Product Type: World Online in Telecommunications Services
Newest Review: ... everything changed. The price started to creep up, the connection rate reduced and the customer service was almost non-existent. All I wa... more
Screaming.net....oh, the irony...
Member Name: DeusXM
Date: 22/02/02, updated on 22/02/02 (37 review reads)
Advantages: Sometimes works, reasonable cheap
Disadvantages: Technical support is just rubbish, slow, impossible to access, frequently disconnects, company mergers mess you about all the time, did I mention it was slow?
For those of you who want to get to the meat of the review, here's a quick summary.
Tiscali/WorldOnline/Screaming.net is THE most appalling ISP ever created, and I've used AOL, so that's something.
Let's have a look at why this is the case, by going through my experience with the Great Net 'n' Web Swindle.
September 1999. I see something in The Times about a new ISP called screaming.net. Apparently, this new ISP does not only offer free subscription, but also FREE CALLS OFF-PEAK!!! Wow!
One catch. You have to change your phone company to LocalTel, but they're basically a BT reseller, so it's not really any hassle, and the change-over takes a week.
3 months later, my line is transferred to Localtel.
I then connect to the wonderful, all-you-can-eat free buffet that is the Information Superhighway. Except it's not so much of a superhighway, but more of super-stairlift, that only works once every 40 times. I dial the ISP god knows how many times to listen to a recorded voice tell me the line is busy. And of course, because it's not an engage tone, my modem isn't bright enough to redial again. I have never, ever experienced the internet this slow before. An ordinary web page takes about 5 minutes to load. My downloads are at the very best, 0.2kb/s.
I accept this. They're new, they're going to have teething problems. The ISP teethes for about a year, and eventually, the service improves.
Then one day, I get a phone bill from WorldOnline. What's this? I go and have a look on their page, and after ages of searching, I find out something interesting. Apparently, LocalTel were bought by WorldOnline, and conveniently, both companies forgot to tell me this. An enquiry to WorldOnline brings absolutely no response, not even an automated reply.
They also inform me that now I'm going to have to pay £15 for the 'privilege' of
using their service. Two weeks later, I get a doleful letter informing me that they've decided to change their minds about this. I find out that around 90% of the screaming.net users rang WorldOnline and demanded to cancel their account, and WorldOnline realised it couldn't do what it liked.
The service is now alright, but still exceptionally slow compared to any other ISP.
Now here comes the real crunch. In 2000, WorldOnline is bought by Tiscali, a European ISP. They're going to charge me £3.99 a month of 50 hours free access at any time, and now Servista (who?) is going to provide my phone connection. Then they decide they're going to charge me £6.99 a month for access (on top of line rental), and they?re not even going to send me a bill anymore, they're just going to take my money by direct debit and I can check my bill online.
Well, I would if the service had any speed.
Put simply, ANYONE could run a better ISP by using cups and string. Disconnections are rife on Tiscali, and usually they're also the sort that manages to crash your PC, necessitating a reboot. Multiplayer gaming? Forget it. I swear that Tiscali monitor what you are doing, and seem to regard anything apart from looking at webpages as a waste of time. Downloads, gaming, shockwave, all are great times to be disconnected. Sometimes you can't even connect, because they frequently have trouble with their password servers, and e-mail is just a joke, regardless of what account address I put to download in Outlook, I still get my dad's e-mail.
Bottom line? There's no such thing as a free lunch. Don't even waste your time with this piss-awful bunch of cowboys. Stick with BT, or better still, get cable broadband. Tiscali would have been poor service in 1995, and in 2001, it's just plain illegal.
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