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TalkTalk Users Struggle to Disable Website Error Replacements UPDATE

Monday, April 20th, 2020 (4:41 pm) - Score 19,246
talktalk uk broadband isp logo 2020

Customers of budget UK ISP TalkTalk are reportedly struggling to opt-out of the broadband provider’s Error Replacement Service (ERS), which is a system that effectively hijacks typographical errors or non-existent domain (NXDOMAIN) requests when searching for a website (i.e. the ISP returns their own list of monetised search results).

Ordinarily customers should be able to disable this by visiting the provider’s out-out page, but for some reason that doesn’t seem to be working properly for everybody (link says they’ve been opted-out but after restarting their router the ERS remains), which is a problem that happened once before in 2014 (here).

The use of such a service by ISPs, mobile operators and some website browsers is not uncommon. However, people often like to disable a broadband provider’s ERS, not least due to it either being annoying (some of us prefer it when ISPs don’t mess around with these things) or because it can sometimes disrupt other internet services, such as Virtual Private Networks (VPN).

Despite this a new report on The Register claims that TalkTalk’s support forum is being “flooded with similar complaints,” although they only linked to one recent gripe directly (here) and others are more historic. In the meantime some customers have apparently managed to resolve the issue by replacing their router or changing the DNS to a custom server (e.g. Google Public DNS, OpenDNS etc.).

At the time of writing TalkTalk has not yet commented on the issue.

UPDATE 21st April 2020

We’ve had a statement from TalkTalk this morning.

A TalkTalk Spokesperson told ISPreview.co.uk:

“We are aware of an issue with our Error Replacement service and we’re looking to resolve as soon as possible. While some customers may wish to opt-out, the service works as designed and provides further guidance with their online search.”

Leave a Comment
25 Responses
  1. TheKnow says:

    Really should be something that just works.
    But to workaround users can switch their DNS to:
    79.79.79.77
    79.79.79.78

    Worth TT customers sticking with their ISP servers, genuinely faster to respond than any 3rd party ones.

    1. ringo starr says:

      for me, on virgin media, cloudfare is actually faster.

    2. Dominic Davis-Foster says:

      Hopefully TalkTalk allow their customers to use alternative DNS servers. Vodafone blocks all port 53 traffic unless it’s to their own server.

  2. MRdc says:

    Cloudflare = 1.1.1.1
    google = 8.8.8.8
    quad9 = 9.9.9.9

  3. Neal says:

    I am with TalkTalk, I was not aware of the Error Replacement Service. But after typing in a wrong address I was redirected to TalkTalk search. After logging into My Account I then opened a new tab and went to the link https://www.talktalk.co.uk/optout/. After this is then went into my Router settings and restarted the router. When I was connected again I again typed in the wrong address and this time no TalkTalk search just the default error from my browser. So seems to work for some. But might be worth first logging into your My Account and then trying to opt-out.

  4. Meadmodj says:

    From what I understand:
    Cloudfare has 5 DNS locations in the UK
    Google have none in UK. Nearest one is Dublin, Ireland or others around Europe

    With this presence the issues (if there were any) of connecting to a public DNS no longer appear to apply. Particularly if they are using the latest standards and providing options for filtering Malware and Family friendly versions.

    I understand why ISPs would wish to control the traffic in their networks but should this not come with an obligation to ensure that it doesn’t break and is appropriately maintained/invested. Surely “interfering” with internet provision comes with responsibility as most of their users are not technically aware and simply experience a loss of service.

    1. Ryan says:

      Google DNS dose have a DNS server in the UK ping from my London server is around 1ms, not sure where your getting Cloudflare have 5 locations in the UK they only have 3 POP in the UK London,Manchester and Edinburgh I know London and Manchester hosts 1.1.1.1 not sure if Edinburgh got 1.1.1.1 DNS server setup there.

    2. NE555 says:

      Google are in London. From Kent over FTTP, I can ping 8.8.8.8 with 5.1ms round trip time. If it were in Ireland it would be at least 10ms.

      1.1.1.1 and 9.9.9.9 are both about 4.4ms. The small differences are down to which data centres in London these services (and my ISP) are present in.

      > Surely “interfering” with internet provision comes with responsibility as most of their users are not technically aware and simply experience a loss of service.

      FWIW, this news items is not about any loss of DNS service. Rather: people who had opted-out from Talktalk’s “error replacement service” found they were opted back in again.

