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ISP TalkTalk to Acquire Shell Energy’s UK Broadband Customers

Thursday, Dec 14th, 2023 (2:10 pm) - Score 4,320
Shell Energy Broadband

News reports claim that the Octopus Energy Group will shortly sell Shell Energy’s remaining internet and phone customers, reflecting a total base of around 480,000, to budget broadband ISP TalkTalk for an as yet undisclosed sum. The deal could be formally announced within the next few days.

Just to recap. The Octopus Energy Group recently completed its acquisition of the UK retail provider from the Shell Group (here), although it was well known that they were mostly interested in the provider’s 1.3 million energy users. We previously speculated that Octopus would most likely divest their telecoms base to another ISP, which would be similar to what happened when Ovo Energy sold their SSE Broadband base to TalkTalk last year (here).

According to a new report on Sky News today, this appears to be precisely what is going to happen, although the deal comes at somewhat of an awkward time for TalkTalk because the provider is already under significant financial strain from a £1bn+ pile of debt.

On the other hand, TalkTalk is a logical home for Shell’s broadband customers, since most of their customers are on a managed wholesale solution run by the same provider. The catch for customers is that they’ll now effectively end up being swapped between three different companies, although most probably won’t notice all of the behind the scenes changes going on.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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39 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Anthony says:

    All I can say is – Shell Customers, get ready for some extreme hair-pulling levels of stress when you speak to your new customer service agents.

    1. Avatar photo Bev says:

      Thank you Anthony been debating what to do as out contract with shell energy broadband now know octopus selling to Talk talk . I will switch back to BT for time being at least know what they like know they dear but defiantly don’t want to go to Talk talk had feeling it was going to sold on all old shell broadband customer.

    2. Avatar photo Beveverley says:

      Thank you Anthony been debating what to do as out contract with shell energy broadband now know octopus selling to Talk talk . I will switch back to BT for time being at least know what they like know they dear but defiantly don’t want to go to Talk talk had feeling it was going to sold on all old shell broadband customer.

    3. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

      Judging by the reviews of Shell broadband on this site the customers are definitely ready for the level of service offered by Talk talk.

  2. Avatar photo David Taylor says:

    I switched to Shell having been with Talk Talk and their awful customer services previously. It does not seem fair that I will soon be stuck with 12 month left of a contract forced to continue paying to a company I do not trust or wish to give my money to.

    1. Avatar photo MilesT says:

      I would suggest wireless broadband as a backup in that case.

      Either PAYG “MiFi”, or buy your own 4G/5G router, or full monthly subscription running in parallel.

    2. Avatar photo james smith says:

      David T do check, but I believe that you should be able to leave penalty free if this buy out takes place

  3. Avatar photo Ed says:

    I’m sure that will single-handedly turn around their failing business.

    1. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

      A marriage forged in the very bowels of hell: combining the two worst companies for customer service, the two most cheapskate customer bases who value low price above all else, the two least sustainable ISP business models, and the two investment cases with the least upside.

      If Octopus have decided that the half a million customers aren’t a worthwhile addition to their group interests in telecoms, that says that Octopus Group (a well run and well funded business) think there’s no way of ever making any realistic margin from the Shell ISP customers, and they should be sold on no matter how little the dopey buyer will pay. Meanwhile, Talktalk wander down the street like a drunkard picking up dog mess:

      “Wahysayyy, theresh a big lump yerve trodded’n? I’ll givesh yer me lassht money fer it! Hic”

      And that sentence appears to be the considered business case and all of the detailed modelling that TT undertook.

  4. Avatar photo AndyK says:

    Makes sense really – They are effectively TalkTalk customers anyway, just customers through a reseller with a terrible reputation for customer service. This way, TalkTalk keeps 480,000 customers but gains a much greater profit margin from them.
    Judging by the reviews, I can’t imagine customer service will be any different between Shell and TalkTalk retail! Although given shell traded entirely based on being the cheapest of cheap, how much actual value those customers have is questionable apart from that extra margin. I can’t imagine Octopus saw much value in it, so I would imagine that the amount changing hands would be relatively small especially considering TalkTalk’s position. But half a million customers is still half a million customers on the books!

  5. Avatar photo Fibre Scriber says:

    With TalkTalk being over a billion in debt, surely it would be very foolhardy for any company to advance them the money for the shell acquisition, with the possible prospect of a total collapse of the company, and the chance of losing their money, or am I missing something here?

