back to article TalkTalk bollocked after fibre marketing emails found to be full of sh!t

TalkTalk has been slapped down by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) after emailing lies to its customers as part of a hard-sell tactic for expensive fibre broadband. In February and March this year, some customers received emails from TalkTalk saying: "We regularly look at how your broadband is performing to make sure …

  1. Wellyboot Silver badge

    Was it something we reported?

    Has the Reg ever had a good news article about T-T?

    (other than those where they get a slapping for lying, incompetence etc.)

    1. Dave K Silver badge

      Re: Was it something we reported?

      It'd be difficult for El Reg as there isn't any good news about Talk-Talk.

    2. hairydog

      Re: Was it something we reported?

      To give good news about T-T would involve telling fibs, wouldn't it? Not sure we need more of that!

  2. STOP_FORTH
    Happy

    Pfffft!

    They They Are Are All All Talk Talk And And No No Trousers Trousers

  3. SVV Silver badge

    Talk Talk

    Today, it's such a shame that their customers are saying give it up, I don't believe in you and the party's over, because the company has become a laughing stock.

    https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLR9aD4y1pbryKox9_RVBnSOmqt9NqZB4G

    1. The Oncoming Scorn Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: Talk Talk

      You deserve far more upvotes good sir for the brilliance of Mark Hollis worked into that post.

      I imagine my foolish friends thought their customers were dum dum girls, they must be living in another world.

  4. deive

    f**k talk talk.

    that is all.

  5. Dwarf Silver badge

    Time for a re-branding ?

    Perhaps they should rename themselves to something more modern and in line with what they do / how they work.

    Given that voice usage is down and its all about data, then perhaps they should consider these ?

    Data Data

    Internet Internet

    Bullshit Bullshit

    Outage Outage

    Hack Hack

    GiveUsYourCash GivesYourCash

    CrapService CrapService

  6. The Bionic Man

    Talktalk once sent out letters demanding payment for unpaid bills. The trouble was, the bills were up to date and they blamed it on an admin error. Mine was for £370. Some people paid, I didn't. It turns out it was a phishing scam by talk talk.

    Hands down the worst ISP I've ever used.

    F*** you talk talk

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Facepalm

      RE: The Bionic Man

      My parents had the same issue. Talk Talk was still trying to bill them 6 months after they'd left. They had to threaten to sue Talk Talk for harassment before they finally got their act together.

      1. Zakspade

        Re: RE: The Bionic Man

        Billing your parents for 6 months after they left? How about billing a widowed mother for 9 months when she didn't have a service with the - hadn't requested a service - and was happy with her BT provided phone and broadband? And when the matter was taken to CISAS (one of the Ofcom arbitrators) TalkTalk's defence document contained lie after lie which were easy to show for what they were because I had kept ALL communications from them to my mother.

        They lied to CISAS. They lied to me. They lied to my mother. They claimed what my mother and I suggested (that is WAS possible to agree a service without actually being known to the hapless victim) - was IMPOSSIBLE. And yet, CISAS found against TalkTalk and stated that it had happened. Part of the recompense was an apology to my mother, along with an explanation. It was roughly: Sorry you became upset over something, and you did something but we were not able to fix it properly in good time. NOT an apology OR explanation of what had happened (as confirmed by CISAS). So, liars AND taking CISAS (and Ofcom) for fools.

        And taking their customers for fools as well, it seems.

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
          Mushroom

          Re: RE: The Bionic Man

          That ranks up there with the classic non-apology "I'm sorry you were offended/what i said offended you". Those aren't apologies and the people using them are dick-weasels and should be shot into the sun.

          1. KBeee

            Re: RE: The Bionic Man

            I'm not so sure. Everything seems to offend somebody these days, though not usually enough to do anything about it except tweet or make a facebook comment, so that reply seems very appropriate for the Outraged of Basingstoke brigade.

  7. Lee D Silver badge

    I don't deal with companies that employ fraudulent business practices on their own customers.

    One of the many reasons that I've ended up far from the mainstream banks, and have many online-only services.

    No spam, no junk mail, no unwanted notifications, calls or offers. They just supply a service, take my money, and that's it.

    I have, in the past, literally phoned a company and cancelled contracts because of tactics like this. They protest, apologise, offer recompense, etc. but I just don't do business that way.

    It reminds me a little of one of the early Dragon's Den episodes where twit-head Peter Jones basically tried to time-pressure someone into a huge business deal by counting down how long until he removed his "offer".

