/ Technology

Ofcom blasts TalkTalk for billing ex-customers

TalkTalk logo

How angry would you be if a company you had left continued to send you bills? What if they threatened you with debt collection for not paying? Well Ofcom has finally slapped TalkTalk for this very issue.

Ofcom’s threat to fine TalkTalk and Tiscali UK up to 10% of their turnover unless they stop sending bills to ex-customers is certainly good news. And it’ll come as a relief to those people tearing their hair out over yet another bill landing on their doormats.

I think Robert Hammond, head of digital and telecoms at Consumer Focus, got it right when he said:

‘How hard can it be to stop billing someone when they have cancelled their service – this is the very basics of customer service? To threaten customers, who have done nothing wrong, with debt collection and legal action is beyond the pale.’

What gets me is TalkTalk’s blatant disregard for its ex-customers when it says the problems with the cancellation process were caused by ‘an error on a legacy billing system’. Sure, it’s the inherited Tiscali that’s been having these problems since 2006, but it shouldn’t take this long to fix a ‘technical glitch’.

TalkTalk then goes on to say:

‘[It] is resolving this by migrating all ex-Tiscali customers onto one network and billing system which will allow us to process cancellations much more effectively… TalkTalk Group has co-operated fully with Ofcom’s investigation and we apologise for the inconvenience caused to this limited group of former customers.’

It’s one thing to be in breach of the telecoms regulations, but it’s another to come out with what is essentially an empty statement. If TalkTalk is truly sorry for its actions, it would have issued a refund to all those affected the moment it realised it had been charging people for services they had cancelled.

It accepts that the technical issue has been going on for some time, yet it deals with refunds on a ‘case by case’ basis. Plus, it waits until it’s being investigated and finally threatened with enforcement action by the regulator before it comes up with a solution. I’m sorry, but I’m not impressed.

Comments
Member

We spent months being harassed by TalkTalk (Tiscali) at the start of this year for money which we did not owe it. Three or four telephone calls a day from people we could hardly understand and who certainly didn’t appear able to understand us!
Then followed days/weeks of futile emails – it just sent round robin replies that did not apply. It suspended my email – when I queried it I was told it was due to a billing problem and not a technical problem. Billing kept confirming we did not owe them any money.
Despite all this AND having confirmation and endless names of people we had spoken to who assured us problem was resolved, the telephone calls demanding money continued. All kept maintaining it was caused by a ‘system error’.
Eventually we started receiving letters from debt collectors (who thankfully were far more efficient than TalkTalk/Tiscali – although that wouldn’t take much!).
After going round in circles for months I referred the matter to Otelo who adjudicated in our favour. It told me I would receive goodwill gesture payment within 28 days. Surprise, surprise it never came!
Further contact with Otelo resulted in letter this week from ‘High Level Complaints Executive’ at TalkTalk saying a cheque will arrive within 10 days…………….we’ll see!

Member

I set up a new computer for my sister recently and because she had lost the Tiscali internet set up disc I tried to get a replacement. This proved to be very difficult. The TalkTalk website had links that did not work and the help line was of no help. My sister was unhappy with the service anyway and decided to change providers. TalkTalk cut off her service immediately despite saying they would not do so. Having read this report, I will now ask her to check carefully to ensure they do not continue to charge her.

Member
Dave W says:
2 November 2010

My problem with Tiscali/Talktalk is the other way around! They have just sent me a cheque because I apparently cancelled my account; they did not say when. I had not cancelled. Furthermore they have not taken any money from my bank via DD for 3 months whilst I still enjoy the broadband and ‘phone service; which is reasonable value and generall okay. I spent approx 2 hours on the ‘phone, mostly on hold talking with billing and sales people who contradicted each other. The saga continues as I apparently have a free service and even a cheque for no reason!!

Member
Andy says:
2 November 2010

I had an identical problem with ongoing billing and threats when I cancelled my contract with Demon Internet – part of Thus PLC. The call centre in India was particularly unhelpful. Eventually it was resolved but after much hassle and stress for something so basic.

