TalkTalk ‘Unambiguously’ Reprises Role As Broadband Underdog

Steve McCaskill is editor of TechWeekEurope and ChannelBiz. He joined as a reporter in 2011 and covers all areas of IT, with a particular interest in telecommunications, mobile and networking, along with sports technology.

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TalkTalk hopes clearer pricing and better deals will help keep customers after cyber attack fallout

TalkTalk says it is “unambiguously” returning to its challenger roots in a bid to restore its reputation following years of high complaints and last year’s devastating cyber-attack.

The provider has followed Vodafone’s lead by scrapping separate line rental fees and will instead include this cost in the overall broadband package. It has also promised to keep prices static for 18 months to inspire confidence among customers.

However from 31 October, all broadband providers will be required by the Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) to be clearer about the total cost of a service in advertisements amid concerns consumers are unable to understand.

TalkTalk fights back

packetfrontThe typical approach within the broadband industry is to separate the cost of service from elements such as line rental and one-off fees such as equipment and installation, or to disguise the total cost of the contract by promising one monthly fee for only part of the total contract.

For example, ad headline figure of ‘£19.99 per month’ might not include line rental or only apply for 12 months of an 18 month contract.

But by doing this ahead of the imposed deadline, TalkTalk hopes to foster goodwill from customers and says it wants to reward their loyalty. In addition, anyone who has been with TalkTalk for three months or more can switch their package to a better deal currently being offered to new subscribers.

“TalkTalk is changing. Nothing matters more to us than our customers and doing right by them is the right thing for our business,” said Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk’s consumer managing director, adding that people were “fed up” with confusing packages.

Devastating attack

“TalkTalk entered the market as a challenger, and we’ve always saved customers money. But today’s changes are about more than that. We know this is an essential service that really matters to people, so it needs to be simple, affordable, reliable and fair.

“Silly gimmicks and shouty ads (with catches hidden in small print) don’t do justice to how much this stuff matters to customers. Especially now, with the country in such an uncertain place, people deserve security, peace of mind, to be talked to honestly.”

TalkTalk has made significant strides in the business market in recent years, and is currently trialling fibre to the premise (FTTP) in York with Sky and CityFibre, but its consumer division was rocked by the data breach last October.

The attack cost TalkTalk more than £60 million in terms of lost revenue and exceptional costs as well as more than 100,000 customers. In its last set of results, TalkTalk lost even more users but increased its fibre subscriber base.

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