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74 Reviews
  • £1/min support line
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    74 Reviews
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      23.02.2002 21:07
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      There was me looking for a cheaper alternative to AOL and came across TFI. Well, I wish I hadn't bothered!! Obviously this was a year or so ago so I have no idea if it's improved. But when I was on it, I kept getting booted. Plus it was difficult to get on in the first place!!!! Engaged tone - I was having nightmares! All that just to save a few quid a month. In the end I got so fed up I cancelled and went back to AOL - even though it's not brilliant at least I don't get the engaged tone so often. I honestly think TFI had about 10 lines open for the whole of their members base. Not good.

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        19.09.2001 04:50

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        I am very pleased with the free internet. They are very cheap, the technical support is good, they have good communication between the customers say if there is a new virus out etc. I have had a few problems with them like conecting but many people found this and within a week it was sorted out and you get on first time. The only probelm with it is they cut you off very 45 minutes but the way round this is to re-connect agian. I`m pleased for the amount of money I payed for it. Bascially you pay for what you get!

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        08.09.2001 20:34
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        • "£1/min support line"

        I signed up with TheFreeInternet about 15 months ago after seeing their TV advertisment. At the time it cost £50 for a year's "free" access to the internet, which seemed to be the cheapest around. The price has now gone up to around £100. The service has always had a few annoying features, but for 24/7 access for £50 I was prepared to put up with them. The main disadvantage has to be the automatic disconnection after 1 hour; if you do a lot of downloading from the net this ISP definitely isn't for you. It is also different to other ISPs I've used in that you can't dial-up in the normal way -- you have to use the dialler downloaded from their website, meaning that you never actually find out the 0800 numbers that you're dialling, and also that you have a window open displaying an advert for TFI whenever you're online. The service is basically unpredictable; sometimes it has seemed reliable - a bargain even - for a few months at a time, but in my experience it never lasts. Things have improved over the last 15 months; at times in the past it was so bad at certain times of day that I got the engaged tone 30+ times before giving up, and that was before the TFI dialler included an automatic redial option! But lately I can *usually* connect in less than 5 attempts. There was also one period where I was getting BT "the number you have dialled..." messages; this was the first time I had the pleasure of dealing with TFI's customer service section. Their helpline costs £1/min, but when problems continued, and they could no longer shift the blame to BT, I did manage to persuade them to give me their normal (020- national rate) office number. After 12 months the service was having one of it's good periods, things were looking promising, so I decided to pay the £90 to renew my membership. I was pretty happy with the service - only having to redial a few times, and getting better connections. Unfortunately my opinion of TheFreeInternet has fallen dramatically over the last 3 weeks. At the start of August I was sent an email saying that the service would be "intermittant" for the next month. I can only assume that the writer misunderstood the meaning of the word 'intermittant', since what it really meant was that I wouldn't be able to connect to the internet at all for the next few weeks. On the plus side they have extended my membership by a month to make up for this "disruption", but I got extremely dismissive replies to any emails I sent them, and no, I wasn't going to pay £1/minute for technical support. TFI make absolutely no effort to keep their customers informed of what's going on. I've also now downloaded their new diallers, which still seem to have several bugs; the one that's irritating me the most at the moment is that I get cut-off after 45 minutes instead of 60. To be fair, they are gradually sorting out the problems with the new software... but it's hard to have faith in them anymore!

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          31.07.2001 05:35
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          A year ago I decided to try TFI. The offer at the time, £50, was such that I thought if it didn't work (there were several rivals that didn't last) out I hadn't wasted much money but if it worked OK then I had unmetered access for a year. I have to admit that there were times when I have been very frustrated about not being able to get online but over the last 6 months the service has improved tremendously. The introduction of a new version of their proprietry dial-up software that automtically redials has helped too. Now I can just set it up and go and make a cup of coffee and 95% of the time by the time I am back I am logged on. As with most other unmetered services you do get logged off after 2 hours and they do not allow streaming. By and large, though this gives me just what I want because I can log on any time of the day or night without worrying about the bill. ***Update 2/8/01*** Since writing this opinion I have been contacted by TFI to advise me that they are expecting major disruptions to service during August 01 as they are making significant upgrades. In compensation they are offering to extend my membership by a month. August does not seem like a good time to consider joining the service. ***End of Update*** The renewal was more expensive - £90 - but I deciced that the service is now stable enough and available enough to make it worth it.

