,800 minutes per month (30 hours). Calls are free for the first 60 minutes only, so if you pick this option, make sure you hang-up and redial within the first 60 minutes or you'll be charged the standard rate of 11.5p/minute for landlines and mobiles. Some non-inclusive calls may be subject to a connection charge of 17p too.

      This calls package normally costs £7.50/month.

      4) A broadband and Wi-Fi health check – open to broadband customers

      If you already have TalkTalk broadband, you can arrange for an engineer to visit your property to check your broadband and Wi-Fi and improve their performance for free. The engineers operate between Monday and Friday 7am-8pm and on Saturdays between 7am-6pm.

      If an issue is found, the engineer will attempt to fix it there and then. However TalkTalk says that if there's a problem with the line, it'll need to refer the issue to BT Openreach. We asked whether engineers would attempt to up-sell to customers and TalkTalk's confirmed they won't.

      The broadband and Wi-Fi check usually costs £65 for a visit.

      1. VinceH

        Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

        "You can choose from one of the following TV boost packages – films, kids, entertainment or Sky Sports, which will be free for three months.

        This upgrade would normally cost between £5/month and £30/month depending on the channels."

        So this "free upgrade" is just a loss leader promotional offer; three months for free, then start paying.

        The same appears to be true for #2 and #3, though the loss leader period for both of those is twelve months, rather than three. #4 is the only apparent exception - though wherever you pulled that list from did question it from an up-sell angle.

      2. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

        What's the betting that some of these choices locked customers in to a new 12 month contract, so they're not going anywhere without paying out a chunk of cash ?

        12 months of free crap is still 12 months of crap.

    3. tony2heads

      Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

      "up to" translates to "never more than" or "less than" in most cases

    4. CJ_C

      Re: providing free upgrades to customers.

      I am a TalkTalk customer on the basic package. I have ever upgraded but multimedia performance has gone from useless quite acceptable. I rarely see buffering issues on catchup. Does this count as a free uprade?

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This:

    "[That is]testimony to the speed with which customer sentiment towards TalkTalk has recovered, "

    Fuck off Dido. Its because people have short memories. Dont go blowing your own trumpet.

  5. adam payne Silver badge

    TalkTalk a company that has made excuse after excuse about their massive security still have customers. It sounds like these customers either don't care or know nothing about security.

    Worse yet I bet Dido gets a massive bonus.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Dido gets a bonus and their customers get shafted...I could almost use it in lyrics.

    2. A Ghost
      Coat

      When you say 'massive bonus', that's a programmer's obfuscated euphemism vis a vis her name, right?

      'massive bonus' fnar fnar.

      'dido harding' fnar fnar

      Eh, humour me, it's not like we have any recourse to any satisfaction with these muppets is there? Childish name calling is all we have left.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Talktalk: AOL for the UK

    To this day there are millions of AOL dial-up subscribers, many of which have since moved on to ADSL from some other provider, but are still paying for nothing.

    Some people are simply beyond help.

    1. Chris King Silver badge

      Re: Talktalk: AOL for the UK

      Some of my friends signed up to AOL for two years to get a free Playstation 3, despite me saying "Run Away, Terribly Fast".

      They discovered the hard way that two years is a long time to put up with a piss-poor internet connection.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Talktalk: AOL for the UK

      That's even truer than you realise: AOL in the UK _IS_ Talktalk.

  7. DRue2514

    Not so fast... Most TalkTalk customers are on long contracts - my last was I think 2 years. However it is coming to an end in a month or so. So the churn rate for Q4 is pretty irrelevant imo. More telling will be the loss of customers in a year or so.

    btw the free offers that were handed out were Sky channels, free sims etc.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      btw the free offers that were handed out were Sky channels, free sims etc.

      aka A mess of pottage.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What's this?

    The free upgrades?

    The ones, most of which were utterly useless and the remainder, for which one mysteriously wasn't eligible, once you'd clicked through from the condescending twaddle TalkTalk emailed.

  9. ChunkyMonkey
    Joke

    Trusted!!!!

    "There has never been a clearer space for a trusted value champion"

    Hahahahahah,hahahahah,hahahaha....gasp,gasp,ha,ha,hhaa...falls of chair

  10. jmuir

    Yep, free 12 months land line calls worth £90! And via quid co Sim cards so cheap they pay you to take them !

  11. This post has been deleted by its author

  12. A Ghost
    Mushroom

    I blame Microsoft personally

    I've been a victim of the data theft that has gone on from the Indian call centres that TT sold my info to. They wait a few months, sell the list to someone else then call back. They have even started to be verbally abusive as well. I'm on a mug's list, won't ever get off it now.

    The way talk talk have handled this is a disgrace. Dido Harding is a disgrace and the worst that humanity has to off as an example to our children. She'd steal them and burn them alive to eat them if she thought it would make her a bit of cash. After all, she has gotten away with everything so far. No comebacks, no responsibility. Just an amazingly disingenuous and insulting response. I will be moving, soon.

    I only signed with tt coz they were the only ones actually providing a service in my rural area. It was adequate at 7MBs to start off with but with lots of drop outs. They upped it to 14MBs a couple of years ago and the service has been much much better.

    However, do not expect phone support. It is just not worth it. In fact, if you want tt to sell your details on (or their employees) then by all means sign up with them. You will get no satisfaction to complain.

