Pipex still sucks

Long suffering readers of this blog will be aware of the problems I have had with my crappy ISP. Pipex used to be really good, and I have used them for years, then one day they were taken over by Tiscali. Tiscali had a reputation for being a terrible ISP, so logic would have said they’d buy a good one and learn how to improve.

No.

Tiscali took over Pipex and it went down the toilet. My internet connection is normally barely better than a 56k dial up modem. I have been trying to change ISPs, however I am caught between the problems of being on a contract with (the no longer existant) Pipex and being due to move house in a few months (making a new contract a pain in the ass). As a result I have to suffer this interminable service for a while longer.

To prove a point, this is what my connection has been like for the last year:

Speedtest Results from Thinkbroadband.com

Speedtest Results from Thinkbroadband.com

There are some gaps in the results – normally because for long periods of time my connection is so slow it wont run. Isn’t that a fantastic example of the modern, 24/7 connected society we live in.

Sadly, there is nothing I can do about it except continue in my quest to spread the word about what poor service Tiscali/Pipex offer. If you know anyone in the UK, please feel free to warn them! :???:

Terrible Pipex Service – Fiasco Continues

Well, I will try to keep this short and I promise to try and find a new topic to complain about, but surfing the internet at snails pace is painful.

I mentioned yesterday the fiasco I was having with Pipex, and their final suggestion was to do some tests for 24 hours then call back. Well, I carried out the tests and called them back. If only it had been that simple.

After a short lifetime listening to a bored “we value your call” (obviously they value it, I am paying to call them….) I got through to an operator who went through the questions required by the data protection act (I assume if it wasn’t for that darned act, they would happily give my details out to every one…) and once more I was asked what the problem was.

I explained, in detail, what had happened and the tech support creature started to ask me the standard questions about “had I checked the filters…” (etc). Fighting the urge to scream, I reminded him that I had already gone through all this and I was just calling with the test data so they could escalate it to BT. Rather than ask what the data was, he asked me “what sort of speeds” I had been getting “over the last few weeks.” I was stunned. So much for the 24 hours worth of tests nonsense. Anyway, I told him that before the “fix,” I’d been getting a consistent 4 (and a bit) mbps downstream and the line reported it was an 8mb connection and since BT fixed the exchange I was now on a line which reported itself as 500kbps. Then it got really comical.

The “technician” asked what sort of download speeds I was getting. I said 350 – 400kbps on average. He then explained to me how 350 – 400kbps was “about 4 meg.” This jaw dropping announcement left me silent for a moment or two while it really sunk in that he thought three hundred and fifty kilobytes per second was “about” four megabytes per second. What abstract definition of about do they use at Pipex? When I, politely, explained that 400kbps was “about” half a mbps he went quiet for at least 30 seconds. The silence became painful after a while and I genuinely wasn’t sure if he was still there.

Eventually, he found his voice again and said he would carry out some tests. After a few (silent) minutes where all I could hear was his frantic typing on a keyboard he confirmed the line was reporting it was a 500kbps and he would escalate it to BT – who would deal with it “in 1 – 6 days.” Wonderful, now I know that this time next week I will call Pipex again, who will say “sorry, BT had a problem, they will investigate in 1-6 days” and so on, ad infinitum.

Fundamentally this shows yesterday’s tech “support” person was lying through his teeth when he asked for the tests to be carried out. Today’s person didn’t care about my results and ran the test himself before sending it on to BT.

It amazes me that Pipex is still getting such rave reviews from people when they, basically, have untrained buffoons running their call centres and spend more money getting a low-life Z-lister like David Hasslehoff to front their campaigns than they spend on providing a service. As far as I am concerned Pipex is the worst ISP I have ever used (it is now even worse than Tiscali who used to be top of my List of Hate, comically Pipex’s fall from grace came when Tiscali bought them…) and I have no idea why every few weeks I get an email telling me how popular they are, how good their service is (for everyone else, obviously) and how I should recommend them to my friends. To be honest, there isn’t anyone I hate enough to recommend Pipex to them.

Please, feel free to spread the word.

[tags]Pipex, Bad Shops, Bad Customer Service, Pipex Sucks, Pipex Bad ISP, Bad ISP, ISP, Internet, Rant, Technology, Network, Tiscali, David Hasslehoff, Internet Service Provider, BT, ADSL, DSL, Modem, Networking, Orders of Magnitude, Bad Mathematics, Bad Networking[/tags]

Pipex – Terrible ISP

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…

Continue reading

Pipex Still Sucks

Following up from my previous rant about the terminally bad customer service experience I had with crappy Pipex, I have now had a letter from them explaining some of their “reasoning.” Even after reading this, I can confirm Pipex still suck and Pipex is still a “Bad Shop.”