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          31.05.2001 04:57
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          I was with TFI for a year, and when I joined it cost an amazing £50 for 12 months, it's now £90. Clearly it has become popular, as at the end I could hardly get on-line at all at any time of day! Although their service has a one hour cut off (which I don't object to at all), the way they've implemented it is appalling! Their own DIALER software took up to 20% of my processor, even when it was doing nothing! And when their pop-up box insists on apologising for there not being any mail for me (and NO option to disable it) I dispaired! I have been in touch with their technical support on several occassions and, as I'm increasingly finding out about other technical support departments, they don't actually have the skill to READ the question in the first place as you tend to get replies that don't always relate to your specific question. Had their service and support been up to scratch I would have had no problem staying with them but I've now moved to an infinitely better service provided by my cable telephone provider who seem to know how to implement an ISP service!

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            25.04.2001 07:12

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            i found that a lot of the time i could not connect to thefreeinternet.net as i kept getting a lady saying "line is busy, please try again later" tfi say its not their fault as the phone companies operate a system whereby only a limited amount of calls get through on an 0800 number....personally I'm not too sure. support is through email and may take several days to get a reply or else you get an automated email with reasons for all problems. The support phone line is a &1 a minute.

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            05.04.2001 04:24
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            After having a nightmare with Freeserve, I decided to drop them, and go with thefreeinternet after seeing them advertised on telly. I went to their site and paid 'em £90 for a years access and dowmloaded their dialler. This is where the problems started. You can only connect using their dialler, they encrypt the dial up number, so you cannot use Windows DUN, and their dialler takes ages to load and looks horrible and has horrible adverts on. Once connnected, it is impossible to minimise, unless you ctrl_alt+del and end task, but this then breaches their terms & conditions. Getting a connection is near to impossible between 5pm and 11pm, with constant engaged tones, and dropped lines if you do get through. If you want to complain, their helpline charges £1/min and their staff are not very knowledgable. (their office number is 0208 6367373 though, found through a whois lookup). If you complain about engaged tones, they blame your telco provider (BT in my case), who I spoke to in turn, who assured me everything was fine. I then went back to tfi, who completely denied *any* responsibility, but how come I can use other 0800 numbers, but not theirs? They are telling porky pies me thinks... Their newsserver is totally unreliable, and when i complained, they told me (after a bit of fobbing off), that they were running beta software and it would be sorted 'some time'. Now why are they using beta software on a service that people are paying for? Totally unprofessional. I had my account terminated today, after 2 months use, for the heinous crime of getting their 0800 numbetr from BT and making a Windows DUN connection, to test the connection, for my own interest. I have tried to reason with them, but they refuse to refund me the rest of my money. AVOID THEM AT ALL COSTS, THEY ARE A BUNCH OF RIP-OFF COWBOYS! They also disconnect you after one hour, regardless of what you are doing

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              25.03.2001 05:00
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              *** TFI DIAL UP NUMBER: 0800 279 6450 *** I HAVE ALSO BEEN KICKED OFF OF TFI. Just read the opinions on this site to see that they are kicking more and more people off. I really recommend that you do not join as you have to pay £89.99 upfront and I really do not see them being here in 2 months... I joined The Free Internet (TFI) in November00, it cost £80 a year. I should have realised that it was too good to be true. You can read all of the articles on this site and see that some people recon its OK and some (like me) say its extremely poor. The fact is that it depends greatly on what area of England you live in. If you live in Kent (or near it) READ ON (cos thats where I live). KENT: the service is very poor. To connect in the morning, weekdays perhaps you will get through after 1-5 tries (up to luck really). From about 2.30pm weekdays, or all weekends you could be looking at 5-10 tries - realistically - and a poor connection rate say 40Kbs. From 6pm onwards HONESTLY you will find yourself redialing like 20+ times. It is reallly not uncommon to have tried for 1 hour solid and 40 odd tries and still not be on yet, plus 40Kbs if you do. TFI waste your time. OH! And by the way - I got cut off this week (March01), apparently I've broken some rules or something (youre not allowed to chat, check e-mail more than every 15 mins, play games, listen to music/video) etc etc. I think that thwy were basically looking for a way to chuck customers off the service to save money. -Wouldn't even recomend to an enemy! You should only consider this service if you will only ever logon once a day for an hour at 10am or something - in which case you shouldn't even join - because it would be cheaper to pay 1p a minute and no anual fee!

