AOL rated worst for broadband problems

by , Digital Producer Broadband 14/04/2013
AOLBar

Slow broadband speed? Connection keeps dropping out? Router blinking back at you with red lights? You’re not alone. In a survey of 2,000 members of the public, Which? found that half of broadband customers had experienced a problem with their broadband in the last year.

But not all broadband providers are created equal. Only 32% of customers with the best performing provider reported a problem with their broadband in the last twelve months. This compares to 58% of customers with AOL Broadband – the joint-bottom provider alongside Orange.

With that score, customers of AOL Broadband and Orange have less than a fifty-fifty chance of escaping the year without a broadband problem.

You can see the full results of our survey of broadband service providers – and who came out top – in our broadband reviews. We have rated each provider based on customer service, speed and reliability of connection, as well as  fifteen other measurements.

AOL Broadband problems – what can go wrong?

Across all 2,000 respondents to our survey, and across all providers, the most common broadband problem reported was poor broadband service.  This includes such issues as broadband speed and connection problems.

This can mean having no connection at all, a connection that is consistently dropping out, or that dreaded circle of buffering when watching videos online.

We’ve asked Which? members about their experience with AOL Broadband, and this was some of the feedback we received:

‘If I could guarantee to keep my e-mail address, I would seriously consider changing to a cheaper provider. The price has crept up a great deal!’

‘Never, never use AOL Broadband. If I could keep my e-mail addresses I would go like a shot’

‘I’m generally satisfied, but I would not use AOL Broadband if I was starting from scratch’

Can I get my broadband problem fixed?

More bad news. Of the people in our survey who had experienced broadband problems, only 54% reported that the problem was resolved satisfactorily. That leaves a significant 44% unhappy customers. So, what can you do if you’re having problems?

  • It’s useful to have specific details on the dates and times of problems, especially poor speed, when complaining to your provider. Ask about ongoing engineering works in your area and traffic management – where your provider purposefully slows the connection of heavy users at peak times.
  • If you’re unhappy with the response, or they can’t solve your problem, you should lodge an official complaint. It’s best to do this in writing. All providers are required to provide you with an address to send your complaint to when requested.
  • If after eight weeks you still haven’t made progress on your problem, or feel the complaint hasn’t been dealt with properly, contact an alternative resolution scheme. Your provider will either belong to the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) or Ombudsman Services: Communications.

Still not happy? Switch to a better provider. As our survey shows some broadband providers are better than others and you shouldn’t have to put up with repeated problems or poor service. Read our how to switch broadband providers guide for step by step instructions on switching.

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32 comments

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B.Tain

AOL has terrible customer service the only reason I stay with them is because I have my email with them. I wish I had never signed up. I find it amazing that they have lasted as long as they have and I would tell anyone of thinking of signing up to them – don’t. B.Tain

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BBSlowcoach

Whilst what Peter below says is true you will not be able to use the AOL software for your emailing. If you are using folders on your computer rather than AOL you will loose this facility. You will also need to look into whether or not you loose ‘My Favourites’ in the AOL facility as well if you use it.

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xrayspex

‘If I could guarantee to keep my e-mail address, I would seriously consider changing to a cheaper provider.’

You can always keep your AOL email addy wherever you go.

AOL email is handled by AOL UK, a subsidiary of the original US AOL Inc, and is free and everlasting. It is not provided by AOL Broadband, a brand of TalkTalk. When TalkTalk/ Carphone Warehouse bought the UK broadband arm of AOL Inc, they did not buy AOL UK, which continued to supply the screen-names and email accounts on behalf of AOL Broadband.

AOL Broadband ( http://www.aolbroadband.co.uk/ ) is not to be confused with AOL UK( http://www.aol.co.uk/ ). They are 2 separate entities that cooperate with each other.

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mel

hi my AOL keeps going off been like it for over a week , told them today my bank will block all payments to them . its rubbish and they came here a few months ago as it was doing the same .

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Ian

thank you for that information
It is apperacited

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Steve

Not so.. You can leave the AL software or not..you won’t lose your e mail address if you switch ISP. I’m on Virgin cable and still use AOL e mail, as it’s what I started out with all those years ago when AL was half decent..No more. It’s total rubbish. It isn’t your computer, don’t ever let their laughably called tech support tell you it is..It’s their rubbish servers.

Yes you can keep your Email address, no you don’t need to keep AOL as your ISP, or use their router.

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BBSlowcoach

How convenient for TalkTalk to keep the confusion between AOL’s running so that ‘customers’ are put off moving to another ISP when the ‘service’ that they provide under AOL Broadband is fiercely criticised and/or falls short of expectation and promise.

