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Standard User My_brain_hurts
(learned) Sat 12-Apr-14 17:08:50
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COMS Divide and Conquer


[link to this post]
 
I can't help being reminded, when I read through the many posts about Coms, of the principle of 'divide and conquer'. It seems to me that many are jumping on the bandwagon of 'let's blame someone else...' rather than go back a few squares and remember how things were.

The fact is that, as far as we all know, ADSL24 used to be a good provider with an 'allowance' that one could download per month during the peak hours and a truly unmetered download off-peak. There was a monthly contract, no capping, no throttling, no 'fair user policy' and reasonable responses from Customer Support. So far as we know ADSL24 were ok with that model. Or of course it could be that they jumped ship because it wasn't working which is why they sold out to Cons, oops, I mean Coms, who knows. I have to ask myself then, if the model run by ADSL24 was ok why did Coms change it? The first thing they did was increase everyones peak allowances and extend the off-peak time. Commonsense says that in itself could potentially mean the download demands would increase.

The new ISP Coms sought to keep all its customers by insisting that things would stay the same and that they had no plans to change anything. Of course then it ALL started changing, being moved over to other connections, no communication with customers to tell of planned works or to explain problems, DNS issues, throttling, Fair Use Policies coming from nowhere, and so on. Things started to unravel but we, the great unwashed customer, are dropped crumbs of explanation and most of the time, let's face it, we are guessing at what's going on, not good enough.

Principally the argument now being held up, is that 'a few users' are actually causing the problem by downloading too much. Have I missed something? Presumably the same heavy users were there back in ADSL24's time? So, if that's the case, go back to what ADSL24 did, put the peak allowance back to what it was, put the off-peak hours back to what they were. But of course now the mob are not pointing the finger at Coms and saying 'get yourself sorted', they are blaming the heavy users thus getting Coms off the hook. Classic divide and conquer tactics and you are all falling for it. Presumably all of us have had our peak-time allowances increased since Coms took over, so if a previously light user decides one day that they actually want to download all that allowance should we then start pointing at them and saying it's their fault? All this talk of 'bad boys' etc is not getting us anywhere, it's just blaming people who are doing nothing wrong. If something is described as 'unmetered off-peak' then that's what it should be. Apparently though our unmetered use IS being metered and flung back in the face of those who have heavy use. The way we are using the internet has changed for most people, it's used for gaming and streaming tv and downloading all sorts of stuff and that will probably increase in the future, not diminish. So excuse me folks, if something worked before, or so we are led to believe, stop blaming the users, blame the ISP for messing it up.

Oh and as regards whoever it was who said that my attempts to get the OFT to enforce the Distance Selling Regs wouldn't work because they have now disbanded, that was not the case many months ago when I first approached them. We have Laws in the UK but they are NOT enforced for we plebs , and that's why half the problems occur in this country because suppliers get away with murder knowing there will be no comeback. We got the MAC situation changed after a fight, despite the doomers saying it was a waste of time trying, so now you don't have to endure an ISP if you don't want to stay with them. Maybe, instead of arguing amongst yourselves, it would be a good idea to formulate another campaign to get ISPs to be properly regulated and to get whoever the Regulator now is to enforce the Law.

For instance an 'improvement' was just introduced where a supplier can't increase their prices during a contract, but all they have to do is put a caveat in their T&Cs to say they 'might' increase their prices and that's ok, so if you are agree to paying x pounds a month for 12 months you can still find a couple of months in that your company doubles your payments and there's nothing you can do about it but leave. Incidentally, ISPs should look up the Law on Contracts because if they substantially change a contract to their advantage they have broken the contract and one can leave without penalty, don't fall for the 'wanna leave then you owe us for the rest of the contract period', it just ain't so. Blame the lack of enforcement of UK Laws for the problems we're experienceing, not other people who are only doing what they have paid to do.

Meanwhile Coms need to start telling its users what is happening, have a proper section on its website where one can go for current status of the network and planned work etc instead of the odd post on a forum when they feel like it. I'm sure most of you would agree that one of the most annoying problems has been lack of information from Coms and that has to change.

Now I'll sit back and get flamed.
Standard User DrTeeth
(knowledge is power) Sat 12-Apr-14 19:16:11
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
A very well written synopsis. No flaming from me. I went through the same rubbish with Plusnet years ago during the original 'bad boy' saga.

Stress - the condition brought about by having to resist the temptation to beat the living daylights out of someone who richly deserves it.
Standard User aibreeze
(regular) Sat 12-Apr-14 20:00:48
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
Great post! The sad reality is despite all those paragraphs, you've only just began to scratch the surface of all the issues surrounding Coms.