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                15.03.2001 23:16
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                After months and months of a promise of 24/7 internet access with my previous isp Eurobell which never started I decided to sign up for The free-internet after seeing the ads on the TV and too much searching on the net for other 24/7 isp's that would allow me to keep my existing phone company (most you had to be a BT customer). At the time of signing up to The free-internet who were in conjunction with the search engine Excite it cost me £50 for a years subscription for unmetered 0800 internet access and was to be £20 for any consecutive annual subscriptions. Since my initial subscription it has now gone up to £99 per year (it was £89 a few months ago), the reasons being that they have parted with Excite and now are owed by The business online group PLC. What you get when you do sign up is free calls to the internet via an 0800 number 24/7, free access to the internet, 5mb of web space, 56k access through out the UK, free 0800 ISDN access (if you use ISDN to connect, most isp's don't yet support ISDN), one free email address, which hold a maximum of 5mb of email at any one time (when I signed I had the option of a family sign up for £100 which if I remember gave 5 free email addresses) and 7 days per week customer support (but this is charged at £1 per minute, email tech support is the alternative to paying for the huge call charges). Signing up is easy and if you are interested in signing up to The free-internet the address is http://www.thefreeinternet.net. At the moment you can only sign up if you use a debit or credit card, either Visa or Mastercard credit card or Visa Delta or Mastercard debit card. They do not accept others at the moment, i.e. Visa electron debit cards, Switch or American Express. Also take note that they only support Windows 95, 98, NT4 or 2000 operating systems at the moment so if you operate another system then this one will be no good for you. To sign up you will see a button with Join now flashing at the bottom of your screen which you need to click, you are then took to a new page and initially ask a few question regarding you current residency status, what type of operating system do you run, what type of browser do you use and what kind of credit or debit card do you use. After you have mark all the relevant questions you will then be taken to their "Terms and conditions" page. I would advise that you read these very carefully as you may not be happy with certain aspects of use of this isp. You can find the full set of "Terms and conditions" if you follow this link http://www.thefreeinternet.net/signup/terms0800-150301.htm For example there are quite a few rules that tell you what you can not do using their 0800 number but are free to do if you use their 0845 number. **Can not do's** ---------------- *Use your TFI email account and web space for any commercial use. *Use the TFI service to transmit or receive any material which contravenes the laws of the United Kingdom. *Connect to the TFI service via a switchboard (PABX) or payphone or a mobile telephone (it must be dialled by the telephone number you provide them when you sign up). *Use any third party software or technique to circumvent the inactivity cut off or the hourly disconnection. *Use any third party software or technique to obscure or avoid displaying any advertisements that may be displayed by DUN Wizard 0800. *Use any method of deleting, altering or otherwise avoiding any advertisement or message sent to you either by way of the DUN Wizard, the Portal or email including your own email transmissions outwards. *Use your TFI account to transmit any form of abuse whether in the form of direct email or newsgroup or forum postings, or submit any employee of TFI to abuse whether verbal or electronic. *Use your TFI account to operate Internet servers of any kind, including, but not limited to, SMTP, NNTP, FTP, HTTP. *Use any method of connecting to the TFI service other than the most current version of DUN Wizard 0800. All the above portion of terms and conditions were found at http://www.thefreeinternet.net/signup/terms0800-150301.htm If you do breech any of these then you account will be terminated and they may take you to court to recover the cost of 0800 call you have made. **What you can do** ------------------- Basically you can use the 0800 connection for normal internet usage, i.e. reading emails, browsing the internet and gathering information but not online gaming. Once you have agreed and accept the "Terms and conditions" you are then taken to the final process of your subscription application where you are asked for your personal details. *A choice of 3 account names incase one or more of your choices are already in use by someone else. *Name, address, postcode, telephone number (including dialling code). *Your chosen telephone number that you wish to connect to the internet from. *Payment details, name on card, card number, type of card and expiry date. You should then be provided with details of your user name, password and activation code all these will be required for you to be able to use their dial up software. (It is best if you write all these down as they are not easy to remember) After you have filled in all your details you then get to download their Dial up software, the file is quite small and only takes a few minutes to download and install. Very often you may find that you get an email notification or pop up window of new DUN software that needs to be downloaded to upgrade your current version, at the moment they are using DUN Wizard v12. As set in their "Terms and conditions" you must upgrade to current version. I have found that the latest is the best they have come out with so far a s it has a redial option that redials automatically and you can keep all your windows open with out and software conflictions as I have found with previous diallers. I have been with The free-internet since they came out and over the past months have noticed a big improvement in their service and software. When it first took off connecting was great being able to connect first time every time but as people got to know of this service we started to suffer from line busy and other dialling statuses such as no answer, error-PPP-timeout. Since it is now owned by the Business online group PLC we rarely suffer with line busy or any other connection problems and with the redial facility in the software, I no longer see it as a problem. Many people thought that this isp would be a big flop, like many others that have been and gone or never delivered the promise of launching its service. I reckon that The free-internet will be around for a long while and they have proved to me with it changes that they are able to cope with the demand during peak times and off peak times. The big dislike with the service must be the 1 hour cut off time, which can be a pain when downloading and not being able to do online gaming (normal internet games are fine, like bingo etc) but these rules are set for optimum results and better service in the long run.

