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NTL – With despairing predictability

NTL : You are a bunch of fucking useless wankers.

The story:

I left the UK on May 2nd 2006.

NTL HellThree weeks before, I called them up, told them I was leaving and paid my final bill. They arranged to send someone round on May 6th to collect the cable box. I made arrangements with a friend to be there between the time allocated for when they came round to take the equipment away.

(For the benefit of US readers, NTL is one of the major cable companies back home. A bit like Comcast, only a hundred times worse when it comes to customer service).

And they did – they took the equipment away. They REMOVED the cable box from my property. There was no service running into the house. I’ll stress that -> They came and took their equipment away.

Next: I’m having my mail forwarded (slowly) from the UK to the US. It turns up in batches now and then.

I was then rather suprised a few weeks later to get a bill from NTL for 55.08 – for a period of time after they’d come round and TAKEN MY EQUIPMENT AWAY.

So I called them up, told them this, and they said “Oh, that’s right”, and that the account was closed. Panic over.

Until next month when my forwarded mail turned up with a bill for 55.08

So I called them again, and then – just to make sure – left it half an hour, and called again to get someone else, and both times was told that yes – there had been an oversight and I didn’t owe them any money.

To August, when my forwarded mail turned up, and again there was a bill for me from NTL for 55.08 – obviously by now I’m getting a little concerned that no one is actually closing my account at all and that they really do think that I owe them money.

So I call again. For the fourth time. I really patiently ask/tell the woman my situation – surely I can’t owe them any money after the date that they collected my equipment – she agreed, assured me that my account was closed, and that I didn’t owe them any money.

Which is why I’m a little disturbed to have got my latest batch of forwarded mail this month, to find three letters from a debt collection agency (Moorcroft Debt Recovery Limited) all dated a week apart, which were:

i. Hey, NTL say you owe them 55.08 – please pay us / contact us or you’ll be in trouble
ii. Oopsie, you still haven’t got in touch – you really should pay us, or we might take legal action
iii. Oh dear, you haven’t got in touch – we’re now going to instruct our solicitors to commence legal proceedings against you.

That last one was on the 9th September. I’ve only just read it on the 28th September. I can only assume that in that time, another letter has been sent to me (and yet to be forwarded) telling that legal proceedings have now commenced, and I have a court date.

So now I’m left wondering …

Do I?

1) Call the debt collection agency who won’t give a toss that NTL are a bunch of useless fucking wankers – they just want the money, and they’ll get it anyway they can.

2) Call NTL, and get some useless call-monkey-taker who won’t know how to deal with my call and effectively ensure that I can convince someone high enough up that I don’t owe them 55.08

I don’t know anyone in the legal world who can help me out. Everything is being done on the phone with a five hour time difference, and I’m just thinking about not telling them exactly where I am, because then how are they going to track me down and get me? Or is that a really bad idea because I’ll be black listed with a bad credit rating?

Your thoughts?

(Apart from the fact that you no doubt agree that NTL are a bunch of wankers – incidentaly, that headline originally used the ‘C’ word, but Leigh suggested that even that was too strong and so I changed it – mainly for the sake of her dad, and my mum who I know will be reading this in the morning. But that’s how strongly I feel.).

And I make no apologies for the level of derisory language that I have used. None whatsoever.

If you work for NTL, you have the most piss poor customer service that I have ever known, and hell – I used to be a Telewest customer.

25 responses to “NTL – With despairing predictability”

  1. Stewart says:

    Oh, gawd. You have my utter sympathy, because we had the same exact thing happen when we moved into our house and cancelled the Knology cable service at our apartment.

    Yeah, I’d use the ‘C’ word. Mixed in with several other savories.

    Took a lot of time and grief to sort it out. It amazed me that the cable company took six months to understand what I meant when I – repeatedly – told them “I have not physically been at that address!”

    My only observation that’s safe to write here – pace Leigh’s parents – is that dropping the ‘Big F’ in conversation with the company involved focussed their attention wonderfully, and in my behalf FWIW.

  2. Stewart says:

    BTW, since you already loosed the ‘Big F,’ does that mean that ‘The C Word’ is considered saltier language yet?

  3. Neil says:

    NTL are pisspoor.

    We called up to cancel a business line and we were told that the disconnection date would be the 9th of May.

    We have only recently discovered that they entered the 9th of May as the date we had requested disconnection, meaning that they considered the disconnection date to be the 9th of August (90 days later). Why they need 90 days notice is beyond me – I’m sure they do it to be inconvenient and confuse you into paying more money.