There are two strands to my current annoyance. The first is a common one in the UK, in that I am paying for an “up to 8MB” broadband service and actually getting half a megabyte. Before this fiasco began, I was averaging around 4Mbps which was acceptable and there certainly have been no new broadband users on the exchange (the area is small enough that I would know). One of two things has happened – either BT have ****ed up when they tried to fix the connection or Pipex have spitefully changed my access without telling me. I have no way of knowing which it is, but before the problem the router I use reported its connection as “8192kbps” every time it connected (this was different to the actual speed I could get from the connection though). Now every time it connects, it reports a speed of “576kbps.” Upstream remains constant. Maybe some one who knows more about these things can tell me what is going on, at the moment I am waiting for Pipex support to come back to me over the problem. (I am not holding my breath…)

Secondly, the letter itself. This is a whole page basically telling me that Pipex pride themselves on their customer service but, basically, this is not Pipex’s fault. While this may well be true, it says nothing and answers none of my questions. Priding themselves on their customer service is irrelevant when their staff are rude and unable to help. It is a nice corporate slogan which looks good on advertisements, but the reality is they have a disgruntled customer and telling me I am in a minority does nothing to assuage that. As for it not being Pipex’s fault, why should I care? My contract is with Pipex not BT – it seems they were too lax (or too cheapskate) to negotiate a service level agreement with BT and as a result are unable to use any leverage with them. Pipex refused to give me any contact details of people at BT who I could complain to (or check on the status of the problem), so to all ends and purposes, Pipex are at fault. If you go to a restaurant and the food tastes poor, do you think the chef would turn round and say it wasn’t his fault the supplier sent bad tasting tomatoes?

The only sliver of light at the end of the tunnel is Pipex have given me a months free line rental, when the month will happen is beyond me as I have no intention of remaining with them. If anyone reading this works in a customer relations / retention type field, please take note. Hollow promises and corporate buzzwords do not make up for crappy service. Pipex should know better, but basically Pipex sucks.

[tags]Pipex, Bad Shops, Bad Customer Service, Technology, ADSL, Internet, ISP, Bad ISP, Bad Service, Internet Access[/tags]

Jessops is still a bad shop

Jessops is still a bad shop. Last week there came a point at which I was going to write a big, apologetic, post here about how Jessops had redeemed themselves in my eyes. Sadly is it not to be, and they have firmly entrenched themselves in my “Bad Shop” books. Interestingly, today I have a comment from someone who seems to be defending Jessops and I will deal with that in this post. This is quite a convoluted tale of woe but I will try to keep it simple.

First, the comment by Tycoon. For those of you who haven’t read the previous post, and its comments, this is what he wrote:

Once again, this is a typical example of what you think the website tells you, rather what it actually tells you.

1 million other customers who have used the service since it launched a few months ago, didn’t have a problem.

Wow, where do I start with this! Obviously I have no idea if this person works for Jessops or their web site people, but if s/he doesn’t it is an oddly worded comment. I have never engaged Tycoon in discussion before, so I dont know what “once again” is supposed to mean – other than this is a disgruntled help desk employee.

Critically, this is not an example of me making a mistake over what the website was telling me. The website explicitly informed me the items would be ready for collection. However, I have admitted it is possible I made a mistake, and it is. The fact 1 million (or how ever many) other customers have not had a problem is irrelevant. I had a problem and there was no system in place to make it better for me. Does Tycoon have any figures as to how many other online customers have had problems but not bothered to complain about it? Or the people who never got the site to work properly for them in the first place? It strikes me he is more concerned with the least important numbers.

Anyway, this is all in the past and I don’t want to descend into an argument over pedantry. Jessops is still a bad shop.The problem with my order continued and has affected other people I know. Now, there is the outside chance that the two shops in question are just badly managed, or that the people I know are just unlucky, but you have to start to wonder…

Looking at my order first, eventually I received a text message saying the order was ready and I could pick it up. Overjoyed – and tempted to forgive Jessops for my initial ranting – I took time off work, jumped in my car and drove the eternity to the town where Jessops is. I happily paid the £4 parking fee and went to the shop (I could have waited but the next time we were planning to go into town was two weeks away). In all the time between getting the text and arriving at the shop was just under two hours. In the shop there is a huge queue – comically the person at the front was complaining about an online order they had made, but I didn’t get the full details.

When I eventually get served, the assistant brings up a huge box with my name on it and starts to show me the items. Everything is there — except the camera and lens. After a search, the assistant draws a blank and seeks the managers advice. It turns out, they are out of stock of the camera – the last one they had was sold two days previously. So it seems that despite the text message sent to me telling me the order was ready, it actually wasn’t. I am sure this is not a case of me thinking the website was telling me something different to what it was really saying.