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                  19.02.2001 03:55
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                  I was given what I thought was a very useful and generous Christmas present: a year's connection to thefreeinternet.com Unfortunately, since installing the service on December 26th I have had problems connecting on almost every ocassion. On a good day it has taken just over fifteen minutes to get connected to the internet. On the worst ones I've tried for hours and still not had any success. This service cost £90 for a year. At this rate it will turn out to be very expensive indeed. Just look at these figures: I use the internet 5 nights a week. On two nights a week I actually get a connection. That's 104 connections per year. Those 104 connections cost £90. That means that each time I get onto the net it costs me £1.19 (rounded up). I need to be online for around three hours each time to break even (compared with what it would cost if I paid for the call). I've now joined up with Lineone and I don't have any problem getting a connection. It costs £9.99 per month for unmetered access after 6 and at weekends. This is much more efficient and good value too.

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                  19.02.2001 03:30
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                  I am writing this review in a state of utter amazement, after 20mins of trying I am finally connected. This is my Dads internet connection and I have told him to get rid of it as soon as possible. I myself use freeserve anytime (another free connection but £13 per month) and rarely experience connection problems. Where can you start with thefreeinternet.com? My father purchased it as a replacement for the excellent Red Hot Ant which is longer available, at £90 a year it seemed like good value. Unfortunately you can rarely connect on their free number and even their local rate number gets clogged up sometimes. The only time I can guarantee logging on for free is after 1am but this isn't what I wanted. If you were thinking of buying this service provider I strongly advise you not to, at the most check back here in a couple of months and see if any of their problems have been resolved. For the time being I advise freeserve anytime as it is the least problematic I have used since Red Hot Ant went down.

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                  18.02.2001 03:18
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                  I pay £10 a month for my internet charges, there’s quite a lot of free internets after you have paid a instalments of £89 my only reservation is that these companies become over subscribed very quickly, and some even go bust, because they realise that they can’t afford it. However, after paying our fee, we decided to abandon it, the free-internet.com service is good, but you have to be very patience as connecting can be a bit of a problem. And when the server is busy surfing the net is impossible. I have seen it advertised on the TV and it seems good. But, it was so annoying, so frustrating. My time on the internet is limited anyway, so when I would waste two hours trying to log on, I thought enough is enough. So, I opted for the BT credit card option instead. I did e-mail free-internet.com and informed them of my problem but they said it was up to me whether I was going to use the service and I was not entitled to a refund. Although I was disappointed as I could have spent the money elsewhere, I knew when I was beaten. I had enough of not getting logged on to the internet. For anyone interested in it the package includes: World Wide Web Access POP3 Mailbox with your own E-Mail address 10 Mb of Webspace Full Newsgroup Feed Telephone Support on 0900 9801 666 Free Support via E-Mail Sounds impressive but don’t be fooled, because I thought it was good, but connection is poor not to mention the after sales care-which I can say is extremely poor. I am sure many of you might have had good experiences with free-internet.com but I was very disappointed, and don’t you hate companies that only work by credit cards……….

