Long rant – if you are reading this on Planet Atheism / Planet Humanism (or just aren’t interested) and you don’t want to know about my troubles with a UK based ISP please skip this 🙂 If you know anyone thinking of getting a new ISP, simply tell them to avoid Pipex at all costs.
My problems with Pipex continue unabated. I am in the process of trying to move away from them and get Sky Broadband but I am hitting hurdle after hurdle.
Following on from the fiasco where I had an entire month without internet connection, despite repeated false promises by the customer services staff and the only offer Pipex could make to placate me was to promise me an extra months connection for free – when this free month will be is anyone’s guess, I am still being billed each month – the connection still sucks. Pipex technical support have reached new levels of incompetence and it is getting to the point where I am tempted to simply cancel this phone line and get a new one…
Since my internet connection returned at the start of this month it has been snail like. Internet banking is a hit and miss affair, as it will often time out before I get the chance to do anything. After a few days, when this reached unbearable, I started looking at the router settings etc. In doing this, I noticed that the router was reporting the connection was 576kbps when previously it had been saying 8192kbps.
Blimey, this shocked me. I use the internet a lot, for a lot of things, so I had been willing to pay over the average rate to go with an ISP that is reported to have excellent service, excellent reliability and very fast speeds. It turns out, I am paying over the odds for an ISP that has erratic service, terrible reliability, terrible customer services, terrible technical support and is barely faster than a good dial up connection. Needless to say I was incensed that I am paying their top rate for a service worse than any they describe on their site – when I signed up, you had the choice of three speeds “Up to 2mb” was the cheapest and a fraction of what I am paying.
Obviously, being a rational person, I was keen to get my facts straight and I tried several speed tester services (such as Thinkbroadband.com and www.speeedtester.bt.com), trying each on different days and so on. As you can see from the graph, Thinkbroadband confirms my suspicions that the connection had deteriorated massively. The Speedtester site had similar results, reporting:
Test1 comprises of Best Effort Test: -provides background information.
IP profile for your line is – 500 kbps
DSL connection rate: 288 kbps(UP-STREAM) 576 kbps(DOWN-STREAM)
Actual IP throughput achieved during the test was – 411 kbps
Jeepers, I thought to myself. Obviously this can’t be right! From thinkbroadband, you can see that the connection was never lightning – although it was certainly fast enough for any of my needs – and now it is terminally slow. Sending large emails (something which happens quite a bit) seems like it would be faster to write the binary code for the file on a letter and post it via Royal Mail. Seriously, it is that bad.
Anyway, on 08 Sep I’d had enough of this and I emailed Pipex’s tech support. By a miracle, I had a reply on 12 Sep giving me a list of steps to check out. Four days is good for Pipex. This read as follows:
Thank you for your email
The speed of a connection can be affected by a variety of things. One of
the biggest culprits in slowing a connection down is the P2P application.
P2P or Peer To Peer applications such as Kazaa, BearShare, LimeWire, WinMX,
eMule and eDonkey have gained world wide popularity and use.
If you are sure that there are no P2P applications running and that there
are no issues with your firewall then we would ask that you to perform the
follow diagnostics to eliminate your equipment from causing this issue.
We first need to make sure that your hardware is not affecting the speed at
which the ADSL runs at
1) Please make sure you’re not running any P2P applications or
data-streaming websites and to make sure you have scanned for viruses
2) Remove all other devices from the line (such as any phones, fax machines,
sky boxes, alarm systems and this includes downstairs and upstairs)
3) Swap the filters which your modem/router uses
4) If you have a spare modem/router then please try this to eliminate the
modem or router being responsible. Also for Modems please make sure that you
have the latest drivers update and if if you use a router, please make sure
you have the lastest firmware version.