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SA

Are you not aloud to keep your aol email??? I Have connection problems it keeps cutting out a lot!! Sick of it…..

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SA

Are you not aloud to keep your aol email??? I Have connection problems it keeps cutting out a lot!! Sick of it…..

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SB1

You can leave and still have access to your email account. Anyone can open up an email account with AOL.

I left last year and still have the email addy I’ve had for the last fifteen years.

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Peter

You move to another broadband supplier without losing your AOL email account. AOL email is free. It’s the broadband you pay for.

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BBSlowcoach

Steve,

Many thanks for your input and explanation. I think I have been blinded by the trees obscuring the wood!!!!

Do you mean that, if for instance if I switched to Plusnet from AOL Broadband as my ISP, I will be able to use the AOL software that I use now and in the same way which is for email; their folder system both on the PC and on AOL servers and AOL ‘My Favourites’ which is embeded in the AOL software – my version being AOL 9.6? I would not need to ‘use’ Plusnet software to access the internet or send/receive email.

I suppose that this is similar to using Microsoft IE to explore the Internet and Microsoft Outlook for emails, although the ISP providing the connectivity might be, say, BT. With AOL software the internet search facility and email facility are conveniently wrapped into one software creation.

When I first signed up of course there was only one AOL! I guess that TalkTalk are taking advantage of that mentality continuing.

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Steve

You have it in one. AOL depend/depended on the understandably naive and new to the net subscribers believing that AOL WAS the internet. Without it, they couldn’t get online..Then when people switched on and realised it wasn’t, they made it very difficult to move (slow in providing MAC codes)..then they did the persuasion job in trying to stop people leaving..But in answer to your question. Get your MAC code (If you’re not on cable) and get anther ISP (shop around, Plusnet is a MUCH better company than it was,gets lots of praise). But you can still keep your e mail addresses. You can even leave the software on your computer so you can access favourite places and buddy list etc. BUT…AOL is slow even when not using them as an ISP. Use it for e mails, not as your browser. (Chrome/Firefox etc instead)..

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BBSlowcoach

AOL was bundled with my PC @ purchase in 2006. To be fair they connected me to the internet immediately. Later I bundled my telephone with them as well. Telephone has worked flawlessly (BT allowing as I am on an unbundled exchange) since. Also AOL have been scrupulously fair on my charges given that BT has a monopoly on my line. However, my BB speed is a real issue and getting AOL to accept my word for it, was a major effort. Eventually, they sent an Openreach engineer after a waste of time AOL engineer visit that they attempted to charge me for. I eventually received a refund. This saga took 12 months+ and reached the AOL/TalkTalk CEO Office which moved matters forward. Openreach called and ‘tinkered’ both at home and at the exchange and my speed miraculousy shot up from, very often zero to 6Mbps+ on good times. I was told that it would not fall below 2Mbps but would fluctuate at busy times. This was Oct2012. However, @ Christmas, I’m back to ‘normal’; i.e pre Openreach visit. More complaining to AOL. Eventually, escalated again to the AOL/TalkTalk CEO office. Openreach, AOL advised me Openreach were to recontact me (once before the CEO Office involvement and once after). This time Openreach have failed to get in touch at all. The line test conducted by AOL/TalkTalk CEO Office told me that my ‘constant’ speed was a mere 512Kbps and as far as they are concerned there is nothing more that can be done. Am I being told the truth or am I just being fobbed off? – I have no idea. Openreach will not talk to end users. How can I find out the truth of the matter? Someone reading this might say change supplier. Looking at quotations for my exchange connection, my cost will almost double so why pay twice as much if I am only to discover that I cannot get a faster and more reliable i.e. less fluctuating speed? Putting up with it and paying as little as possible seems to be my only option until at least FTTC is connected up as part of the nationwide improvement programme. My cabinet upgrading date is still to be announced.

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xrayspex

‘ Am I being told the truth or am I just being fobbed off?’

By knowing the stats reported by your router, I could answer that.