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                  12.02.2001 20:42
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                  Around New Year I was watching the television, amongst the normal poor seasonal TV and adverts for Furniture and Carpets, one advert caught my eye. This advert was for a company called The Free Internet. It wasn’t a particular flashy or attention grabbing advert and didn’t even have an annoyingly catchy slogan or jingle. The thing that awake me from my post Christmas food and alcohol induced slumber was that it offered something that I had been looking for since the rather large phone bill I had recently received. That thing was a pre-pay unmetred 24-hour Internet service provider. At £89.99 a year this seemed a real bargain, as the fore mentioned phone bill had been nearly this for 3 months worth of Internet calls. So it was with much gusto that I signed up for the service, and this is where the agony began. The actually on-line process of signing up was easy as one could wish. Just a simple process of adding your personal details and your chosen method of payment and Bob’s your uncle and Fanny’s your aunt. Always erring on the side of caution I used my credit card for payment. As with all on-line purchases this gives me the extra peace of mind as the transactions are insured against poor service and fraud. (Well mine is anyway). After the sign up process was completed I was able to download the software which would able me to dial up to the 0800 server and thus get onto the Internet for free. (Apart from the annual fee) So there I am sitting in front of my PC as happy as Larry, thinking “Sweet cheap Internet access abuse here we come” I click on the desktop shortcut to start the log on process and am suddenly hit by the unexpected. Umm the logon screen boots up and fills the screen. Annoyingly meaning I can’t get to some of my other shortcuts. Okay I can live with this its not great tragedy. Next up I am given a chance to log on to either the 0800 number server or the 0845 (local call) server. My initial reaction is that this is a bit pointless, but let it go. Next up we have the password screen, luckily this seems to be working off a pre-install cookie and all my details are pre-filled. I have read that the earlier versions of the software meant this had to be filled in each time, and this would have been a royal pain in the butt for reasons to follow. Next I click on click on connect and the modem activates and the software comes back as ‘connecting device’. Fine seen this before but at least other ISP software normally gives you a timer for how long this takes. Then darkness and despondence befalls me. The following message appears ’Line Busy possible problems with modem software, or TCP’. I know it’s not a TCP problem, as I haven’t touched the stuff in years, following an incident I would rather forget involving the local vicar and a Japanese Businessman and the sudden loss of elasticity in my trousers. (Or was that an episode of Terry and June). So it’s not TCP problems then it most be that someone’s picked up the phone downstairs. So springing manfully out of my seat ready to hurl abuse at the phone user. But to my surprise the phone is on its cradle and the hallway is empty, there was more life on the Marie Celeste. Making a quick check on the cabling, for I have an uncanny knack of pulling out wires. I find no source for the line being busy. Back at my computer I find I have been kicked out of the logon software. So with my mind at rest about faults that may be of my own doing. I attempt to log on, and again I get the same message. I third attempt sees me getting as far as the authentication process only to be kicked out again. This time the message says ‘disconnected by remote server, possible noisy line’. Noisy line my bottom, I’ve never had this problem with any other ISPs. Eventually after several more attempts I get connected and can surf the net to my hearts content. We ll for an hour anyway before the service is terminated and I have to go through the joy of logging on again. I understand why TFI have done this, but the services they offer make this seem all the more annoying. The problems with logging onto TFI have continued and it’s not just at Peak Time that I have problems logging on. Having a day off in the week due to illness I decided I would do a bit of surfing to cheer me up a tad. So it’s about 11:30 AM, and I attempt to log on. Five failures later I am finally connected, only to be met by the slowest connection this side of my local train route during the high of the Hatfield imposed speed restrictions. So slow in fact that it actually hurt to use the Internet. So I decide to give up and reconnect and I get the same log on problems again. Only this time when I finally get logged on I am kicked off after 20 minutes for no apparent reason. Of course this happens during the downloading of a MP3 (luckily not from Napster) By now my blood is beginning to boil, and a torrent of abuse against TFI it’s employees and their families spills forth from my mouth. Calming down a little I decide to compose a letter complaining about the service. After having to log on with another ISP (my handy backup one, that charges local rate calls, but always allows me to connect) I e-mail my harsh by civil toned letter of complaint to TFI. A couple of days of poor connection follows and I finally get a reply from TFI. Do they grovelling apologise to me, offering me some kind of refund or at least an excuse for the poor service? No they just said out an automated reply, saying they cannot deal with the amount of e-mails they are receiving. Oh what a surprise. At is at this point I decide to bang my head repeatedly on the desk and gibble to myself. I then go on to Dooyoo and read other people’s comments about TFI (something I should and will do from now on) and find out that a lot of other people have exp erienced the same joy with TFI that I Have. One Dooyooer actually made 125 attempts to get connected; this person has the patience of a saint. I haven’t and I am planning my next plan of action to get a response from TFI. Currently TFI is failing in all aspects to give any decent form of service. I would advice you to stay well away from the dubious service they offer, unless you enjoy paying for a service you cannot connect too, or are into strange forms of sado-mashocism. The Free Internet like everything free comes at a cost and that cost is likely to be your sanity.

