Broadband install cuts off phone line for 84yr old in-laws

BossHogg
BossHogg Posts: 44 Forumite
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edited 24 April 2023 at 9:43AM in Broadband & internet access
Not sure if it is a sign of the times, or someone's duty of care failure, but my 84yr old Father in law just had his new broadband installed by TalkTalk and was unaware it does not include a telephone line. My Mother in law is virtually deaf and relies on the landline to work with her hearing aids.

Basically...
  • They were with Virgin and came to end of their contract period, and were told the price was going up considerably.
  • He then looked around on MoneySupermarket site and saw TalkTalk offer for same 65mbps at £25/mth 18mth deal
  • He had not noticed it was TalkTalk 'full fiber 65' (on order called "Fiber 65 data only"), seems they also have a "fiber 65" which is FTTC (so delivered over phone line), same price but with line rental. That is what he was expecting. 
  • as mentioned he 84 and thought all broadband were same technology
  • Was installed on Friday 21st and after engineer left he realized that his home phone no longer works
  • He then spend ages on a call with 'tech helpdesk' and thinks he was told that he could plug phone directly into router
  • Voice over IP seems not available (router has sticker over socket saying may be a future feature)
  • Agent then told him he may be able to get telephone line for extra £16 he simply cannot afford
  • He is now worrying about how the doctors surgery will contact them, as phone was their lifeline.
  • I tried to help, but seems at TalkTalk that everything except sales is closed on Sundays. Their phone systems also ask for telephone number of broadband service! 
  • Presumably he has 14days to cancel during 'cooling off' but is concerened that his number will now be lost
Seems something is broken in the system when vulnerable old people get into this sort of situation, and no questions asked.
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Comments

  • BossHogg
    BossHogg Posts: 44 Forumite
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    You are of course entitled to you're opinion, harsh as it may be. 

    At 84 my FiL is still fiercely independent, so I had no idea he had switched providers. I don't want to undermine his confidence by checking their every action. A telephone line is essential to them.

    Providers do gather lots of info about customers, often to check customers, and some system somewhere will have had his age, of they could ask for Dob. 

    At his age he does not know the difference between full fiber and fiber to cabinet. At very least someone selling such a thing should explain it will mean loss of his telephone line. 

    TT website is confusing and similarly named and priced products with such fundamental differences is not called out... I can spot it, as I'm sure you could, but clearly he missed it. 





  • elsien
    elsien Posts: 32,636 Forumite
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    edited 23 April 2023 at 4:35PM
    BossHogg said:
    Not sure if it is a sign of the times, or someone's duty of care failure, but my 84yr old Father in law just had his new broadband installed by TalkTalk and was unaware it does not include a telephone line. My Mother in law is virtually deaf and relies on the landline to work with her hearing aids.

    Basically...
    • They were with Virgin and came to end of their contract period, and were told the price was going up considerably.
    • He then looked around on MoneySupermarket site and saw TalkTalk offer for same 65mbps at £25/mth 18mth deal
    • He had not noticed it was TalkTalk 'full fiber 65' (on order called "Fiber 65 data only"), seems they also have a "fiber 65" which is FTTC (so delivered over phone line), same price but with line rental. That is what he was expecting. 
    • as mentioned he 84 and thought all broadband were same technology
    • Was installed on Friday 21st and after engineer left he realized that his home phone no longer works
    • He then spend ages on a call with 'tech helpdesk' and thinks he was told that he could plug phone directly into router
    • Voice over IP seems not available (router has sticker over socket saying may be a future feature)
    • Agent then told him he may be able to get telephone line for extra £16 he simply cannot afford
    • He is now worrying about how the doctors surgery will contact them, as phone was their lifeline.
    • I tried to help, but seems at TalkTalk that everything except sales is closed on Sundays. Their phone systems also ask for telephone number of broadband service! 
    • Presumably he has 14days to cancel during 'cooling off' but is concerened that his number will now be lost
    Seems something is broken in the system when vulnerable old people get into this sort of situation, and no questions asked.
    How are they meant to know that your in-laws are in their 80s and rely on the phone line? What questions did you expect them to ask - he called them, not the other way round so it was a reasonable presumption that he understood what he was signing up to.
    It would be age discrimination to presume that just because someone is that age they don’t understand what they’re doing.

    I agree it’s not initially clear on the website. But when I was looking at moving to TalkTalk, when I asked about keeping my phone number that’s when it was explained that a landline wasn’t part of the deal. So it would appear that your father-in-law didn’t ask about the landline or keeping the same number as that would have triggered the explanation.

    Do they not have a mobile number they could give to the GP as a short-term measure?

    All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of things shall be well.