Member
phoebe says:
2 November 2010

Danny,
We have had very similar problems – are you able to give me the contact name etc of complaints person?
This company is acting like charlatans!

Member
Paul says:
3 November 2010

I have also suffered at the hands of Tiscali (TalkTalk). I used to have a dial-up service provided by Tiscali and being in the depths of West Wales it was only recently that I was able to get broadband. Tiscali were adamant that my connection was unable to deal with broadband but BT said they could supple albeit that it would be at slower speeds. I agreed to the BT offer and had them connect me to broadband. This was in April and when my problems with Tiscali started.
I work overseas for long periods and when my wife called Tiscali they refused to deal with her as the account was in my name. As a side note she only managed to speak to someone after several calls and lengthy periods on hold at a cost of 10p per minute. I wrote to Tiscali asking them to either deal over the phone with my wife or cancel the service by my letter request. The Tiscali T&C’s require cancellation only by phone, don’t ask me why!
After many more calls and demands for money I asked my credit card company to stop paying the direct debit and recover any monies paid after the date of my letter. The card company were very helpful and did as I requested. Each time a new bill came in either my wife or I would call Tiscali to try and sort the problem, all to no avail and you can imagine the phone bill I managed to rack up calling from overseas.
Eventually, when home on leave, I managed to get through to Tiscali. A fairly heated conversation ensued but in the end I thought that the matter was resolved. You can imagine my surprise and annoyance when a week later I received a letter from a debt collection agency telling me I had to pay up or else! I contacted the agency and tried to explain my situation but they were singularly unimpressed and just kept telling me to call Tiscali. I did so and after another wait of 45 minutes managed to speak to a human. I was passed around the departments but finally thought that it had all been resolved and agreed to pay part of what they were demanding. This was a couple of months ago.
However, two weeks ago I received another demand, by letter, from Tiscali, stating that I still owed them for their service in June. They now claim that my service was not terminated until mid-June when I managed to get through on the phone. The battle continues!

Member

TalkTalk Group – High Level Complaints Executive – Direct Tel line is 01438 765494 extn 6240.

Member
G L Attaway says:
3 November 2010

Having accepted Talk Talk’s invitation to join them I decided it was not for me, having read of all the complaints and unreliability of their broadband service I found that they were offline for four hours which only confirmed my decision to cancel the order. What a palaver! They accepted my cancellation but on that very day they had submitted a direct debit to my bank and told BT to cut off my service. However, since then I have been pestered almost daily with welcome packs etc. I wrote and complained and today have received an apology. I have learned a hard lesson.

Member
Sophie Gilbert says:
3 November 2010

When such a level of incompetence is reached a mere threat to fine isn’t enough. Hit them where it hurts, otherwise they’ll carry on. Ofcom, just fine them, now! They’ve been given enough warning.

Member
Philip Dee says:
7 November 2010

Same problem here. I was complaining about TalkTalk on their members forum about being mis-sold a more expensive service:

http://www.talktalkmembers.com/forums/showthread.php?t=43744

After many months of wrangling, they offered me £30 compensation and advised me how to leave TalkTalk by doing a reverse migration to BT. I followed this advise and have been on Sky since the 13th October, but they continue to bill me.

When I sent a note to their customer services, they replied to say they wouldn’t issue a credit note as neither myself or Sky had told them I was leaving. They also didn’t bother giving me the £30 that they had offered either. The reality is that Sky/BT can’t take on the service without getting TalkTalk’s agreement.

Anyone got any advise as to my next step? I’ll soon be getting the threatening letters for not paying the bill.

Member
Dave Matthews says:
30 June 2015

Blog/write reviews every day (telling the truth, off course) – thats the way of dealing with this monster.