Now, at this point, there was nearly a huge row in the shop. I was furious at having taken time off work, driven all the way to town, all on a complete fabrication. Fortunately for my blood pressure, the manager diffused the matter by coming to a deal where I would take away the shop’s display model (heavily shop soiled), then when they had new ones in stock I could exchange it for a new one. This seemed reasonable enough for me, so off I went.

Having forgiven Jessops for their sins, my wife decided to purchase a tripod for me. This was double and triple checked on the website (it was in the collect@store special deals) to ensure it was available. It was, so the order was made. An hour later, my wife duly received the email and text message confirming the tripod was available for collection – so she goes into town to collect it – and ask if the camera was ready for exchange.

Shockingly, two people in front of her in the queue was a gentleman who purchased the last D80 they had in stock (nice of them). Still, no massive deal, so she asked to just collect the tripod. At this point, the assistant apologises and says they don’t have any in stock. He defends himself by saying they are on order and should be in by Saturday. So away she goes – with nothing. When we get home, we check the website – it is still marked as being in stock and check the emails. All point to the tripod being ready that day with no explanation as to why it wasn’t.

Saturday comes, we phone up this time, and neither the tripod nor the camera are in stock but a delivery has arrived and will be unpacked over the course of the day. In the afternoon we phone again – nope, they are not there but a delivery is due on Monday. Today, my wife has called them again and neither the camera nor the tripod are in stock, but a delivery is due… yeah, I am sure you get the point.

Add to this, a friend from work made a collect@store purchase for a Canon EOS400D camera (seeking the £10 saving). He went through the exact steps I did, got the store (a different one than I used) only to find out there were none left in stock but some more were on order. This was four days ago – it still hasn’t arrived and he has given up and bought it elsewhere.

It looks like I will end up doing the same for the tripod. I am still left with an excellent – if shop soiled – camera which I paid full price for and no signs of a possible exchange. The savings from using Jessops are quickly eaten up by the difficulties involved with actually getting hold of the goods. It doesn’t surprise me that Jessops are closing nearly a hundred shops over the country – with this sort of sales skills, I suspect more may go as well. Collect@Store is pointless if it doesn’t work.

Sadly, the staff in Jessops are wonderful (if poor at stock control) and know the subject very well indeed. It will be a shame to see the shops close, but at least then I will no longer be tempted to buy things from them and I can do the sensible choice and shop elsewhere.

[tags]Bad Shops, Jessops, E-Commerce, Camera, Nikon, D80, Digital Camera, Online Shopping[/tags]

Jessops – Bad Shop

The current line of ranting on technological subjects continues… This time it is the result of some mixed experiences with Jessops, a camera retailer with both on- and off-line shops.

Surprisingly for a High Street retailer, Jessops price their camera systems competitively with most online shops. For anyone who has not been unfortunate enough to try an dip their toes into the world of Digital SLR cameras, the whole thing is a muddle of choosing a camera body and lens from an array of options that really are mind boggling. Annoyingly, there are few retailers who provide the best price on everything, one will have very cheap lenses, but expensive camera bodies, another will be cheap bodies but extortionate shipping costs and so on.

As a result of this muddle (and wanting to have my new toy right now!), I eventually came to decide that the best solution would be to buy the camera and a kit lens from Jessops (I went for the Nikon D80 and a Nikkor 18-135mm lens for anyone who cares), then order other bits and pieces from cheaper, online, retailers (Warehouse Express is very good value for lenses). Continue reading

Norber Boulder

Norber Boulder

Norber Boulder,
originally uploaded by Ian G7KXV.

This is a stunning photograph taken in the Yorkshire dales by Ian G7KXV. This really appeals to me as a photo and I love the way the clouds work around the sun and the boulders. Apparently (according to flickr) this was taken with a Nikon D80 DSLR and it has gone a long way to influencing my choice of camera 🙂

Anyway, the main purpose for this post is to whine about flickr. Today I finally cracked and tried to upgrade to a pro account. I dutifully entered all my details as required and pressed “next.” Flickr realised I had made the mistake of selecting “Master Card” when I mean “Visa” and asked me to re-enter the card number. When I did, I was presented with a pop up page telling me that those card details were “already known” to flickr (or Yahoo, not sure which) and could I use a different card.

What madness. What does “already known” mean?

Given the furore about e-Commerce, and the emphasis placed on it by organisations such as flickr (which, surely, would cease to exist without it), why is it so bloody difficult to buy anything?