Oi, you, Pipex Internet

This has nothing to do with law, but sometimes a personal howl of frustration must be let loose.

The topic is crappy internet service providers. To be specific, Pipex Internet. I am a Pipex subscriber, although not for very much longer. I have been for years. It used to be a reliable and not overly expensive provider for a 1Mps ADSL connection.

Over the last year or so, things have gone badly wrong.

First was the upgrade fiasco. With the introduction of new subscriptions and the promise of ‘up to’ 8Mps connections, I was naturally interested in transferring – paying less for a faster connection. The online upgrade application page was mysteriously ‘coming soon’ for months. Eventually I called. It appears my connection has been Local Loop Unbundled (LLU), where Pipex take control over the equipment in my local telephone exchange. Ah, I thought, surely this is a good thing. Haven’t all the internet providers been telling us that LLU would enable them to upgrade the connections far more easily and provide a better service?

Not according to Pipex. They couldn’t upgrade the LLU equipment to an ‘up to’ 8 Mps connection because of ‘technical problems’, although the remainder of the BT controlled exchange was already at 8 Mps. When would these ‘technical problems’ be resolved? They had no idea, there was no projected timescale. So, I asked, was I in a worse position that if I had a BT account or a non-LLU account? Yes, they said. Why was I paying more than their 8 Mps offering then? They agreed to reduce the price of my account to the mid range 8Mps account price (I wanted to retain the unlimited useage). Did they upgrade my account to a 2 Mps one, which the current equipment supports? No.

Fine. Begin researching about switching.

Three months later – a few days ago – I received an email stating that, as I had not responded to ‘previous communications’ about a missed direct debit, my account would be cancelled in 10 days unless the problem was sorted. I had received no previous communications, either by phone or email.

I called the next day – but to the main number because this ultimatum looked like a phishing attempt. After 21 minutes on hold, (I timed it and have a record), I found out that it was a credit card expiry date issue. Fine, easily sorted. But why was the first I knew about it an email threatening disconnection?

It’s an automated email.

I guessed that, but why does it refer to previous communications?

There was a first email.

When? I did not receive it.

It’s an automated process.

Well, it failed.

Anyway, now you have sorted the payment out, your account will be taken off suspension.

Suspension? What suspension?

It was suspended this morning.

I knew nothing about this. There was no warning.

It was in the first email.

I didn’t receive the first bloody email

Sorry about that. The account should be unsuspended after 2 hours. you will need to restart your router.

I get home some 5 hours later. Restart router. Nada. Restart router. Nada.

Call Pipex, explain situation.

Yes it is on the list to be unsuspended, it will be done within 24 hours.

I was told 2 hours.

Yes, 2 to 24 hours.

So where is it on the list?

Within 24 hours.

The connection came back up about 11.30 pm, so I suppose it was only 11 hours.

What can I say, at least without spitting invective. I can’t blame the call centre monkeys, I can only blame the stunning incompetence of Pipex in managing, organising and running both their customer service and their technical departments. What I have had from them is cheap, lazy nonsense. They were happy to take my money for an over priced, out of contract, out of date connection, but they can’t actually put any effort in to sort out their own technical cock-up on the LLU or to make sure their automated ‘service’ systems actually work. Plus they resort to an automated threat (that resembles phishing) at the earliest opportunity. I’m a litigator, I don’t respond well to threats.

In the face of this colossal arrogance and abrogation of responsibility, I’m off to a service provider that actually provides a service. I await the conversation with Pipex’s rentention department with interest, as they are already on record as fibbing to people that no other service provider will accept a transfer of their LLU accounts. Not all will, granted, but there are plenty of exceptions.

A pity. Pipex used to be a good company. Still they were purchased by Tiscali, so there should be no surprise that it is now crap in all regards.

16/08/08] Comments on this post are now closed. But think on, Pipex, think on.

About Giles Peaker

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts, and still is Nearly Legal on Google +.
Posted in Various (non-housing) and tagged , , , .

24 Comments

  1. An entertaining rant.

    Which provider will you be switching to? If it makes any difference, I wouldn’t be tempted by the “free” offerings (Orange, TalkTalk, etc – you get what you pay for, and I say that from personal, and painful, experience.)