Member

Just don’t pay them having same problem adding 59 to my bill even tho bean paying 50 a month well they will get ignored with me reminders will go in the bin but remember a Dept collector can not do anything ignore the door seek advice get injunction police will remove them put the notice on the door alls they do is huff and puff im already with sky talk talk dont own sky BT what runs it they are a abusive firm what make up story s to exploit customers theyll have a job ringing me phones switched off not serviced with them and if they send bily boys round will get a injunction and have them removed

Member

It sounds like lots of you are looking for advice on how to get your complaints about TalkTalk heard – so we’ve contacted TalkTalk and asked them to respond to this thread. We’ll keep you updated on any feedback we get from them.

Member
Judith says:
24 December 2010

I have been with tiscali for quite some time and now its talk talk I have been having ongoing problems for a fortnight my netgear keeps disconnecting and then it says no internet connection have telphoned tiscali and they told me it was 50% there fault and would phone me. still waiting for this problem to be sorted. how does any one get intouch with people from tiscali or talk talk.

Member

Try this – but might be off over Christmas:

TalkTalk Group – High Level Complaints Executive – Direct Tel line is 01438 765494 extn 6240.

Email – Nicolas.Piere [at] talktalkplc [dot] com

Member
Dave Matthews says:
30 June 2015

It shouldn’t get to this stage! I am just going to blog all the way (an article/blog every day), hopefully your disguisting company will stop stealing from customers!

Member

This happened to me when I left Pipex (taken over by Tiscali) !!!
They took 2 monthly payments from me after I had left and again a year later even welcoming me as a new customer and threatening a cancellation charge.
I complained through ISPA:
http://www.ispa.org.uk
It did take 2 tries to finally get them off my back and they did not fully refund my money but I have not heard from them for nearly 2 years now !

Member
ann says:
7 May 2011

My mother had endless problems with TalkTalk. They signed her up for a landline, and then for a broadband service which they failed to deliver over a period of six months while charging her a higher price straight away. The main problem was their call centre – every time you would get put through to a different person, who promised to help but who said they had no knowledge of what had happened before and who never seemed to take any action on their promises. In the end we resorted to emails and registered delivery mail to get a sense of continuity and sidestep their inability to admit to what had been said previously. Eventually we got a letter promising to allow cancellation without charge – and then they not only charged a cancellation fee but also charged premioum rate on the final bill for calls to their own call centre. They then refused to believe in their own letter, which they couldn’t find, so we had to send yet another registered delivery letter along with a copy of TalkTalk’s letter. We got the money back but it was a huge struggle – they blamed my mother for “not understanding because of her age” – rubbish!!! I was involved throughout, but I could see how otherwise they might have bullied her into paying. At that point we’d both lost the will to take it further, we were just relieved that the nightmare was over.

Member
Karen says:
16 May 2011

Migrated from Talk Talk to Plusnet in February, after having very satisfactory service from Nildram for many years but no longer able to access online billing and being plagued with calls pestering me to upgrade my service (not mentioning the 24 month contract unless asked!!). 3 months later. regularly receiving letters asking for an increasingly escalating “unpaid balance” and threatening to cut off my service. Ha ha. One letter threatened debt collection – a phone call got that sorted but still no final bill despite two calls which promised to email me the same day. No response from online customer service. Do Not bother with them. Why have Ofcom not,as they threatened to do last year, fined them for billing ex customers – it is obvious from so many people’s complaints that they continue to do this blatantly.

Member
voip free phone number says:
28 June 2012

you might have an amazing blog here! would you wish to make some invite posts on my blog?

Member
Jeff Jones says:
6 December 2012

fast forward 2 years and they are up to the exact same shoddy behaviour. Sending my 78 year old mother threatening a 250 disconnect fee for breach of contract for terminating a service. The service is 4 years old and 3 years out of contract. We notified them of termination with 6 weeks notice although only 4 weeks is required. They raised no issue at the time. Then post termination they have started to bombard and harras a 78 year old lady who has done nothing wrong.

