All I wanted from an ISP was simple. A competitive price, a good connection rate and a half-decent service. When I signed up with WorldOnLine, the price was excellent, connection rate and speed was OK and the customer service reasonable. However, when Tiscali bought WorldOnLine, everything changed. The price started to creep up, the connection rate reduced and the customer service was almost non-existent. All I wanted Tiscali to do was to change from billing one credit card to another. Not too difficult I thought. I called them up and they sent me a form to fill in, which I returned immediately, this was in July 2001. The month afterwars, my old credit card was billed as usual. Since then I have had numerous e-mails and telephone calls confirming that they have ammended my credit card details, but I have just received yet another credit card statement showing that they have still billed my old credit card. I have now moved to BT Openworld, have a high-speed reliable ADSL connection and no problems at all. I then contacted Tiscali to end my account with them and, a week later, I have discovered that they have failed to do that. In answering one of my e-mails, Tiscali even had the cheek to refer to its "excellent, award winning customer service".
For those of you who want to get to the meat of the review, here's a quick summary. Tiscali/WorldOnline/Screaming.net is THE most appalling ISP ever created, and I've used AOL, so that's something. Let's have a look at why this is the case, by going through my experience with the Great Net 'n' Web Swindle. September 1999. I see something in The Times about a new ISP called screaming.net. Apparently, this new ISP does not only offer free subscription, but also FREE CALLS OFF-PEAK!!! Wow! One catch. You have to change your phone company to LocalTel, but they're basically a BT reseller, so it's not really any hassle, and the change-over takes a week. 3 months later, my line is transferred to Localtel. I then connect to the wonderful, all-you-can-eat free buffet that is the Information Superhighway. Except it's not so much of a superhighway, but more of super-stairlift, that only works once every 40 times. I dial the ISP god knows how many times to listen to a recorded voice tell me the line is busy. And of course, because it's not an engage tone, my modem isn't bright enough to redial again. I have never, ever experienced the internet this slow before. An ordinary web page takes about 5 minutes to load. My downloads are at the very best, 0.2kb/s. I accept this. They're new, they're going to have teething problems. The ISP teethes for about a year, and eventually, the service improves. Then one day, I get a phone bill from WorldOnline. What's this? I go and have a look on their page, and after ages of searching, I find out something interesting. Apparently, LocalTel were bought by WorldOnline, and conveniently, both companies forgot to tell me this. An enquiry to WorldOnline brings absolutely no response, not even an automated reply. They also inform me that now I'm going to have to pay £15 for the 'privilege' of
using their service. Two weeks later, I get a doleful letter informing me that they've decided to change their minds about this. I find out that around 90% of the screaming.net users rang WorldOnline and demanded to cancel their account, and WorldOnline realised it couldn't do what it liked. The service is now alright, but still exceptionally slow compared to any other ISP. Now here comes the real crunch. In 2000, WorldOnline is bought by Tiscali, a European ISP. They're going to charge me £3.99 a month of 50 hours free access at any time, and now Servista (who?) is going to provide my phone connection. Then they decide they're going to charge me £6.99 a month for access (on top of line rental), and they?re not even going to send me a bill anymore, they're just going to take my money by direct debit and I can check my bill online. Well, I would if the service had any speed. Put simply, ANYONE could run a better ISP by using cups and string. Disconnections are rife on Tiscali, and usually they're also the sort that manages to crash your PC, necessitating a reboot. Multiplayer gaming? Forget it. I swear that Tiscali monitor what you are doing, and seem to regard anything apart from looking at webpages as a waste of time. Downloads, gaming, shockwave, all are great times to be disconnected. Sometimes you can't even connect, because they frequently have trouble with their password servers, and e-mail is just a joke, regardless of what account address I put to download in Outlook, I still get my dad's e-mail. Bottom line? There's no such thing as a free lunch. Don't even waste your time with this piss-awful bunch of cowboys. Stick with BT, or better still, get cable broadband. Tiscali would have been poor service in 1995, and in 2001, it's just plain illegal.