    I’m on Virgin Cable 10Mps; it’s not particularly cheap, but it’s bloody fast and has never even hiccuped. As I said, you get what you pay for…

  2. I’m being very very picky. Either cable (which would perforce have to be Virgin) or Be internet adsl. Not sure yet, but leaning to Be.

    The free stuff has always been too dodgy to contemplate. I need fast, reliable and supported.

  3. eeew, NL, PIPEX?! Aren’t they related to the hideous Phones 4 U people?!?! ( *resists temptation to repeat equally hideous “phones4U” gesture probably licensed to them by bloody awful advertisng agency inc*)

  4. Pipex were a long established ISP, then went dolally and are now owned by Tiscali, simply the most abysmal service provider ever. After a quick google it appears that there was some Pipex – Phones 4 U joint promo once, but it no longer exists.

    I’ve been with Pipex since the days one connected to the internet via wet string. You are far too young to remember the pre-broadband era, I’m sure.

  5. I have a junk email addy with tiscali which is worse than the junk that it actually contains! I urge you to flee, NL, at the earliest available opportunity !! You owe them no loyalty!!( though I do appreciate that finding a new service provider is a bit like a proposal of marriage following a speed date…..)

  6. Well – after my experiences I’m outright calling Pipex Internet fraudsters and criminals. I can find no other words for their stonewalling and unrestrained dipping into my bank account for ‘random’ amounts at ‘random’ times. I was moved onto a new contract without my permission following an enquiry.

    For the full story of my issues see my rant:
    http://www.deanmarshall.co.uk/content/view/93/103/

    For a recommendation of a better service provider:
    Plus.Net all the way. They were runner up in my evaluations 5 years ago before I went with the then venerable Pipex.

    Dean Marshall

  7. Dean, being a lawyerly kind of person, I would be less likely than you to allege criminal fraud, particularly where stunning incompetence also offers a partial explanation.

    That said, I have heard quite a few tales of Pipex’ errant billings, which are, somehow, always to its benefit. Yours is quite a story, some of which as you will have noticed, sounds very familiar to me.

  8. Yes I agree with this.

    They are incompetent and I would urge anyone to read Dean’s article (which is superb) and check out my blog for my own persoanl traumatic episode with them

    http://www.reviewblog.co.uk

    I am now gladly away from them with another ISP but I am still hearing the issues everyday

  9. Well, my saga continues. I’m not sure 100% what it takes to get a cast iron case of fraud – but as the common man in the street I feel confident that we are close.

    I have listed and analysed my run-around and I’m convinced it is safe to reject the hypothesis that it is incompetence of the staff, or just accidental mismanagement of my issue. I am comfortable actually concluding that this is fraud and I’m starting to look at what actions are required beyond my own little personal dispute with these people.

    I have a letter from Pipex informing me that although they know no monies were due their automated system takes it anyway – and that their staff were guilty of giving me misinformation when they confirmed that no payment would be taken.

    My reading of this is that Pipex believe that automating their fraudulent billing makes it okay. I would have been okay if an automated system had taken money and another system – automated or manual – had put it back with minimal intervention on my part. This just does not happen and that it takes a herculean effort to recoup such monies – even when everyone at Pipex agrees the money was taken incorrectly. For my ‘man on the street’ understanding of the situation, setting up a system to automatically take money whether it is due or not – and blocking recovery attempts when the ‘error’ is pointed out – pretty much looks like the dictionary definition of fraud.

    Read the continuing saga at:
    http://www.deanmarshall.co.uk/content/view/94/137/

    Dean Marshall

  10. I am relieved that it is not just me. The Pipex service is not cheap and seems to have gone downhill rapidly and I suffered the same credit card expiry date nonsense. Why couldn’t they just ask if the card had been renewed instead of threats to disconnect? Also I sometimes get a message that there are too many people trying to conect. Why don’t they have sufficient capacity? I am actively looking for another ISP but don’t want to go from the frying pan into the fire.

  11. I have just received a bill from Pipex for about twenty quid. I closed this account sometime last year when I moved house.

    I also paid them what I owed them, so this demand for money is another one of their scams, it seems to me.

    You can only recommend that anyone with Tiscali moves away as far and as fast as possible. Their “service” is appallingly bad.

