TalkTalk / AOL : The Undercover Broadband Business Model

The next logo for AOL, used from 2006-2009
Image via Wikipedia

Home broadband is now as important a household utility as the gas or the electric. Competition in the UK is high, albeit to supply services of a lower specification and quality than supposedly less developed countries. Nothing particularly new in this viewpoint, nor in commenting on the parlous state of support for customers of broadband operators in the UK. Those folks at Talk Talk really do deserve some sort of prize for the heights of frustration to which they can push their poor customers.

As a professional techie, I sometimes get asked to help friends and family sort the occasional problem. My brother has AOL Broadband at home – now part of the financially challenged Talk Talk business under Carphone Warehouse. Having had to deal with their over-enthusiastic selling of broadband to my 86 year old mother (she has no computer but was convinced by their charming yet relentless cold-calling to buy it) I was looking forwards to checking out the quality of their broadband support.

No shocks – it was bloody awful. Sadly, little insight here – just a rant. Here are the stats:

5 phone calls made over 3 days.
Average wait time for initial agent : 30 minutes (max was 55 minutes)
Average 1st level handling time (India) : 6 minutes
Average wait time for 2nd level (Ireland or UK) : 18 minutes
Average 2nd level handling time : 12 minutes

All in all, I clocked up around 3 and a half hours on the phone, or a minimum of £12.44 including VAT for those Talk Talk coffers. (OK minus the cut from the number provider, assuming Talk Talk don’t host it themselves; and of course, the funding costs of their ‘offshore’ Call Centres in India and Ireland). I was eventually told – on my 5th call – that it was a fault at the exchange which was already known to their Customer Services team when I had made my 3rd call. This was rectified over a week after the original fault call was made to AOL/TalkTalk.

It was a similar story some months ago with trying to get Mum’s missold broadband service cancelled. No wonder they offer a £9.99 monthly deal. Actually giving you the service is a lower priority. Is getting you to call their ‘Customer Service’ line a lucrative second string to their revenue model ? You have to wonder whether some companies actively factor in calling revenues from mystified, muddled or just plain mad mugs like yours truly !

Short version: steer clear of Talk Talk and AOL for your phone or broadband. In the words of the late, great Terry Thomas, “they’re an absolute shower !”


[…] TalkTalk still carry the flag for all that is bad in Broadband service provision and customer service in the UK, a […]

SimonAugust 21st, 2011 at 9:47 pm

Muppets ! Finally, Talk Talk have been brought to book :

Who’da thought that Ofcom actually had teeth ?