I always planned to come back and update this as promised. When I came to look how prominent it was in it's category, I was rather surprised to find it as the "top opinion". This gave me an extra incentive to include the latest developments, which are detailed below. Bear in mind that this was originally written around Christmas time, which gives you the context to the seasonal feel to it. Just before you start, you should know that the latest incarnation of Screaming Net/World Online is Tiscali. I'm not saying that Tiscali will be guilty by default but I sincerely hope that their approach is more customer-orientated than their predecessors. Tiscali S.p.A was founded by Renato Soru, Chairman and CEO, in January 1998 following the liberalization of the Italian telecommunications market. In 2001 the company bought out the LineOne ISP along with World Online. At present, Tiscali has the most interconnected network in Europe with over 350 tier 1 peering agreements and a connection to the USA. As of December 2001 Tiscali has 7.3 million active users, and is the first European web property with 14.7 million unique visitors that in Q4 2001 generated 10.4 billion minutes of Internet traffic in the 14 countries in which it is present. OK, here's the rant plus update at the end. Hang on to yer hats!! It's time for a post-Christmas RANT. Yeah, I know it's the season to be jolly but I just have to get this one of my chest. It's a story of intrigue, double-crossing and thorough caddishness. Many moons ago I decided to change my ISP to Screaming Net. Heard of 'em? Well, they were one of the first companies to offer free off-peak Internet access. Too good to be true? Absolutely! The deal was that you switched over your telephone service to them and took advantage of their soooo competitive rates (actually they were you moaning git). Screaming Net worked on the premise of b
uilding up a client bank to the point where volume would equal profit. Along with AOL, BT and others, the experiment was doomed to failure. Do you know it's all so distant now...can't even remember who I was with before? Anyway, as you'd expect, NO CHANCE of getting through on a dial up. I changed my settings to automatically re-dial up to a 100 times and even this went round the clock sometimes. This went on for a while so I wrote to OFTEL to complain. They wrote back to say that they had named and shamed a number of telephone operators and that SN were one of the worst offenders. However, they didn't have the power to actually help in individual cases but had written to SN to draw their attention to my complaint. You see, on top of the c$*p service via the Net, my phone bills were all over the place as well. It was common practice to be billed for phone calls made 6 months previously. Sometime last year, World Online bought up SN's customer book. Could things start to improve? What do you think? Almost immediately a charging structure came in for Net access. Admittedly it was only £3 per month to start with but this was to prove to be the thin end of the wedge. More importantly they took over my telephone service. Here again, phone bills all over the shop. Itemised calls over 6 months old rattled through my letterbox at regular intervals. The shark then ate the sprat having been eaten by the mackerel. Tiscali (one of Europe's biggest ISPs) bought out World Online earlier this year. Cilla Black time again – surprise, surprise – the charging structure changed to £7 per month. Where was it all going to end? By now I was thoroughly p*ss$d off with the phone bill side of things and when NTL turned up in my street, an opportunity arose. I'm not keen on my paths being turned into permanent molehills but I'll forgive 'em that. May 2001 – read the literature, spoke to my neighbour, sw
itched to NTL. OK, OK, let's get Tiscali/World Online/Screaming Net or whatever you are called off my back once and for all. So I sent an e-mail to Tiscali to confirm the date of disconnection and that I had received and PAID MY FINAL BILL. E-mail reply confirmed the necessary – I'M FREEEE!!! Oh yes I am; oh no you're not (seasonal, eh?). The dreaded phone bills kept coming. My payment method was a credit card direct debit, which, apparently, couldn't be cancelled. My credit card people did say to contact them if there were any problems. I duly referred the subsequent bills and they gave me a refund and issued a notice of dispute to World Online. The coup de gras – about 2 weeks ago I had a letter from a debt collection agency threatening to take me to court over outstanding bills. Yes, a whopping £14 would blight my credit score and insult my pride. Strangely, the agency was very helpful when I rang them (always thought that they went round with croquet mallets stuffed inside sheepskin coats) and said to send in my documentation and they'd refer the stuff back to their client. That's the latest as I'm still waiting to here back. ***My points are thus*** Screaming Net and World Online are truly terrible. Why do companies try and shaft people over such trivial amounts of money? Are all debt collection agencies as nice as this one? You may have guessed that this is a matter of honour by now, as I'm not prepared to pay up. However, I really am not going to allow a CCJ to be registered against me either. The exciting conclusion will take the form of an update maybe in the New Year. RANT over for now, right; let's get ready for New Year's Eve. Marandina. ***Update March 2002*** We are now into March and I've had a final summons from Direct Legal & Collections a couple of months ago. They agreed to take my copy correspondence and refer it
back to World Online. I've had a solicitors letter threatening to take me to court if I don't pay up. As I was in Leeds all week I had to pay as I couldn't meet their 5 day pay or contact demands. I'm still gonna take it up with my Credit Card company after I've paid them their poultry sum. My final word is that World Online/Tiscali suck like a Dyson with Mick Jagger lips. I'm considering employing my good friend, King Herrod who is an active lawyer and promised me a good deal (only kidding, Nick!) BTW: I'm not usually like this. Just that some things really frustrate me. This being one of them!!