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Standard User ross1701
(regular) Sat 12-Apr-14 20:01:59
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
+1 from me. smile

Standard User DooGie
(committed) Sat 12-Apr-14 23:19:22
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: DrTeeth] [link to this post]
 
No flaming from me either mate.

A good post.
Standard User Molehusband
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 02:29:22
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by My_brain_hurts:
There was... ...no 'fair user policy'


To be exact, ADSL24's T&Cs did include the following equivalent of a FUP, which they titled the Acceptable Usage Policy.

"If it's felt that any customer's activities are so excessive that other members are detrimentally affected, ADSL24 may give the customer generating the excessive web traffic a written warning (by email or otherwise). In extreme circumstances, should the levels of activity not immediately decrease after the warning, ADSL24 may terminate that customer's services."

ADSL24 would warn the user, and then - maybe - discontinue the service. Whether anyone was ever warned or expelled I have no idea. I can't recall the subject arising here.

With Coms, the service is whatever they say it is. Their T&C's, both now and before users were switched to their system, reads:

"Periodically, changes in these terms may be required to comply with regulatory or business requirements. Such changes will be published on the company website www.coms.com, and notifications may be sent to you via email, depending on the nature of the change. Continued use of Coms products and services both before and after such changes, signifies irrevocable acceptance to the Terms of Use. Coms reserves the right to change, modify, suspend or discontinue any portion of the Service at any time. Coms may also impose limits on certain features or restrict your access to parts or the entire Service without notice or liability."

In short, use of the service constitutes acceptance of any terms and level of service current or future.

There is no doubt that ADSL24's services were sold on the basis of "No traffic shaping". This statement was repeated in multiple locations on the website and appeared in the HTML title element of the Home page, indicating that it was considered a key search phrase.

For Coms to tell ADSL24 customers that there would be no changes and then to modify the service to the extent that it no longer fulfills its primary selling point suggests that they have chosen to fit the customer to the service, rather than supply the service the customers expect and widely regard as having been promised.

Perhaps Coms would like to explain why so many users they regard as "excessive users" were not warned and/or their service discontinued when they were operating as ADSL24?

Did Coms/ADSL24 warn or discontinue the service of any users at all?

Did they really become aware of such users and institute global service changes only after a change of Terms was applied?

ADSL24/Coms Complete DSL 100 [TalkTalk LLU]

Edited by Molehusband (Sun 13-Apr-14 02:32:46)

Standard User My_brain_hurts
(learned) Sun 13-Apr-14 03:39:45
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: Molehusband] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the insight. I must say I was not aware of a Fair Use Policy with ADSL24, let alone know of a single user who was warned about 'excessive usage' or whatever, if anybody was then maybe they could let us know!

You have hit the nail on the head when you say that 'With Coms, the service is whatever they say it is.' That sums up just why things don't work in this country. I wonder though if having such terms in a T&C which state that basically a customer must accept whatever they are given as they see fit, and has no right to question it, is legal. To me that seems a clear breach of the Unfair Terms in Consumer Contracts Regulations (UTCCRs) as it unfairly changes the contract in favour of the provider. In that sort of scenario a supplier could do what they like, charge what they like and get away with it and that's not legal. In fact if I read it right Coms could cut us all off but still charge us every month for no service...

'Irrevocable acceptance'... doesn't sound right to me. That sounds like the horse meat scandal to me 'it might be beef or it might be donkey, I mean does it matter, you're buying a burger and you're getting a burger...'

At this point it would be a good idea if someone could take a copy of the web page of the Coms T&Cs (I can never find anything these days) and it's web address. It would be good to have a copy of the ADSL24 T&Cs too. Clearly none of us are getting anywhere resolving this fiasco so ask yourselves if you are happy to put up with it or if you want to do something about it. If the former then don't complain about rubbish service and cuts et al. If the latter then what do we do about it?

I think the next step would be to send a precis of what has been happening since the Coms takeover and a copy of the Coms T&Cs to the Competition and Markets Authority (who seem to have replaced the Office of Fair Trading). However, while I can do that myself I don't see it having any or little impact, I'll just get told that I'm the only one complaining. The only way the MAC problem was addressed was to get many people involved so that it was the weight of numbers that got it looked into. Many of us Coms users need to complain then maybe we'll get some action. Maybe we should put together a letter stating our grievances which could be copied by our members and emailed individually to the CMA? 500 individual emails make more impact than a petition signed by 500 people don't forget...

