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UPDATE2 Concern for Fuel Broadband as Customers Report Service Closure

Monday, June 12th, 2017 (9:09 am) - Score 6,005

Reports are coming in that UK ISP Fuel Broadband (formerly Primus Saver), which is owned by New Call Telecom (NCT), could be in serious trouble after customers were informed that the service would be shut down at the end of July 2017 and accounts moved to the Post Office.

During a recent update of our UK ISP Listing database we noticed that Fuel Broadband had completely removed their residential broadband and phone packages (the details are no longer present on their website). On top of that their Twitter and Facebook accounts appear to be either inactive or removed.

Fast forward to this week and a credible ISP informs us that “we’ve received a whole load of queries [over] the last few days from Fuel Broadband customers to state they’ve been informed that they are shutting down in July.” At this stage it’s unclear whether this reflects the closure of the whole ISP or just a specific service. We are currently attempting to get a response from NCT.

A quick look at the Company Details for NCT, particularly their most recent annual accounts to the end of March 2016 (here), shows that NCT are continuing to trade but their balance sheet still has quite a big loss to clean up. NOTE: NCT own Fuel Broadband, Fuel Business, Planet Talk, Just Dial and Rate Buster (nearly all are calling / phone providers); they’re also home to the Wavecrest, Nimbuzz! and ozone brands.

The company recorded a loss on ordinary activities before and after taxation of £18.1m in the year ended 31st March 2016 (down from £21m in 2015) and at that date had accumulated losses of £50.3m and net liabilities of £49.1m. Apparently the company has been funded to date by loans from its parent undertaking of £48.8m. A recent review of the business found as follows.

New Call Telecom Accounts (31st March 2016)

The period of rapid growth in the business between 2014 and 2016 saw it establish as one of the fastest growing residential and telecom service providers in the UK and also saw it record losses of approximately £40 million funded by its parent undertaking, New Call Telecom Holdings Limited and, ultimately, by its principal shareholder [BOOTH, Jerome Paul, Dr – Director].

During 2016 the directors recognised that the business had reached a size where significant sales acquisition activities and earnings through online channels should be de-prioritised and the emphasis placed on improving the quality of the revenue base. The focus of the management team in 2016 and 2017 has been on converting this acquired customer base into a sustainable profitable business through improving margin and a changed focus from online to more selective organic routes to market.

The business has not required net new injections of funds from its shareholder since March 2016 and currently trades on a cash positive basis.

NCT’s Head Office is located in London, although they also have a call centre in Nelson (Lancashire) and New Delhi is home to their New Call India branch where some of their financial administration, IT and web development takes place. NCT also reported a gross profit of £3.66m, which is down from £5.46m in 2015.

We will update again once more information surfaces. Spring 2017 is fast shaping up to be a period of trauma for smaller ISPs, with TenTel and AB Internet both having hit troubled waters during the same period.

UPDATE 12:17pm

One of our readers has identified a related page on the Post Office’s broadband website (here), which appears confirms that Fuel Broadband is closing and their services will be transferring to the Post Office at the end of July 2017.

Apparently accounts will be migrated over between 24th July and 1st August 2017. This is expected to be a “seamless transfer.”

Post Office Statement

If you’re a Fuel Broadband or Phone customer you will have just received a letter telling you that Fuel is leaving the telecommunications market and that your service will be transferred to the Post Office.

The Post Office has been running it’s own broadband and phone service for well over 13 years and has over 460,000 customers. As the fastest growing broadband and phone reseller in the United Kingdom we use the same core network supplier as Fuel, therefore there will be no change in the service you currently receive.

The reference to “same core network supplied as Fuel” reflects the fact that both networks are supplied by TalkTalk Wholesale (this is not to be confused with TalkTalk’s own retail ISP division).

UPDATE 13th June 2017

We’ve received the following statement from New Call Telecom.

Oliver Mackereth, Director of Marketing for NCT, told ISPreview.co.uk:

“I would like to confirm that Fuel Broadband is exiting the UK broadband market. Existing Fuel Broadband customers will be moving to Post Office Telecoms and will experience no disruption in service.

Post Office Telecoms will continue our commitment to giving customers a great service as we leave the telecommunications market. We believe Post Office Telecoms is best placed to meet the customer needs as they use the same network as we do today and will ensure the best possible service and value.”

NCT was also kind enough to include a copy of the letter that has been sent to their customers and we’ve pasted the text below, although we’re unsure whether subscribers would agree with it being described as “exciting news“.