I have never seen a company change policy and services so much! I joined World-Online long before they were taken over by Tiscali and originally took up the unmetered option with the transfer of my telephone services to them, only to be told that this was being withdrawn and would be replaced with the 100 hours per month 'Freedom' package. After a certain amount of scrutiny, I decided that it wasn't so bad as the unused minutes carried over and I was unlikely to use the full allocation any how. Not so long later, World-online decided that it was no longer going to operate telephone services! This time I was pretty disgusted, but after looking into Servista (Worldonline's recommended supplier), I realised that they offered a better deal anyway. However, I was still annoyed with World-online as I felt that I was constantly being messed around. I tried to contact World Online several times with my concerns, but despite attempting email, snail-mail and telephone, I just could not get any response from them. Now, several months later, even though I am on the 100 hours package, I find my connection being dropped after just 2 continuous hours of internet use. I was never informed of this action and what the hell is the point of it anyway? After all, I would have to pay for my calls if I went over the 100 hours?! Again, I am unable to contact them. Consequently, I shall soon write them one final letter, signed and witnessed by a solicitor, to the following affect. "...Please take this letter as official notification of intended closure of my internet account... (..account details etc..)...I will be terminating my direct debit agreement with you forthwith. If I hear nothing within 30 days of this letter, then I will asume that no more monies are due to your company. Indeed, it is now your legal reponsibility to respond to this letter if monies are due.... ....I have on numerous occasions trie
d to contact your company through both electronic and conventional means, but have received no response regardless. I take this as Worldonline / Tiscali having no concern for their customers and as a result I shall be looking elsewhere for a non-Tiscali owned Internet Service Provider. Indeed, as a direct result of your company policy, I shall seek to discourage people from using your services...." etc etc. I think that should do the trick!! As an extra point, I do believe the Tiscali should be thouroughly investigated by the Monopolies commision as well as Trading Standards. Also, I am serious thinking of sending my concerns to BBC watchdog!! Can anyone out there recommend a service provider that offers a service with out dropped connections, similar to the 100 hour package that was offered by Worldonline / Tiscali??
I joined up with World Online last year, after seeing an advert in a national newspaper saying 'unlimited unmetered access for 14.99 per month', the only catch seemed to be that my phone line had to be switched to the World Online system, and even this was a simple matter of a straight switch between BT and WoL. Too good to be true? read on..... They seemed only too happy to sign me up under the conditions of the advert, but all was not well with World Online (A word to the wise about the small print, always check what 'subject to change' actually means). I hadn't even logged on under the unmetered service before they contacted me to say that the unlimited service had been withdrawn, but there would be a replacement service available within 28 days (This was only 7 days at the most after the advert had been run, so they must have known that the service was on it's way out) While I was waiting for the new services, I had to sign up to the local rate service, which was 1p/min 24/7, but even this was a little expensive for me, as my internet usage has always been on the heavy side. When information on the new services came through the door, I was delighted, at least I was until I read it. They had brought in the Freedom packages, which although not bad packages, were time limited with a maximum of 100 free hours per month (at the time, I was using about 7 to 8 hours per day, more on weekends) and that was not what I signed up for. I contacted World Online a few times, and after talking to a few different customer advisors (with varying degrees of cooperation, from helpful to bordering on hostile), I had no joy in finding a suitable package. As far as I was concerned, World Online had gained customers under false pretences, and broken their part of the contract. Unfortunately, when I presented this to them, they failed to address the 'gaining customers under false pretences' comment, but with the broken
contract question, I was directed back to the 'subject to change' clause, and politely told that there was nothing I could do. I have no idea whether things have changed now that Tiscali have taken them over, but I will now not entertain anything to do with World Online.