    Pedant alert - it's could have, not could of.
  • I have just moved to talk talk and signed up online where it was very clear to me that I would not be keeping my landline if I proceeded with the order (I was happy enough to lose it so that was fine by me). I guess if signing up by phone, it’s a lot more difficult to remember what we’ve been told or perhaps even to pick up the significance of what we are told.
    Northern Ireland club member No 382 :j
  • Grumpy_chap
    Grumpy_chap Posts: 14,835 Forumite
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    The rights and wrongs of this one seem a tough call.
    As others said, TalkTalk cannot refuse the "no phoneline" service just based on age.
    However, the drive to do away with copper phone lines and even to do away with landline numbers (even if via VOIP) is disconnected with the pace that other services are moving:
    • Our alarm system will only dial out via phone line and cannot connect to internet services.
    • Our GP will only call on landline, allegedly for reasons of GDPR / confidentiality.  (Around anyone could have your mobile.)
    • My Mum is a little older than the OP's in-laws and currently looking to get a Carline pendant which is only available if there is a standard telephone socket - made more confusing by the service describing a "modern telephone socket" which has concerned my Mum whereas all the service actually means by "modern" is a standard phone plug, rather than the "fixed" socket that was normal in the 1970's.  If the OP thinks the in-laws may require a pendant alarm service in the nearish future, then not having a phone line may impact that option.
  • BossHogg
    BossHogg Posts: 44 Forumite
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    The tech is simply baffling to the older generation, and I think these companies do have a duty to them. 

    Difficult, is not same as impossible, and difficult should not stop them doing the right thing. 

    That said, interesting twist to my story... Dug deeper and read the emails he was sent... 
    • Turns out virgin media had not cancelled everything, just his broadband and tv360.
    • He was re-contracted by them for phone only, via cable, for 13mths at 19quid/mth... He was totally unaware as email just mentions cancelled thw services and he thought phone was part and parcel
    • He believes they told him however to disconnect everything, as they are sending out bags for return of the equipment, hence no phone working. 
    • Tried plugging it all back together for him but broadband router (with phone output) just flashing green instead of turning white. 
    • Suggested he stick with TT and cancel new VM telephone only service, getting Voip instead at 6 per mth.

  • M25
    M25 Posts: 126 Forumite
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    My 82 year old father knows plenty as he does his homework on tech and will ask me if usure. Plenty of ignorant/stupid people of all ages. Obviously some people should only be allowed to play with sponges.

    All sounds like a mess if it were me I'd jump to a BT service it'll happen quite quick. BT will try and get the landline number but it may take a week after install. If they're on certain benefits they may be eligible for BT Essentials https://www.bt.com/broadband/home-essentials Vodafone have much wider eligibility rules for their social tariff https://www.vodafone.co.uk/broadband/essentials-broadband

    Both of those suppliers will likely have you plug your landline into the back of the router.

    I wouldn't recommend TalkTalk to anyone who may need a bit of support because it would be me spending hours sorting stuff.

    BT have a priority repair system too https://www.bt.com/freepriorityfaultrepair (opens a PDF leaflet)



  • prowla
    prowla Posts: 13,144 Forumite
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    edited 24 April 2023 at 7:26AM
    There may be VOIP phone services they can use over BB, or even switching to a web-based service like Skype or Slack.
  • prowla
    prowla Posts: 13,144 Forumite
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    edited 24 April 2023 at 7:26AM
    BossHogg said:
    The tech is simply baffling to the older generation, and I think these companies do have a duty to them. 

    Difficult, is not same as impossible, and difficult should not stop them doing the right thing. 

    That said, interesting twist to my story... Dug deeper and read the emails he was sent... 
    • Turns out virgin media had not cancelled everything, just his broadband and tv360.
    • He was re-contracted by them for phone only, via cable, for 13mths at 19quid/mth... He was totally unaware as email just mentions cancelled thw services and he thought phone was part and parcel
    • He believes they told him however to disconnect everything, as they are sending out bags for return of the equipment, hence no phone working. 
    • Tried plugging it all back together for him but broadband router (with phone output) just flashing green instead of turning white. 
    • Suggested he stick with TT and cancel new VM telephone only service, getting Voip instead at 6 per mth.

    Strange - I thought the Virgin VOIP service runs over BB, so how can they do it without BB?

  • [Deleted User]
    [Deleted User] Posts: 0 Newbie
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    edited 24 April 2023 at 8:36AM
    BossHogg said:
    The tech is simply baffling to the older generation, and I think these companies do have a duty to them. 

    Difficult, is not same as impossible, and difficult should not stop them doing the right thing. 

    That said, interesting twist to my story... Dug deeper and read the emails he was sent... 
    • Turns out virgin media had not cancelled everything, just his broadband and tv360.
    • He was re-contracted by them for phone only, via cable, for 13mths at 19quid/mth... He was totally unaware as email just mentions cancelled thw services and he thought phone was part and parcel
    • He believes they told him however to disconnect everything, as they are sending out bags for return of the equipment, hence no phone working. 
    • Tried plugging it all back together for him but broadband router (with phone output) just flashing green instead of turning white. 
    • Suggested he stick with TT and cancel new VM telephone only service, getting Voip instead at 6 per mth.

    Energy suppliers and broadband providers are not social services. I would agree that the pace of technological change is challenging but also exciting for people of all ages. My wife and I are in our 70s and we have FTTP; mobile and VOIP. We both have Apple Watches with emergency calling set up. 

    Copper phone lines are being phased out and telephone exchanges are being changed to digital. This is progress. Other technologies will undoubtedly come into play to help those who might need it. For example, there is a lot of ongoing research into monitoring electricity usage patterns as recorded by a smart meter. If unusual usage is detected on a connected CAD, then this could lead to a check alert being sent. We ‘olds’ tend to be creatures of habit.


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