    There I was, all set to cross over to BT with a pretty much exact same package for the same price. I guess they just worked out how much I was paying and thought 'well, as long as we don't charge him more than what he is already paying, he will probably go for it'. And I probably would have as well if it wasn't for those pesky bandwidth limitations. BT set a cap of 40-50GB. Everything else the same - phone rental, calls, extra calls, full package really apart from the bandwidth limit.

    And, that is why I held on, because Microsoft are slurping about 1.5GB a day and I can't stop them. I have found a script on the net and I hacked it. No, really hacked it, as in 'I didn't have a clue what I was doing', but I imaged my system drive and took out a few lines of code from a batch file someone put up here at el Reg. It would stop the service and erase the cache downloaded, but it would then start up again. The two lines of code at the end I 'hacked' out, stopped that from starting again, at least while the machine had not been rebooted. I still haven't found a way to totally stop it.

    I'm not a real programmer, or even a programmer for that matter. But I like to tinker. It took me nearly a week of tracing in Process Explorer and researching on line just to find out why svc.exe was taking up a full core constantly and dl'ing 1.5GB before it stopped. I probably could figure out how to stop this for good, but I'm just stopping using Microsoft now and can't be bothered.

    So, as I can not stop Microsoft slurping down 50GB a month through my pipes for nothing - it gets deleted as soon as it is done - that would be my entire bandwidth allocation for the month.

    So, Talk Talk, say thank you to Microsoft for also shafting their customers. I'm still with you because of them. And BT, kick Microsoft in the nuts, because the only reason I did NOT take your package was because of those other bastards hijacking my machine and planting a virus I can not get rid of, despite a whole week of work and a fucking degree in computing.

    As for the upgrades. I don't believe TT. They have lied and lied and lied and have been proven to have lied and you really can't believe a word that comes out of their mouths. I'm still waiting for Dido Harding to be sacked, or at least admit responsibility, or at least tell us exactly what the shit went on. But that will be a cold day in hell.

    BT have put their prices up as well, so I may still be with tt for some time to come. My only solace is in the knowledge that they are all bastards and as bad as each other.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: I blame Microsoft personally

      "I'm on a mug's list, won't ever get off it now."

      You could always change your phone number. TT wouldn't let me do that, so I did it by dumping 'em.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    people are stupid

    That is why we have so many data breaches..... that is all..

  14. ad47uk

    I like to know how Did would save me money as she said on the radio this morning that people who go to TalkTalk can save money.

    If I went to Talk Talk having the same service I have now I would be paying £4 more a month.

    1. Zimmer

      Save me some money...

      Do tell..

      Who are you with , and what services are you paying for, and ..HOW MUCH??

  15. Snafu1

    I've been trying to persuade one customer for about the last 7 years (may be longer) to ditch TT as other providers are cheaper, more secure & have better Customer Service. Will they listen? :(

    Remind me: are TT still in the bottom 3 of Which? for CS WRT ISPs?

  16. imanidiot Silver badge

    contract lock in and expiration

    So how many of that stable base remained because they are locked into a fixed lenght contract they feel they cant break open? There might be a delayed drain coming.

  17. MartinB105

    I was with TalkTalk some years ago...

    This is the ISP that broke our Internet connection with DNS hijacking and then refused to provide any means of fixing it without calling an expensive premium rate number.

    Then they continued billing us even after we'd left their crappy service. We got the money back eventually, but I heard from others that this situation was far from unique.

    TalkTalk can go to hell.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Am I the only one...

    who secretly wishes they'll face another serious breach sooner rather than later?

    There has never been a clearer space for a trusted value champion and our learnings from and experience since the cyber attack have helped to focus our plans for the year ahead

    Champion? -- In what field exactly?

    Learnings? -- You mean learning disorder, surely.

    Experience? -- Yep, wasn't the first breach at TalkTalk in recent years. You guys have solid experience there, I give you that.

    This arrogance and disregard for their customers is hopefully punished soon (free offers weren't given because they care, but because they feared serious reputational damage; smart move, in a way, because apparently their customers care only about free/cheap, not about their private/bank details).

  19. poopoo

    And they abuse the elderly too.

    My blind and deaf mum, nearly 90, frail, alone (husband in hospital) and isolated ( rural,no bus service) was left two winter months without a phone when Talktalk's already patchy "service" went tits-up altogether. When finally restored I had to fight the CEO tooth-and-nail for both refund and "compensation" of (wait for it) 25 quid. Any decent organisation would have waived fees for a year and sent a bunch of flowers. Not Talktalk. Talktalk is cheapcheap. Cheapcheap and very, very nasty. Just like its uncaring elder- abusing CEO.

    1. poopoo

      Re: And they abuse the elderly too.

      Just to qualify, Mum has some hearing in one ear!

  20. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

    Just?

    ,"despite experiencing a massive data breach just seven months ago.

    "just" seven months ago? In average consumer terms, that was more like a generation or two ago.

    I've said this before, but the old saw about all publicity is good publicity is mostly true, it just needs time.. Seven months after a huge data breach, most non-techy people just remember that Talk Talk was on national telly. Brand awareness with no recollection whatsoever that it was bad news, so of course "they must be good 'cos I've heard of them"

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Well it amazes me. I ditched TalkTalk when the event was revealed. I know of two families that have stayed and taken the upgrades. One even justified by saying all suppliers are insecure (with no evidence offered).

    I just can't believe how much apathy there is on IT security. Turns out Ms Harding does know how stupid her customer base is.

    But should anybody allow her to comment on anything in the industry now it's proven she is so poor. I'm referring to her comments on Outreach. Whether or not BT are running it well Ms Harding's views should be discounted by her lack of business acumen.

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