I first joined world online when it was originally called Localtel and the ISP was screaming.net. It was shortly bought out by Worldonline which was promptley bought out by Tiscali. Since its start it has gone from reasonable to extremely awfull. When I first joined you had to move your phone line to access the system and since then they are not suppling the telephone lines anymore so I had to move it, back to BT as the company recomended by Worldonline was expensive. The change took place at the begining of July this year, Worldonline billed me for July's line rental. The accounts department sent me a bill for 3 months internet access which I had already paid and still got the amount wrong, too much. Durring the months when Worldonline was in control of the internet accounts you had a xchoice of three options, 100 hours per month, 50 hours per month or the normal pay for your calls. I opted for the option 100 which means no call charges for the first 100 hours per month, and free minutes that are left are accumulated. They stopped this when Tiscali took over and they owed me over 3 months worth of access, for which I was told tough. When they changed the advertised the prices on the internet for the old access and new access types, but both prices are the same for two different types of access. I advised the company of the error and to the best of my knowledge it is still there. You are given 25mb of free web space which appears not too work. I uploaded a site, as instructed, but could not access it or receive reports of faults from my friends. I contacted Worldonline for help, I was told they would investigate the fault. After 5 phone calls I was told they would contact me, they did not bother and I am still waiting. I eventually emailed Tiscali's head office who sent out an e mail to Worldonline instructiing them to deal with complaint, I am still waiting, that is over 5 months now. When you join a company for the internet it is a good
idea to contact their customer support as this gives a you a good idea as to how good they are. If you can get through in under 10 minutes they are of a reasonable standard, very few people have complaints. Worldonline, however, could take you upto 1 month to get hold of, this is wahat happened to me. After receiving Julys billed I attempted to contact them every night for a month, I got the automated system telling me "all our advisers are busy please hold. I held for over 2 hours each evening untill they closed. I would not recomend anyone to use this company as they do not care about the customers or standard of service the technical support department do not realy know what they are on about either.
Around a year ago, I heard about the offer World Online were doing - a 24/7 internet service. I thought, "great" - that's what I need, as an internet junkie. One of the conditions of taking up this unlimited service was to cancel my telephone contract with BT and also take up a phone service with WorldOnline. I didn't receive any communication from World Online about the set up of my new service, but didn't think anything of it at the time. Boy was I wrong!! The first event that led me to believe that World Online were con merchants, were the fact that they discontinued the 24/7 service and brought in a 100 hours a month internet service whilst processing my application (it may have even been 50 hours, I can't remember exactly how much but I didn't find this out through communication from World Online themselves but rather from the bottom of my first bill which appeared to be pretty over the top!!) I was under the impression that I was actually going to save money through them - not the case at all. IT GETS WORSE - READ ON!!! After setting up this WorldOnline account, my boyfriend at the time went off with someone else, and he agreed to buy my share of the equity in the house we owned, and around last year I moved out of the house and his new partner moved in. Of course there is always the issue of bills and transferring them over etc when these things happen - World Online is one bill that, to this day, I haven't managed to transfer over/cancel - it is still in my name!! READ ON - I have had hundred of telephone conversations with members of the World Online customer services department, and I specifically stated that since splitting with my ex-boyfriend, "I DO NOT LIVE AT THE ABOVE ADDRESS AND HAVEN’T DONE SO FOR AROUND EIGHT MONTHS!!" I also notified them that he lived at the address with his new wife. At the request of their customer services department, his new wi
fe and I both signed a ‘change of account details form’ in order that she, as the new user of the service, could take over responsibility for the account. She provided her bank details, and also requested a telephone only service, that is, the same service excluding the internet package. Despite this, however, it is only until very recently that they have still charged my credit card for phone/internet costs that have nothing to do with me. The only reason that I have managed to stop them from charging my credit card is to cancel it!! And, just in case you are wondering, the credit card company could not stop these payments going through as a credit card 'apparently' is a GUARANTEED FORM OF PAYMENT!! As it happens, it is me that remains out of pocket!! And now they tell me they have recruited a debt collection company to deal with the last two months’ telephone bills!! To make matters even worse, my ex-boyfriend's wife has also been in contact with the customer services department on MANY occasions and quite frankly, both of us are sick and tired of being told that the matter will be dealt with when clearly that doesn’t seem to be their intention at all!! I am extremely disappointed and angry with the service I have received from World Online and I will NEVER be using their services again. I would strongly advise anyone that has an account with World Online, get rid of it now and go back to BT. At least if you phone BT and tell them you have moved they actually acknowledge this. As it happens, I am currently in the process of lodging a formal complaint with with OFTEL. If there is anyone else out there that has experienced similar problems with World Online, please DO get in contact with me. I would like to hear of your situation!! And, Finally, I cannot emphasise this any more - do not bother with World Online unless you want to suffer from a nervous breakdown!!
As you probably know World Online have transferred their telephone service to Tiscali recently, however the pricing remained the same. Recently the telephone service is extremly bad. It takes along time to connect, and when you do connect, you get disconnected within several minutes, and it is not my ISP. I have also tried it with AOL, and I also get disconnected. I recently phoned them up to change telephone service provider, and they never asked why I was leaving. Normally they would try to keep you on their service, I expect alot of people are changing service provider, and they know their service is bad. It even took half an hour to phone them up, I was waiting in an endless queue, with no feedback as to where I was in the Q.
Worldonline has changed its name again recently - it has been taken over by Tiscali. Unfortunately, this was bad news for the consumer. Some internet customers saw their costs DOUBLE. I joined Worldonline 8 months ago, when it was offering unlimited free off-peak internet access if you became a telephone customer. Their line rental (with free off-peak internet access) was the same cost as BT's line rental only, offered much better value for money, so I signed up. The change over was hassle-free, and my telephone number didn't change. However, no sooner had I joined when Worldonline changed its services, and charged £2.99 a month for its Internet Lite option. This offered me 50 hours of off-peak calls, which met my needs, so I remained a customer. Then there was ANOTHER price increase. Worldonline has been taken over by Tiscali and has again revamped its services. Once again, this was bad news for the consumer. The so-called lite service is now 50 hours anytime, for £5.99 per month. Since I only really need off-peak calls, my internet costs have effectively DOUBLED. But, that is not all. In June 2001 I received notification that World Online/Tiscali will no longer be providing a telephone service from 12 July. Instead, they are concentrating on their internet business. All existing telephone customers are being written to and given a number to ring (freephone). I rang, and was informed I could be transferred to another company (presumably associated with Tiscali) for £11.99 per month line rental. The person I spoke to claimed that some calls were cheaper than BT, but didn't give me the information to make the comparisons. This is YET ANOTHER price increase, albeit small. This is the final straw, and I am going back to BT for my telephone. However, I am remaining with Tiscali for the internet (for the time being anyway). UPDATE - DECEMBER 2001 I have remained with Tiscali as my internet servi
ce provider on the Freedom 50 tariff. However, when I went to their website yesterday I noticed that this tariff is no longer available. It is not clear whether existing customers will be forced onto a yet more expensive tariff. If that happens, I'm afraid it will be "adieu"!
When I first joined World Online it was actually called screaming.net and I joined just because if you changed to a cheaper telco you could have free off-peak internet calls. That was a long time ago. Since then it has become world online (and now Tiscali I belive). When as soon as the possibility for unmetered all-day access arrived I took up the offer immediatly, I was not dissapointed. Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that any offer companies services are my expensive or have slower connections. That's not the reason for my praise at all. The one reason that this service stands above all other ISP's in the UK for unmetered access is that it has no cut-off time. I don't know about every-single ISP on the market but with BTinternet, Freeserve and countless other services now available that I checked out they all automatically disconnected after 2hours (sometimes less). So if you want to have a truely permanent connection to the internet, without the cost of a T3/optic fibre/ADSL, then this is THE service to go for.
One year ago I was screaming with joy when I joined screaming. net, who wouldn’t if you got unlimited totally free Internet access (of peak) for the price of £ 9.99 phone rental only. For 6 months I enjoyed the sheer luxury and then suddenly my world changed as the company was taken over by World online. The Internet package was changed and now I had to pay £ 2.99 for 50 hours of Internet access plus the phone rental. Still not bad but of-course nothing compared to unlimited access. I was trying to get use to this change when 2 months ago again the company was taken over by another company called Tiscali and we were left to their mercy. Now I am paying £ 9.99 phone rental + £ 5.99 for 50 hours (anytime), not at all good value for money. So now I am looking for another ISP. This was my story, now about the service. REGISTRATION ------------ I am telling you my own experience and as I joined 1 year ago, I am sorry if things have changed. You can register online. You need to be a BT customer. You give your personal and bank details and then they contact BT to switch the service. Then BT will contact you to confirm that you want to shift. As you confirm you’ll receive an e-mail to download their software to start using their service. This whole process takes about 2 weeks. INSTALLATION ------------ Installation is simple, you go to their website download the software, install it and you are ready to connect to Internet. CONNECTING ---------- Once you have installed their software, it becomes your default ISP and the dial box opens when ever you open your browser. Dialling was no problem at all, I use to get connected the first time and the cut off time was 3 hours. With the change in companies and price plan the service has also detoriated. Still it’s not bad but I do get engage tones occasionally. SPEED ----- Initially it was never less than 48 kbs but now usually it
is 45 kbs and sometimes less than 40 and then you have to disconnect and then connect again to get a better speed. E MAIL AND WEB SPACE -------------------- You get 5 email addresses and standard web space. I never had any problem with the email service and is quite good. CUSTOMER SUPPORT ---------------- This is the worst part, you call them and wait and wait. You can hardly talk to real a person. You get an automated response telling you to e-mail instead, and then it takes days to get a response by e-mail. VALUE FOR MONEY --------------- The initial package was definitely worth the money. £ 9.99 for monthly phone rental, totally free Internet after 6pm to 8am and all weekends, and 33% less phone charges as compared to BT. It was the best package you could find. Then the charges were increased by £2.99 and Internet access was reduced from unlimited to 50 hours. Now you have to pay £5.99 for 50 hours, which is not at all worth and I can’t call it good value for money. CONCLUSION ---------- I year ago this was the best service available, quality and money wise except poor customer support. Quality wise I would say they are not as good as before but honestly speaking still better than many. Money wise it’s not worth anymore and I think there are better offers available. Over all I wouldn’t recommend this to anybody anymore. Now as I am looking for a new deal I’ll miss their service as they used to be the best. What a shame.
