/ Technology

Switching ISPs isn’t always easy

Email @ being hooked

Mark Savage tells us he rues the day he switched from Sky to BT last June, a move that started with an unusable email service and ended with threats from debt collectors.

Before he switched over his account, Mark was adamant he wanted to keep his family email address, something BT said he’d be able to do.

Only when the account was switched did Mark find that his email wouldn’t work despite long calls to technical support. Mark told us:

‘Whether it was its servers or atrocious support staff, they couldn’t do it, and we persevered for a month or two until I thought I’d spoken to everyone in India, but it was rubbish and I’d had enough so I wanted to cancel my order.

‘BT said I had to give 12 months’ notice, but it had said I could leave if my email didn’t work. I cancelled my standing order and went back to Sky.’


In the ensuing changeover, the account wasn’t properly closed and BT called in debt collectors, threatening to damage Mark’s credit rating, despite the fact that the Ombudsman Services later found in Mark’s favour.

‘BT was then pursuing me for costs that they said I owed it for cancelling the contract. It was impossible to talk to anyone sensible and it went on and on – all I wanted was the £135 back that I’d paid for the router.

‘In the end, I got nowhere and contacted the Ombudsman, who found in my favour. But even then, BT interpreted the ruling differently to me. Eventually, I spoke to people who offered me compensation, but the whole process took months.’

BT’s response

We got in touch with BT for a response to Mark’s case. A BT spokesperson told us:

‘We’re always disappointed if, as in this case, we cannot reach an agreement with the customer. We always advise them of their right to take the case to the Ombudsman.

‘BT has apologised to Mr Savage for its handling of the case. We’ve cleared his outstanding balance and his BT account is closed. There will be no adverse effect on Mr Savage’s credit record. We have arranged to send him a cheque for £104.94, which is £64.94 for broadband charges and £40 as a goodwill payment.’

Did you try to keep your ISP email address when you switched to a new provider? Have you ever had a bad experience with a broadband provider – did you get a good result?

Chris Martin says:
7 August 2014

You cannot keep your email address when you change ISP’s for one simple reason. The domain name is owned by the ISP concerned, so you cannot use fredblogges@skycom for instance when you move to BT because BT’s systems will not recognise the sky.com domain. It is on a different IP address range and the email server you would connect to is owned by Sky rather that BT. So it would have to change to fredbloggs@bt.com.


This is not correct. Technically it is perfectly possible to have email accounts with one ISP and take broadband from another. NB I said technically, whether or not the ISP is willing to supply an email address to some one who does not take their BB is another issue.

If you read your email via webmail little should change but if you use an email client eg Windows Mail or Outlook you will have to either change the outgoing server (smtp) address to one provided by your new provider or tick a box authenticate using the same password as for incoming mail. NB not all smtp servers will allow this though.

As in one of the later posts if you want a permanent email address get your own domain name and get it hosted either by your ISP or a third party provider eg 1and1. It doesn’t cost a lot.


You can always retain your email addy from AOL, Talktalk, Tiscali, Lineone, Pipex when you switch to another ISP. Also Freeserve, Wanadoo, Orange providing you reactivate it every 219 days (you get a warning) on their website.

All you have to do is change your SMTP settings to either those of the new ISP or to those of the ols ISP on a different port other than 25, usually port 587 Authenticated.


Why do people obtain their e-mail address from their broadband supplier? This is madness, as it only serves to impose a significant constraint upon the customer. I’ve noticed that some of the best broadband providers don’t even supply e-mail mailboxes; they only supply connectivity.


Many people use their ISP’s email because they have paid for the service and can get help if needed. It’s an easy option and they may get reliable service, as I have done.


Further to my last post BT offered me BT Premium e mail at £1.60/month (not £2.50) as recently as March 2014. ‘If you’re leaving BT Broadband you can keep your BT email address and avoid having to tell your contacts that you’ve changed your email.’ As of today, I can still access my BT email account!


The reason people have email addresses from their ISP is often (as in my case) because they went “Online” when the Internet very first started and it was the ONLY way to get an email address – there were virtually no third party email account providers in the very early days of Internet and email. The result now is that customers are ‘held to ransom’ by having ISP driven email addresses!!


In the 1970s you mean?

I think you are confusing the Internet with the Web, a common misconception.

DerekP says: