AOL rated worst for broadband problems

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.

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72 replies

  1. 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

    1. 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.

    2. ‘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 ( ) is not to be confused with AOL UK( ). They are 2 separate entities that cooperate with each other.

    3. 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 .

    4. Not so.. You can leave the AL software or 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.

    5. 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.

    6. 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.

    7. I have been with AOL for a decade now and have had no trouble with them at all. The only time i had issues were when the wires the joined in the telegraph pole has corroded. I contacted AOL who sent out a BT engineer the same day and i was up and running soon after. Other than that, which can not be seen as a fault caused by AOL, i have had an easy decade of broadband web surfing, (Averaging about 9MB out of a promised 12.. pretty good really)

    8. You can switch to talk talk fibre obtic. And still keep your aol email because they are sister companies. I have just switched over and i am very happy. My aol broadband was impossible. I was cut off constantly. But now my service is perfect. And better still its the same price!!!! Me and my kids can use the pc and connect worelessly with no problems. Its weird to not have buffering anymore

    9. Aol have cancelled my email address today blocking my mailbox. They are not my ISP but promised I could keep my email address. Any ideas? Furious.
      Jane Somerset.

    1. 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.

    2. 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)..

    3. BBslowcoach… I’m on AOL broadband but i don’t have the AOL software installed. There’s no real need for it really. I can still sign into my AOL e-mail account using a normal browser, (firefox) and have no troubles at all.
      AOL provide my broadband but no way control my surfing.
      You can still use the AOL software but i suggest that you Un-install the software and see how much better your PC runs… you don’t need it as you can get all you want on itself…
      download firefox and use that as a browser, it works a treat.

    4. I second that! Removing the AOL bloatware will clean up your PC and make it run more efficiencly.

      You are not really using your email by accessing its Webmail with FirFox. To use it properly you should use an email client like Thunderbird to access it with POP3.

    5. Thank you all for your continuing support/suggestions – much appreciated.

      I have considered AOL without using the AOL software. However, it doesn’t provide me with access to the email history saved on my computer. It also denies me access to the AOL ‘My Favourites’. Both of these records are used daily and were set up before FireFox or Chrome were invented. The online email folder facility does not allow a folders within folders system of filing as is standard practice for, say, MS Word, Excel etc.

      When I first started using email at home, I discovered that the AOL software worked in a very similar way to Outlook that I was familiar with in the work environment, so just built my foundation accordingly in AOL; also it saved the expense of buying Outlook. I had set up a Yahoo account some years earlier but was not overly happy with it so abandonded it.

      Trouble didn’t really start with AOL until TalkTalk became involved. Having extricated myself from the snare of AOL BB and AOL (UK) combined issues by first isolating, then resolving, AOL BB connectivity problems; what was left, of course, is the AOL (UK) software management issues. These I am working on.

      If someone has a brilliant suggestion for moving my email history and my ‘My Favourites’ library from the AOL software to an alternative by a simple cut and paste type process, I am all ears.

      My telephone exchange has just, in the last month, been declared ‘live’ for FTTC, Unfortunately, this does not yet include my cabinet! AOL does not and, I believe is not intending to, provide fibre connection services. It could be therefore, that the need to be able to move will become more pressing in the not too distant future should I wish to avail myself of a more sensible connectivity speed given the ever increasing volume of bloatware that infects every webpage that my current connection speed struggles to keep pace with.

  2. 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.

    1. ‘ 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

    2. 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

    3. Via the services of 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!

  3. 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!

    1. 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!

  4. 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

  5. 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

    1. 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.

    2. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

    1. I switched from aol to talk talk fibre obtic. I kept my aol until they installed my talktalk. Then i rang aol to cancel and they made sure i wasnt paying for both by sending me a half bill as it was half way through my aol bill date. Yes i had a hell of a time getting them to come out. I felt like i had to beg them to send the router. And the engineer didnt turn up. But once they pulled their finger out i was very happy. No more cutting off or buffering. I spent more time angry trying tk connect than being online. Resulting in me paying for broadband which i could barely used. Another kick in the teeth was fibre obtic was the same price as my very dodgy broadband. Ifelt pretty sick when i realised i was putting up with such a low service for the same price….. gutted

    2. To both Jen and Jan AOL did suggest switching to TalkTalk for fibre but my excitement re fibre was short lived. The UK BB roll out project does not upgrade exchanges I have discovered. The fibre cable placement bypasses the Exchange and goes directly to cabinets. My cabinet is too rural with insufficient businesses reliant upon it to be in the current upgrade programme for the cabinets linked to my Exchange. My wait goes on. At present I cannot get confirmation from the programme whether or not my cabinet serves part of the 5% of the population unlikely to be upgraded as my Exchange already delivers above the 2Meg minimum speed the programme is aimed at delivering.