When my account with Libertysurf was due to come to an end I was keen to get on board with another ISP pronto. The choice wasn’t easy though, there are so many out there now. Originally I was going to go with BT for their off peak £5.99 a month thing but it then emerged that it wasn’t quite as simple as it had originally seemed so I looked elsewhere. I’m glad I did too because I found Worldonline. Tiscali Packages: For £5.99 a month you get 50 hours of Internet access. Sure, that might not sound like anything to get excited about but that’s 50 hours ANYTIME. So you could use all 50 hours during peak times if you wanted. Not bad is it? You can also go for their £9.99 package for 100 hours anytime or if you’re a high user (as in, frequent, not ‘high’) then you can pay £14.99 a month for unlimited access. The service: Connection speeds are very impressive, I’ve never had below 45000 bps and I’ve been able to connect first time every time. There is no cut off time either so if you want to stay connected you can – no problem at all. You will need to enter their connection number as always and you will notice that there is a prefix code too – this means that you’re creating an account that can be used for normal billing if you happen to go over the 50 or 100 hours. The homepage: Pretty much the same as any other ISP’s homepage but I like it. From here you can access news, weather, sport etc as normal but you can also gain access to account information which tells you how many hours you’ve used etc. You can also pick up e-mail from here, which can be quite handy Customer service: Awful. Sorry if that was a bit out of the blue but I’ve actually contacted them three times (different subject each time) and only had one reply, which took about a week. They appear to be heavily behind in answering any queries so if
you’re just wanting to get some info then don’t expect a quick reply. That is now of course and I’m sure that matters will improve and if you’re like me then you may not even need to contact them once everything is up and running as it should be. Overall: I have to say that on the whole I’m very happy with the service. My main concern was the connection speed and reliability and I’ve had virtually no problems. There is no annoying ‘console’ that I had to endure as a Libertysurf customer so online gaming is back on my agenda too! For price I feel they’re great and you can cancel at any time so if you find it’s rubbish you can simply cut it off after a month. Also you get 100 hours instead of 50 in the first month if you’re a Tiscali 50 user (not sure if you get 150 if you’re on Tiscali 100). Happy Surfing! MR.COATES
Those of you who are familiar with my opinions may have noticed that I frequently change ISPs. In the last two years, I believe I have used most of the major UK ISPs. Certainly I have used more than I have written about, even though I have opinions on 5 ISPs at the moment. Hopefully, though I will not be writing about any more for the foreseeable future. I moved over to World Online when I was unable to get online with BTInternet for almost 36 hours. This time they had a very good reason for it, but after a series of other problems with them leading up to this event, I wasn’t exactly feeling sympathetic. I needed to be online THEN, and if I had to change ISPs to do so, then so be it. Searching ISP Review web sites, however, revealed that for my budget of £15 a month I didn’t have many 24/7 unmetered options. I had used almost all of the well known ones, and I didn’t fancy trying any of the less well known ones! The only ‘big name’ that I hadn’t tried with an offer suited to my budget was World Online. I had a look at the opinions on dooyoo, to see what they were like, and found many of them were very negative. They were also quite old and out of date. Looking at some more recent opinions revealed that things were looking up though, so I decided to take a closer look, and then signed up. A visit to their web site showed two logos - Tiscali, and World Online. Now they are simply Tiscali. I had already seen that logo before, as Tiscali are a European company that has bought out a lot of British ISPs - I believe they are even with Line One now. They are also sponsors of Formula 1 team BAR. That was partly what made me join them, as BAR are my favourite team! ========WHAT THEY OFFER========= World Online / Tiscali have several packages I will call them by their current Tiscali names, although throughout the rest of the opinion I will use the two names interchan