Member

Yep – still up to their old tricks in 2013. Cancelled service months ago and I’m still getting letters, bills, emails, calls – it’s absolutely ridiculous.

OFCOM when will you wake up and start dealing with these rogues??

Member
Dave Adams says:
3 October 2014

Still up to the old tricks, cancelled in Dec 2011 because of terrible customer services (taking direct debit payments on dates when they decided), got a bill for £28 on September 2014, rung talktalk customer services, New Delhi (or Mumbai),to be told sorry about this, you will not hear from us again.Brilliant I thought…..Now I’m getting “The Next Level Reminder” that i have missed the £28 in October 2014. Really do no want the debt collectors knocking on the door.

Member
Julie Watson says:
9 October 2014

Today I recieved an unpaid bill notice from talk talk for £128. Talk talk took £124 from my account in Feb 2011 after repeated attemps to get my broadband working. After 3 months I moved to Sky abd talk talk agreed that I wouldnt need to pay for a service I hadnt recieved. They took payment anyway but my bank refunded it. Why are they sending these letters almost 4 years after the fact?

Member
Jenni says:
23 October 2014

I am having the same problem . I moved to SKY in Sept 2011. I had paid talktalk up to date. Then they took £123 from my account. They said it was early cancellation fee. My contract with them had ended !!! I am now getting debt collection letters from them for £142 !!!! I also was without broadband for three months, that’s why I changed. I complained & asked for a refund as I was still paying for the broadband I never had ,but no joy ! Now I am receiving these letters !!!!!

Member

TalkTalk are still doing this. We cancelled in October 2014 and we have been getting bills and phone calls since demanding money.

We stopped the direct debit so at least they can’t take money out as they please. The “customer support” barely speak English and just don’t seem to understand anything you tell them.

Member
Rachel B says:
9 February 2015

They are doing the same to me cancelled in October 2014 with them owing me money, have never received what they owe me but instead get a bill in January 2015 for over £70 phone talk talk get an apology then have a guess at what happens in February!!!!!!! But this time no apology just brainwashed staff have no idea what to do to get them to stop billing me and repay the money that they owe me ofcom really need to do something about this

Member
English Bill says:
18 February 2015

I thought you should see the latest Talktalk bill received. Can anybody assist?

[This comment has been edited to align with our commenting guidelines. It’s important everyone can understand the content of the post. Thanks, mods.]

Member

English Bill (or should that be Chinese Bill?). You seem to have ordered a takeaway for a very large number of people. 😀

Member

I switched to BT from Talk Talk on 23rd Feb 2015. On the same day I was billed for services to be received between 23rd Feb and 22nd march 2015. Discussions with Talk Talk were very much as detailed by others. I should pay the bill and the money would be refunded at the end of March Really? I am tempted to cancel the Direct Debit with Talk Talk and see what they do.

Member
daniel says:
27 March 2015

I left talk talk a year ago (april 2014) to go to virgin. I have just logged online to see about going back to talktalk and I have still been being charged for my phone and wifi services every month. I now have a bill for £380 off them. It still says I have their services but they can clearly see nothing is plugged in nor being used. What can I do about this, surely this isn’t allowed.

Member
Dave Adams says:
30 June 2015

Hoping this will help you.I did exactly the same as you, found after a year or so of leaving this god forsaken company, I looked at my old talktalk email account to find that I was still being billed £10 a month. Strangely I did not receive anything through the post to confirm this progressing debt that was occurring. I then made the mistake to phone the New Delhi talktalk (0845 number) support line. Don’t bother as it will only escalate the debt, as remarkably after I phoned them I then started getting threatening letters in the post. To cut a long story short, you need to go to the talktalk web page and go to the help tab, right hand side of web page. You then need the talktalk community tab to click on. Right hand side is the popular Q&A Click on View more and go to Bills and payment. If you cannot remember your old log on details, just make a new account. Once your account is active, you need to put the details of your dispute with your bill on the community with the threat of escalating the dispute with ofcom within 28 days of the date of opening your dispute.For some reason it seems the only way the communication should solve the problem rather than phone calls. Sorry that this seems a long winded solution but the ofcom wording online seems to do the trick…Hope this helps

