TalkTalk want £10 for a 13-month-old bill

I’m putting together my expenses for running the small home office where I do my work. One expense is my phone line. I went to the web-site of TalkTalk, my phone provider, only to find that they won’t show me the older bills unless I pay them £10:

Screenshot from 2013-10-29 12:00:52

That doesn’t seem reasonable to me.

It’s also very stupid of TalkTalk, because in the rather optimistic hope of screwing £10 out of me, they’ve made an angry customer and destroyed any sense of loyalty I might have had. I’ve been thinking for a while that I can probably get a better deal elsewhere for our phone lines (we have two — one for the home and one for the office) but sheer inertia has prevented me from making it happen. Now I will make a point of it. I just don’t want to keep giving my money to this corporation. So they’ll lose two customers (plus however many leave, or avoid joining, after reading this).

In its tiny, tiny way this is the same story as United Breaks Guitars. Corporations are in the habit of treating their customers like dirt, and they’re finding it a hard habit to break. Well, screw ’em.

Full transcript of the on-line support chat below.

GAURAV K: Hi, thank you for contacting TalkTalk today, can I please start by taking your full name and home telephone number?
You: Mike Taylor, [phone number redacted]
You: I went to download copies of my bills for September and October 2012, but found that the dropdown only goes as far back as November 2012.
You: Are you there?
GAURAV K: I understand your concern and I will be happy to help you.
GAURAV K: Please bear with me for 2-3 minutes whilst I look into the issue.
You: Thank you.
GAURAV K: I truly appreciate your time and patience.
GAURAV K: I would like to tell you that you may view last 12 month history bill.
You: OK, but I need the bills from the two months before that.
GAURAV K: In order to process your request there is a £10 administration fee. This covers the cost of processing a Subject Access Request. The payment can be made by either cheque or postal order, which must be made payable to TalkTalk Telecom Ltd.
You: That’s pretty steep for emailing a couple of PDFs that your system should provide access to anyway, don’t you think?
GAURAV K: Yes, you are correct.
You: :-)
GAURAV K: In order to process your request there is a £10 administration fee. This covers the cost of processing a Subject Access Request. The payment can be made by either cheque or postal order, which must be made payable to TalkTalk Telecom Ltd.
You: Are you a bot or a human?
GAURAV K: I am human being.
GAURAV K: My name is Gaurav
You: Good to know — I only asked because the repeated canned response looked like the kind of thing an ELIZA program might say. No offence intended!
You: I suppose I am asking you to waive the fee, since we both agree it’s not really reasonable.
GAURAV K: I would like to inform you that we can view last 12 month history bill.
You: Yes, that last twelve months are not a problem. The thing is, neither should the previous twelve months be.
GAURAV K: If you want to view bill before 12 month history than we need to escalate the other dedicated department.
GAURAV K: In order to process your request there is a £10 administration fee. This covers the cost of processing a Subject Access Request. The payment can be made by either cheque or postal order, which must be made payable to TalkTalk Telecom Ltd.
You: Ooookay. So just to be completely clear: the situation is that you absolutely will not tell me how much you charged me in September 2012 unless I give you ten pounds. Is that correct?
GAURAV K: Yes, you are right,
You: OK, thank you for being explicit. We’re done here. I hope TalkTalk enjoys its day.
GAURAV K: Thank you for your kind understanding.
GAURAV K: Apart from this issue, Is there anything else I may assist you with?
You: No thanks.
GAURAV K: Thank you for contacting TalkTalk today. Have a pleasant day. Goodbye, remember the TalkTalk Community is always there to answer your questions.
You: Bye.

14 responses to “TalkTalk want £10 for a 13-month-old bill

  1. Wow. Absolutely stunning. How much money have they lost by trying to screw you out of ten pounds?

    It sounds to me like you are implementing a total boycott on Talk Talk. Good for you.

    This reminds me of an experience I had with Blockbuster a few years back. It was back when they were advertising their new “no late fee” policy. I took the time to go to my local store and rent 3-4 DVDs. A few days later I got a call from the local store telling me that the DVDs were late. Of course they were, I was taking advantage of the new policy. Well, it turns out that the local store was not participating in the “no late fee” policy. I asked politely if they’d wave the $8 fee because of the misunderstanding. Nope, no such luck, pay up they said. I never darkened their door again. Over $8.

    I have rented literally hundreds of videos over the years since. Yes, I use netflix a lot and rent less than I used to, but I still occasionally rent DVDs and blu-rays. I rent them from the same store I have used exclusively since the Blockbuster debacle.

    With regards to Blockbuster, I grinned when their local store went out of business. I completely ignored their every effort to become an online competitor to Netflix. I cheered when their company folded. I hated them and as you can see I continue to dance on their grave. Over 8 fucking dollars.

    They made an enemy of me that day, as it appears that Talk Talk did with you.

    All we are really asking is for companies to treat us like human beings. If they can’t do that they don’t deserve to exist. At least they don’t deserve to exist in the reality of our individual perception. Beyond that, if they cease to exist for enough people, then we can be gladdened when they fold and can torment all of us no more…

  2. Well.. I’m still not convinced GAURAV is not a bot. (And nice ELIZA referencing, btw. :-) ) Heck, maybe GAURAV is a hybrid–I mean, it wouldn’t be too difficult these days to
    1) have a computer read what you write
    2) have it formulate a response then
    3) have a human glance over the response with edit capability before clicking /Send/.