Time to stop talking and start doing. if you are a Coms user and reading this post and agree that something needs doing along these lines (or have a better idea), then leave a note here with your opinion so we can get an idea of which way to approach this. It's your forum so contribute! Complacency gets no results.
Standard User ukwoody
(experienced) Sun 13-Apr-14 08:49:25
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
OK, biggest single complaint is total lack of proper communication with the clients
very closely followed by changing T&C by introducing throttleling without any warning (not that that affects me particularly).

Since I am on TTB LLU m,y options are limited however, anyone else on that like me can move to TTBuisiness direct if they so wish with unlimited useage.

I agree emails to the regulator is a good idea, if nothing else to raise awareness of the situation and perhaps help shape future changes.

One should not foget thuogh, it is not just the bad boys who are leaving, ordinary users like myself are just one step away from pressing the button, and the more that leaves the more it hurts them financially...

woody

regards,
Woody (chuntering along in his own inimitable style, using 100 words when 10 would do)
Standard User Molehusband
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 08:51:29
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
archive.org captures of the ADSL24 site from 2013

Home page (Nov 3)
Terms & Conditions (Aug 22)
Why Choose ADSL24? (Aug 22)

Coms Terms & Conditions

Sep 6 2013
Current (13 Apr 2014)

ADSL24/Coms Complete DSL 100 [TalkTalk LLU]
Standard User aibreeze
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 09:01:07
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: ukwoody] [link to this post]
 
That's probably why they haven't communicated properly. A lot of their users probably aren't even aware of the throttling but if they heard about it, might leave because of their feelings towards such practices or even worse, decide to do some searching on the internet and find people's complaints about them. Either way, I'd be surprised if they done the decent thing and emailed everyone letting them know what's going on.
Standard User Molehusband
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 09:08:20
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: Molehusband] [link to this post]
 
Coms' report on their acquisition of ADSL24 (May 2nd 2013)

"...the ADSL24 network presently generates a monthly gross margin of approximately £20,000 on revenues of circa £75,000."

ADSL24/Coms Complete DSL 100 [TalkTalk LLU]
Standard User aibreeze
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 10:36:17
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: Molehusband] [link to this post]
 
So basically ADSL24 only got 50k cash and the rest is in shares.. ouch, pretty bad deal seeing how things have gone down so far.
Standard User nickscs
(member) Sun 13-Apr-14 11:06:40
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: aibreeze] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by aibreeze:
So basically ADSL24 only got 50k cash and the rest is in shares.. ouch, pretty bad deal seeing how things have gone down so far.

Yes especially as Coms share price is now in seemingly steady decline , has lost a third in value since January this year .

Edited by nickscs (Sun 13-Apr-14 11:08:32)

Standard User Molehusband
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 12:23:58
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: nickscs] [link to this post]
 
My uneducated guess would be that Coms wish their broadband acquisition to show an increase in profitability over the short term. As they are not exactly straining themselves to do this by increasing the customer base, I wonder how they might achieve this objective?

ADSL24/Coms Complete DSL 100 [TalkTalk LLU]

Edited by Molehusband (Sun 13-Apr-14 12:24:17)

Standard User nickscs
(member) Sun 13-Apr-14 12:36:18
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: Molehusband] [link to this post]
 
In reply to a post by Molehusband:
My uneducated guess would be that Coms wish their broadband acquisition to show an increase in profitability over the short term. As they are not exactly straining themselves to do this by increasing the customer base, I wonder how they might achieve this objective?

Not sure that Coms are that concerned , it seems a very much "suck it and see" operation to me. A tiny part of their operation. Having watched an interview with David Breith on Youtube, Coms is all about aquisition, expanding the company as a whole, by aquiring rival companies. Voip and re-selling seem to be his aim. Adsl24 only gets a small mention, all he talks about is aquisition, aquisition and aquisition.

Edited by nickscs (Sun 13-Apr-14 12:53:46)

Standard User Theexecutioner
(newbie) Sun 13-Apr-14 19:01:11
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: aibreeze] [link to this post]
 
I tried to migrate only to find the MAC I had been given had already been used to place a migrate days earlier.

Turns out according to BT when they said it had failed, my line now belongs to Enta International Ltd. Emailed Coms to find out what on earth was going in to be told that some lines were caught up in a final migration of their lines and they'd ask for another MAC.

Just what on earth is going on there. Pigs and ears come to mind.