    Twats – all of you. Get a decent job.

  4. Tugs says:

    I had a bad expereince with NTL in May this year when I moved house. I rang them to arrange for my service (all 3 bits – phone, tv and broadband) to be switched over to the new property well in advance of the moving date. I was told that I would be contacted by the specific department within 48 hours. So 72 hours later I rang to find out what was going on. “Oh, you’ll be called in 48 hours sir”. Again, I rang 72 hours later to politlely tell them that I had had no call from anyone at NTL and that it was at that point 144 hours after the first call that I’d made. What did they say again? Yep, you guessed it, I would have to wait for another 48 hours. Would it be possible for the customer service lady to put me through to the department directly, instead of having to wait another “48 hours”. Oh no, I couldn’t possibly speak to them directly, I’d have to wait. So I did, but this time I gave them a bit longer. I waited 96 hours and had heard nothing. So it’s now 10 days since the original call and I’m on the verge of moving. The same thing was promised when I called again but, amazingly, I was actually called back the next day and arranged a reconnection date, which would be about 4 days after the day I got the keys to the new house. We had a week’s overlap between our two properties and we thought we could still use the old service up to the day that the new one was installed, particularly as we weren’t living in the new property, only decorating it. But hey, the old service was turned off early and, no, they wouldn’t turn it back on until the new one was up and running. Unsurprisingly the new service was installed a day later than scheduled and my next bill comfirmed that I had been charged for the 5 days of no service in between. By then I couldn’t be bothered to complain any more.

    My wife attended the national customer service awards last week on behalf of Teletext. I don’t think NTL had a table at the event.

  5. 18 months or so ago we had a letter arrive from a debt-collection agency working on behalf of Sky (satellite TV) about an unpaid monthly subscription of about 25 pounds (around US$45). I told them the guy they were chasing had moved out months ago (gave ’em his mobile no., but said I think he’s left the country anyway). Fortunately they left it at that. Sending in the heavies for the sake of 25 quid seems OTT to me – especially when they can simply cut the service if it’s not paid!
    Needless to say we still get post from Sky offering this guy special deals to reconnect… including one which offered to write-off his previous lapse if he re-joined!

  6. geofftech says:

    I’m on the phone to them now – 06.35 in the morning here, one of the advtantages of not sleeping very well is that I was awake very early and can then call them with the 5 hours difference not yet working against me.

    “Yes you owe us 55.08”

    “The four times I’ve called before you’ve told me that I don’t”

    “Oh”

    I’m on hold.

    I hate them.

    So very very much.

  7. You could instruct a solicitor to call NTL with the proof that you don’t owe them 55. Would be cheaper than being left on hold on an international call…

  8. Jon Allen says:

    Let them sue you. What have you got to lose?
    They will waste their time in court. If they raise a CCJ for it you should be able to get it struck off.

  9. stroppycow says:

    You call the debt collection agency – they are one of the big names in the business so you’ll get to speak to a credit control type person. Then you can explain to them that your account had been closed by the date of the invoice and that NTL should have raised a credit note to cover the amount, that it is an clerical error on their part. The debt collection agency will then contact NTL and check this with them and invoice them for the priviledge (the debt may have been passed on to Moorcroft to collect but all the decisions on going to court still rest with NTL as far as I am aware as they would be charged for trace, title check, court fees etc and all that money comes out of whatever they may hope to recover minus the agent’s fee). You can also ask Moorcroft if they can ensure this will not affect your credit rating adversely as the error was on NTL’s part rather than yours.

  10. Shell says:

    Maybe you should call Stephen A Burch, CEO (and former Comcast employee) or Neil Berkett who has ‘a strong track record of managing change and driving operational improvements’ apparently. Their mailing address is NTL House, Bartley Wood Business Park, Bartley Way, Hook, Hants RG27 9XA and the switchboard number is 01256 751000/754100/752000. It could be worth a try. I managed to get issues with Talk Talk resolved by side-stepping the call centre and talking to the big cheese. Good luck.

  11. tami says:

    Hopefully you have the date time and persons you spoke to…..
    Always record your phone conversations if you experience difficulty
    Put it on the net at ripoff.org (it is us based but what the “f”)
    I saw this on the net

    BTopenworld, NTL top complaints charts

    Tony Hallett, silicon.com
    Silicon.com
    December 11, 2002, 16:50 BST

    Tell us your opinion

    According to the latest Oftel figures, BTopenworld and NTL lead the way when it comes to customer complaints

    NTL is the most complained about telephony provider in the UK but when it comes to Internet access, there can be only one ‘winner’ — BTopenworld.

