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Pipex - A Warning from History


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Right, prepare for a rant. Pipex were my broadband supplier for years and I was happy. There were a few hiccups here and there like any relationship, but we got through fine enough. Then I moved house in September and decided to just use that opportunity to cancel Pipex and get my broadband from Sky as all my stuff would be on one bill then and it'd be cheaper. So far so straightforward.

I left it a little late to contact pipex and phoned them the week before I moved house and was told by the friendly chap on the phone that they can do a 30 day cancellation or a 3 - 5 day cancellation so I told them I'd call back on Monday to give notice of the 3 - 5 day cancellation. No problem he said. No problem.

Monday came and I happily picked up the phone and informed Pipex that I was cancelling my accounts and that I was moving home. Again, no problem and I specifically mentioned the 3 - 5 day cancellation period I'd been told about the previous week. Friday the 19th of September came and I moved home. Hooray!

That was the last happy day in this tale. In October Pipex took the full monthly amount from my bank account which I thought was odd but figured it was all good but to be on the safe side I cancelled the direct debit at my bank. In November I got a letter complaining that they couldn't obtain payment as I'd cancelled my direct debit at my bank. This was very odd. So I phoned them.

Obviously my query was way too important to be dealt with by just one department so I gladly spoke to credit control, customer service and the cancellations department. Why have one foreign call centre when you can have 3 right? They told me that I had indeed been billed for an extra period and that the cancellation period for broadband is a flat 30 days. This was news to me. Nevertheless, Customer services agreed that I was misinformed and that I didn't owe them any extra money. In fact, they said, Pipex would owe me money as broadband and line rental was paid in advance so the money removed from my account in October was an overcharge. I put the phone down happy that all would be resolved and I would be a bit better off as a result. The initial incompetence should have set alarm bells ringing.

Oh look, another letter.

Pipex have recalculated the amount I owe and it's now 5.56. Well, that's nice but don't they owe me money? I picked up the phone. I patiently explained the situation and pointed out that while I was grateful they had recalculated surely they were aware that it should be less. No. It was proving tricky to persuade them of this despite my prior phone calls and reference numbers. Still, I was assured my complaint would be dealt with and the situation resolved. In the meantime they will put the credit department on hold. I take the opportunity to once more point out that I have moved house and could they please amend their records so that all correspondence goes to my new address as it's taking some time to reach me at present. No problem they say. No problem.

Time passes.

Ah, I've got post.


Pipex have kindly pointed out that I still owe them 5.56 and that failure to pay may harm my credit rating. They also point out that an admin fee of 25 will be added to this for the cost of sending the letter. A few phone calls later and 40 minutes of my life I'll never get back and I'm assured the admin fee will be put on hold. My complaint has apparently been logged on their concern system(a form of complaints register that is used by large companies) and I should get an answer within 4 - 5 days. This is at the start of December. I ask them to update my address and ensure they phone me at my new phone number(also supplied).

Hey, Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

A new year, a new start, a new letter from Pipex. Apparently I've not paid an outstanding balance of 30.56 and failure to do so will harm my credit rating and may result in court action.

By now, I'm starting to get annoyed. You may remember they actually owe me money. Once the rage subsides I think for a moment. Is it worth it? Is 5.56 a lot if it means they never contact me again? I pick up the phone. No problem I'm told. If I pay the 5.56 that's outstanding they will cancel the admin fee and my account will be closed and paid in full. Fantastic. I relax. I cease to think about Pipex. I get on with my life.

I also asked for an address to send a written complaint to which they happily provide. The girl fails to provide an address for Ofcom though and indeed doesn't seem to know who they are. Ah well.

I had a pretty rubbish day at work today. It was one of those days were lots of things just didn't go quite to plan and I felt a bit stressed. Probably didn't help that I didn't sleep well. Anyway, home time now so I'll get in and relax. Maybe have a wee beer and look at some photos I took over the weekend. I put my key in the door and swing it open. It's pretty dark so i turn on the light. Oh, some post. Wonder what this letter is that's been forwarded from my old address. I open it.


It seems to demand my attention. I read on.

"We are instructed to draw your attention to the outstanding amount owed to our client and what may happen if Court Action is taken to recover this sum"

Oh for...

"Client: TISCALI UK LTD" (Pipex owned by Tiscali)


I totally lose it. I stomp and rage round my flat. I shake my fist at the heavens and scream Pipex's name. I pick up the phone. I struggle through a very frustrating conversation with someone in Pipex credit control before hanging up as I was on the verge of saying things I would regret and it wouldn't be fair to the person on the other end. I have a coffee. Pick up the phone again.

I'm much calmer now. The lady on the phone seems nice. I explain. I tell her the admin fee was promised to be cancelled. "I do see the fee is outstanding sir, how would you like to pay that today?". I am not rude but I do ask if the lady has been listening to me. I am told that I have to phone customer services. I point out the stupidity of having to phone a different department to sort out an outstanding credit issue when I'm already speaking to credit control. Before i hang up I ask for the address for their industry regulator. They should be ready to provide this when asked but the girl on the phone doesn't know what I'm talking about. I tell her I don't mean to sound rude or take it out on her as it's not her fault. She says she understands.