Copy of Customer Letter

Exciting news about your Fuel Broadband service

Dear Customer

We are writing to you to let you know that your Fuel service is moving to Post Office Telecoms. Don’t worry, we are working together to make sure everything runs smoothly. You won’t need to do anything. Post Office Telecoms will continue our commitment to giving customers a great service as we leave the telecommunications market. We believe Post Office Telecoms is best placed to meet your needs as they use the same network as we do today and will ensure that you get the best possible service and value for your household.

There’s plenty to look forward to

As well as benefiting from great offers, Post Office Telecoms will match your current package as closely as possible. While there may be some small changes, there will be no disruption to your service and you will keep your current telephone number.

What happens next?

Together with Post Office Telecoms, we will keep you up-to-date with everything that’s happening and will be in touch soon to explain things in more detail. You will receive a letter or email from Post Office within the next two weeks providing further information about your transfer. If you want to find out more about the process in the meantime, just visit www.FuelBroadband.co.uk/transfer or to find out more about Post Office Telecoms go to www.PostOffice.co.uk/Fuel.

Yours sincerely

Chris Adams
Chief Executive, Fuel Broadband

Meredith Sharples
Director of Telecommunications PO

Leave a Comment
28 Responses
  1. Avatar Wild Bill says:

    Just seen this which supports your arguments

    1. Mark Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      Thanks for pointing that out Wild Bill.

  2. Avatar James says:

    They have removed ALL packages from their website.

    1. Avatar James says:

      I am sure many people will not go with the PO!

  3. Avatar Tom says:

    Strange.. about 6 months ago a Fuel Business Broadband package that one of my customers is on got moved (with no communication at all!) to Daisy broadband. Initially I suspected “slamming” to be the cause.. but turns out it was a legitimate change.

    I guess they dumped all their business customers on Daisy and all their residential on The Post Office?

  4. Avatar SteveB says:

    Fuel Broadband Customer Service number 0800 036 3839 has been disconnected! 8am 13/6/17.

  5. Avatar Dan Rose says:

    Fuel have already transferred business accounts to Daisy. So this doesn’t come as much of a surprise.

  6. Avatar Paul says:

    Not sure Post Office can claim to be the fastest growing ISP. I’m sure they had nearly 500000 customers a couple of years ago but 460000 now? Pricing on their Fibre is pretty steep too compared to their competitors. I’m guessing as its a change to terms and conditions so I should get my 30 days to leave which i’ll take.

  7. Avatar Jon says:

    Yes and us fuel broadband customers, will see a rise from £22.50pm to £30.45pm unless we take an 18 month contract with the post office, what sort of blackmail is this post office? I don’t think so.

    1. Avatar Paula says:

      Yes that’s my thinking donut want to be stuck in a long contract and how much will it cost to exit the contract once it’s started?

  8. Avatar Dee Bennett says:

    Seamless transfer??????
    My internet is down and has been for hours!

  9. Avatar Fred Hoyland says:

    Made the change of ISP on 3rd July which was acknowledged by my new provider and confirmed by Fuel. The PO deal 0of £25 PMonth for 6mb rising to £36 after 1 year when for the same money I can get 38mb fibre seems to me to be a no brainer. Been with new provider since 26thJuly,which was seamless.
    Now I am being bullied by PO with e-mails saying that they are putting my service live with them . Numerous calls to tPO help line gets nowhere , and they keep saying they (PO) “own” the line yet my new provider is saying that they control the service . All hassle I do not need . A sharp emai to Meradith Sharples , Director of Telecoms, involked a reply by telephone within a couple of hours, again PO affirming that they “own” the line. We wwill see where this goes!!!!!!

  10. Avatar Alun Hughes says:

    Signed up with post office for £20 month broadband offer. Today received my first bill for £27.90, this is a very uncomfortably first experience with post office.

  11. Avatar Russell Bardsley says:

    I had no internet connection for two weeks with fuel yet was charged for this,now taken over by the p.o ,supposed to receive a welcome pack-have not.. what are p.o charging as I cannot access my account..hope this improves or I shall change provider.

  12. Avatar Louise Mitchell Chapman says:

    I HAVE ONLY JUST FOUND OUT MY NET PROVIDER HAS JUST CHANGED BY CHANCE!! AS I SAW A STRANGE DIRECT DEBIT, SO I LOOKED INTO IT. I HAVE HAD NO LETTERS TO STATE THE SUPPLIES CHANGE, PLUS THE CHARGES HAVE GONE UP TO £36 !!! FROM £20.50 !!!
    I AM VERY ANNOYED AND PISSED OFF
    I AM HAVING NONE IT, ITS BANG OUT OF ORDER!!!
    I CANT AFFORD THOSE PRICES!!!!!
    BLOODY DISGUSTING WAY TO TREAT YOUR CUSTOMERS!!!