Member
Sam Booth says:
5 April 2015

After over 3 years of hassle and bad service, and after giving TalkTalk numerous opportunities to sort out their bad service, I terminated my account 7 weeks ago. Since then I’ve been inundated with phone calls, emails etc stating that I have to pay them £214 for having cancelled the contract early…. A contract that I did not agree to and was not aware of!! Over the 3 years I’ve suffered at the hands of Talktalk I’ve had umpteen engineer visits, wasted hours and hours of my precious time, had dozens of phone calls and email exchanges and wasted over £1500 after being told the problems were due to my PC, Laptop or smart TV…. All three of which were replaced at my expense only to find that the broadband issues were STILL there!
Talktalk are now hassling me on a DAILY basis. I have told them not to ring me, and to email or send letters, but STILL they keep ringing and making threats! I am at the end of my tether. I will not be paying them £214 for terminating a contract that I was not aware I had entered into, and in my opinion, they have breached their own contract for not providing a service that I was paying for! I am furious!!

Member
pat stapleton says:
8 May 2015

i left talktalk in october 2012 in 2014 got debt collectors letter saying i owed 40 pound after months of phone calls and i also printed of bills saying that there was nothing oweing on my on line account for nearly 2 years i sent them to debt collector still no joy so i payed the 40 pound just to end it all as i was getting realy fed up with it all but today i came in from work may 2015 2 1/2 year after i left this company i have a debt collectors letter saying i owe 120.00 pound there is no way i am paying this one i have filled in a online form to the ombusmas so i hope they will help

Member
Aidan says:
24 June 2015

TalkTalk are still doing this today. They have billed me for all of this year since renewal even though I did not renew and I told them to cancel after the last year was up. My TalkTalk line has been taken offline and not been used at all so its not like ive pulled a fast one on them.

I heard stories about this so I informed my bank about the situation, (that I had cancelled a renewal with them and got Sky installed instead). But TalkTalk still tried to access my account and take money and then started sending me letters asking for ridiculous amounts of money.

Member
Dave Matthews says:
30 June 2015

Talk Talk is almost impossible to cancel once you sign up. Prices go up and they make it difficult to cancel, and when you do, they still take money from your direct debit account. Advise: Write to them and say that you are closing your account and therefore no longer have a direct debit account. They are downright thieves that hold onto your money until you scream hard and long enough!

Member

i am the same advised talk talk that I was moving and could they supply a new line, they said yes.
waited in no show, spoke to someone on the phone who said ‘you cancelled the service’ I asked how when they said that openreach tried to ring, difficult because they had cut the service the previous Monday.
I asked if they were going to fit my new line told no.
a envelope arrived at previos address asking for the tv box back which I sent and have a receipt.
I have now been charged £235.00 for breaking contract, and not sending box and this money after serveral phone calls was taken from my account.
I am at a loss of what to do because this is a lot of money can some help thanks

Member

This sounds like its happening again. Friday the 18thDec I received a letter from a law firm telling me that I owe talk talk £184 from Jan 2013. We paid our bill and have since been with BT and sky. Wtf is going on, I now have to dig out statements and prove that talktalk were paid or I’m going to be made to pay more money on top and my credit rating is going to be affected. It’s about time this company had a damn good kick up the a**e and stopped scaming people.

Member
Jonathan says:
6 April 2016

Add another to the list. Switched to BT in Jan, but TalkTalk continued billing. Don’t assume that they will stop and refund at any point!

Their defence is that nobody told them, and they will bill until someone calls (BT confirmed that they have to tell them for the switch over to physically take place). And they keep saying that, even though they are patently not providing a service.

Currently following their complaints procedure – their first and second level refuse to make any refund (and claim that the cannot anyway), so it’s with the “CEO’s Office” after two days of wrangling.