geably. Tiscali Classic Tiscali 50 Tiscali 100 Tiscali ADSL Tiscali Unlimited. Tiscali Classic: This is their regular, 0845, pay as you go service. No monthly fee, no ties. You get your usual mailbox with unlimited email addresses, a newsgroup service and 25Mb webspace. Vanilla stuff, but a generous offering of webspace for an ISP. All the other plans get the same newsgroups / email / webspace as Tiscali Classic. Tiscali 50 and 100 These offer you a certain number of hours for ‘free’ each month for a monthly fee. Tiscali 50 is £5.99 a month for 50 hours free surfing, with the rest charged at 1p a minute. Tiscali 100 is £9.99 a month for, you guessed it, 100 hours free surfing instead of 50. At the moment, if you sign up for either Tiscali 50 or 100 you get an extra 50 hours free in your first month. You can keep track of your usage via their web site, and upgrade or downgrade your service at any point, so if you using Tiscali 100 are online as much as usual one month, you can drop down to Tiscali 50, and be charged under that scheme. If you’re on 50 and think you’re going to be online a lot you can upgrade to 100 and get charged under that scheme. The same applies with UPGRADING to Tiscali Unlimited (more info on that below) But if you downgrade during a month then you will still be charged the full £14.99 for that month. Tiscali ADSL <envy>Yes, they offer 500Kbps download, 250Kbps upload</envy> The usual 3.5Km from exchange rules apply, and at £150 installation and £39.99 a month rental it isn’t too bad an offer. Still, it’s more than I can afford at the moment. Anyone got a job they can offer me? Seriously, if you want ADSL, this seems like a good company to get it from. Tiscali have been offering broadband in other countries for a long time now. Tiscali Unlimi
ted. If you’re like me, and can’t afford ADSL, then unmetered narrowband is the poor mans alternative. At £14.99 a month for 24/7 they’re pretty competitive, and, since it isn’t Surftime, you don’t have to go through all that ‘double billing stuff either. You do have to have either a BT line or a BT Calls and Access provider, and you can’t be using another service that uses the 1690 calls prefix. ========My Experience of Tiscali Unlimited======= Signing up for Tiscali Unlimited was quite easy. I even managed to get the user name I wanted! I was pleasantly surprised at the end to be offered a choice between letting World Online customised my software, or having me enter all the settings myself. Being a control freak I opted for the latter option, and was presented with the number, mail settings, news settings etc. I then decided that I was sick of the BTInternet stuff that was still lurking about, and couldn’t be bothered to mess with the registry, so I went back to the World Online web site to see if I could still get my browser customised. I found their support section very easily, and managed to get myself a re-badged Outlook Express in minutes! When you sign up, you can’t get unmetered access straight away, as you need to get your line registered with them. They claimed this would take about 24 hours. In truth it took 18, which I found quite reasonable. I was able to access through their classic number while I was waiting, and was sent instructions on changing this number once my line was registered. Since then I’ve been very happy with them. ====CONNECTIVITY==== I can connect first time almost every time. The rest of the time it only takes two, at the most three attempts to connect. This is much better than BT when it is usually impossible to get online on an evening.
