/ 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.’

Mark

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?

Comments
Guest
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.

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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!

Guest

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!!

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Guest

In the 1970s you mean?

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

Guest
DerekP says:
7 August 2014

That depends on the policy of the “old” ISP. In some cases, theold ISP will let you keep a webmail account on their server so you can carry on using an existing account. But, this means your email, won’t have moved to your new ISP.

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Guest

For years I have been using the email account provided by my ISP for most purposes. I am interested in moving outside the area covered by this ISP and enquired if it would be possible to have the email forwarded to another email account, which is technically not difficult. I was told that the ISP does not offer this service. In contrast, I can ask for my paper mail to be forwarded for a fee.

It seems very unprofessional for any ISP to offer an email account without making provision to allow for mail forwarding for a fee. I am gradually working through a list of people and organisations that have the email address provided by my ISP, and it is no fun.

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Guest

Let’s be honest, the only reason why ISP’s offer a e-mail address and / or web space is they hope the customer will use it, then when they want to leave they can’t, as they would lose the e-mail address.

It’s so much better to use a free one like Hotmail,Yahoo,GMail etc. Or pay around £7 a year for your own domain name, then you can have firstname@fullname.com. I have done the latter for years and it works for me.

As for BT…..

Last year BT added 4 accounts & defaults to my credit file for no reason, I was not with BT, I tried to deal with them via phone, no help, Twitter, no help, live chat, no help. Even Which tweeted BT for me, but again nothing could be done.

I then went to my MP & he was rubbish too, all he did was send BT a letter saying i had a problem, BT sent a letter back saying as the accounts are in my name there mine. Then that was it, Nothing done.

Ombudsman was next, after taking forever they finally agreed the 4 accounts was not mine and told BT to remove them.

It’s such a pain when companies wont listen. But thank god we have the Ombudsman as i have always found them good.

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Guest

Lee,
Do you know a reliable place to get one from? Preferably one that will let you have several addresses on the same account?
So many of these sites seem to come and go like yo-yos !

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Guest

I wouldn’t like to answer that as I own a web hosting & domain company myself so it would be classed as advertising. But i’m sure someone will come along with a recommendation for you 🙂

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Guest

Alfa – I suggest that you ask around and you will find people who have gone down this route and are happy with the service they have received. My advice is to watch out for cheap introductory prices that could go up in future and companies that may pester you to buy additional services. I had both these problems when I used a well known company offering web hosting and email.

Guest

Sign up to google apps and buy a domain at the same time. I pay a total of USD 10 a year for this service.

https://support.google.com/a/answer/53929?hl=en

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Guest

The fundamental problem here is that people are not personally responsible for what they do at work. If all the telephonists and others who dealt with this customer were personally identifiable and responsible, I am sure that there would have been a different outcome.

Guest
Mike Norman says:
9 August 2014

When we were with BT the service was poor almost every day we would loose connection at 5 pm numerous calls to India staff there had no idea how to deal with the problem. We eventually gave up a left after 2 additional routers did nothing to solve the issue. We were less than a mile from exchange. Call centre staff suggested that we see our neighbours and other useless suggestions. After we cancelled we were contacted BT and having explained the history we were informed that we had been badly treated. I would never use them

Guest
Chris Mayes says:
9 August 2014

Use the ISP’s email – what were you thinking!? 😉 . Gmail or other ISP independent services mean this never becomes an issue, so you can chop & change ISP any time you like & email stays the same. sorted.

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Guest

Chris – You are welcome to your free email services. Over the years they have been subject to numerous problems. I’m fortunate enough to be able to continue to use the email account provided by my former employer, otherwise I would set up my own domain with associated email account to get round the lack of portability of ISP-based email.

gmail may be the best of the free bunch, but have a look at the criticism of the service on Wikipedia.

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Guest

Criticisms on wikipedia? 1) Google scan emails in the free version of gmail to show targetted adverts. They are up front about this and humans don’t get to see the scans, but if it worries you this is a reason to avoid gmail. 2) They have backups. Every system you might want to use has backups. 3) some dangerous file types are blocked. This is true of a lot of email systems.

Really I was surprised there were so few criticisms of gmail. It shows just what a good job they have managed to do.

My advice is to use a free web mail service completely separate from your ISP. For me Gmail is the best of the bunch, it is fully integrated with my Android phone and the integrated Google ecosystem is worth a lot just on its own. Others may prefer a different service such as Outlook, that’s fine. the important bit is separate from your ISP.