      As for AOL misbehaving – it is all definitely software and no longer connectivity – AOL (UK) Ltd front line Customer Service have delivered me into the hands of their Level 2 support. I am just waiting for the promised call back to investigate the unsatisfactory behaviour.

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. ‘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.

  11. Talk talk /aol 8 weeks of next to no internet connection and with the most disgraceful, useless and clueless customer support imaginable. They denied the existence of a problem throughout the 8 weeks and tried to avoid doing anything to help. After 2 weeks of complaints they eventually sent out an engineer who couldn’t fix the problem and informed customer support to book a BT engineer to fix the line. The BT engineer was never booked not once, not twice but three times in a row with no results. With another week of denial they agreed to get another BT engineer out who again was never booked at all. When confronted about this they denied all knowledge of the problem, about the promise of an engineer and were very rude talking over me and not listening to what I had to say before cutting me off completely when I tried to cancel the subscription.

    1. Ian,
      Your experience seems to have been worse than mine. Write a letter direct to TalkTalk CEO Ms Dido Harding about your experience. Keep to one page of A4 if you can. It worked for me.

      Please be aware however, that if you are using the AOL software as well as AOL Broadband you are probably running a duel interface problem – 1) Poor connectivity 2) Misfiring software. The first is a TalkTalk problem and the second is an AOL (UK) Ltd problem. It doesn’t help that the two companies do not/will not (for the sake of the customer) “TalkTalk” to each other!!!!! AOL (UK) Ltd have recently (July) told me that AOL software v9.6 is full of bugs! Although I have upgraded (my connectivity problems have been resolved by Ms Dido Harding’s office) to the latest AOL software v9.7.3, I am not yet out of the woods and face an uninstall/reinstall that I hope will finally resolve remaining ‘operational’ issues.

      If you would like to know more, rather than share your personal details on this forum, contact the Which? Customer Service desk and ask them to contact me with your personal contact detail email/telephone – what ever you are comfortable with – I am happy to help if you wish.

    2. Why? Who are you? What are your credentials to deal with this?

      Of course AOL BB doesn’t talk(talk) to AOL UK. They are separate firms; AOL BB belongs to TT while AOL UK belongs to AOL Inc (USA). When AOL Inc sold their BB to TT they retained their UK operation which provides the Screen Names and email for AOL BB as well as the AOL bloatware you mentioned.

    3. My credentials are a three year+ battle with AOLBroadband to get my malfunctioning interactivity with the internet via the AOL software resolved having been a customer of AOL since the PC that I use was purchased in 2006. I have stayed with AOL through thick and thin trying to understand the problems I experience to enhance my computing knowledge rather than merely moan and groan and jump ship causing me other difficulties, that were explained to me by AOL and that I decided I didn’t wish to face. A better the devil I (thought) I knew approach. In addition, I was able to compare notes with a friend who was also an AOL customer but sadly that person, with much greater computing skills than me at the time, died about the time my problems really began to kick in.

      This journey has taken me to AOL complaints, without a resolution; direct to the TalkTalk CEO – solution re connectivity provided then eventually proven when I brought the Ombudsman into the investigation; and now, a battle of discovery with the software.

      Until June 2014 I had no idea that the problems that I was having on my PC that to me, the uninitiated, all seemed like connectivity issues, were in actual fact a combination of both connectivity issues (now corrected between AOL Broadband and Openreach) and software – the software issues not yet resolved. Only today I have had long conversations with both AOL (UK) Ltd and before that AOL Broadband re access to ‘My Account’. AOL Broadband admit they are having problems with the ‘My Account’ facility. I discovered a work around re the ‘My Account’ problem. An AOL Broadband Billing Call Centre Manager I spoke with now has a customer friendly interrogation route for his staff to pursue where other customers are having similar difficulties. I find dealing with the Call Centre abroad can work for you with a friendly approach and yes I have suffered all the ‘stonewalling’ frustrations as well.

      Hope this helps.

      I am merely an interested AOL customer here in the UK trying to understand why my interaction with AOL has been so difficult since TalkTalk became involved. Until this ‘business decision’ by AOL Inc and TalkTalk took place I had no major ‘connectivity’ issues at all!

      Xrayspex, if you are so well up on the AOL situation here in the UK can you answer this for me please?

      I pay AOL Broadband for the cost of the service that I use which is the physical connectivity to the internet and the AOL software combined. I suspect that AOL (UK) Ltd does not provide the software for free so how do they receive a slice of the fee that I pay to AOL Broadband? I have discovered in my journey that if I cancel my AOL Broadband service I will loose access to the AOL software, so a linkgae between the two companies does exist. In my 60+ years experience business partnerships do not exist without a financial benefit.

      Finally, what is bloatware?

    4. Ah, another disgruntled customer of the telecoms industry and just a ordinary user of this discussion group.

      That does not give Which? any reason or the right to pass the personal info. of any user of this site to a private individual like you and may well be in breach of the Data Protection Act should it do so.

      AOL UK provides services to AOL BB under the terms of the agreement selling AOL’s UK BB arm to CPW/TT.

      Bloatware (in this instance) is the unnecessary AOL software that you are on about. To avoid the problems with it, you are advised to uninstall it and replace it with industry standard software, like Internet Explorer or FireFox.

      In fact AOL bloatware is free; anybody, not just AOL customers, can download it from AOL UK site, but they wouldn’t want to :).

    5. I suspect ‘ordinary’ users of the internet far out weigh specialists like yourself – if indeed that is what you are.

      It would perhaps more helpful, rather than make disparaging remarks about my lack of technical ability by calling me a “disgruntled customer of the telecoms industry” (are we not all customers of the telecoms industry if we are using telecoms?) and just an “ordinary user of this discussion group” (I have never tried to hide this fact), if you just offered some insight as to why the technology might not be working for us and to allow us ordinary folk to get a better handle on the problems we face to improve our lot with our suppliers. I am trying to lift my knowledge but discovering the correct language/terminalogy to use to get the necessary action is a very steep learning curve. Once I discovered (BT’s AGM proved to be invaluable here) the questions to ask and language to use, AOLTalkTalk resolved my connectivity issues quite speedily. A good result but it still took an inordinate amount of time to discover that the continuing problems were not in fact connectivity but software alone. I suspect that I am not or have not been alone in the UK suffering such an understanding.

      The AOL software for me does exactly the same as Chrome, Firefox (which I uninstalled recently), Yahoo, IE etc. By your definition of AOL software any of the aforementioned also fall into the description of ‘Bloatware’. You can of course use the AOL software to the exclusion of all the others although, for AOL to actually work, you must have IE loaded but you never need to actually use IE to surf the internet.

      As for the Data Protection Act, I covered myself here by suggesting that, if Ian wished, he could ask Which? to supply his details to me. Which? of course might not agree. However, I have no more a motive than to try and lessen Ian’s pain in dealing with AOL by providing a more in depth benefit of my experience in the same way as you would to a close friend F2F. Such a specific request by Ian to Which? on his behalf would not be in breach of the Act. i am also happy to pass on my contact details via Which? to Ian, again if Ian, wishes and I receive a request from Which?

      By telling me that “AOL UK provides services to AOL BB” you have confirmed the link between the two companies. Yes they are separate companies but they work together to provide a seemless service to AOL BB customers. An entwined partnership but you haven’t explained how BB UK receives a cut from AOL BB customer payments for the services AOL UK provide.

      I have revealed my postion to this forum, perhaps you could be helpful to the readership and do the same? Your turn.

    6. I was referring only to your position vis a vis this site and in no way to your technical ability.

      My position is neutral, a rare visitor here but not at TBB, and a specialist in most things computing as you rightly observed.

      My point was that Which? have no business passing personal details of users of this site around.

      I’ve already told you why it is not working for you. It is the AOL software. This is bloatware because it is unnecessary, replacing the functionality of industry-standard software already provided with the OS. AOL Inc is not known for its software ability unlike the Microsofts of this world, hence its buggy nature. All the functions of AOL s/w, Browser, eMail, Messaging, can be provided by standard programs which are updated regularly, unlike AOL’s.

      Of course, if you have relied heavily on AOL email, particularly making heavy use of its folder structure, it is laborious to move it elsewhere, but it is possible, as I recently helped a user to move all his messages from AOL to Thunderbird.

      AOL Inc do not receive any cut of AOL BB’s revenue. It will have been covered in the purchase price of AOL UK BB. Anyway it would be cut of nothing. Everything AOL UK provides to AOL BB is free to anyone. the AOL bloatware and the AOL email including its associated Screen Name.

    7. If AOL software is fully free, why does AOL BB and AOL UK advise that you will loose the facility if you cancel your contract?

      I had never heard of Thunderbird so took a look. I see that Mozilla has withdrawn its support. I would have updated to AOL v9.7 long ago had I known that I had a software issue but I mistakenly thought that all my issues were connectivity only. At least there is some support for the AOL software.

      I thought your handle seemed familiar. TBB must be where I have seen it before. Many of the spats on that site leave me cold, but Andrew is brilliant at helping people like me behind the scenes.

      I just want a communication facility that works. AOL did all I wanted when I signed up so I dumped my familiarity with Outlook and Yahoo back in 2006. Now that AOLTalkTalk have resolved my connectivity issues I can concentrate on the software. When connectivity and software issues are running contemporaneously, most will struggle to identify what is going on and will of course struggle to explain to a supplier. When the supplier is ‘split’ it makes life more than doubly difficult. So when I hear/see someone struggling like Ian, I am happy to help. Explaining the full detail in a forum (Telephone Exchange issues come into my past problems as well) is not appropriate but a one to one can be a godsend to unlock the door of the cell you can feel the supplier has you trapped within.

      Finally, looking back, my suggestion to Ian was perhaps not as clear as it could have been. By contact the Customer Helpdesk I meant to suggest that he telephones Which? on the 01992 number and ask them to facilitate a contact detail swap. I have done something similar in the past and it worked brilliantly – alas it was to do with the death of another ex-colleague. Sometimes you just need to be a bit imaginative to help in these days of blinding red tape.

    8. > ‘If AOL software is fully free, why does AOL BB and AOL UK advise that you WILL loose the facility if you cancel your contract?’

      They don’t say ‘will’ they say ‘may’.

      My daughter is still using her AOL email and its Screen Name 5 years after ceasing AOL BB. She didn’t even have to make a special request to do so; it just continued. She could have continued to use the AOL bloatware but, on my advice, used instead Internet Explorer and Outlook Express, with her AOL email addy, even while she was with AOL BB.

    9. Well if it was scare tactics they used with me it worked and I have had the belief ever since.

      Have now completed my software uninstall/reinstall. Interesting the way it operates on the reinstallation apart from ‘My Address Book’ not reloading. It happens I am told and they are able to correct it in 24 hours they tell me. No emails or folders or Favourites files lost. Reaction times seem sharper at the moment.

      Not perfect. The journey continues.

    10. It’s not scare tactics. Any free non-contracted service may just pack its bags completely or start charging. They are just legally allowing for a change of conditions that may or may not occur.

      Imagine if Google just suddenly stopped providing a search engine facility. It’s unlikely I know, but possible!

  12. I stopped using the AOL software a long time ago as it seemed to use a lot of RAM. I still use AOL Mail via Chrome. I too have lots of emails stored in their useful folder structure and that is one reason I still use it, together with the fact I have my email address with so many people and sites. I have a very cheap AOL contract for phone and broadband at the moment following a threat to move. I am not sure I will stay with AOL BB in the future.

  13. So VERY slow and trouble staying connected. Then another “improvement/update” and it now has a cutsie [?] fade out which takes days appear or ‘fade’ Everything slowly comes up and even slower fading out. They are making my computer unusable! AOL is pathetic!!

    1. I get far fewer AOL ‘Whoops’ type messages, where connection suffers a drop out, since ‘upgrading’ from AOL v9.6 to v9.7.3, so worth a try perhaps if not already on v9.7.

      A BB speed decline that I noticed two days ago was sorted by a Router reboot; something I had not done for more than a year as my router is left permanently on.

      If problems persist, is AOL/TalkTalk speedtest facility. Inputting your telephone number following the test feeds the info back to AOL/TalkTalk. If the speed is below what you are paying for or the maximum your exchange can deliver if less, its time to call AOL BB to get the engineers to sort it out for you. To avoid their Brightsparks engineer £50.00 call out fee make absolutely certain that the equipment in your house is working perfectly and you have followed all the rules re telephone socket filters; maximum distance router to telephone socket etc. They will seek out any excuse to charge it if they can.

      If it turns out you have a wireless issue, whilst much of the above might still help, I use a wired connection so cannot help with such issues they are outside of my experience and knowledge.


    1. You sound as though you are where I used to be with the AOL BB service.

      I agree that navigating their Customer Service personnel is difficult. I have phoned them a countless number of times. This has educated me in the best way to deal with their system which is not so very different to many other Call Centres. Education is everything in getting your BB connectivity system sorted efficiently.

      If the equipment in the house is all OK, following the engineers visit (AOL/TalkTalk are only supposed to charge if they find a fault in the home), it is worth checking the facilities at your exchange. If the exchange is not LLU rated it might be 21CN WBC enabled. Whatever BB level the exchange is rated for you need to ensure that you are on the best connectivity available. You will need to ask AOL/TalkTalk to switch you, they will not necessarily suggest it themselves. Also, if you are on a rural exchange, an upgrade may have only taken place relatively recently. Try to negotiate a FOC upgrade. Also update your software, if you use AOL that is, to AOL v9.7. You should then discover a notable improvement.

      Best to keep calm, focused and firm when speaking with the Call Centre if you can. If getting wound up, hang up (politely) and try again. There is variation in how you can be ‘handled’ by the Call Centre staff. Some are much better than others – no different to any other walk of life really. Good Luck.

    2. As said many times in this thread, you keep you AOL UK email addy even after you quit AOL BB.

      No need to shout at us, cuz you are angry at AOL.

  15. I left AOL after being with them more than 8 years, but 4 years after I left them, they send me a bill asking me to pay it , which I find this a malpractice and the level of dishonesty they practice . during the 8 years with AOL both broad band and customer services are the lowest you can imagine, all their interested is to sign you and milk your account every month they don’t care if you get good services or not from my experience I would rate AOL one of the worst broadband providers in the UK , my advice is stay away from it and to your information all broadband companies in the UK don’t have a line of their own they all have to hire from BT open reach who owns all phone lines in the UK except vigine broadband and to end up the broadband confusion it does make sense BT is the main company and all others like AOL, Talktalk, Sky and the rest are subcontractors now you know what to do .

  16. Just to clear things up. When you leave AOL for good… you can still:

    1. Keep your AOL Screen Name and use it as normal
    2. You can even still sign into AOL’s software and use it as normal

    If you are planning on changing to another ISP from AOL…. you will lose…. NOTHING!

    You are only paying for the broadband connection, not the AOL service (AOL is FREE. It has been for years in the US ).

    TalkTalk has no intrest in the AOL service at all. They are only interested in making you switch to their TalkTalk Broadband. Try and sign up for AOL Broadband and you will see that it will no longer offers you it!

    1. Forgot to to say that AOL UK was once the UK’s BEST ISP. Their technical support was amazing and and also was FREE!

      It went down hill ever since they were taken over by TalkTalk. Phone support is now based in India instead of AOL UK Support in Ireland. TalkTalk has killed AOL for good.

  17. news items change too quickly. before i get a chance to click on a story it has moved to the next one. What does aol stand for? An old loafer or something?

  18. Phew I am not alone! Have exhausted myself trying to get action from AOL /talk talk and the so called Chief Executive’s office. 044 numbers cost and I have huge difficulty in understanding overseas operatives. Besides why pay to listen to music for 25 minutes to report their faults! Having cancer I have better things to be doing.
    I’ve been with aol since time began but loyalty means nothing.
    Mr Dunstone should be ashamed of his company. I am still hoping to switch to infinity broadband if I can cope with the hassle!
    Meanwhile avoid AOL and talk talk at all costs and throw in car warehouse and curries PC world for good measure. Why pay Mr Dunstone for the pleasure of being treated like a mug?

    1. As an AOL customer – BB+Calls – calls to their Call Centre (hours of them) have always been free for me. It is Ms Dido Harding, TalkTalk’s CEO, rather than Charles Dunstone the Chairman that you need to contact. A Royal Mail letter did the trick for me.

    2. Where I said “having exhausted myself with the chief executives office” above – I meant ms Dido Harding. She, of course, passes things over to some managers within her offices to actually deal with. One presumes she oversees that process. It got me nowhere.

