I have the rare distinction of being banned permanently from the Tiscali forums after making just two posts. Go me. You can touch me if you like.
Last year I upgraded my 1/2 a meg link with Tiscali to their 8 megabyte max range which had recently been introduced to my area. This in itself was a feat of some skill as I had tried for a year to convince them that my line was capable of it as all of my neighbours were getting comparable speeds - eventually Tiscali were convinced and allowed me to spend more money with them.
It had all been running quite well until the very start of this year when suddenly at any time after 5 p.m. speeds would drop to stupidly low rates. Everything outside of port 80 was being choked like a cheap whore - downloads (and we're talking legitimate driver downloads now, not just torrents and copious quantities of pornography) were bringing download speeds back of less then 2k per second. That's worse than dial-up.
I found it wasn't just me. The tiscali forums are full of similar complaints. My banning came from daring to complain that Tiscali weren't in fact doing anything about the problem (oh, and a sarcastic comment on somebody elses thread that they needn't worry about upgrading to an 8 megabyte link and should just stick with their dial-up modem).
After a fortnight (and a complaint to Watchdog) it became obvious that Tiscali weren't really doing anything about the issue. Any attempted phone call to them was met with up to half an hour of "Your call is important to us. Please hold. Your call is important to us. Please hold. Your call is important to us. Please hold."
Four attempted e-mails to their customer services department (which by this stage were along the lines of "can you confirm when my contract ends") met with a similar lack of response. My concern was that I wasn't sure whether my contract start date would be classed as when I first joined Tiscali back in 2003 or when I upgraded last year.. I didn't want to face a financial penalty for canceling if I didn't have to.
Last night though, a stroke of luck. A phone call from Tiscali along these lines.
"Hello, Mr Court?"
"This is name adapted to sound English by call centre worker from Tiscali. We're just ringing to see if you'd be interested in upgrading your service."
"What, my broadband connection?"
"I'm already on your maximum broadband connection - and that rarely works."
"We can improve the service you get from Tiscali with a bundle, Mr. Court."
"Does this bundle involve getting a phone from you as well? Actually, I'm glad you're on the phone. I've been trying for a month to speak to your customer services department so you can help me. Can you tell me when my contract started with you please?"
"Err.. Yes.. In September 2003. With our phone bundle you.."
"That's all the information I need, thanks. Bye."
*fists aloft in the air*
I imagine it will now take several decades to get a MAC code from them - but hell, it's a start.