The utter blistering incompetence of Now TV Broadband

Internet service providers are hardly known for their service, but with Now TV Broadband I have hit a new low of incompetence and carelessness that just boggles the mind. The spoiler is that tomorrow I will lose my Internet connection due to their idiocy. Strap yourselves in, it’s going to be a rough ride.

22 February. I initiate a switch from our current rather expensive provider, BT, to Now TV. All seems to go well. I get an automated “Thanks for choosing us. Here’s what happens next” email, telling us the switch will happen just over two weeks later on 10 March.

23 February. I get another email saying “We just wanted to give you an update on your NOW Broadband order. We have checked its progress and can see that your order has been rejected. The landline number you have provided is not valid or may no longer be active.” My landline number is both valid and active, a point that I make when calling Now TV from that very number to explain. The support person escalates my call to his manager. After a long time on hold, I am told that they recognise the mistake, and will cancel the order and replace it with a new one which should go through fine. They will call me to let me know when it’s done.

28 February. I get another email saying “You contacted us a few days ago and since we haven’t heard back from you we’re going to close the case in our system for now.” I assume this is OK, since they had told me they were going to cancel the original order, and that the new one is going though OK. (In retrospect I should have started getting scared at this point, not having had the promised phone call.)

9 March (today): I call the day before the switchover to check that everything is OK. The upshot — courtesy of support-person “Antonio” — is that:

  • Now TV have successfully done the part of the ordering process that is cancelling my existing contract with BT.
  • They have also cancelled my original order with them.
  • There are no signs that they have replaced it with a new one.
  • (And they still insist my perfectly valid phone number is invalid, even while I am calling them from it.)

The upshot is that as of tomorrow I expect my BT connection to stop working, and no Now TV connection to replace it. I can only hope that Now TV’s incompetence extends to not having successfully cancelled the BT contract. Otherwise who knows how long we will be without an Internet connection? Likely about two weeks, I guess, since that is how long the original switch-over was planned to take.

Oh, and both Fiona and I work at home, utterly dependent on Internet connection, and we live in a mobile-network hotspot that means mobile data is a non-starter.

My support call this morning ended at 9:30am with Antonio promising to “try” to get his manager to call me back within the hour. That hour has now passed, which is why I am posting this.

How do companies like Now TV stay in business?

9 responses to “The utter blistering incompetence of Now TV Broadband

  1. That sounds awful. I hope that you can get yourself set back up okay. Preferably with a more competent ISP!

  2. Ugh, ISPs are never fun. My personal nightmare story was moving house about 11 years ago, when I already had a great fibre service with Virgin.
    Fibre was not available at the new address, so Virgin decided to charge me more for the “new”, worse service, charge me a change fee, and also insist I was starting a new 18-month contract, or else I had to pay a large early-leaving fee.
    All this for a (up until this point) *happy customer*!
    My attempts at explaining the meaning of “customer service” fell on deaf ears. I am not with Virgin any more, oddly enough.

  3. Nick Alcock

    I have a similar story. Twelve years ago, my ISP got taken over by another one which actually boasted on its homepage about how many time it had gone bust (?!). It didn’t bother to tell its new customers about the takeover, nor did it tell them when it made all their static IP addresses vanish forever and go dynamic without changing any of the DNS records that pointed at the now-gone addresses: it broke the online DNS-record-changer at the same time, and its staff had no idea any of this existed so they couldn’t change it for you. They didn’t even reliably implement the change orders whose name I forget that you need to put in to change ISP. I had to threaten them with a lawsuit just to get out from under them.

    That was fun, in a horrible way. (Thank goodness I wasn’t yet working from home.)

    ISP-wise, just use A&A or Zen. They’re competent, even if expensive (competence costs), and when working from home you want competence, really. Avoid everything with “TV” or “Cable” in the name, or that is any kind of bundle with any sort of satellite or or mobile phone or TV or mass-media service by a company specializing in the non-broadband side of things. (But then I don’t need to tell you that, not now…)

  4. Whenever I read stories like this I think of Shakespeare’s “as many diseases as two and fifty horses”, probably from the thieves down at the local livery stable. You’d think things would have gotten better.

    (My favorite story involved a satellite internet provider. The link stopped working. I spent at least eight hours working on it with tech support. I spoke with over a dozen people at the provider, so many, in fact, that I had to keep a list to avoid infinite referral loops. After two weeks of this, I called the guy to terminate my account. He checked my modem model and explained that they had completely reprogrammed the satellite and that no older modems would work with it. Apparently, they didn’t tell anyone in customer support. They sent me a new modem and it worked.)

  5. Some proper horror stories here, which make my own experience pale into insignificance.

    Kaleberg’s experience is probably the most instructive: if you want someone to actually pay attention to your problem, don’t bother calling customer support, call cancellations.

  6. Thought you might be amused to know that I got a survey from Now TV last week, asking my opinion about their service as a TV provider. It had a whole section on their internet service, whether I’d heard of it, and whether I’d use it.

    And when they asked me why I wouldn’t use it I answered “Other” and pasted in the URL of this post.

  7. kaleberg: so… your satellite internet provider arranged to specifically annoy only those with older modems, i.e. only its oldest and most loyal customers. Had they been learning from the late Demon Internet, I wonder?

  8. Good to know, Andrew!

  9. I don’t think it was about annoying their best customers. Given the costs and constraints of operating a satellite internet system, I can understand upgrading the system for better performance while shutting out older modems that might not have enough computing power e.g. for new compression algorithms. What I can’t understand is doing this upgrade and not telling anyone in the support department that the latest satellite upgrades made the older modems obsolete.

    This may be a general problem with satellite services. Satellites are very expensive, and, while they can be upgraded by changing software, such upgrades can cause problems on the ground. We had a satellite TV provider for a while, but we stopped using it for a few months. Then, we tried it again and our ground based software was so out of date that it couldn’t upgrade itself from the satellite.

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