They have no cut off period, and this is a big attraction for me. They do disconnect you if you are idle, but unlike many companies they don’t seem to mind IRC or ICQ - they actually give IRC as an example of why you may want to use their service in their blurb! Connection speeds vary from 42.6Kbps (the slowest I’ve seen with them) to usually 46Kbps. Downloads go from 3.1Kbps to 4Kbps. Not the fastest connection on the planet but a good average, and I’d rather have reliable average than sometimes fast, sometimes incredibly slow. ==========EMAIL=========== Their email service is reliable, although I did find the email sent to my World Online address explaining how to access my email rather amusing, especially since I had been struggling to get it working after a case of ‘missing the obvious’ - I had the pop3 and smtp in the wrong boxes! <blush> Spam does not seem to be an inherent problem of using them either. ==========WEBSPACE========== Their webspace has the unusual condition that if you don’t access it for 3 months, or don’t include an index.htm page, they will delete it. I guess this is to stop people using it as a file archive. You get a subdomain for your web site - myusername.worldonline.com, and I haven’t had any problems FTP-ing to it or accessing it. FTP is another reason I am happy with World Online. I work on a site with a server based in Australia, and with BTInternet I couldn’t FTP to that site as it kept timing out. With World Online I have no problems. Either BTInternet is a blocked domain, or they have a very slow link to Australia. Not sure which it is but it was a frustrating problem for me. ============NEWSGROUPS========== Their news server is reliable and fast, although the choice of newsgroups is slightly
lacking. That said, I was spoiled by the large selection on Plus Net, and their willingness to add more groups. I have contacted support about getting some of my old favourites added. I will update this opinion soon with news on wether or not they do this, although I have not seen any groups added since I joined them, so perhaps they never add groups. Time will tell. ============OTHER STUFF=========== If you ignore the email that I sent about newsgroups (which hasn't been answered yet, but I only sent it yesterday) then I have had no contact with support via either email or the telephone. I can say that their website is very good support wise, and gives you the information needed to solve most problems. A greater than one day response rate for email on a weekend isn't something to get angry over either. Their tech support line is 50P a minute, which isn't great, but I have seen £1 a minute support before so it's not too bad. If you're a new user that may not be so appealing though! The rest of their website is pretty good - they have good news content, and I do sometimes check them out when I remember - they aren't my homepage though. It's not as cluttered as some ISPs, and while they are aiming to be a portal they haven't gone over board about it. It's a functional site, easy to navigate and loads quite quickly. To close, I am very happy with World Online, and would recommend anyone paying £15 or more for their current ISP, and who is unhappy with them, move over to them. It’s a month by month contract, so what have you got to loose? ########UPDATE December 12th 2001######### Well, it seems I might be back on the hunt for a new ISP again. Most of the opinion above still stands, but, as usual with an ISP that becomes popular, Tiscali now have a cut off time. It's somewhere between 2 hours and 3 hours, and seems
a little random, but you're always cut off. First time connection is no longer a certainty either. They are more reliable than most ISPs but not perfect. At £15 a month they're pricier than many now too - OneTel.Net, who have a four hour cut-off have just reduced their price from £14.99 to £12.99, and ItsGoodToGive.co.uk is also £12.99, of which £1 is given to charity. It's little things like that which make other ISPs look more attractive. Perhaps I'm being hard on them - they're still much better than most other ISPs I've left in disgust, but if OneTel.Net were available in my area I'd leave in an instant. If you're looking for a new ISP, I would probably recommend either OneTel.Net if you can get them, or ItsGoodToGive.co.uk - I have friends who use both without trouble, and I'm seriously considering moving myself. Still, this isn't the worst ISP out there, but it isn't the best either. I've decided just to knock a star off the rating, but still recommend them.
Worldonline.co.uk has many different packages and can suit all needs. Whether you are a heavy all day surfer or the occasional once in a month surfer. You could opt for their pay as you go service; this has no monthly charges. Or if are a more frequent user why not chooses their ‘Tiscali 50’. This has a monthly subscription charge of £5.99. With this service they give you 50 free hours to use any time of the day. But if you thought that wasn’t enough you can pay an extra £3.99 and get a further 50 free hours. Or if you want a service to match AOL’s or BT’s then pay just £14.99 and surf 24hours a day without racking up that phone bill. Perhaps Worldonline could have reduced this £14.99 so could have attracted a lot more users. For the same price why would you choose this instead of Freeserve or BT’s anytime service. That’s not all, they even cater for those who have much larger incomes. Their whopping £39.99/month package. For this you will need to get an ADSL line. Installation would be around £200. From these 5 packages I chose the 50-hour package. This is simply because I use the net quite a bit and cannot afford any of the other packages.
I had written an opinion praising World Online which have now become Tiscali. I have written a new review on Tiscali and i have had to take my good opinion off of World Online, as i do not want anyone to be misinformed as they are now a very poor service. Since i started the service with them they have charged to credit cards in large random amounts a total of £175, that is overcharging of £70, they ignore letters, emails and when i call them, they are completely incompetant, they do not know what they have charged me and demand proof of credit card statements, i sent them this weeks ago with a letter, they have not responded to it and since then have charged a total of £90 on two seperate credit cards, which i had actually told them not to use, £44.94 on each card. I have just found this out and i am due to ring them up about it which will updated on my new opinion of Tiscali. I have never encountered such terrible incompetance and criminal behaviour from a company in my life before. It is a form of stealing. Do not sign up to a company who does not care about their customers and only care about the money they can steal off their credit cards. I never thought i could hate a company as much as i do Tiscali.