TE
Standard User My_brain_hurts
(learned) Sun 13-Apr-14 21:10:37
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: Molehusband] [link to this post]
 
Thanks for the links, when I get time I will look through them properly. I must say that when I tried to look for the T&Cs before we were migrated I couldn't find them, don't know if I was looking in the wrong place or if they weren't there? There are different T&Cs for the telephone side than the broadband side it appears. Looking through the T&Cs quickly I did notice a couple of areas that could be considered unfair terms straight away. Just because something is in T&Cs doesn't mean it's either legal or enforceable and I would reiterate that if one side has broken a contract the other half does not have to be bound by the contract either.

I won't say any more as Coms monitor these posts, as you know, no point in forewarning them any more than is necessary at this stage. I'm also aware that for a lot of us they can identify which Coms users are posting here because we used PMs to Coms staff to give them our Coms details to get things sorted - I said at the time that it was not a good idea, so if my service gets suddenly worse I'll know why! Am I bovvered?

"...the ADSL24 network presently generates a monthly gross margin of approximately £20,000 on revenues of circa £75,000."


Well unless I read that wrong that's a £20k profit before tax on a revenue of £75k per month, pretty good ratio of over 26% profit from where I'm standing. Maybe they should plough some of that profit back into providing a better service?

I have just checked my email archive and the first email I had from Coms was dated 3rd Dec 2013 entitled 'Welcome to Coms'. In it they say..

'...This move will allow you to benefit from Coms’s own next generation network and infrastructure, allowing you to enjoy continuous improvements.....

Rest assured we’ll be in touch every step of the way to keep you informed of exactly what we’re doing....

Please be assured that there will be no change to the cost of your service, or your existing contract length. There will be no adverse effect on your monthly usage limit, or maximum available broadband speed....'


Oh my, I needed a good laugh

I can't see that I've had single email from Coms since then except for confirmation of my monthly payments. Is that the same for all of you or has anyone had a Coms update by email since December?

I must admit that the silence from some users on the forum is deafening, raging at each other but missing the opportunity to have their input on something that could get things moving. Unless of course they are concerned that Coms know who they are...
Standard User DooGie
(committed) Sun 13-Apr-14 21:38:49
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: My_brain_hurts] [link to this post]
 
Perhaps the ones that are staying quiet have already jumped ship?
Standard User caley
(regular) Sun 13-Apr-14 22:02:18
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: DooGie] [link to this post]
 
Like me who jumped ship on 10th February and I am so glad I did. Look at the mess that has developed since but I would support you if required as I had a job to get a MAC but eventually did.

Caley.

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Standard User tonytiger07
(learned) Sun 13-Apr-14 22:09:22
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Re: COMS Divide and Conquer


[re: DooGie] [link to this post]
 
A lot of "normal" users probably don't use these forums at all, or maybe simply haven't noticed the problems. In my case I'm not impacted (directly) by the throttling as I don't use those services - but that's not to say I don't care.

And to be fair to Coms (though not sure why I should be) things have been, hmmm, lets just say okay, for a little while now - I've not been disconnected since 1st April - the second longest session I've had since the cutover.

My biggest problem with Coms is the incredible lack of communication, which means I simply do not trust them at all. It is just a matter of time before I jump ship - but I'm probably going to fibre anyway. I know some other companies don't bother with a status page either, referring users to twitter instead, but I really can't see the problem in doing both - and I have a big problem with companies that don't make it clear to see what's going on. We all know things go wrong from time to time, but don't hide it, just be honest and open about it.


I've raised a number of tickets over the past year, since Coms took over and not been impressed by most of the answers. A few examples:

Reported last June that the ADSL24 Status page wasn't available - initally told "the website seems to be down" (yes, that's what I reported) - we'll get back to you. Followed up with - there's a complication, we'll have to make some changes...can't say when it will be back.

Reported an email outage last August (at least the 3rd one I'd noticed that year up to that point) and I also stated "I've heard stories that adsl24 have been taken over by another hosting company. In theory I know this should mean things should continue as they were, completely transparently to me, but that's not been the case. I'd also have assumed that a larger comms/hosting company would have more than likely meant a better service with increased resilience. "

The response was: "I've been advised that there was a power outage at the data centre that caused a loss of some of their core networking system. While most systems have recovered, we're seeing higher than usual latency at the data centres 'borders' however I would expect this to be addressed & resolved throughout the day.

The newer parent company (coms plc) are looking to expand and invest upon what we presently offer, so I would indeed hope that we should see an increased resilience going forward. "



An issue with sending emails in January this year - response "Our supplier had an issue with reverse DNS affecting many ADSL24 customers, our senior engineers have been liaising with our suppliers and we now believe the issue to be resolved." - yet there was no communication that I'd seen to notify customers of that. I also asked again about a status page, but told (again) they don't have one.
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