It is dire. Surely it isn’t worth their time? Seems like this could run and run. Advice – don’t trust them to do anything. Get in there first – and probably in writing.

Member
Sean says:
5 May 2016

This is an old topic now but none the less over five years later from first post this issue with talk talk remains and I think it’s time they was dealt with, I left talk talk over a year ago, today I received a email informing me that my bill was ready and showed £95 on it, their customer service is atrocious.

Member
KirstyLouise says:
26 July 2016

So I was a talktalk customer 4 years ago. At first all was fine, after 6 months my phone line and internet started having faults. I rang them over and over again. Very poor customer service, past from person to person. Eventually I was told there was nothing wrong with my line. But there clearly was. After a year I had enough and left talktalk. To my surpise I have a bill a month later of £370 so I rang to be told 220 was for my phone line and internet. And a 150 for my £5 a month rolling SIM. I refused to pay because there was no way this was right. I asked them to look into it the lady on the phone got very heated and when I asked for a manager she put the phone down. So I tried again and again no one would put me onto manager. I then received a letter refunding the £220. So I assumed the debt has been written off until this week 4 years later I recieve a letter for a debt collector for £220. I rang them and explained everything above and they are now looking into it.

Member

Hello so has it been resolved?

Member
Gabriela says:
19 November 2016

I have joined talk talk in jan 2014 and in august 2015 i called as i was moving home to move my services to my new adress. They said yeah no problem and it all went well. The servicw in the new place was really bad, called them and complained a few times and they said there is nothing they can do about it. Waited till next january and i called them saying i want out as my contract ended and guess what? I was told i cant get oit as worh the house move, i signed in for another year in august! 8 months after i originaly signed first contract with them . I told them i was not advised such thing when i moved house and they said i should have been and that i cant get out! After a few months they sold ‘my debt’ to lowel financial! I am so frustrated! They want me to pay 380 pounds for something i didnt agree and i havent even used their services from the moment i called and moved to sky! Now been on hold with them sonce i started writting this as all they do is trow me from one customer service advisor to another one. This is outrageous as I know i did not sign anything in august or agreed any new contract to happen

Member
Sarah says:
6 January 2017

I had been a Talk Talk customer for a while with relatively few problems. At end of my contract the monthly charge increased significantly so I phoned them to query why. They talked me into taking a new package, I clearly asked the man if I could leave anytime and he said yes, never stating I was enterting another contract.l, his poor language skills he signed me up to another contract which increased in price after 6 weeks for no reason! Disgusted, I changed to another provider and I’ve been sent threatening letters demanding £98.40 for early cancellation of a contract I didn’t know of or agree to

Member
L Young says:
8 June 2017

I phoned to cancel my account with TalkTalk in early April 2015. I was out of contract so only had to give 30 days notice. I was told that was all I needed to do and to pay my next bill and that would be me. However, they didn’t close my account but continued to bill me as normal. I had cancelled my Direct Debit after paying the last bill so they started chasing me for unpaid bills I didn’t owe. Phoning had got me nowhere so I submitted online queries but they just kept ringing and I wasn’t getting anywhere. They finally closed my account in July 2015 but were still trying to charge me £84.69 for services provided when the account was supposed to have been closed. I submitted a final request online asking them to clear the charges as it was their error in not closing the account and not mine but didn’t get a reply.

Fastforward 2 years and I am applying for a mortgage. The bank won’t give me one because there’s a default on my account from TalkTalk for £84.69. I phoned TalkTalk and asked to speak to someone who could help me with this but they said they couldn’t discuss my account as it was with debt collectors. I said I wanted to dispute the information given to the debt collectors and had to speak to a manager but the person I was speaking to, after putting me on hold twice to check, said she couldn’t put me through to a manager or take my details for someone to contact me. Equifax are now contacting TalkTalk for me to ask them to remove the default and I’m waiting for further news. I have an offer on a flat that I might lose because of this.