Pipex – Terrible Service (long)

Well, I am back online now after over a month without any method of connecting to the internet. I would like to say about how my ISP (Pipex) provided some wonderful technical support and helped me through the process, going the extra mile to earn the money I pay them each month.

In reality, the opposite is true. I will try to keep this brief as I am angry enough to rant for months over this, and I have every intention of bringing this up on a regular basis to make sure it remains “current” in search engines.

Basically put, Pipex is a “bad shop.” It provides a moderate service which is no longer really cost-effective in the ISP market of the UK. The headline promise is 8mb connection speeds but, so far, I have never got over 3mb. Once upon a time it had a good standard of technical support services, not any more. Pipex technical support and customer services are so bad it defies belief. It is one thing having a hard time helping a customer, it is another to lie and be rude to them. Pipex are terrible. Needless to say I am in the process of changing ISP now. On to the back story for this rant.

On 5 Aug, my internet connection died. No warning, no indication. At first I thought it was a fault or something with the server (the log kept reporting “LCP Down” and “Failed to synchronise”), so I tried to see if this was the case. Sadly, due to the time of day, the only way to see if there was a problem was to log on to Pipex’s website. Hard to do without an internet connection…

I was going to wait until the next day to call, but I was working overseas that week and had to be on the plane at 0500 — long before Pipex opened the helpdesk. At this stage, it was just a few hours without a connection so I wasn’t all that bothered and I asked my wife to call (I have previously contacted tech support and told them she can call on my behalf and she has the username and password details as required by Pipex’s T&C). At this point, everything is fine.

My wife calls pipex, reports the fault and they spend best part of an hour going through the basic questions, getting her to reboot the router, the pc, etc. This is still fine, although part of me suspects the tedious, repetitive, nature of it is down to the fact I was paying for the phone call, not Pipex. At this stage in the fiasco, Pipex still had a loyal customer who was broadly happy with the service.

None of this produces any results, and the technical support guy suggests we try different ADSL filters, try the router on a different phone plug etc. At this point my wife decides she has had enough for now and will try this later on. Later on, nothing changes (my wife didn’t know I had already tried all this on the Sunday night). Again, it is now too late to call Pipex so she leaves it to the next day.

The next day comes round, she calls Pipex only to be told the technical support person will not deal with her as she is not the main account holder. The conversation ends there. Nothing she says will convince the person to help, nor will the fact she spent an hour the day before talking to them. The demand from Pipex is that either I make the call or I call to let them know my wife can deal on my behalf. The fact I had already done this was lost on them as it wasn’t “on the system.” Sadly, I was out of contact at this point and it would be two more days before my wife could speak to me. The chance of me making an international call to Pipex to try and straighten things out was minimal anyway. This means we had another two days without an internet connection. On the Thursday, after confirming with me that I had indeed informed Pipex that she could deal on my behalf, my wife called Pipex again. This time, the tech support person was more than happy to talk to her and never once made a reference to her not being the account holder. Sadly, this willingness to help was short lived as the support person made my wife go through every one of the previous days steps, as well as trying different filters. Obviously, Pipex have no way of keeping any records… When none of this resulted in an internet connection, the tech support person suggested the router may be at fault and asked if we could try to use the ADSL modem or a different router. Again, this was not something which could be easily done there and then, so my wife gave up and said she would call back the next day. It was now Thursday evening and we had been without ADSL for four days.

Come Friday, my wife calls Pipex technical support again to inform them that the ADSL modem we had wouldn’t connect either. Again, after a long wait where you listen to a very bored voice saying “we value your call” (really, you have to hear this to believe it), she got through to an abrupt tech support person who flatly refused to deal with her as she was not the main account holder. As before, no amount of arguing on her behalf would make this person budge. At this point, knowing I was back on the Monday, my wife gave up and lived without the connection for the weekend. Needless to say, now we are no longer “happy” customers but it wasn’t enough to make me want to go through the hassle of changing ISP.

Monday 13th comes round, I get back and buy a new router, just to be on the safe side. This router has exactly the same problems (LCP and Sync failures) as the last one. Sadly, by the time I am home it is too late to call tech support so we leave it to the next day. Because of my job, I can only really call them at about 2000hrs, an hour before they give up and go home, so late on Tuesday I call the help desk. I get a very keen sounding guy who comes across as willing to help, and this lifts my spirits a touch. It goes downhill when he tries to get me to start from scratch (“have you tried rebooting the router” etc), but we quickly get on to the important bits. I explain that even the new router is not helping and there is no way the fault is at this end. He assures me there is no fault at Pipex and says the fault must lie with BT. After dire warnings about a £60 call out charge if BT come out and there is no fault he says he will “escalate” it to BT and promises to let me know (by email (!!), phone or text) as soon as they hear more. Ok, so far it is annoying but within reasonable tolerance levels.

Wednesday and Thursday pass without any news or any net access. By the time I got home (early for a change) on Friday my patience was wearing thin and I called them again. The helpdesk person says that BT can take “5 – 7” days to respond but promises to chase it up and will get back to me by the close of business that day. Obviously (in hindsight) this was a lie and no contact was attempted. By Saturday morning I was getting annoyed and I called again. The help desk person repeats the 5 – 7 days mantra and claims no knowledge of the previous days promises, but he also promises to chase up BT and have a response before the helpdesk closes. Again, no response but I was getting fed up with this, so I left it until Monday. The residual goodwill I had for Pipex was fading quickly now.