  12. I have spent years raving about pipex to all my friends. I had absolutely no problems with the upuntil recently. I had the PIPEX MAX service for 3 years and was an entirely satisfied customer. That was until they scammed me. I recieved a phone call from pipex telling me that i was still paying an old tarrif and that all i had to do to reduce my monthly payments was agree to another 12 month contract. Wait a minute i asked will i be recieving the same service yes said the rep exactly the same service just less money. i couldnt have been happier. Then the randomly priced invoices started comming in. Turns out i was being fined for going over my 3GB download limit. Unlimited to 3 GB and they only persuaded me to do it through bare faced lies. I cannot leave them without paying further fines as they refuse to provide me with a migration code. TISCALI are CROOKS you have been warned. PS i have also experienced cuit off threats due to unpaid direct debits that they themselves have not taken and reference to communication that i never recieved. DO NOT GIVE THESE SCAMMERS THE OPPORTUNITY TO ROB YOU. THEY ARE NOT TO BE TRUSTED> I THOUGHT BT WAS BAD THESE GUYS MAY BE WORSE.

    thanks for the oppoprtunity to rant
    kind regards
    bones11

  13. I trust Pipex PR people occasionally look round the web. All of these horror stories have the same common elements – errant billing, inexplicable ‘re-grading’ and contract renewal and so on. I tend to lean towards cock-up over conspiracy as a general explanatory rule, but it is getting harder to maintain.

    I’m still sorting out my escape and getting grief over the LLU nonsense – from Pipex, not the willing new partner. I would walk away to cable, but that leaves the LLU nonsense on the phone line for the next occupants of my house. Ho hum.

  14. I first signed up with Pipex in 2003 while they were still regarded as one of the better ISPs. In May 2006 I moved house and decided to stick with Pipex as I’d never had any problems, they were still reasonably priced and also offered me a “FREE” phone calls package with my new account in my new home. Although the ADSL package was not the cheapest my previous good experiences with them and the fact I was getting 50 hours of free evening & weekend calls each moth made me sign up for a new Pipex ADSL account once I’d moved. I was still quite happy (even though by now their ADSL package was nowhere near the best priced) to carry on using them until a month ago when I received an email saying they had omitted to charge me for all the (free) phone calls I’d made since 2006. They said the error was theirs but forthwith they would start charging me for all my calls. I called them immediately to protest & tell them I got 50 hours of free calls per month which was a complimentary add on with the ADSL account I’d signed up for in 2006. I only got through to a help desk in India who promised they would pass my details on for Pipex to call me back. Nobody did call back. I have just received this months bill from Pipex. £57!! Yes, that right, £57 for residential up-to-8Mb broadband that actually only runs at 2Mbps. Even my clients who run business broadband packages get charged less than this. I have now switched my phone package back to BT and am about to switch my ADSL to o2 for £10 per month.

    Pipex can go fudge themselves as far as I’m concerned. Bunch of incompetent, scamming, lying cheats.

  15. Where have I been all these months – until today I had not realised Pipex were now part of Tiscali! THey have not exactly been up front about telling their customers! Pipex was my first ever ISP, having got a three month free trial when I bought a new HP computer back in 1997. What impressed me then was that it really WAS a free trial – none of this “give us your credit card number and cancel if you don’t go ahead” nonsense. Pipex Dial was reliable and served me well, although their Customer Service was always poor. In May 2006, with local exchange upgraded, I decided to move to broadband. Loyalty to Pipex convinced me to stay with them, although phone calls to their Sales Dept never resolved my queries about keeping email addresses or number of email accounts. I did not need the broadband modem but still got charged the same amount. Connection has been OK but definitely worse over last six months and now I know why, incorporated into Tiscali’s abyssmal offering. Even prior to that though, on getting broadband I wanted to close my dial up account but just struggled to get anyone to action it. Last year on renewal date tried again but, guess what, the money came out my account anyway. I forgot about it till recently but it’s due again soon and I have tried again. Email Customer Support and they email back saying I have to phone the Cancellation Department. Call them and get told they only deal with broadband, call Customer Care Team. Call them and they give you another number for cancellations – guess what, it’s the Cancellation Department. It appears that it is not possible to cancel your Pipex Dial account. Seems the only way is to get my bank to ignore any payment request. Got their Registered Office address and will write (again) but there is a distinct lack of info online about their Company Directors – anyone tell me who the Company Secretary and Managing Director are?