    Sorry, mate, I don't do business that way. I'll take my time, deal with someone sensible, because you can't even be civil and business-like for a 30 minute program, let alone a business partnership.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Charles Dunstone is now concentrating on his new baby. That of providing backhaul for data, in which he has invested a lot of money. TT (and also CPW) are the stepchildren now and up for sale to the right asset stripper. (Liberty Global or Vodaphone). Or a hedge fund (who are waiting for Brexit before pouncing and raping) for cashing in for what its worth.

    I give them a year to survive in the current format.

  9. Sam Therapy
    FAIL

    I don't think it's possible to get anywhere near their usage cap, ever. When I had the misfortune to be with 'em, the network was slow as a sloth on mandrax and prone to rolling over and dying every few minutes.

    1. STOP_FORTH
      Boffin

      Mandrax kills sloths?

      I knew that penicillin kills guinea pigs.

      (Do not try this at home.)

      1. David 132 Silver badge
        Happy

        How about bicarbonate of soda to pigeons. Are you cool with that or are you going to be a complete killjoy?

        1. STOP_FORTH
          Mushroom

          Pigeons are the only bird you are allowed to shoot on the nest, in the air or on the ground. I don't know how the current licensing mess in the UK affects this.

          Experiments with bicarb are definitely illegal.

          Just stating the facts, I neither agree nor disagree with any of this.

          1. STOP_FORTH
            Mushroom

            Forgot to add that you can also shoot them all year, there is no closed season.

            As if all that was not bad enough, they build really crap nests!

      2. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

        I knew that penicillin kills guinea pigs

        And paracetamol is very toxic to both cats and dogs (causes acute liver failure even in very small doses).

        In general, unless specified otherwise by a vet[1] don't *ever* give human medicine to animals.

        [1] We had an elderly dog that needed tramadol. What the vet prescribed was identical to what I had previously been prescribed (same dosage too) for arthritis.. So (with the understanding of the vets) we used up my supply since I wasn't taking it any more[2] but the capsules were still in-date.

        [2] Too many side effects - including insomnia.

    2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      From https://www.talktalk.co.uk/help/servicestatus/ just now:

      Your Usage: Your usage last month of 1562 Gb suggests you’re on the right package

      Your Stability: Your connection result shows no known faults between our network and your home

      Your Speed to your Router: Promised Speed: 62 Mb - 80 Mb, Measured Speed Today: 80 Mb

      Your Router: Our health check shows you're using one of our latest routers and its firmware is up to date

      1. paulf Silver badge
        Meh

        @ Jamie Jones "Your Router: Our health check shows you're using one of our latest routers and its firmware is up to date"

        So ShitShit are quite open about having back door access to your router such that it reveals details like Model number+revision and Firmware version. Great if you want to find out whether it's been patched to close whatever security holes were in the previous Firmware version I suppose. Also "firmware is up to date" gives false reassurance if the last firmware update was 2 years ago. <Slow hand clap>

        1. Baldrickk Silver badge

          I'll be honest, if I were a normal user, then I would be happy with that.

          YES, having some way to get that info is potentially dubious... But if it's a proper, encrypted/authenticated connection - which it should be as it's their hardware and their firmware, that only provides that info, then it's no worse than any http server having a status page showing what server SW version is being run.

          The advantage of this is that, if they are doing it right, your router can be automatically "administrated" from TT, or whatever ISP it is, by which I mean - they can monitor the connection health to identify network problems faster, and they can push updated firmware to the router.

          This means that any network issues can (hopefully) be addressed faster and any security updates pushed out. The User then doesn't have to worry about updating the firmware themselves (be honest, how many "normal" people do you think will check for firmware updates and install them?)

          1. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

            YES, having some way to get that info is potentially dubious...

            No - having it is pretty much required for proper network management. Especially if it's only read-only SNMP access.

            Then again, using BlahBlah and 'proper network management' in the same sentance without a "no" between the two phrases is probably wrong.

          2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

            They use TR-069 over https for remote management.

            The option to disable it is clearly displayed on the modems web-admin panel.

        2. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          The funny thing is, that information is untrue.

          I have the "remote management" aspect of the router disabled.. I just checked the router and their website, and I'm *NOT* running the latest firmware!

          So, it's even worse "firmware is up to date" is false - I presume they equate "not reporting an old version" as "running the latest version"

          As for the rest, I use it in "bridge" mode as a vdsl modem only - I have a dedicated router with dhcp/nat/ip6/ etc. for the rest of it

        3. CrazyOldCatMan Silver badge

          back door access to your router

          Yeah - it's called SNMP and is pretty much an industry standard. It's not like they are individually telnetting/ssh-ing onto your router..