Then layer your own domain and an email forwarding service on top of that or use a separate email forwarding service (I use cantab.net which is a free forwarding service provided for alumni of a certain university for most of my email). If your relationship with the cloud email provider ever turns sour you can switch fairly painlessly to another email provider.

Guest
Peter Thrower says:
9 August 2014

Virgin has been my ISP for more than 15 years and I have never had a complaint except for the increasing cost. I have been tempted by BT offers and each time I have called BT about them have been told that I can definitely keep my e-mail address with Virgin. One person told me that Virgin charged £1.50 a month for this service. Virgin insisted that none of this was true. Result: I told Virgin I was going to switch and they reduced the price by almost 50%.

Guest
Julie Carter says:
9 August 2014

We moved to BT 3 years ago and still use the family AOL account

Guest
Mary says:
9 August 2014

We left AOL as our ISP when we switched to broadband (12 years ago?) but all the family use our old @aol.com webmail addresses for general emails though we all also have general gmail, ymail etc. accounts for various things.

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Guest

All these stories show once again how old fashioned the telephone really is compared to web sites and email, where customers and the company have a chance to think.

The telephone is like going to the shops in a pony and trap rather than by car. How many people do that these days?

We were cold called by BT about a year ago and invited to switch with what seemed a good deal. Fortunately our existing ISP pointed out reasons why this was not a good idea, so we didn’t. Reading this Which? report suggests that we avoided a very bad mistake.

Our existing ISP is Plus Net, which ironically is a BT subsidiary. It is possible to deal with faults by a web form rather than telephone (which can be done during an outage using an independent 3G service, such as Three), and in the last resort their call centre is in Yorkshire not overseas.

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Guest

I totally agree, why can’t the BT parent adopt PN’s service model?

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Guest

When Plusnet started it was all about the Yorkshire call centers, BT took them over, moved everything overseas, but people started to leave. The only thing BT could do was to bring it all back to the UK / Yorkshire again.

Guest
Fiona says:
10 August 2014

I’ve been with Plus Net for years (11 I think) and they’ve always been helpful, polite, and friendly. Problems have been solved either over the phone or through their online support. They also keep you up to date on your progress with faults. They treat you like human beings and don’t have to keep to a script. I was a bit worried when they were taken over by BT but this hasn’t altered the brilliant service I’ve always had. I’d need a really, really good reason to change ISP. I also have my phone with them.

Guest
A Beken says:
9 August 2014

This may not be the correct forum but I would like to register my dissatisfaction with BT. I recently moved home and the BT website showed an estimated 4.5Mb speed with a range of 2.5Mb to 7.5Mb estimated download speed. I am actually getting 1.79Mb as measured by BT. I am not allowed to complain to Ofcom and trying to talk to BT through their Indian call centre is one of the most frustrating experiences I have ever had to endure. Since BT own the ‘last mile’ to my home, switching to another carrier is pointless as I would still have to endure the poor service offered by Openreach. Unless I can subscribe & connect directly to another fibre service; which most people in this country cannot; I am stuck with, in my considered opinion, the worst utility company in the world.

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Guest

I was visiting a friend who told me of his tales of woe trying to sort out his broadband connection which kept dropping, making YouView useless. He was keen to watch a programme so I tethered my laptop to an iPhone. Afterwards I was impressed to see that the download speed was over 8 Mbps, more than I have ever achieved with my home broadband. 🙁

I wonder if mobile broadband (with an unlimited download limit) is a practical approach for those who are struggling with their landline-based broadband. Obviously it would depend on being in a decent signal area.

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Guest

wavechange,

That’s what I did, from January to June this year had no landline / broadband and only used teething from my mobile. It was with Network Three who are the ONLY company to offer unlimited mobile data. (not sure if they still do, but they did then).

It cost me around £13 – £15 a month for my mobile contract so it was less than landline / broadband etc. But the speed is shocking. It was just about ok for loading web pages, BBC IPlayer radio was fine. But IPlayer TV, ITVPlayer, Youtube etc was a massive no no.

I didn’t check what speeds I got, but the streaming was awful. In June I was offered free landine & broadband with Tesco Telecom so I took them up on it, so been using that with not many problems at all now 🙂

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Guest

I understand that Three have cut back on the options for unlimited data on mobile broadband, presumably because some people were using it a lot.

Not everyone streams video, so a modest data allowance may be enough if you mainly use email and browse the web. For years I used a Three MiFi with laptops etc whenever I was away from home. A SIM giving 12GB data or 12 months was adequate. I switched to tethering my iPhone with a 5GB per month limit, taking care if I use streaming.

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Guest

The big problem with the monopoly BT Openreach is that many faults are intermittent in nature. Their queuing system to deal with faults does not take this into consideration.