I called Pipex when I got home from work on Monday. Amazingly, the helpdesk guy says BT sent an engineer out to test the line at the exchange, found some faults which they then fixed and Pipex were just waiting to hear from me to see if it was still faulty. I asked when this had took place and was told it had been done on Thursday and because Pipex hadn’t heard from me in so long they thought it was all fixed. Stunned beyond belief over this, but trying not to rant at the poor helpdesk person, I explained what had been said previously and that I still had no internet connection (this was 15 days now). The helpdesk person apologised and said he would return the fault to BT. Amazingly he also promised to send me a text before the end of the next day with an update – although only after I explained why sending me an email was pointless.

Tuesday, as expected, there was no news. Sadly, thanks to work I was never going to be able to get near a phone in time to call the (un)help desk so my wife did it again. This time, the erratic pendulum swing meant they were perfectly happy to talk to her and explained the problem was going to be escalated back to BT. When she pointed out this had been said the day before, all the guy could do was mumble a bit, say sorry and that the system seemed to show it hadn’t been sent back to BT. Wonderful. Even better, they said it would be about 5 – 7 more days before BT responded. Well, as you can imagine I was over the moon.

Wednesday became a bit confused as Pipex sent my wife’s phone (she had told them the number when they promised to call her back) saying they needed to speak to her to arrange a BT engineer coming round to the house. When she called the tech support people back (as asked), they refused to speak to her as she wasn’t the main account holder. She asked why they had texted her when it wasn’t the main account holders phone number (they had mine separately) and the tech support guy became confused but still refused to deal with her. An hour later, she got another text saying she needed to call tech support to arrange the visit. Anticipating more chaos she rang but this time they were more than helpful. The tech support asked for three dates which would be suitable for the engineers visit and she chose Friday and Tuesday / Wednesday of the next week (the Monday was a bank holiday). Happy with this, the Pipex guy said BT would contact her closer to the date to confirm timings.

We heard nothing on Thursday or Friday (not surprising really), but oddly on Saturday, Pipex sent my wife a text saying that there had been a problem with those dates and BT couldn’t do it. Helpfully though, they confirmed that an appointment had now been booked for 31 Aug. My wife called back to confirm if it was a morning or afternoon appointment and yet again, tech support refused to speak to her. When I got the chance, I called and was told it was an afternoon appointment but the support person couldn’t explain why they had refused to speak to my wife earlier on as he had it on his system that she could call on my behalf.

I had, intermittently, been checking my email from various cafes and the like throughout this saga of stupidity. On 20 Aug, I’d sent an email to Pipex complaining about the lack of connection and the lack of tech support call back (despite the promises). As a result of this it was ironic that on 29 Aug (a mere NINE days later), I recieved this email:

Thank you for your email

I apologise about the delay in our response

I can see from our system that an appointment has been booked for you 31/08
between 1 – 6pm. Our system also shows we have tried to make you aware of
this via text message on 25/08. Can you confirm if you are aware of this?

I hope this has been helpful

Well, I was almost lost for words. What rounded off the comical nature of this was the follow up. The very next day my wife received an email saying there was a problem and could she ring tech support.

When she called they miraculously decided they could speak to her and explained that a fault had meant the booking hadn’t actually been made. Instead they arranged the booking for Monday 3 Sep. The tech support person assured my wife it had “definitely been confirmed” this time and would be between 1pm and 6pm again. When my wife pointed out that this meant we had been a full month without a net connection but we had still been billed for it, she was assured that we would get a refund as soon as the connection was repaired. (I will leave aside the issue of why they had to wait for the connection to be restored before they could refund…)

When Friday rolled round (again, I was working), my wife had another text saying, again, that there was a problem with the booking and could she call Pipex, again. This time when she rang the retard on the help desk refused to speak to her. Eventually I got to a phone and was told that BT couldn’t come on Monday and it would be Wednesday. Blimey. Angry is an understatement.

Eventually, the story has a happy ending. The BT engineer came round and worked hard, when he left the internet connection was restored. My wife called to ask about the promised refund but was told they cant talk to her as she is not the main account holder (etc).

Hopefully I have learned my lesson here. Pipex have gone out of their way to make me a disgruntled customer and I aim to change ISP as soon as it is possible. I am half way through a 12 month contract but the penalty for cancelling before the end is only 1 months line rental. I have written to Pipex to say that I consider the months line rental they took without providing a service is the termination fee and requested my MAC code to switch. I dont think I am going to hold my breath though…

I would strongly suggest to anyone looking for an ISP to avoid Pipex. When it works their broadband service is average and when it doesn’t work their customer service is abysmal. The help desk staff covered the full spectrum from polite and helpful, to rude and obnoxious. If Pipex do not want to spend money having customer-facing staff who can be polite and helpful all the time, then they do not deserve my (or your) custom in the first place.

Do not use Pipex. Pipex is a “bad shop.”

[tags]Pipex, Bad Shop, Bad Customer Service, ISP, Bad ISP, Terrible Service, Bad Technical Support, Technology, Broadband, Rant[/tags]

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