          Mind you, BlahBlah are probably using SNMPv1, thus ignoring all the security stuff bolted onto later versions..

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            SNMP - you're lucky we only have ping.

            Do TalkTalk even allow / support SNMP with all of their business broadband plans ?

            I wanted to use SNMP to monitor my connection but was told by TalkTalk "We don't allow business customers to use SNMP".

            CAVEAT : This was a while ago and using one of the lower level plans and their router so it may have changed.

            FOLLOW-UP : If I can now get SNMP on my business TalkTalk plan, I'd love to know how to do it.

  10. Tromos

    ASA (After Stabledoor Ajar)

    The usual pointless ASA response. Forbid someone from continuing a particular advert long after that campaign has finished and they had no intention of continuing anyway. BT have recently been claiming to be the "only provider guaranteeing wi-fi coverage in every room", concurrently with Sky advertising the same thing. Without doubt these adverts will be allowed to run until the next set of bloated claims is ready for air time and then the ASA will step in and demand they are discontinued.

    Ban the offending company from ALL advertising for a month for the first offence and double the ban for each subsequent offence. That should sort out the persistent offenders and discourage those who try it on from repeating their misdeeds. ASA? More like ASLR. Totally lacking in Authority, more like a Limp Rag.

    1. Kubla Cant Silver badge

      Re: ASA (After Stabledoor Ajar)

      ASA? More like ASLR.

      Analogue Single Lens Reflex?

    2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: ASA (After Stabledoor Ajar)

      "Ban the offending company from ALL advertising for a month for the first offence and double the ban for each subsequent offence."

      Why would you expect a regulatory body owned and operated by the advertisers to actually inflict any sort of real punishment on their own members?

    3. silent_count

      Re: ASA (After Stabledoor Ajar)

      I think the best way to curb marketing bullshit is to make them actually walk the walk. This article mentions previous adds claiming that their routers signal "couldn't be beaten". Make them supply the best router on the market to their customers and upgrade it if someone makes a better version.

      Yes, it would be prohibitively expensive. The word "prohibitively" is germane here. Being forced to make good on their claims will prohibit their marketing department from making nonsense claims in the future.

      1. FlamingDeath Bronze badge
        Linux

        Re: ASA (After Stabledoor Ajar)

        "Make them supply the best router on the market to their customers and upgrade it if someone makes a better version."

        If this was standard policy, the whole consumer society would cease to exist

        Please make it so

        Bill Hicks has the right idea

  11. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    TalkTalk is the Ryanair of the home broadband industry.

    1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
      Trollface

      RE: anthonyhegedus

      Talk Talk takes you 90% of the way to your destination and then the connection terminates?

  12. adam payne Silver badge

    The ISP told us: "While we're disappointed with the ruling, TalkTalk will make the required changes to any similar campaigns in future."

    I'm also disappointed by the ruling. Where is the fine?

    I whole thing seems pointless to me, slap on the wrist and don't do it again.

    The ASA tell them they can't use that advert any more but it's months after they've already stopped using it. TT have already made their money out of it.

    1. STOP_FORTH
      Happy

      Remedy

      Make them show the original advert, repeatedly, in prime advert spots with an apology tacked on the end explaining what was misleading. They can then apologise for being lying scumbags and recommend Zen, A&A or similar instead.

      1. Chris King Silver badge

        Re: Remedy

        Ironically, A&A supplies lines running over TT Wholesale. I had Home::1 1Tb on TT for a couple of years, and it was surprisingly fast and reliable. If it's good enough for RevK, it'll be good enough for us mere mortals.

        The retail side of TT is a total bag of spanners - over-committed, under-resourced and badly-supported - but the underlying whole network isn't that bad. Maybe Dunstone's onto something with these new investments, but I do pity the retail customers if they get sold off to someone else.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Remedy

          I agree on both points. As long as you don't need to contact them, the network is fine. As I posted earlier, I used approx 1.6Tb last month, and I always get over 9MB a second, any time of the day.

          Latency is fine too.

          Only one outage in 4 years...

    2. TechnicalBen Silver badge

      Says it all.

      Thief steals and lies... gets locked up. "I am disappointed by the ruling". So you learnt nothing? Keeps em locked up (wish it could be done for lying companies!).

      1. STOP_FORTH

        Re: Says it all.

        Quite. Surely lying to people to extract more money from them is deception?

  13. Luiz Abdala Bronze badge
    Trollface

    Stupid question about hitting broadband cap...