If the technician can’t call when an intermittent fault is happening (eg on a wet and windy day, or cold weather, or hot weather etc) then when he does call everything is working and he can’t resolve the issue. It is not his fault, it is the queuing system.

What is needed is a system whereby once a customer gets to the head of the queue his is assigned a personal technician that he can call upon when the fault is occurring. Obviously this can’t be perfect, but the chances of the technician attending when the fault is happening would be much higher.

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Guest

If you want a monopoly try living in Hull where Kingston Communications is your ONLY broadband ISP! The service provided is not good.

Guest
John Vizer says:
9 August 2014

i have been with BT for years and clearly have become docile in my response to problems! `recently I bought an Ipad and find I cannot get all my emails – something to do with the different systems that are in use. WHat advise can you give me? Thanks for your help

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Guest

I think with iPad your “receive” should be set using your personal password for your email account and your “send” with the password you use to connect your router to broadband.

Guest
David says:
9 August 2014

I have moved from TalkTalk to Plusnet using Simplydigital who told me in advance of the move that I could retain my TT email service. Only a few days since the transfer but to date I still have access to TT webmail.

Guest
Mark Illingworth says:
9 August 2014

I rented my phone line from BT but used Call1899 for most of my calls. I got my Internet service and multiple email addresses from Pipex, which was taken over in turn by Tiscali and TalkTalk. TalkTalk greatly raised the price for Internet alone and wanted me to transfer my phone service to Talk Talk. I decided that I would leave TalkTalk when I could, but this would require me change my email addresses and notify those affected.

In preparation I found a service that would provide my own (name.me.uk) domain at a reasonable cost and would forward emails free. I set up a set of new email addresses in my domain, each forwarded to the corresponding old Pipex address. I changed my addresses on all outgoing email. Many recipients quickly adopted the new addresses. Every time I received a message direct to the old addresses, I gave the sender my new address, either by email or through their website.

Eventually, a year or so later, I decided the time was right to make the change and chose PlusNet to provide both Internet and phone services. I set up corresponding email addresses with PlusNet and simply changed the forwarding arrangements to forward to the PlusNet addresses instead of the Pipex ones. TalkTalk said that they would continue to operate the Pipex email service for 30 days. To my surprise it is still working a year later, but I have deleted most of the addresses, to avoid the need to collect mail from each.

The only organisation that could not cope with the forwarding has been TV licensing, who insist on sending secure email, which the free forwarding service does not support. I have given them my PlusNet address. If I ever need to change ISP again, then TV licensing will be the only ones who will need to be told of a change of email address.

The process has been laborious, but it was a once-only one and worth it for me.

Guest
Chuckh says:
9 August 2014

I would endorse this approach, which I’ve used for many years. I did it specifically so I could switch my email supplier without having to tell all my correspondents that my address had changed. I use MS Outlook (on my PC – why did MS have to cause confusion by changing the name of Hotmail?!) because I deal with emails coming via several websites as well as my personal email.

Guest

I am interested in your comment about “secure email”. This isn’t really a widespread or even well-defined concept.

Proper emails (as opposed to simply messages sent internally on a website) generally use the SMTP protocol if the sender’s domain is different from the recipient’s domain. SMTP has a secure version but usually if the secure version is unavailable, there is usually an automatic fallback to the insecure version.

The sender would normally be unaware of whether or not the secure protocol is being used, and it is even rarer for them to specify that, if the secure option is not available, then the mail should not be sent at all. It is even harder to determine before attempting to send an email to a new recipient address whether or not the secure version is available.

It is for this reason that email is referred to as generally having the same level of security as a postcard. Anyone who intercepts an email on its journey can normally read it. This is why banks don’t send message content by email at all, but only send email notifications to inform you that a new secure message is waiting for you if you login to their online banking system.

Having said that, email is convenient. People and companies often use it without worrying about the security aspect, for better or for worse.

Of course, one shouldn’t be surprised that TV licensing are coming up with excuses to avoid behaving in the way anyone would reasonably hope or expect them to…

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Guest

I have used my old AOL accounts for a number of years since leaving AOL and moving to Sky.
Simply log on to aol.com in a browser.
You can do exactly the same for a sky email accounts.
I have a number that can simply be entered via sky.com on any browser.
Two of these were created via a sky account that is no longer current yet the email accounts remain.
I cannot see how an ISP can prevent access to any other email account if you use a browser for the entry point or a generic email system such as Gmail. It is only their access mode that they can control. Just don’t use it (if you must use BT!)