I phone customer services but I don't have much hope left. I'm broken. What have I done to deserve this? All I did was move home. Now my credit rating is in jeopardy and I could end up in court. I work in a bank, this could directly affect my job! The phone rings. I hit option 2. I get put through to an angel named Rachel. She says it's wonderful to have the opportunity to help me and doesn't bat an eyelid when I tell her she won't think that in a minute. Rachel reminds me of the doors from Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Rachel fixes everything. She updates my address. Unprompted she asks if my problems might stem from moving home and notices that i may have been overcharged. Rachel apologises for the way my complaints have been handled. She talks things through with me, calms me down and does everything she's meant to do. She files a claim on my behalf with Finance to get the admin fee refunded along with 20 that I've been overcharged for. She did this without me asking! I'm amazed. I tell Rachel she's ace, Rachel replies that she's surprised I was so patient and not angry given how my complaints and account have been handled.

Hope is restored. I'm not entirely confident but there's an end in sight now. Rachel makes it even clearer how incompetent Pipex were previously. Rachel gives me Ofcoms address.

Never in my life have I dealt with a more incompetent company when it comes to complaints or account cancellation(Rachel excepted). Seriously steer clear folks.

Sorry for the length of the rant but I really needed to get that down in writing. Feels much better! I tried very hard not to swear. :)

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I feel your pain. I had untold issues with Tiscali when I moved house, and spent many fruitless hours shouting at the incompetent tools in their call centres. Unfortunately, there was no Rachel to save the day in my case, and after several days of unrelenting frustration, i ended up just telling Tiscali to shove their broadband service where it doesn't shine.

Simply the most hopelessly fuckwitted organisation I've ever dealt with.

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Guest Tam o' Shantie

had a similar thing with tiscali, they took about 4 attempts to give me my code...(can't remember the name of it) eventually got it, moved on and was charged for months afterwards, had to keep phoning over and over again to get them to cancel the 'debt' i owed them, and eventually it just happened. nightmare.

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I hope your going to write a shining letter of wonderfulness highlighting how helpful and pleasant Rachel was to Pipex/Tiscali.

she shall be mentioned in the letter but only once the situation has been fully resolved. i've had false hope before. anyway, rachel should be the rule not the exception. she only shone because she actually did her job unlike the other less enlightened people i spoke to.

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To be fair it must be pretty soul destroying to just deal with miserable people all day and you know it's your company's fault they're miserable. When I cancelled my F2S (another broadband supplier swallowed by Pipex then Tiscali) account I told them it was because the general level of service was so bad since it became Tiscali. They agreed immediately and gave me my MAC number.

Dave the only thing I can suggest you should have done differently is this that after the first couple of times you should have started aiming higher. Don't speak to the grunts that have failed you in the past, get to the management. Demand to speak to supervisors and start writing letters (these should be polite, detailed and go as high up as you can, I recently got a decent result from complaining to the director of customer services at Next) as well. I had a long running dispute with Scottish Hydro that only got resolved once I stopped talking to the helpdesk drones.

Also as soon as they claimed ignorance of Ofcom you should have called Ofcom yourself and got them involved.

Glad you got it sorted in the end though.

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Wirelessly posted (Opera/9.60 (J2ME/MIDP; Opera Mini/4.0.10406/558; U; en) Presto/2.2.0)

Writing the post was cathartic and necessary to warn others of the evils of pipex.

also i asked to speak to supervisors and managers but was always told they were unavailable.

i shouldn't have done anything differently. What they should have done differently was deal with the issue in the first place.

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Anyone want to phone Pipex and get in touch with Rachel?

That's not a bad idea... Get as many different people as possible to phone Pipex all asking for Rachel, then explaining that Rachel is the only staff member who knows what their doing and she should be congratulated. See if management get the message...

This is often the problem with these companies - they have the technology and systems in place to help, but the majority of the staff have no motivation or desire to help as they just have no loyalty to the company. Many years ago I worked for Directory Enquiries at BT. All the staff were on well paid permanent contracts with BT, and by and large they really cared about providing a good service. There were regular meetings with management, training courses, and a good social atmosphere. Then BT offered very attractive redundancy packages which I and a lot of others took (which paid for a few months touring...) After a year or two, I was at a loose end for a month or so, and heard that short term contracts were going at BT, so thought it would fill in a bit of extra cash. I was shocked when I went back at how different it was. The place was full of students, part-timers and generally all people who couldn't care less about the service, and were treated with little or no respect by the management. They were just a production line of bad attitude waiting for their (now fairly paltry) pay cheque. And the customer service was correspondingly terrible.

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Pipex have also ballsed up my billing in the past, and my ex-flatmate's when he tried to move. From the very first bill our payment was buggered, as they seemed unable to set up a simple direct debit. When they asked to cancel the botched attempt they'd made and set up a subsequent one I foolishly said yes. So they set up about 6 seperate direct debit claims on my account and took three month arrears from damn near all of them. Like Dave, it took me many phonecalls until I got what felt like the one-and-only employee that seemed keen and able to help.

This was about two years ago, glad to see they've improved their customer service.

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