You could also get good broadband advice on this broadband forum

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david mahoney

BBSlowcoach is clearly streets ahead of me in technical knowhow but myexperience of AOL is extraordinaril similar.For everything except broadband speeds ,since 2002 I have found AOL to have been excellent.Whilst my computer use is not highly dependent on broadband speeds , nevertheless I have always felt I was being sold short.
Aol tell methat the problem really does lay with BT who for ? commercial reasons want to keep Aol in the back streets.If this is so then I should hope that Which can bring consumer pressure to bear on the appropriate Government consumer protection organisations to get this basics issue sorted in double quick time

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BBSlowcoach

Via the services of Thinkbroadband.co.uk I gained some ‘expertise’ regarding how to challenge AOL. AOL CEO Office changed my router as the first attempt to resolve my speed issues. Made no difference at all. When Openreach visited last October they did find a problem at the exchange but wouldn’t provide any explanation. When I raised the speed issue again in January, AOL sent a BrightSpark engineer to visit (apparently such a visit is necessary and their confirmation obtained that a problem exists before Openreach will respond to an AOL call out). On testing my line the BrightSpark engineer just laughed and said that my line was spiking alarmingly and that he had never seen anything like it before. He posted a report to AOL accordingly. During a conversation with the AOL CEO office, I was advised that an Openreach engineer would be asked to contact me to at least explain why this is happening even, in the eyes of the CEO Office, it was likely just to be ‘traffic congestion’. No Openreach contact and I have discovered that AOL closed the issue without contacting Openreach for me. Modern day Customer Service in action!

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David

I have been with AOL for years. No connection problems in last ~5 years. Asked for my MAC code recently. To retain me they offered:-

Annual line rental £114 in advance
Free 01/02/03 0845 0870 calls 24/7
Free international call to certain countries
Free helpline (Indian call centre)
New router
Unlimited BB
Free engineer visit to check line
New 18 month contract
Reduced monthly payment from £7.20 to £2.10!

My decision? I stayed!

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BBSlowcoach

Brilliant – well done. I will try harder at renewal of my contract later in the year. I had originally thought that I was doing well to avoid increases but there appears to be much more mileage yet. I will be keeping this comment by me for guidance!

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David

Forgot to tick “Notify me of followup comments via e-mail” and could not find another way to do it without adding a comment!

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Scott

You keep your AOL email because it is free

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lee

ive been an AOL customer since 2001 – never had a problem UNTIL ! about nov 2012 , i was having problem with connection and cust service said do this on software for modem ! that didnt improve it infact it ruined the modem, i got another and since then my connection has been dreadful , cust service replace your modem to the first phone so now its downstairs and it still is rubbish but now i have to go downstairs to restart the modem to get back my connection, its not good enough

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John

Wasn’t the AOL software considered at one point to be nothing short of malware?
you do not need this software to access the internet or your emails, any browser will do and thunderbird to access emails, even if you move to another provider your AOL email address will still be active and your new email address added to thunderbird so all accounts can be accessed in one place.
I have had it with AOL, been with them through thick and thin since 1998 and had nothing but great service until talk talk came along.
The problem with talk talk is they will not buy additional bandwidth from BT when they increase their subscribers, so what little they do have is divided up between old and new.
A recent push in my town saw my speeds drop from 5MB to 3MB and still dropping, tonight my speed is currently 86kbps, it’s like being back in the dial-up era.
total nonsense reading from the script from their ‘help line’ with some advice nothing short of lies, they forget that some of us may have studied information systems for years and like some posters have stated rely heavily on naivety and lack of knowledge, sad to say it really is time to switch, but from what I have seen on other forums, frying pan to fire with all of them

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My experience

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BBSlowcoach

Write directly to Dido Harding TalkTalk CEO. Keep your letter to one or two pages of A4. It worked for me. As TalkTalk is a listed company write to her at the Head Office in London. Details on the net under TalkTalk. At this Christmas time of year matters might move speedily if you use Special Delivery for next day receipt.

Whilst writing,if you have a problem with AOL software, TalkTalk DO NOT take responsibility. This is down to AOL (UK) Ltd. This splitting of responsibilities between two companies is a living nightmare. Divide and conquer (your customers) comes to mind.

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My experience

I have written to the AOL CEO head of complains. but not had any response back. next step ombudsman

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BBSlowcoach

Whilst I agree that sending such a complaint should grab AOL’s attention, I would ask which AOL are you complaining about; the connection side or the software side?

With AOL Broadband, which supplies the connectivity (rather than AOL (UK) Ltd which supplies the software), now owned by TalkTalk, it is not possible to complain any higher than to Ms Dido Harding who is the CEO of TalkTalk. I suggest getting her address from the TalkTalk corporate website. It was by writing to her that I managed as successful an outcome as AOL/TalkTalk is able to supply to me given that I am connected to the internet via a rural exchange that is not unbundled and not due for FTTC connectivity for a while. Matters started moving within 48 hours of receipt of my letter. Much faster than the Ombudsman which can then be kept ‘up your sleeve’ if you are still not satisfied after writing to Ms Harding. As ever when writing to such people keep your letter punchy, to the point and best at just one side of A4.

Good Luck.