    In other words–the computer would kind of “suggest” what the human should say next.


    This part’s funny: “OK, thank you for being explicit. We’re done here. I hope TalkTalk enjoys its day.”

    Yeah companies like to get you both coming and going.. and everywhere in between.

    And the thing is, although it *should* be easy to produce the information you request, for all we know it may not be. I am imagining a semi-common scenario where there’s an ancient mainframe/minicomputer main database with a newer, spiffy PC front-end. For things like last 12 months billing they have some automated mechanism to automatically generate those to keep them on hand. But for the older stuff they might have to invoke old crufty database stuff.

    Or OTOH, there might be just basically *no good reason* for the fee. It’s hard to say.

    Furry cows moo and decompress.

  3. I’m pretty sure your guess it right, wyrdwyrd, and Guarav is a cyborg. Some of the responses came back very quickly, and felt pre-canned (especially the closing one). Others took longer and seemed like the kinds of things a human would say.

  4. What the hell is a cheque or postal order?

  5. Cheque/MO? Don’t know. Haven’t used either in a long time (except to pay my wife for household expenses)… :-)

  6. BTW, why do you need an email address? Can’t you support truly anonymous posts?

  7. Well, look into VOIP :) 30% the cost! (and if you have a cell phone as backup, you’re not adding much/any risk.)

    Long meandering story below, read on if you like :P

    Inertia is a vice of many of us I’m sure, or at least especially me; I ende dup staying on my DSL line for many years longer than I should — prices for superior offerings wer edown to about half its cost, but I just couldn’t be arsed to deal with downtime and the annoyances. (And I sort of knew the fellow who ran the ISP, but anyway.) After awhile, I finally got around to pestering them for a deal (no dice), so just up and left to a competitor on cable and got more bandwidth for less than half the $$. Friend or no, no deal, no corners cut.. done!

    Likewise, we still have a landline phone here – mostly so some older relatives can call it; you can port the landline numbers to voip these days, but it just sounds like a not-well-defined hastle .. you ask your new voip provider to do the port, and that at some undetermined time after the new and old provider wrestle, it all cuts over. bleh. Anyway, I’m slowly moving towards it .. our landline costs in the area of $45 CDN per month, for very basic service. They still charge a stippend for ‘touch tone dialing’ and for 9-1-1 (emergency), among other things they don’t really have to charge for, but do anyway. I’ve looked around, and there are free voip services (‘freephoneline’, which really are free forever, after a $100 first payoff) to monthly guys (comparable service about $10-15), to all over the place. I know folks on all these services who report good quality calls, good uptime, &c. (I’ve been on voip line for my day job for years, never had a problem.)
    —> One of these days very soon, I’m cutting over; its years in the making (stupid me), but cutting phoneline from $45/mo to $10/mo is a pretty huuge savings. These guys could return me as a customer with some clue, but they honestly do not care (yet.)

    Having _any_ company loyalty is foolish nowadays – they certainly are not loyal to us; but its in human nature (and our inertia of course.)

    Reviewing your bills is wise.. you can save a mint!

  8. Aw, it’s not Gaurav’s fault. He’d express more personality but he’s not confident enough in his English and neither is his employer. If he was, he’d have gotten a better job. But picking canned responses is still better than anything toxic or dangerous.

    I’d have closed “I hope you enjoy the day and Talktalk rues it.”

  9. rubberman, I am using stock WordPress, and it wants unregistered commenters to provide an email address. It’s not a choice I ever made. But I’m cool with it. WordPress does such a good job of filtering spam comments (and there are so many of those) that I’m happy to shrug and let it keep doing what it’s doing. (Also it’s sometimes been useful when I’ve wanted to contact a commenter directly rather then posting a public response.)

  10. Pingback: Dear charities: stop spamming me | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  11. +1 on VOIP.

    when we moved into our new house I went out of my way to sever the internet connection from a phone requirement, and now the home phone and several lines for my wife’s consulting business run via asterisk and flowroute. there are countless other SIP providers, in fact so many that finding a good one in all the chaff can be hard, I went with flowroute because they handle the phones for the company I work for, and they have servers that are geographically and network-topology close to our house.

  12. parminder kaur

    They don’t know what there are found. I had the same problem with TalkTalk I pay them £180.00 4 me bill. They want more. Money 4 me and my mum she is ill and so am I we cant keep paying them.going two cut our phone line to
    Tomorrow. I told them want I wanted I never got that. I just want my £180.00 back

  13. i want out of talktalk immediately. everytime i get a bill somehow there are extra charges instead of my bill being £27.70 its always around £50. this month £65. i have no idea why. i stopped direct debit. and there is late fee £10 fee for no direct debit £4.50 used my mobile so £7.04 yet comes to £49 still not £27.70 and not £65 like they say it is. i am careful. but still find myself with bills over £27.70. its a joke. i want out.

  14. I left TalkTalk myself some months ago. But I think we’re close to the point where the sensible financial move is to abandon the land-line completely.

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