July 25, 2006

NTL Hatred

My advice:

DO NOT EVER GET A CONTRACT WITH NTL

Let me repeat that:

DO NOT EVER GET A CONTRACT WITH NTL

They are a SHIT company. Let me explain.

When I moved house but carried my NTL account on, they started double billing me. Fortunately, I had refused to pay by direct debit because I had an inclination not to trust them. For three months, they continued to double bill me, even though I rang them and explained the problem after each new bill, paying the correct amount each time. Finally they stopped double billing me, but it was another two months before the outstanding amount was taken off my bill, and even then it was only when someone at NTL took it off even though they weren’t authorised to do so. The previous ones had told me that the problem was sorted when they presumably had done nothing. In the light of this, you can see why I am not really that excited about the prospect of letting NTL dip into my account at will. In fact, I am extremely irritated that they keep my debit card details on their system so that I don’t have to give my number each time.

So, when a few months into this academic year they introduced a “Non-direct debit handling charge” of £4 a month I was pretty pissed off. The purpose of this is to punish you for wanting to retain control of your own money. I assume that if pressed they would argue that this offsets the risk of non-payment from non-direct debit payment. I would have more sympathy for this point of view if overall charges had gone down as a consequence, but in fact this is just an additional charge slapped on top. In the last month or so, they have taken this one step further. As well as the £4 a month for non-direct debit payment they have also introduced a £10 late payment charge. Again, this is purely punitive, and further designed to push you into direct debit payment, so they can double bill you and make you work to get your money back (and in the meantime they have your money and there’s no way you can impose a £10 charge back on them).

This is a company that is very underhand in its dealings with customers. Two years ago when I first got my account with them they advertised a deal whereby you got internet, TV and telephone and you didn’t have to pay for the line rental. This year, they sent me a letter saying that for the last four months I hadn’t been charged line rental and they were retroactively charging me for it. When I rang them they explained that it was a time limited deal (it didn’t say that on the advert, at least not anywhere you would actually notice). Whatever, rather than sending me a letter explaining that I would in future months be charged for line rental, they waited four months and then charged me retroactively, eliminating any possibility of my cancelling my contract.

This brings me onto another issue. I rang them today to pay my bill and cancel my account. It turns out that from this month their freephone line has been replaced with a 5p/min line, so that you now have to pay while they keep you on hold so that you can pay your bill. This is of course just more money grubbing and punishment for not paying by direct debit. I paid my bill, and said I wanted to cancel my account. I was told that I had to be transferred to another department for that, and that I would have to wait 30 minutes before getting through to anyone. Not only that, but they also need 30 days notice to cancel my account. Of course I asked if there was any other way I could cancel my account, for instance by writing. I was told no, I had to wait 30 minutes on their paying line listening to their fucking annoying music to do so. Fuck that shit. Why is that when you want to pay them money, they answer immediately, but they have a whole separate, understaffed cancelling accounts department to put you off wanting to cancel. That is a pretty shitty and underhand way to treat people. Also, there is no good reason for them requiring 30 days to cancel your account. They can do it with the press of a button I’m sure, and it’s just another way to screw you out of another months charges if you’re a bit forgetful.

On top of this, they are technically very incompetent. The TV quite often just doesn’t work. The NTL set top box is bug ridden, and the interactive service hardly ever works. When I ring them up, I have to enter my telephone number and account number before I can speak to anyone, but they then ask me to give them this information again (all the time paying 5p/min). Not only that, but their automatic menu system is incredibly slow, they play long messages at you and have long pauses between automated announcements. All the time you’re paying 5p/min. Bill payments frequently fail to go through for technical reasons on their end. I have had to hold the line frequently when ringing them because their “system has crashed again”, and in one case was told to ring again tomorrow because they couldn’t do anything today. Today after paying my bill, they rang me half an hour later to complain that I hadn’t paid my bill, I said this and the guy said “Oh yes, I see that now”. Look at your fucking screen before bothering me you idiot.

It’s difficult not to get the impression that this company will do anything they can to intimidate you into paying by direct debit, and that they will exploit you at every opportunity. I wouldn’t be surprised to find out that they have fine tuned the length of pauses on their automated menu system. Just long enough to extract the maximum amount of 5p/min from you, but not long enough to make you give up. Having said that, making you give up is probably profitable too, after all then you have to ring back and do it all again.

In summary, I suggest that if possible:

DO NOT EVER GET A CONTRACT WITH NTL

I personally will never get another one.

Rant over.

Now, perhaps someone who knows about these things can help me here. Is there any way I can effectively complain about NTL and/or get my account cancelled without having to jump through their ridiculous hoops? They have a phone number for the Ombudsman on their bill (I assume they’re forced to do this by Ofcom).


- 18 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Joe

    NTL do that sort of stuff. I rang them up to cancel my television with them because as you say it is rubbish. They cancel the TV and then I ask what my new bill will be and they tell it has gone up because I was being charged wrong. So from one phone call to them I have lost my TV and I am paying more. I quickly ended the phone call because I was very annoyed. I searched on the internet and found this link . So I called them back and threatened to leave, the price soon went down and I am paying £9.99 a month for 2mbit internet.