    Complaints can be registered in several ways:
    Phone – 0845 714 5000
    Textphone – 020 7634 5370
    Email – advice@oftel.gov.uk
    Fax – 020 7634 8845
    Post – Oftel, Consumer Representation Section, 50 Ludgate Hill, London EC4M 7JJ.

    Hope it helps

  12. I’d be willing to bet that Steve Burch’s email would be either Steve.Burch@ntl.com or Stephen.Burch@ntl.com

    You may wish to include a link.

  13. Geoff says:

    Geoff, Stroppycow is totally correct, email or fax the credit agency with the full details and rough transcripts of the conversations with NTL employees (Make it in a very formal way with dates and rough times). Explaining your refusal to pay. Should be cleared up quickly now.

    My favourite about NTL is that they bought out the guy who ran ntlhell.com (don’t click on it, NTL, in their wisdom, have given it up now and a spammer has it!) The guy immediately set up again as http://www.ntlhell.co.uk with all original material etc. It’s still a very useful site for NTL problems.

  14. City Slicker says:

    Poor yuo

    What a frustration

    Bureacracy was not an intended part of Orwell’s prognosis I should think

  15. sixhundred says:

    How ridiculous. Sympathy to you. Push it with NTL for some sort of money to refund your call charges. Tell them your going to contact Which? or some other consumer organisation.

  16. TowerBlockTina says:

    I had a run-in with Tiscali when I moved home last Christmas, as one of their brain-dead operatives told me I couldn’t transfer broadband to my new address, as BT wouldn’t allow it. I therefore
    assumed my account was closed, and I got NTL installed and cancelled the BT line. One week later I started getting Tiscali email via my NTL! Oh what confusion. Then Tiscali chased me for 28, as
    they said I hadn’t closed my account so I told them to get stuffed. In the end I wrote them a stiff letter, counterclaiming 30 for my time and trouble and 0845 type ‘phone calls (another rip-off) and I never heard another thing! Bastards all of them. Seriously Geoff, ALWAYS GET SOMETHING IN WRITING
    when discontinuing a service, then you can use this to show any debt chasers. This reminds me of years ago on ‘That’s Life’ when some poor sod was pestered for months by a Gas Company for money, but he had written to them a hundred times and told them he didn’t use gas, never had, and didn’t intend to,
    some things never change.

  17. Paul says:

    Well, speaking of gas, I have been my house for over 3 years and still haven’t paid a gas bill! I even have cover from Britsh Gas for my boiler and radiators yet Transco assure me there is no gas in my house! In my savings account I have around 750 just sitting there. Oh what fun

  18. Ciaran says:

    For the benefit of those who haven’t read it… here is a letter of complaint to NTL form a while back…


    Dear Cretins,

    I have been an NTL customer since 9th July 2001, when I signed up for your 3-in-one deal for cable TV, cable modem, and telephone. During this three-month period I have encountered inadequacy of service which I had not previously considered possible, as well as ignorance and stupidity of monolithic proportions.

    Please allow me to provide specific details,so that you can either pursue your professional perogative, and seek to rectify these difficulties – or more likely (I suspect) so that you can have some entertaining reading material as you while away the working day smoking B&H and drinking vendor-coffee on the bog in your office.

    My initial installation was cancelled without warning, resulting in my spending an entire Saturday sitting on my fat arse waiting for your technician to arrive. When he did not arrive, I spent a further 57 minutes listening to your infuriating hold music, and the even more annoying Scottish robot woman telling me to look at your helpful website….HOW?

    I alleviated the boredom by playing with my testicles for a few minutes-an activity at which you are no-doubt both familiar and highly adept.The rescheduled installation then took place some two weeks later,although the technician did forget to bring a number of vital tools -such as a drill-bit, and his cerebrum. Two weeks later, my cable modem had still not arrived. After 15 telephone calls over 4 weeks my modem arrived… six weeks after I had requested it, and begun to pay for it.

    I estimate your internet server’s downtime is roughly 35%… hours between about 6pm -midnight, Mon-Fri, and most of the weekend. I am still waiting for my telephone connection. I have made 9 calls on my mobile to your no-help line, and have been unhelpfully transferred to a variety of disinterested individuals, who are it seems also highly skilled bollock jugglers.

    I have been informed that a telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that no telephone line is available (and someone will call me back); that I will be transferred to someone who knows whether or not a telephone line is available (and then been cut off); that I will be transferred to someone (and then been redirected to an answer machine informing me that your office is closed); that I will be transferred to someone and then been redirected to the irritating Scottish robot woman…and several other variations on this theme.