  16. I’m delighted to be hosting the Pipex are seriously crap and borderline illegal comment page here. I think these stories are more than eloquent enough for anybody considering a new Pipex account to make their own minds up.

    Sadly, I remain stuck – and am still trying to work my way through getting out. So far, despite acknowledging I am out of contract, Pipex won’t give me the MAC code. We are on to the legally interesting letter stage. I could just flee to cable, but I don’t see why whoever eventually inherits this phone line should get legacy LLU crap. Plus I want a clear and definitive end for billing purposes – given others experiences.

  17. I’m at the end of my tether with Pipex… arggghh

    In a nushell they incorrectly charged me about £240 for a contract cancellation charge. They have admitted it was their mistake, yet 5 months later still no refund.

    I have a letter from them which I received 4 weeks ago saying that the refund had been authorised and I’ve receive a cheque in the post within 14 days…

    alas I’ve had nothing.. not sure where to turn next to try and resolve this..

  18. I have been Pipex customer for years, problems started when they said, I could upgrade from 1M to 8M at no extra cost, what they forgot to tell me was that this had download limit, started getting billed for extra downloads, called Customer Services (Joke) and was told the only way to get 8M and unlimited downloads was to take International call package agreed reluctantly. This was Sept 2007, in June this year after paying on average £40 per month and finding out that the MAX speed I could get to my Home was 2M, I had had enough, I called CS to cancel and was told I was in contract until Sept 2008, I said, I would wait until then, it was then, I was told that I could downgrade shorterm to a cheaper call package saving £10 a month and still cancel in Sept. I agreed to this on the proviso that this was not a new contract. I have just called to cancel and been told, I agreed to a new 12 month contract in june and would have to cancellation penalty.
    They have sent me a MAC so I have applied to another ISP and I have canceelled my DD, we will see what happens, as I will not pay a penalty on a contract I did not agree

  19. I sent complaint email to CS asking for customer relations department to contact me 29/07/08, got reply today 31/07/08 by email saying this department will only responed to email and if I would like to email my compliant they would be happy to deal with it.
    In the words of Sir Terry Wogan IS IT ME!!!!!

  20. I have ht exactly same problem as End of Tether. Cancellation charge taken without warning. Their error has been acknowledged in emails and by letter. Most recent, from one Ryan Victor in leter dated 12 July promised repayment in 7 – 10 working days. Can only assume they work one day weeks. My latest phone call was taken by a man based, he said, in Lithuania. He agreed refund due and he would see that this was done but “it would take a month” He could not explain why. I am now preparing a letter to send to CISAS. Has anyone else tried this avenue?

  21. LOL – I just Googled “pipex phishing phone call details known” and found here.

    Just checked my emails for the first time in a couple of days to find an email through from Pipex threatening to cut me off for non-payment. Strange thing was that I had a call from them in July.

    After making sure it wasn’t a crook (i.e. the guy quoted me some personal details), we got the situation sorted. Now in August I get “Unless the balance is paid and a new Direct Debit/Credit Card Instruction is received within the next 6 days your Pipex services will be suspended.”

    I’ll call them tomorrow (Saturday). Obviously I am now worried that the phone call was from some crook. I suppose I could just fill out the details on their website, but I’m concerned in case my details have been hacked by the crook passing himself off as Pipex.

  22. After writing above, I got an “email undeliverable” message. Their email system is to a “do not reply” address. Sheesh. So much for them saying “In the meantime if we can be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.”
    ;-)

    Life is too short to get worked up about other people’s ineptitude.

  23. Update – I called a nice lady in their credit control dept. I explained about my phishing worry. She confirmed the transaction nr the chap who phoned me in July had given me. “The computer system had crashed and details lost”, she said.

    I didn’t query why she was then able to give me the details of the new credit card – details that I had only given Pipex in July – details that would have been lost if their system had actually crashed. Or if they knew they had a problem with lost details, they could have got some wage-slave to go through the accounts and checked it instead of sending termination emails to customers they might want to keep.

    Lessons – keep notes of all calls. Dates, times, confirmation codes.

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