    1. Avatar photo AndyK says:

      Just because they have debt doesn’t mean that they are, by default, going to collapse. I would wager that this deal probably cost TalkTalk almost nothing – they’re effectively doing Octopus a favour for not having to deal with all those customers…and the benefit to TalkTalk is that they now have 480,000 customers where instead of making probably a few pence, they get to take the full retail margin.

  6. Avatar photo DaveP says:

    I’m been with a small Sheffield based ISP called Origin for 5 years. TalkTalk took over 2 years ago and so far nothing’s changed. In fact, they emailed me couple of days ago to inform me of my current end-of-contract period and said the monthly payments will stay the same for the next 6 months and I was penalty free to leave them. £22:49, 40Mbps, landline payg (Openreach), what’s not to like?

    1. Avatar photo Richard says:

      I used to pay TalkTalk £21 for 76Mbps
      They’re okay until you have a problem

    2. Avatar photo Anthony says:

      The TalkTalk quality of service is brilliant. The customer service however is alongside Three and the now defunct Delight mobile the worst I have ever experienced by a significant margin. If you never have any need to contact customer service you won’t know what people are complaining about when it comes to them. When you do, you will know exactly what the problem is. They really are that bad and infuriating and incompetant

    3. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      The biggest problem with the cheaper providers is the customer base that they attract. Since half of their customers can’t string a sentence together, their conversations turn into arguments, and these arguments turn into complaints and poor reviews.

      It also doesn’t help that 95% of their staff can’t string a sentence together either.

  7. Avatar photo Gareth says:

    So…..a different lens….

    If talkTalk hadn’t bought this customer base and they had been sold to another buyer, the overall TalkTalk Base would have dropped by about 12%.

    Pretty sure that would have looked a bit bad when the refinancing applications are being scrutinised…

    I don’t see how TalkTalk could have NOT bought them given the current situation they find themselves in…..and I’m sure Octopus wouldn’t do this blindly either.

  8. Avatar photo Illus says:

    As a current Shell broadband customer I am concerned about my personal data being passed from one company to another then another.
    Will I be able to exit my contract penalty free now?

    1. Avatar photo XGS says:

      Nope. Not unless they decide to release you.

    2. Avatar photo Beveverley says:

      I’m shell energy customer but been out of contract for 6 months never renewed it soon shell was selling . Only thing I suggest telephone shell broadband side with details asap or message as they on FB or also on Twitter if you have it. and ask them . You may have to pay rest of your contract if leave early but best to get in touch with shell energy. Decided to leave switched to another company for time being not company I wanted just for time being give time to look around before not rush into again Hope you can sort out get out it not sure how many months you have left.

    3. Avatar photo NE555 says:

      “I am concerned about my personal data being passed from one company to another then another”

      This happens all the time – one company subcontracts another company to do their data processing. You might find about it in the small print of your contract if you’re lucky.

      Not much you can do about it.

  9. Avatar photo Mark says:

    To be fair, the service from TalkTalk is actually really good, TTW is a lot better than BTW. The fact that Zen and AAISP try to use TTW backhaul where possible says it all really. The problem is their customer service is just horrendous! I rang up after my router stopped turning on and their customer support REFUSED to come off the script, insisting I go through all their troubleshooting steps first like trying the test socket, changing the micro filter etc! All I needed was a new bloody router!

    1. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:

      To be fair, they have to do the idiot yet first; turn it off and on etc. Tech services of all companies do the same thing. It is frustrating as hell to anyone with a bit of common sense, but common sense ain’t all that common.

    2. Avatar photo RightSaidFred says:


    3. Avatar photo Ivor says:

      better, or cheaper?

      zen is intent on getting its customers onto its own backhaul anyway to save even more money, even if it’s not ready yet and they have to move people back to BT

    4. Avatar photo Industry insider says:

      Actually, Zen migrated thousands of customers away from TTB recently as their fault management process is horrible. Fill in a form to send to TTB, wait 7 hours or so for a confirmation of an Openreach engineer booking for a customer. Basically if a customer has a fault raised after around 2pm, chances are their engineer wouldn’t be next day, unlike with Cityfibre, BTW, or their own on net services.