      I have only been able to contact tec help via an 044 number. So, if you are getting free calls for assistance it would help if you published the number here on the blog? Is it free of annoying guitar music as well?

      Mr Dunstone owns TaklTalk, AOL and car Phone wharehouse.

      On the basis that the culture and style of a company comes from the man at the top- sort of the buck stops here – Dunstone should be ashamed….. Oh yes I already said all that…….

    3. The number is 08444995555. This is the ‘normal’ AOLBB help line number I believe. Calls to this number are free for AOL telephone and BB package customers. I am surprised that Ms Harding has not ‘come to your rescue’. She, through her office, inspired TalkTalk to resolve my BB connectivity issues. I now obtain the speeds that my line can achieve fairly steady at around 5.6mbps. LLU and fibre are still distant dreams.

      Dunstone is Chairman of TalkTalk. Does this quailfy as ‘owns’ for a FTSE 250 company? AOL in the UK is ‘split’ between AOLBB – owned by TalkTalk – and AOL (UK) Ltd. Customer Service for the latter is administered in the USA and is responsible for the AOL software.

  19. we’ve had on going problems with AOL broad and the connection keep dropping in and out all year. But from the end of September we’ve not been able to connect at all. have made 13 phone calls between the end of September and now, each time they get the connection back up and then an hour after the connection is lost again. We’ve had 2 engineers out and the last one was from BT open reach engineer who even went to the phone exchange as part of his investigation of the problem, and said that the fault lay with AOL. He finally got the connection working all the time. Every time i called i was told that once the issue had been resolved and was working properly all the time to call back and compensation would be sorted. I called back today to discuss compensation and was told that the best they could offer me was 2 months subscription which totalled less than £30!!!
    The fact that over the course of nearly 2 months i’ve spent 7 and a half hours on the phone to them, had to take time off work to be in for the 2 engineers, our mobile bills have gone up co’s not being able to connect to wifi so used all the data and been charged. And all i kept being told was they understand why i’m angry!! clearly they don’t otherwise they wouldn’t of insulted me with that offer, thats not compensation thats just refunding what i’ve already paid for a service i’ve not received, not being compensated for how long its taken them to resolve, my extra costs co’s of this. They wouldn’t even give me a contact email or address for the CEO of the company so that i could contact them direct. And to top it all off they want to put my broadband up by an extra £5 a month

    1. Had very similar problems since talk talk took over and always towards the end of September, just after the big sales push and students are back at Uni.
      They do not purchase additional bandwidth to accommodate so everyone suffers.
      Wasn’t denied by customer services rep who said I would get similar speed and connection issues with another provider.
      2 days later received an email telling me my AOHell broadband was increasing by £5 per month to £14.99, a 50% increase, but if I moved across to talk talk it would decrease by £13.26 a month to £1.75
      Needless to say I got my MAC and in the process of moving to Plusnet

    2. they tried to get me to change to talk talk saying that it was free broadband as i told them i would not be paying the extra £5 increase taking it to £18 a month. But no way would you get free broadband and just their way of trying to make me go with them and then slap me with a big monthly bill. The Aol customer service said that the £26 was the best they could offer, but that was only what id already paid to them, its not compensation for them taking 2 months to resolve the issue, or the 7 and a half hours worth of calls. i’ve now written a letter to the CEO and contacting the sun newspaper telling them of the poor service aol provide. and if im still not happy with the response from the CEO i will be contact the ombudsman.

  20. AOL has got worse. My Router crashed out an was useless. Contacted AOL. They could not help. Sent a new Router. Still the same problem. Could not log on as I needed a password. AOL gave me a new screen name and password. Still no good 8 days without connection. I then decided to try my old password from last year. Bingo it worked. Can any one explain why an old password still works??? Now looking for a new provider.

  21. Glad I have found this site. Talk talk is hopeless. Dropping out problem is constant. Have to constantly pull out connections to reboot. India call centre useless. Thought it was just me and have put up with problem until we now have no phone (along with other talk talk users in my street. Hence why I have found this site. Aol was far better and the Ireland call centre could sort problems.

  22. Hi I have now gone with BT but still have my emails through aol ? ( not the best combination ) HOW do I now get every thing off BT ? any help will be a GREAT help. ta tony.

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