      The error replacement service means that if you type a non-existent hostname, like isprevieww.co.uk, instead of getting an “unknown host” DNS response you get an A record which takes you to Talktalk’s search engine. In other words, they are using your typos as a way to increase traffic to their own search page, for the gain in advertising revenue.

      This is generally frowned upon as extremely bad practice – but a consequence of choosing a cheap ISP is that they attempt to monetise you in other ways.

    3. Meadmodj says:

      Sorry I stand corrected if that is the case. 5 dots on Cloudfare global map but only the 3 listed. Google don’t list a UK site.

  5. JOHN HARRISON says:

    I use and have used for a long time, Comodo DNS servers on a Draytek router with Talktalk Fibre, with no issues at all. Every time I hear of Talktalk problems in my area, I can honestly say I have not noticed any problems.

    Comodo Secure DNS (Public DNS) 8.26.56.26
    8.20.247.20

    I stopped using the Talktalk router as it needed rebooting every two days or so. That seems to be a major problem with them. Plus the ISP can access their own equipment (their supplied ‘free’ router) and with it, your equipment.

  6. ringostarr says:

    set router to 1.1.1.1

    ignore ISP DNS hijacking.

  7. Madiha Madiha says:

    My Talktalk broadband is not working is there any help that I can get on this page? As Talktalk agent won’t help me since 20 days.

  8. Maureen Bush says:

    I am unable to make or receive any phone calls on my landline.Why?

  9. J Jackson says:

    I’m on my phone, now using TT, Router…. Had some slow running on Sunday, but Monday it had thankfully recovered, so… I have know idea what all the Geek talk is about… But. Could you try to attempt to keep it down to earth 4 all of us that don’t have a computer science degree, Please!

  10. Parwez says:

    I hv been more than 8 years with talk talk my internet playing up since last Sunday no one answer my call I can’t log on on my account my kids need internet it so annoying when internet doesn’t work good last time to hv talk talk connection

  11. Parwez says:

    We shouldn’t pay for talk talk other broad band offer more speed for theyr customer BT is the best and virgin I’m going to ring them again tommarow sometime it piss me off I want smash their rotuer

    1. Richy D says:

      Excuse you. TALK TALK uses BT’s network/line’s.

    2. Badem says:

      as Richy D states, if you are with Virgin you are on the VM network.
      If you are on any other ISP you are utilising the copper network and as such everyone will give you the same kind of connection rate.
      Only exception is if you are in FTTP enabled areas in which case you are on Pure Fibre and should have no issues.

      If you have issues with your TT service you should log into your My Account, access the Service part within that and let it troubleshoot your service.

  12. David says:

    Talk-talk has to be the worst provider,you will notice,I didn’t us the word SERVICE.Bought a new Sony television in 2019 with a YouTube button have not been able to get on it,since the Lockdown started,still unable to speak to a human being.

  13. Janette Cripps says:

    Have spent 72 hrs trying to sort this out with my tablet. Assumed it was my fault for not being computer literate enough! On the verge of a nervous breakdown, marriage breakdown etc. Given the current situation re covid19 it’s just not acceptable from Tt. We are all entitled to compensation and/or the legal costs for divorce.

  14. Kenneth Mc Arthur says:

    If talk talk supplied promised equipment! I might had a complaint about WiFi! I have been waiting for a phone line & number, WiFi equipment & television. For two years+! They have kept me with Out answer on calls to them.

  15. Laurence "GreenReaper" Parry says:

    Their response sidesteps the fact that the design breaks a standard part of the service that people are paying them for, i.e. DNS. A lot of things rely on errors being errors – some are just more obvious than others.

    They should’ve been sunk after numerous data breaches. Will this be the straw that breaks the router’s back? Probably not, to be honest. But it’s another reason to avoid their service.

  16. Carol Hamilton says:

    I am trying to access Netflix on my Samsung TV but it will not let me can you help please

  17. Paul whelan says:

    I have been having issues with this company for a while thinking my contract expired was told no I have 18 month left in my contract,I don’t remember signing anything ,,,can you advise my next step thanks

  18. gordon fox says:

    since starting new contract with new router slower right away got worse to a standstill over last 3wks speed up and down like a yoyo dns server problems reported yesterday 20th no better went back to old router no problems now

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