    Doubtless you are no longer reading this letter, as you have at least a thousand other dissatisfied customers to ignore, and also another one of those crucially important testicle-moments to attend to. Frankly I don’t care, it’s far more satisfying as a customer to voice my frustration’s in print than to shout them at your unending hold music.

    Forgive me, therefore, if I continue:

    I thought BT were shit, that they had attained the holy piss-pot of god-awful customer relations, that no-one, anywhere, ever, could be more disinterested, less helpful or more obstructive to delivering service to their customers. That’s why I chose NTL, and because, well, there isn’t anyone else is there? How surprised I therefore was, when I discovered to my considerable dissatisfaction and disappointment what a uselesss hower of bastards you truly are. You are sputum-filled pieces of distended rectum incompetents of the highest order.

    British Telecom – wankers though they are – shine like brilliant beacons of success, in the filthy puss-filled mire of your seemingly limitless inadequacy. Suffice to say that I have now given up on my futile and fool hardy quest to receive any kind of service from you. I suggest that you cease any potential future attempts to extort payment from me for the services which you have so pointedly and catastrophically failed to deliver – any such activity will be greeted initially with hilarity and disbelief quickly be replaced by derision, and even perhaps bemused rage.

    I enclose two small deposits, selected with great care from my cats litter tray, as an expression of my utter and complete contempt for both you and your pointless company. I sincerely hope that they have not become desiccated during transit – they were satisfyingly moist at the time of posting, and I would feel considerable disappointment if you didn’y experience both their rich aroma and delicate texture. Consider them the very embodiment of my feelings towards NTL, and its worthless employees.

    Have a nice day – may it be the last in you miserable short life, you irritatingly incompetent and infuriatingly unhelpful bunch of twats.

    John

  19. LOL… #18 Ciaran, I love you!!! That’s the most entertaining letter complaining of incompetence I have ever read. Thank you for reprinting it here.

    Geoff.. What idiots. Here I thought the U.S. had the market cornered on shite service from cell phone companies and cable services. (However, I sheepishly have to report a very good experience with Oceanic Time Warner, our cable provider here in rural Hawaii. They showed up the next day to fix a weak signal problem that affected our TV and internet service at the beach house rental I help manage. Solved the problem quickly and efficiently. OK..maybe an anomaly.)

    I agree with stroppy… call the collection agency and try to ask them to mediate for you. You obviously are not getting anywhere calling NTL. I s’pose you have done the obvious–and asked for supervisor after supervisor until you got someone to listen?

    Gawd… you had to move to the State to witness the height of incompetence in England.

  20. rpike says:

    Yay, fist post!! I am not sure if this has came up before but http://www.saynoto0870.co.uk/search.php has at least 6 numbers listed for NTL, very handy for by-passing the call centres as a friend of mine found out last month for a credit card company.

  21. CentralUser says:

    It took me from December last year until August to finally escape from NTL- that was for a sixteen year old analogue cable TV contract (I know, I know!).

    Any letter seems to take at least six weeks before it filter’s through to anybody’s desk. I really object to the fact that, the one sensible person in the whole NTL organisation who eventually was able to close my account and refund my non-existent debt is surrounded by layer upon layer of ‘customer retention’ staff.

    I had resorted to sending multiple copies of my various letters to multiple addresses (including the Hampshire Head Office) with ‘CUSTOMER COMPLAINT’ printed in red at the top. The reality is though it made no difference- I just struck lucky in the end and found the one person in the organisation who seemed to be (a) interseted and (b) empowered to clear and close my account.

  22. TowerBlockTina says:

    Havn’t NTL been taken over by Telewest, or the other way round? Seems the incompetence passes on. However, we have been with NTL for 9 months and – touch wood – everything is working well. I suppose I’ll have to wait intil I move or cancel or need help to see how bad they are. I contacted them recently about all the junk/spam I keep getting on the cable broadband, and they said to download ‘Zone Alarm’ free service. Why didn’t they tell me this at the beginning?
    I have also had to pay to install ‘Norton’ anti-virus as their free virus checker didn’t work either!

  23. Hi Geoff,
    You able to report them to the Trading Standards and quote the reports from everyone on the blog?

    Dave.

  24. David - Lightwater says:

    Another useless company is Demon Internet Ltd. Never ever get an internet connection with them. They suck balls!

  25. David - Lightwater says:

    Oh and Geoff, I hope you put NTL 6 feet under! They sound like a bunch of mofo’s!

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