    1. Avatar melon says:

      Past few months messed my bank up. Only just had letter of bank to say overdrawn wtf and to find out on internet about change . rise in payment no letter. Fecking joke

  13. Avatar Chris Hunter says:

    I too signed up with post office for £20 month broadband offer. I received my first bill for £28.28.
    Despite four emails. I have absolutely no response. THEY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CUSTOMER SERVICE.
    Avoid this bunch of clowns.

  14. Avatar Michael says:

    Just found payment of £42 .54 taken today.Usual bill £20.20 as l had free evening and weekend calls, can only imagine Post Office has changed my contract for evening calls. No letter of any kind notifying this or any changes taking place. Total Joke!

  15. Avatar Claire says:

    Just discovered a payment of £43.29 has been taken out of my account. I did not recognize this amount and did some investigating. Turned out the account has been taken over by the Post Office at a 100% increase of my current charge – this without any notification in any form of communication!! I will simply cancel and take my business elsewhere. Scandalous the PO think they can get away with this!!!

    1. Avatar James says:

      I do not want to have service provided by the post office.

      I was not aware of the more charge being done by post office until I got the bank statement.

      What can we do? any advice would be highly appreciated

  16. Avatar James says:

    I had only phone-call line (without broadband) with Fule Broadband. I told Fule Broadband in early June that I would cancel the service and terminate the line. Fule Broadband sent me an email, saying to terminate the line.

    However, when the Fule Broadband closed, it still migrated the service to the post office, which charged me 29.75 pounds in August.

    Poor service offered by Fule Broadband.

    Where can I lodge a complaint

  17. Avatar Katherine says:

    I decided not to get transferred over to the post office, and was under the impression broadband and phone would be disconnected until I decided on a new supplier. I am still being charged by New Call Telecom what I presume to be line rental? Aug 29th £5.33, 19th July £4.14.. anyone else being charged for this?

    1. Avatar Christine Lavery says:

      I decided I did not want to be transferred from Fuel Broadband to the Post Office which was supposed to be on 1st August the transfer date. I phoned Fuel on 27th June explaining I dont want to be transferred to Post Office and the customer services guy said ok and he explained my services will not be transferred and my line will be switched off on 1st August. He also said it gives me plenty of time to find another provider if I want one.

      About 2 weeks later I signed up with Virgin and they were connecting me on 26th July that was a few days before Fuel were supposed to be switching me off on 1st August. I was so annoyed when I started receiving emails about my new bill with the Post Office which meant Fuel had transferred me to the Post Office especially when I told them not to, so they had transferred me without my consent, and now to make matters worse the Post office have put a debt collection on to me and I am receiving text messages and emails from the debt collection agency.

  18. Avatar Chris says:

    It would be interesting what BBC 1 Watchdog would have to say about these comments.

  19. Avatar T F says:

    I received the above email as well stating the changeover was happening and there was nothing I needed to do. I have since discovered the increase from £22.50 to £30.50 for the monthly line rental and broadband.
    I had to search for the P.O details online because I had no correspondence from the new company or even my account details via post.

    I’ve been told to phone back as the team are open until 6-pm. The promise is that the money will be reimbursed to me but only as credit if I decide to take on the 18 month contract at £19 per month named ‘Welcome.’ This contract is apparently only for former Fuel broadband customers.
    I am obviously annoyed and feel like this is blackmail. My questions tomorrow will be how much it is to exit the contract after 18 months and whether the P.O will begin the 18 months from next month if I agree or include the 3 months for which I have been overcharged. Very disappointed with the lack of ISP loyalty given I have been with them for over three years.

  20. Avatar Philip Croydon says:

    I did not recieve any kind of notification about the switch from Fuel to PO Telecoms and I only found out after checking my bank statement.I also noticed that my monthly payment had risen from £22.37 to £30.50.I would like to know if this is legal and if so,am I committed to an 18 month contract? I am an OAP with only a state pension and I feel really aggrieved with this situation.

  21. Avatar Frank says:

    I paid line rental a year up front they swapped to the robbing post office now they are charging me line rental I rang the post office he told me my contract is with fuel I what a rip off leaving the tomorrow they been taking £26 a month out of my bank for three months now I never noticed ffs

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