    25 Jul 2006, 08:08

  2. I fell foul of the 30–day issue when I left my house in Leamington in 2004.

    Fortunately, NTL were too incompetent to use my forwarding address — so I never saw another bill from them again.

    The fact that they can't do anything right has its benefits as well.

    25 Jul 2006, 09:10

  3. padi777

    threaten them with court action over the £10 late payment penaty fee you will get it back,am trying to get back the £4 DD charges since 2004

    27 Jul 2006, 17:32

  4. me

    i used to use the free business ntl number and get them to put me through.. not sure if they will still stand for that
    0800 052 9000

    12 Aug 2006, 17:52

  5. DOUG COLLIER

    NTL IS SO SHIT
    GO WITH SKY IT WORKS

    17 Sep 2006, 18:09

  6. pongo

    Have recently received ntl Debt Collectors letters. I cancelled my service in May 2006, but they did not take the last two direct debits. Have posted them a cheque, but have received no replies. My last letter informed them that I would be billing them for any further time wasted or letters and if necessary would recoup the amount through the Small Claims Court.No doubt they will ignore that too. My council did last year as well. They soon woke up when the court awarded me the amount I claimed and I got the local press involved. If they owe you money or have caused damage sue them.Court procedure simple give useless ntl hell.

    26 Sep 2006, 15:45

  7. mike

    despite my name, ( real !), I’m as honest as the day is long, honest ! .. so, don’t take this the wrong way, but, I am glad in a way that I’m not the only poor sod who has suffered at the hands of these half-wits ..
    I’ve been a customer since 1996, ( when it was Nynex, then went to Cable and Wireless, and then NTL ) ..
    Only reason I’m still with them ?? .. poor alternatives, and, when threatening to leave them earlier this year, they offered me a deal that I would have been crazy to decline, ( and I ain’t ), ‘despite’ the appaliing record that they had, and still have ... unfortunately, ( or should that read ‘predictably’ ), they recorded ‘the offer’ incorrectly on their system, and, as a result, I’ve had more hassle ever since, culminating in ‘them’ threatening to terminate ‘my’ contract, ( ‘NO’ valid grounds were given for this ) ... !!!
    In all the time I have been with them, I have had countless run ins with them over all sorts of things, and in every case, it’s been down to their sheer incompetence ... I would like to ‘take them to the cleaners’ over this latest incident, but, I’m not sure ‘how to proceed’ as yet, but, I ain’t giving up, and I ‘will’ find a way ... they are simply a bunch of ‘c”^£$’ .. and I do not apologise for the strength of the comment, as it is 100% accurate ... any ‘offers / suggestions’ on how to proceed, would be gratefully received ...
    Cheers, Mike ...

    02 Nov 2006, 14:02

  8. Graham

    Well, in desparation, I googled “why are ntl so shit?” and up popped a big long list. I went ntl because I thought that with fibre-optic cable they would be able to provide a really ecellent service, but 8 years later they obviously can’t. They can’t even deliver the TV and “bradband” pings can be over 5 seconds-ha! yes, seconds, not millisenconds. They are utterly useless. So, rather late in the day, I have finally decided to switrch, probably either BT or pipex, any advice?

    05 Nov 2006, 19:25

  9. corrine

    i quite agree their internet is slow and tempremental,(broadband) the telly box loses channels for days,i cannot believe how craap they are, i’ve had 3 set top boxes in 3 years. and they still charge you line rental if the problem is their fault. totally crap

    09 Nov 2006, 19:10

  10. fucking

    wankers fucking useless i wish i had stuck with my dial up connection at least then i had a better service!!!!

    18 Nov 2006, 19:18

  11. so bored

    boo oranges are purple

    18 Nov 2006, 19:28

  12. jim

    Its probably the SQL dickheads or whatever database they youse getting two matches.
    But how would that be right that you move house and the database says (same name) name (date of birth) 00.00.0000 but wrong correlation between address.

    A flag should appear saying query not charge, but I geuss thats what happens, they charge instead of query becuase they have you bank account details and if you dont query your bank then what?.

    What we have in place these days is a what the companies thought would be a autonomous system to collect payments whilst saving on costs, but what we realy have in place is a mis administered system that stretches far and wide that is corrupted where payments are taken and

    Im bored you finish it.

    25 Nov 2006, 05:21

  13. jim

    Pongo has it.
    I should read more before posting.

    All said its robots Vs humans, NTL basic TV is shite, the phone is only just better than BT which is shite, Bring back the GPO telephone service, funded by the UK public and then privitise it, AGAIN!.

    Anyway fuck the politions and the money grabbing in cunts inbetween.

    I only have one positive comment, NTL broadband does the biz, and respect goes to the guys who planed, well planed realy, you can get any monkey to run a cable, its the planning that counts. Ive studied CCNA CCNP and other shit and the guys have it together. SO respect to NTL Broadband.

