back to article TalkTalk returns to the email hall of shame as Pipex accounts throw weekend-long wobbly

TalkTalk is back in the spotlight over its email services after ageing Pipex mail addresses stopped working abruptly on Saturday. Reg readers wrote in over the weekend to say that, following the news of an eight-year-old zombie TalkTalk email address staggering back to life in a blizzard of spam, their Pipex accounts had …

  1. macjules Silver badge

    Claranet Email

    Amazingly my Claranet email still works, presumably since they are still in business after 22 years. They also have separate logins for legacy Netscalbur and U-net accounts.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Claranet Email

      I know that Claranet is still going, because I access my old FreeUK email address (which I think they took over) through a portal branded with their name.

      They charge me something like £15 a year to keep the address, which is fair enough- I used it for years after I'd stopped using the FreeUK dial-up service, and they'd have been quite entitled to shut it down, especially as the FreeUK brand isn't even in use nowadays.

      I should probably move as much as possible away from it, though.

    2. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge

      Re: Claranet Email

      Claranet... Now that is a name that brings back the memories of a bygone era...

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Claranet Email

        "Claranet... Now that is a name that brings back the memories of a bygone era..." era where the MD would ring you on a Sunday lunchtime to personally apologize for a billing cock-up that maxed out your credit card, and to offer mucho compensation for the inconvience.

        Nildram also squeezed apologies out of BT Wholesale when my ADSL went phut on a Saturday night. I've no idea what they said to BTW, but it got me a grovelling apology on voicemail the next day, along with a priority fix.

        Sadly, this was just before the Tiscali take-over, and every support call became "Have you turned it off and on again ?"

        "No point. YOUR DNS servers are DOWN, that's why I'm calling YOU"

        TalkTalk - the company that claimed IPv6 used six-byte addressing (seriously, this was on their domestic support portal) before accidentally blocking access to said portal with THEIR OWN content filtering system. I wish I'd kept the screenshots, that's a level of muppetry that has to be seen to be believed !

        AAISP can still give BT and TalkTalk a good kicking if either of them mess about.

        1. paulf Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Claranet Email

          Hmm, I wonder if we experienced the same billing SNAFU? Back in ~1998 I was on Clara Call for dial up Internet - you prefixed the dial up number with their Indirect Access Number and they billed you for the phone call at a rate below what BT would have charged. This was paid for using (IIRC) a pre-pay method that debited fixed top ups at something like £10/time. I think the problem came around early November 1998 - this was likely the first hour change their ClaraCall billing system had encountered and calls were being charged at stupid amounts - I only realised when I spotted an unexpected debit on my CC when I thought I had plenty of credit left. It was fixed quickly and the charges corrected but I didn't get an MD call or compensation.

          I moved on in 2003 to Eclipse (remember them?) who still run my FTTC and landline but I left my email domain at Clara as their alias management is pretty useful and their techies are always helpful when I have a reason to contact them.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Some later reported on Sunday that emails began arriving in fits, starts and bursts, having been delayed many hours from their original sending time."

    This would be normal as mail servers retry sending.....

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Apparently they are upgrading their email system, not very well it would seem but as it's TalkTalk this was preordained and the usual script followed.

    1. Saruman the White Silver badge

      Is that the script with the following simple steps:

      1. Cock-up.

      2. Cover-up.

      3. Goto (1).

      1. TimMaher Bronze badge

        Upvote for that.

        Then they upgraded their routine to:-

        1. Cock-up.

        2. Cover-up.

        3. Go to (4).

        Thus causing a stack problem or out of bounds error.

  4. rahi


    That old couple!

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: TCP/IP

      Waldorf and Statler?

  5. fuzzyfelt

    Venn Diagram Please

    Wow, that's a very tenacious and committed group of people that must have been affected by this outage.

    Something like:

    People who used Pipex (usually a select bunch in the know, who rejected Demon (not me)), who continued to pay for dial-up internet during the Freeserve et al rush, who continued with Tiscali, who stuck loyally with TalkTalk during their hacking scandal AND still use their Pipex email address.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Venn Diagram Please

      Something like that. I was on Nildram which Pipex bought although we retained the old Nildram addresses. Support went downhill after the Pipex buy-out by Tiscali and was just too awful to cope with the next downward plunge so it was bye-bye Nildram a decade ago for me.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Venn Diagram Please

        I was with Nildram around the same time. The deterioration in service was very sudden, with things like DNS suddenly blowing up at random and e-mail bouncing higher than a cheque on the wrong side of pay day. Funny how UK-based tech support disappeared around the same time !