Guest
Ted says:
9 August 2014

NEVER use your ISPs email service, as simple as that. I pay a small fee per year to use Yahoo (although they do have a free service as well) no adverts and good spam filters. Swap your ISP as often as you like and continue with your email service uninterrupted. I did use Gmail but not to keen on it.

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Guest

Two friends independently had major problems with their Yahoo mail some months ago and one said it was a widespread problem. All the free services have problems from time to time.

I cannot recall having a problem with my ISPs email, back to the days of dial-up. There’s no adverts if you use a mail client rather than webmail. All I want is for my ISP to forward email for a year if I decide to move house.

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Guest

The one thing I miss about dial up is the ability to have two ISPs, so if one failed you could use the other. The replacement today is to have a 3G back up, and you can even get modem/routers that switch automatically. The problem with these is if the ISP stops working but still leaves you connected to your local exchange but no further. The automatic switch doesn’t know.

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Guest

I had a friend who had Google Notes. Not email exactly, but when the service was withdrawn she had to spend ages transferring her copious notes to the disk on her netbook computer by “cut and paste”. There was no facility just to copy the files.

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Guest

It should not take long to switch to mobile broadband, if you are a user. That’s not automatic but hardly an inconvenience.

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Guest

When I started using the internet all the 3rd party mail services that have been mentioned so far DIDN’T exist. I’ve been with my ISPs ever since.

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Guest

William is making me nostalgic. 🙂 I started using email in the late 80s and still use the account provided by my former employer, even though it’s nearly three years since I retired. Moving from a text-based email client, ELM, to Eudora on the Mac was the biggest step forward I have encountered. The web was pretty good too, but there were very few websites to look at with the NCSA Mosaic browser back in 1993.

So far I have managed to avoid using web-based email, at least on my own computers.

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Guest

When I first used the internet, it wasn’t called the internet !! It was called ARPANET.

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Guest

I’m glad I missed that.

When Hotmail and other free services appeared they were used by spammers, so I just filtered the messages from users of these into the bin. Once a month I checked to see if there was anything there worth reading. It was years later before the free services started to get on top of people using their services to send spam.

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Guest

ARPANET was awesome, you could be the only person on a $10million machine and in the late 70s that was alot of computing power. I used to write a little program to calculate 1000000! most mainframes would take 30 mins to an hour one I found did it in 3 secs !!!

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Guest

Gosh that goes back to about 1970

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Guest

Hey, most readers will probably not know what 1000000 factorial is, interestingly there is a function in Excel to calculate factorials but it will not calculate much more than 100!

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Guest

But my silly little program would work it out with all the numbers (that was half the fun and where 99% of the computing power was used up) none of this 9.33E157 notation rudbbish 🙂

And it was about 78 or 79 I was a little to young in 1970

Just don’t ask me to write it now, as I’d struggle to get the same precision in the result.

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Guest

I presume you wrote your own arbitrary precision arithmetic functions in something like Fortran? Nowadays, you get arb. prec. in the standard libraries of C++, Java, C# etc. so it would be much easier. Anyway how did we stray so far from the original topic?

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Guest

Simple old basic. I was only a school kid at the time.

Just thinking about what it was like using the computers in the dark ages. And now I remember punch cards, eeck. Lucky the university I got access to was beyond that then.

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Guest

There is a simple solution: don’t rely on ISP e mail addresses. Use g mail or similar that is not tid to your ISP. That said we left BT three year’s ago and contrary to our expectations and despite warnings from BT my bt e mail account is still live. At one point they even offered to keep it on for £2.50/month. Of course this failure to cancel the account may be incompetence rather than policy.

Guest
bechet says:
10 August 2014

Having a yahoo, hotmail or gmail address is one solution but it comes with risks. Several friends with yahoo.co.uk or hotmail addresses have had their accounts and address books taken over by hackers who have used them to send emails (ostensibly from the real owner) to everyone in the address book, offering eg cheap iphones. Hotmail appears to be the most vulnerable, gmail perhaps the safest of the cloud providers.

Guest
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’!

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Guest

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!

Guest
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.

Guest
Pete says:
13 August 2014

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.

Guest
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.

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Guest

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

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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

http://help2.talktalk.co.uk/email-settings-imap-pop3

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

Good luck

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Guest

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

That page is generic for all mail clients.

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Guest

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.

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Guest

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.

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Guest

Sorry, the email came much later.

Guest
Mobileman says:
13 August 2014

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

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Guest

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

Guest
Jonny5 says:
26 August 2014

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

Guest
Pete says:
26 August 2014

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?

Guest

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.

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Guest

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