5) Take the circuit back to a basic circuit. That’s just one PC (not a whole
network) and from the back of that you have 1 modem or router device which
goes through an ADSL micro filter and then directly into the BT master
socket (without an extension cable)
Running Speed tests
Once you have ruled out you’re hardware from being responsible there is a
speed test we need you to run so we can present the results to BT in order
for this matter to be investigated:
Connect to the internet using a BT username (speedtest@speedtest_domain) and
using ‘adsl’ as your password and then to run 6 speedtests at different
times of the day on a website at this address http://126.96.36.199 or
http://188.8.131.52 or www.speedtester.bt.com (Please note: you cannot view
webpages or use your e-mails whilst using this username)
If you do have problems using the speedtest@speedtest_domain username,
please go ahead and use your original Pipex Log on details, but you will
have to Note down the Date and Time you ran the TESTS, and the Results
Once you have done this, please call us on 0845 077 2455 and we can escalate
the fault to BT as we are unable to do this via e-mail.
Please feel free to contact us if you require further assistance.
I don’t have a problem with the “teaching to suck eggs” bit at the start, they have to go through the basics. I was a touch annoyed that they were asking me to redo each of the tests I had already done though. As I had already done tests on Speedtester, I telephoned customer support and was informed it was “important” that I did the tests using the speedtest log on data and the tests needed to be carried out over a “few consecutive days.” Eventually I gave up trying to resist and decided to comply with their demands. Due to the nature of my work, it was only today I managed to comply with the “consecutive days” tests.
Armed with the test data – all showing the connection never once went past 499kbps – I rang technical support again. After another 20 minutes listening to the most bored person in the world saying “we value your call” (seriously, ring up just to hear the irony in the way she says it), I got through to a tech support person. Now the fun began.
When asked what the problem was, I explained the whole deal, how the connection died all of August and how the speedtester was showing a snail like service. This prompted the “technician” to try and explain to me about how I should try a different filter or change the WiFi router to see if that helped. When I asked how that would affect the speedtest website (which tests the line, not your PC) he was a bit stumped. He recovered quickly though, and moved on to asking me to carry out the speed tests by logging in as speedtest@speedtest_domain.
I have tried this numerous times and each time I can “log” in (sort of) but the speedtest websites just return a “timed out” error – obviously not a good sign. I tried to provide the technical support person with my speedtest results, but he cut me off fairly quickly and said they needed to comprise of six tests over a 24 hour period. I was flabbergasted. No amount of protest would make him accept my test data from Speedtest. Instead, he said I had to carry them out again – “a few tonight, some in the morning, some in the middle of the day and a few in the evening then call back.” Quite how I am supposed to do this from work is beyond me, and he could offer no alternative. If I don’t do the 24 hours worth of tests, he claims the problem wont be escalated to BT. Amazing. The hideous cynic inside me thinks this was nothing more than an attempt to get me off the line so he could deal with an easier customer. Once more, however, it seems that every problem falls to BT and as Pipex informed me last time, they have no service level agreement so they feel totally absolved of any blame. Despite this, Pipex will not allow me to go direct to BT and require everything be done via them. Does this seem fair? Are they having their cake, eating it and loaning it out to others?
Well, anyway, I am now left with having to carry out another 24 hours worth of tests. Needless to say, I am not going to carry them out – I am going to aggregate my previous data and claim that is the current data. The upshot of this whole sorry mess is that I can’t even migrate to a new ISP until the line is restored back to its previous status – any other provider would simply end up providing me with a 0.5meg connection.
I really, really do hate Pipex now.
To really rub salt into the wounds, when you visit Pipex’s website it is covered with blurbs about how it is in the “Top 5 Broadband providers” and how “98% of customers are pleased with its speeds” and so on. This may be great for attracting new customers, but when you are a customer suffering the ills of the world it does nothing but infuriate. Add to this the almost criminally incompetent technical “support” and you can see why I really hate them. When Pipex were good, they were great. When the connection worked I was (like 98% of the others) happy with their service – largely this was because I had no idea just how bad their customer support is, nor how bad they treat you when you have problem.
I cant stress enough how much I would strongly recommend you did not use Pipex as an ISP.