    2. Havin_it

      Re: Venn Diagram Please

      I bailed from Pipex when Tiscali got it, that was never going to go well. To... Demon! Who proceeded to be borged by THUS -> C&W -> Vodafone. The Demon branding was upheld for a while and only finally binned a couple of years ago. Voda have generally stayed out of my way, so I've stayed put. In the way of these things, though, I expect I'll be subscribed to Disney Broadband before long :/

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Venn Diagram Please

      Not only was I a Pipex customer from the late 90's through to just before they were bought by Tiscali... I actually worked for them for a few years.

      They were a great company.. emphasis on 'were'... things started to go South long before I abandoned ship (I saw that things were only going to get worse).

      To now be owned by Talk Talk... it's no wonder I only ever admit to working for them via anonymity on a web forum. :)

      1. Down not across Silver badge

        Re: Venn Diagram Please

        Not only was I a Pipex customer from the late 90's through to just before they were bought by Tiscali... I actually worked for them for a few years.

        They were a great company.. emphasis on 'were'... things started to go South long before I abandoned ship (I saw that things were only going to get worse).

        They were indeed. Loooked well after their employees too. When UUNET bought them out, it was still mostly good. MCI merger was when things started to really head south. Less said about the subsequent WorldCom merger the better.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why can't TalkTalk just DIE?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Why can't TalkTalk just DIE?

      It did, just a few days ago. But it was the wrong TalkTalk:

  7. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    All these consumer broadband providers are pretty much crap. The networks behind them are OK, but the customer service absolutely stinks. It probably has to, because it's just too expensive to provide decent support to millions of people.

    You don't hear complaints about the links of A&A but then there's a reason they're so expensive.

    1. Chris Parsons

      Zen aren't. They're brilliant.

    2. BenDwire

      Andrew and Arnold aren't *that* expensive given how good their service is - as long as you don't want unlimited bandwidth. But when things go wrong with BT's lines or Talk-Talk's router 'upgrades' the extra fiver a month is so worth it.

      Sometimes you DO get what you pay for.

  8. Ye Gads

    So, to confirm:

    Those people who have an account with Pipex can't get at their email

    Those people who no longer have an account with Pipex can still access their email.

    All sounds completely sensible, please carry on.

    1. Robin Bradshaw

      Re: So, to confirm:

      On the strength of this article I thought id check if my pipex email was still active, so i racked my brain for the username and pass I havent used in 11? years and aparently its still active, suspiciously theres no emails waiting though.

      1. Chris Evans

        Re: So, to confirm:

        Some years ago in a server upgrade they lost all old emails. I don't think users lost any recent ones but we used to send as off site backups some data to an email address that we never downloaded. There was several years worth that disappeared. n.b. The files were backed up to a number of other places so no problem.

  9. N2 Silver badge

    TT returns to hall of shame?

    I was unaware they had left the HOS

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Remember them well

    We had a 2Mb ADSL back in 1997 and for close on two whole years they never charged us

    When they found out they did not even try to back bill

    The ISP with the ultimate customer service

    1. Down not across Silver badge

      We had a 2Mb ADSL back in 1997 and for close on two whole years they never charged us

      I find that highly unlikely. All you were likely to get back then was analogue dial-up (or leased line). IIRC first ADSL was in the noughties and I don't think it was PIPEX. TeleWest rings a bell for some reason.

      1. mdubash

        Nope. I was on BT's 2Mbps trial in 1998.

  11. Chris Evans

    TalkTalk Lie!

    They had another outage four weekends ago for about 24hrs. But their status page said everything was working.

    I can't recall the status page ever admitting a fault when I know there is one.

    I'm trying to persuade our customer to switch A.S.A.P.

  12. Steve Cooper

    0845 088 5336 wow that number is over 20 years old and I still remember my Pipex dial up details! The number no longer works though :(

  13. IPC_1232

    Monday evening and still no access to my toucansurf email + my talktalk account wont send emails.

    What a croc.

  14. gorby

    How to identify payments to pipex?

    This article cracked me up.

    My dad kept his Pipex email (which he still uses and lets me know from time to time when it dies). I ask him every now and then if hes still paying someone, this is met with a kind of befuddled confusion / fear that I might do something that will finally kill the service. It was setup waaay back when I used to get at least 50ms less in Quakeworld over BT :)

    Is there anyone in a similar scenario who could tell me something that might help my dad identify the payments if hes making them? Presumably they show up as talk talk?

  15. Steve pipex

    How can I access an old email address on

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      There's a TalkTalk forum (including Pipex)

      on the ThinkBroadband website at

      Have a look, see if the question has already been asked and answered, if not, ask it :)

      Personally, having left Pipex around the time it was first taken over (15+ years ago?), I wouldn't hold out too much hope though I'd be delighted to be proved wrong.

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