    As for the bussiness thier like credit card companies, fuck em!.

    25 Nov 2006, 05:58

  14. neil pollitt

    piss poor

    02 Dec 2006, 19:56

  15. neil pollitt

    ntl is wank, there broardband has 2 speeds.stop and slow,the t.v is shite,and as for when u phone them up its like speeking to someone out of little britian

    02 Dec 2006, 20:06

  16. GAV

    NTL are the worst company I’ve ever dealt with. Here’s my story (although it’s not as bad as the ones above):
    Six months ago I got a call from NTL offering me digital and fifty channels for €5 extra. Cool, I said – sign me up! Three months later, the installation team came out (a different company by the way) and told me the reception was bad and the signal needs to be boosted before any installation can be made. Boo! Anyway, NTL billed me for €5 extra on the next bill anyway. I rang to complain and after 30 mins got through to someone. They apologised and promised to credit my account next month. Okay. Meanwhile, still no sign of the signal being boosted, and lo – the next month I was charged the extra €5 again! I rang to complain and they promised it would be credited next bill. Meanwhile, the installation company came out again – same two guys – and said that the signal still wasnt boosted. They also added that NTL are the most incompetent company they deal with.
    I am currently switching address and am just waiting for the shit storm that comes with that obvious connundrum.

    12 Dec 2006, 17:18

  17. mike

    How can ntl charge me £10 for paying my bill 3weeks after it was issued,new bill not here yet.Billing used to be every 3months with bt where i am going back too.NTL are crooks they have overbilled me many times and keep saying i get 4mb broadband when a test shows i get about 1.67 i also never asked for 4mb.TOTAL CROOKS NEVER DEAL WITH THIS AWFUL COMPANY.

    19 Jan 2007, 13:13

  18. ste

    After spending 3 weeks and over £14 on phone calls, i finally got an engineer to come out to check the signal coming to my computer. Let me give you some background here’

    Im an IT Technician with 7 years networking and computer configuration experience, and have worked in local government supporting mass user systems.

    The first engineer (after the 3 hour 5p/min phone call where i explained my job, and diagnosed it FOR them) said that the signal to the modem was too strong and had blown the modem, the reason i couldnt see it was a misconfiguration with my computer. i laughed at him and asked him to explain, or try and fix, he refused without having an engineers fee. He quickly left the premesis after adding a noise reducer and another modem to the line.

    THREE days after this occoured, the internet goes off again, and i call up. The next available engineer will be 24th Jan between 8 and 1 (Today). Fair enough, i took a day off work, and waited in till 1:30 where i got annoyed and called them up. I learned that all appointments in my area were cancelled because of an area outage. I asked why, because the problem is NOT area based and got fed a load of bull. it is now 17:49 and i am still waiting for the faults manager to call me back after a 3 hour phone call to every department in NTL and threats of one cancellation. Internet is working, however the fault is sporadic, and we need an engineer to check the line and double check the previous engineers findings. Is it that difficult to instruct an engineer (who lives 2 streets away) to come round on his way home, to do a 5 min check up on a line?? obviously it is.

    Due to 2 conversations with very helpful (and without being racist) English Customer Care assistants, i managed to get a reduction from 17.99 to 9.99 a month, and then again from 9.99 a month to nothing for 6 months and 6 months at 9.99. however, the problem still isnt fixed. The Non-British assistants were not only rude, unhelpful and had a severe lack of interest in anything i had to say (can you check the lights on your modem? whats the point, i know its working at the moment, the case is a sporadic problem, as in, not permanant…), but when asked to connect me to a supervisor or another department, they hung up on me on one occasion, transferred me to TV faults, transferred me to Installations department, transferred me through to a queue for paying my bill etc…

    I ask these questions.. Why cant NTL sort out thier staff so if they are in wherever they are, they are trained to british standards of customer serivice, they make sure the telephonists are listening to the customer, and ensure that they have an upto date list of extension numbers. Why cant they let you know that an appointment has been cancelled so you can go out and not spend money trying to find out where the **ing engineer is, and, finally, why a pre booked error (by over a week) gets cancelled due to an area outage, when it could easily be reassigned to another engineer, or postponed.

    I doubt very much ill get a reply to this comment, however, i support networks in homes with NTL, and from this day are recommending Tiscali broadband, or Sky broadband (Connect package for Sky is 40GB Limit 2mb and 17.99 a month... and has an uptime of 99% so far, inc the trials, which is the same price as the NTHelL version and has more uptime. More to the point, if you have NTL TV, get Sky World for £43 a month and get broadband 16mb unlimited traffic for £10. cant say fairer than that.)

    The blog owner knows what he is talking about, tomorrow i am making a visit to the 9 networks i support in homes, and advise them that NTL is no longer a viable option.

    Thanks for reading, and i hope this helps.

    24 Jan 2007, 18:01


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