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Colin

I decided after 13 years to leave aol in favour of bt. The main reason being my speed was pretty slow in evenings, dont really know if bt will be better?. I must admit I was not looking forward to the call to get my mac code after reading all the blogs.
The young lady I spoke to was polite and although trying to persuade me to stay with aol, after all that is her job. They did a few tests on my line and could not get a satisfactory speed, offered a engineer callout, which I declined.Without any fuss they told me my mac would be applied for.
Two days later my mac arrived with a letter from aol with the offer to stay.
I can only think if you phone aol with steam coming out your ears remember if positions were reversed how would you react.
Finally I am hoping my speed improves but cannot find any complaint with service or dealings with aol call centres.

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Patrick Smythe

Two weeks ago I contacted AOL Broadband whom I have been with since 1998, to discuss upgrading to a fibre optic supply and inclusive landline package with Talk Talk. On returning home that evening I found my AOL broadband had stopped. Several hours of calling the help teams in India and South Africa, I was told there was a bar on the account due to billing. Billing said ‘no problem with your account it’s paid every month direct debit and we have received the payment ok’. Technical support were stumped and said it would take a 48 hours to resolve meanwhile I have no internet service! 3 days later still no service; I am now getting really annoyed so ask for my Mac code. Eventually I get through to a customer service manager, he can’t understand why my internet has stopped other than to say it has a bar, but the bar has been lifted. He will chase up technical support, but they don’t work weekend. On the Sunday my internet starts again. The customer service manager phones me at home and even he is surprised why it has started again. I have in the meanwhile officially made two complaints. He says do I still want to leave AOL and not take up the TalkTalk/Aol package. If I stay with them he will offer me free line rental for 12 months, unlimited anytime calls and unlimited broadband download. PLUS until the migration to Talk Talk in approx. two weeks AOL broadband fees will be waived. I agree. I ask for a letter of confirmation. This arrives on 4th February; the letter confirms that AOL Broadband will continue up to migration on 18th February when the Talk Talk engineer will be at my house. (The service may be down for a couple of hours). I agree, on 11th February a week before the migration, my broadband has stopped!
Back on the phone to India, now it appears that because I am moving to Talk Talk, Aol Broadband has stopped my service. I quote the letter which states provision of service up to migration date, and require to reconnect my internet. I am told this can’t be done (isn’t it just a flick of a switch somewhere?), it will take 2 weeks to reconnect me to AOL broadband. I log another complaint.
Eventually get through to another customer service manager. Repeat the whole story. Net result cant connect you back. Don’t know why the cut off and migration date is one week apart! But Offered the same discounts on Talk Talk as previously give, including now, 1 months free line rental of £15.40. What do you think my reply was? I start saying I am going to report this to Ofcom/Telecom, only to be told that if that was the case they would end the phone call as I am not accepting their resolution. I am told it will go to CEO, for a resolution. I tell them the only resolution I will accept is for the Talk Talk engineer to be rescheduled to my house within the next 48hrs and get me online sooner rather than a week away. I await their reply!
Be warned every one if you consider upgrading your package with AOL/Talk Talk. I wish I had gone with BT Infinity now.

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Edward Hollingsworth

We’ll, I’m very pleased to say been with aol ever since I’ve had computers and that is a long time, and quite honestly never had a problem with them, my phone calls and line rental and broadband, is spot on, no other company can come even close to the price I pay and that includes international calls aswell, numerous country’s to many to mention. We’ll satisfied

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Matt Hickey

Have been with AOL for around 15 years but have really stayed due to my email address. They have always said that if I go elsewhere, they can’t guarantee that my email address will work!!
Last year they did offer me a great deal for around £15 per month for internet & phone line which included line rental & a great amount of offers – Free 0845, 0844 numbers, international call etc.
But now am having to wait a week for an engineer to come out as router is on the blink – only 8 months old! I either get the internet sign as red or it flashes green. Once in a while it’ll be a steady green and suddenly I get a load of emails all at once. They did arrange a BT engineer to check the line within 24hrs and diverted all of my calls to my mobile (there was a break in the line at the exchange). But the phone is now working but the internet is very slow and intermittent.
Can’t really say that I’ve had many problems with AOL but the internet speed is slow and at times tedious.

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xrayspex

‘They have always said that if I go elsewhere, they can’t guarantee that my email address will work!!’

Right, it’s not theirs to guarantee!. It has nowt to do with them, AOL BB, i.e. TalkTalk.

Your AOL email addy and screen name are supplied free by AOL UK, part of AOL Inc of USA which was not sold to TT along with the BB. It is ongoing regardless of whether you have AOL BB or not.

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