6 Jan 2006

Switching broadband supliers

This afternoon’s task was to switch my broadband account to something cheaper and faster. Broadband has only been available in our village for a year yet it has transformed the way we use the internet and the whole family now regard the computer as being more important than the TV and almost as important as the iPod in the great scheme of things. Prior to broadband coming, I had been a long-standing dial-up account holder with Demon Internet, one of our oldest ISPs, and I naturally gravitated towards Demon Broadband when the exchange was enabled in January 2005.

Yet I was not a happy bunny with Demon’s broadband service. Mainly because I foolishly signed up for the wrong account, a Business 500 one which cost me £39 per month and came with all sorts of features I didn’t need like domain names and web pages. And having signed up for this, rather than one of the cheaper residential accounts, they wouldn’t let me reconsider: apparently a consumer’s right to cancel only applies to residential accounts, not to commercial ones. I was stuck with this account for 12 months. And to make matters worse, they went and changed my host name from brinkley to brinkley-adsl, which screwed up my main email address. Had I taken a residential broadband account from them, I could have kept my old host name. Needless to say, this was not explained to me at the time. You can imagine how chuffed I was with my Demon broadband account.

Anyway, it’s now January 2006 and my year on the Broadband Business 500 contract is up. During this year, broadband speeds have increased and prices have fallen and now you can get 2meg unlimited access for around £20 a month. Demon have a nice offering that fits the bill so I contacted them to suggest that they now switch me over to a residential account.

Demon: “Oh, you want to downgrade?”

Me: “If you call a service that is four times faster and half the price a downgrade, then yes, I want to downgrade.”

Demon: “It’s not that easy. You have to first cease to the business service and then open up a new account. There will be an 8 to 10 day period with no broadband service, though we can offer you dial up.”

Me: “8 to 10 days! I would like a seamless changeover. 8 to 10 hours maybe but not 8 to 10 days without broadband. Other providers have told me I can switch over seamlessly. Surely it’s not beyond Demon’s capabilities to switch from one account to another without a time delay?”

Demon: “I think the other providers are having you on. I don’t think it’s technically possible.”

Me: “Well I am prepared to take that chance. Give me my migration code please.”

And so I bid farewell to Demon after seven years. But what happens next?

Well my natural port of call was TalkTalk, Carphone Warehouse’s aggressive phone company who already handle our landline calls. I have become a bit of a Carphone Warehouse fan over the years having bought countless mobiles for the family from their store in Newmarket. TalkTalk Broadband is as keenly priced as any other offerings, especially for their landline customers. Currently, the offer is £17.99 a month. So TalkTalk got the first crucial call.

Me: “I am looking to switch broadband providers. And I want to do it seamlessly.”

TalkTalk: “I think we can do that, I’ll just check with the technical side……..yes we think it’s the same kind of broadband (IP stream, rather than Datastream), so the changeover can be done virtually instantly. All we need is the migration code from Demon. Should take about ten days.”

Whilst they were at it, they got the line rental business as well (from BT) and we also signed up for Nectar points. The kid on the end of the line, Jason from New Zealand, couldn’t have been more helpful in stark contrast to the obfustication I had been getting from Demon: it makes a difference.

So TalkTalk broadband it is. Now I am in their hands. Only time will tell if it works as intended and if the changeover is as seamless as they claim. I will report in due course.

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