    Wouldn't any download immediately cap your broadband?

    Like, downloading Warcraft, or GTA both at 60+ GB, bang. Capped download, at least for a couple minutes on the largest broadband. Or some backup into a cloud or something. No reason to get an upgrade letter from any ISP.

    Bullshit excuse.

  14. 's water music Silver badge

    bandwidth or cap?

    The article seemed to be interchangeably referring to data caps and download speed.

    It sounded to me as if TT were claiming that punters had maxed* out their line download speed on three occasions but the complainants said that they had not exceeded monthly download allowance. Surely neither claim contradicts the other.

    *or hit 2/3 or whatever

  15. Tachisme

    TalkTalk is awful

    I used to work for BT, so I know that one of the reasons they were more expensive is because they invested more in backhaul than their competitors. TalkTalk is renowned for underinvesting - they remind me of the Ruskin quote:

    “There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey.”

    When I left BT, I lost my free employee broadband, so I looked for a cheap alternative (I’m rarely home, so I just wanted 38/10, rather than 80/20, and I don’t need any ‘value added services). I joined Direct Save Telecom, and while I’m content with it, it has brought home the reality of differing levels of investment in backhaul and core networks: at peak times, it’s faster for me to use my iPad on 4G than it is to use broadband. They also have tried a couple of upselling gimmicks/mistakes, which I avoided but which I thought were slightly underhand.

    Out of interest, who’s the best *cheap* provider? Direct Save Telecom seem decent value, the above caveats notwithstanding, but I was wondering if there are alternatives, mainly for family members who are more reliant than me.

    1. Commswonk Silver badge

      Re: TalkTalk is awful

      There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are this man's lawful prey

      It's a pity that so many organisations use that more or less as a Mission Statement.

  16. mark l 2 Silver badge

    Not sure if Talktalk have changed their policy since they were sending out emails, but according to their own website all their broadband services are unlimited with no caps or traffic management

    https://community.talktalk.co.uk/t5/Articles/Broadband-traffic-management/ta-p/2204657

    1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

      As I posted earlier, I just went to their website customer account page and it said "Your usage last month of 1562 Gb suggests you’re on the right package" .

      I've never had any restrictions in the 4 or so years I've been with them

  17. eldel

    In light of this (and totally off the topic of TT and broadband) has anyone else noticed that the quality of the Amazon Basics stuff seems to have gone up of late. I use them for essentially disposable or short lifespan items, like usb cables, but the last few things I've had from them seem to be of somewhat higher quality. Certainly better than I would expect at the price point given the competition.

    I wonder if this is a new strategy or just an anomaly on the race to the bottom?

  18. richardthemonster

    Unsurprising

    This doesn't surprise me at all. In an error of judgment, I used to be a Talktalk customer and received what was euphemistically called a "welcome call" from them shortly after signing up. During that call, I was treated to the hard sell to upgrade my standard broadband to fibre, and told a number of untruths as part of the process: in particular, the operator told me that it was almost certain that during the course of my 12 month contract the quality of the service would deteriorate to the degree that it would become completely unusable due to the age of the lines serving my property and that fibre might become unavailable in the future so if I didn't upgrade then and there I could be left months and months without usable broadband.

    Needless to say I complained to TalkTalk about their using misleading customers with a view to making a transactional decision that they would not otherwise have, which is a breach of UK consumer protection law. Naturally TalkTalk chronically mishandled the complaint and even went as far as to claim that the call was not a marketing call, despite it being almost 30 minutes of trying to sell me things.

    Ultimately, I took the matter to CIFAS who agreed with me that TalkTalk engaged in banned practices including 'bait and switch' and pressure selling, but unfortunately does not have the power to insist that TalkTalk undertake a root and branch review of the degree to which misselling of services is endemic within the organisation and to determine whether any customers were hoodwinked by TalkTalk's toxic sales practices in order to make them good.

    This finding confirms my suspicions that the call I received was not the result of a single 'rogue operator' but a systemic culture within TalkTalk of misleading customers in order to coerce them to upgrade their services.

  19. FlamingDeath Bronze badge
    Facepalm

    Why?

    Why do they still exist?

    Who the hell is giving these idiots money?

    Other idiots?

  20. silks

    People are STILL using TalkTalk?!

  21. John B Stone
    Facepalm

    An odd thing to admit to

    "You've hit your limit three times in 30 days" means in reality that they gave you the bandwidth they promised 3 times in a month, and not for the rest of the month. Seems like an odd thing to openly admit to.

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