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                    11.02.2001 21:45

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                    I signed up to TFI around september, other than a few annoying engaged times I must be honest and say this is the best value internet service provider I have used. Because I connect during the evening the annoying engaged tones do occur. However when your paying a single low fee you must take the rough with the smooth. I certainly have had no problems connecting during the day. TFI does disconnect you after an hour, but you simply re-dial, however becareful if you a very heavy user, a friend of mine who has used TFI for his university degree has just found himself kicked out of the service as he used it for around 8 hours a day, they said that that usage put him as a business user and they are excluded from TFI. A very cheap, reliable service, they answer your emails, haven't used the helpline - have not needed to. If you are considering give it a try.

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                    29.01.2001 22:01
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                    There I sat - destitute, broken hearted, in need of…a 24/7 free ISP. Not much to ask. Breathe had given its last gasp and died. What was I to do? An addict of all things web related, be it an email to my friends an online chat with my Mum, a movie review or just dooyooing, I needed that ISP that would make my modem sing again! So Who? What? Where? Should have come to Dooyoo first shouldn't I? The only deals I could find for free access was TFI or NTL. NTL could only promise the CD within 3 months, and this was two weeks before Christmas, so I signed up with TFI for Instant acess. The process wasn't too painful, downloading the dialler after paying my £89.99, entering various passwords and usernames and hey presto. Ok the dialler, horrid, horrid garish screen appears and you attempt to connect, maybe 2 out of every 6 attempts I got lucky, reasonable speed I was sort of happy, but I have a niggle of doubt in the back of my mind.Is it the one hour cut off? The dialler? So I have a read the tfi.support newsgroup. Not a very positive place to be. Some people have tried over hundreds of times to connect in one day, just unlucky? Well the fact is I've given up trying to connect with them after 4 in the afternoon, lifes too short! The range of errors that pop up after unsuccessful attempts is amazing I 'm sure they have favourites for each day of the week! My final moan is the adverts that tfi have decided to add to members emails without informing users. It's a two line message at the top of each mail sent advertising tfi, ok this generates revenue, but also looks like spam. Many members complained about the location of the ad, and asked for it to be moved to the end of the mail, no idea whether tfi will listen. Ok so overall, if you want to shell out £90 for an ISP that is pretty good for surfing in the early hours of the morning, this is the one, you may be lucky, after all it works out at less than £8 a month. I use it as a backup (still got 11 months to go) because BT is now my Best Friend!

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