/ 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?

Nopiano says:
10 August 2014

I would dearly love to move away from Virgin, but I have had several email addresses on their domain since the early noughties, when webmail was hardly relevant. As someone has already said, they won’t let you retain them.

Recently took BT at cottage near Hereford and the bob service is the best we’ve ever had. Thankfully we chose unlimited as are now into Netflix and Qobuz so use huge amounts! I’m no lover of BT but can’t fault the speed nor the modem which works brilliantly. Just hope I don’t need the ‘help’!

It’s perfectly possible to use a family e-mail account with any ISP. Our domain is hosted at an independent provider and we use gmail to collect e-m\ail from there and to send it via googles servers – but it goes as our family e-mail, not as a gmail account.
Oh – and we are currently happily using the BT infinity service and it all works hunky-dory!

Joshua says:
11 August 2014

Having now become a permanent resident and must adjusted to the colourful approach in personal views.
The relaxes attitude to vendor services I am amazed at the craziness over losing your name and address and then attempting to obtain a new one for which there is an ongoing charge.

Many years ago I purchased a domain using my surname. I set up, for free, individual email accounts for family members and for services such as bt@myname.co.uk or pete@myname.co.uk. I have a couple of “bucket” addresses such as www@myname.co.uk and temp@myname.co.uk. These were then forwarded on to current web based or ISP based email accounts. I now have registeredy domain for web hosting for about £40 a year and it comes with 100 included pop/smtp accounts. Happy days. For a all amount of money, I now have total control over my email. On sending emails, using MSOutlook, it even shows my chosen email address as the sender (not your ISP or web mail account address which is the norm). Won’t go back to the old ways.

Mobileman says:
13 August 2014

At home, with talktalk, my email works well. If i visit a friend who uses sky broadband i cannot send email but can receive. Help.

Check your settings for the email account, particularly the smtp one, which relates to outgoing mail.

You need to change your emailer settings for the port no. for the TT SMTP from 25, which is blocked by other ISPs, to 587. This will also work at home on TT.

Without knowing what your using to send/receive email I can only suggest checking your smtp server settings, but again I can’t tell you how to access them.

Or try looking on talk talks website


FYI that may not be the right page for the package you’re using.

Good luck

Which leads you to SMTP on port 587, as I already advised.

That page is generic for all mail clients.

I posted it over an hour ago, and a minute after you’re post. So that would have been at the same time as you.

I should also point out that I work under the rule, give someone a fish they eat for a day, teach them how to fish they eat forever.

Sorry, the email came much later.

Mobileman says:
13 August 2014

The port 25/587 ploy has not worked at home. I am using an Ipad 4. Thank you anyway.

Did you authenticate it with your username/password? You need to.

Jonny5 says:
26 August 2014

Not sure why anyone would want their surname as the domain name….
It’s a little pre-historic..

Really?. I think you must be mistaken as it is very convenient and simple with none of the issues above. It doesn’t matter what ISP is being used, it can be accessed from everywhere and we have total control; so what more could you wish for?

Well I found out today that if you want to sign up for John Lewis as an ISP you have to continue to pay £20 p.a. for your waitrose.com email service (via waitrose Justmail) and they are the same company. Their blurb on the JL website says that you can use your existing waitrose.com email if to sign up for JL broadband, but no mention is made of the continuing cost! Of course you can have a jl email address for free, but who would want to change their email address unless they absolutely had too? Certainly not within the same company. Yes I know that plusnet provide the service for JL, but still not beyond the wit of man or woman to sort out.

You are right, it isn’t beyond the wit of man or woman, but it is beyond the wit of companies’ legal departments.