      They still use TTB backhaul for some exchanges, but thankfully that part of the network is usually okay.

      Would’ve been better if Talktalk, kept the “Talktalk” name away from TTB, which was once Opal Telecom as the name Talktalk just screams cheap, and security risk, to many of us.

  10. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    Oh dear, the poor things.

  11. Avatar photo Anthony says:

    I am actually curious. Do the bigwigs at TalkTalk read ISPrequest news stories and the comments to them. I am curious if they know themselves how disliked, and how poorly regarded their customer service actually is by people.

    1. Avatar photo Big Dave says:

      But they’ve got 4 million customers. The only reviews the companies are interested in are the ones going into their bank accounts. While the money keeps rolling they won’t care despite what their PR BS might say.

  12. Avatar photo Beveverley says:

    I was originally a PO customer then shell energy bought them out have been with them some time now out contract by 6 months . Been debating what to do as got used shell energy and customer service as broadband was cheap new it be slow suited me but known for a long time did not want to go with talk talk with there bad customer service not uk based for queries . So decided to switch did not want to go back to BT but I have done now for time being until can sort out look at other providers in between as planning to move in another 16 months then start afresh with just broadband only or just use mobile then .Think if out contract with shell you free to leave .

  13. Avatar photo Andrew says:

    I’m sad to hear this: I was really hoping that Octopus would develop a halfway reasonable ISP. But I suppose that it’s far easier to achieve good service by going fibre-only, and most of the Shell Energy/Post Office customers were merely there for the cheapest OpenReach plan.

    1. Avatar photo Cheesemp says:

      As read on here – Fern trading who are behind Octopus have (part/full) ownership of the ISP Cuckoo but seem more interested in developing it as an ISP to use their own fibre (Giganet/Jurassic/Swish I think – they are all being merged into AllpointsFibre). I guess they saw zero interest in picking up mostly copper Openreach customers.

  14. Avatar photo Greg says:

    All I can say as someone that was present for the takeover of the ex sse/ovo customers is RUN!!! Run as far and as fast as you can from Shell as you won’t be going onto talktalks usual system you’ll be going onto an experimental one.

  15. Avatar photo Groucho says:

    So, according to the comments on here I am, as a Shell customer, a cheapskate, dopey and I cannot string a sentence together. I really don’t know how I have managed all these years.

    1. Avatar photo Industry insider says:

      Ignore them. There’s nothing wrong with trying to save a little cash where you can.

      I personally though, have worked for Talktalk between 2009 and 2016 and whilst most customers are okay, I’ve dealt with a fair few less than civilised people. Eg, people wishing I get cancer, people blaming me because they’re fat as I couldn’t let them out of their contract so they could go to the gym instead. I even had one ask me if I was “fxxking autistic, mate?” Even had a call from a customer conplaining their engineer got in their van and drove away before their job was finished. The enginee notes described the house and occupants if being full of excrement and drug paraphernalia. The stories I could tell.

      I’ve worked for a different ISP since 2017 and their clientelle as a whole are completely different in how they talk to you.

      Fun fact, the ISPs often use the credit reference agencies to find out more about their clientelle, what they earn, what their age ranges are, what kind of profession they’re in, etc. The two ISPs I’ve worked for by and large have a very different clientelle so whilst not everyone is in the same basket, sadly some ISP choices to have negative connotations associated with them.

      It’s just a shame that many people got lumped into the stereotype. It’s a bit like how some government minister once said having a Sky dish was the sign of being a council house tenant or something ridiculous like that.

  16. Avatar photo John Rockley says:

    Goodness I’ve been lucky. Started with Post Office in 2006, got taken over by Shell and now Octopus. Touch wood, never had a problem!

  17. Avatar photo patrice says:

    We hope that Netgem.TV will be offered to shell broadband customers soon !!!

    It would be great!

    ==> 2024 TalkTalk TV offers – reviews @ Trustpilot:

    1. NETGEM TV Reviews 235 • Great
    ​ TrustScore 4 out of 5

    2. NOW TV Reviews 12,901 • Bad
    ​TrustScore 1.5 out of 5


  18. Avatar photo Mo says:

    Avoid Talk Talk, they are the worst customer service I have ever dealt with.
    I had to get my 83 yo mum’s MP involved when their service and customer service was so bad.Do not touch Talk Talk.

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