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TalkTalk Responds - Game Blocking

Posted: 05th May, 2006 By: MarkJ
Since running our story on Carphone Warehouse's (TalkTalk) restricting of certain popular online games (HERE), we have been inundated with complaints from beleaguered customers and decided to chase the ISP.

Carphone Warehouse's spokesperson stated to us: "In order to protect the internet experience of the majority of our customers, TalkTalk manages traffic in peak hours. We do this to protect the service quality for customers who are emailing, gaming and surfing by prioritising this over peer to peer traffic.

We are aware that certain configurations of certain games (most noticeably World of Warcraft) are not running as they should and this has impacted the playing enjoyment of a number of our customers. We have had little direct contact on the issue and we'd urge customers who are experiencing difficulties in playing these games to call our customer technical support line on 0871 226 7146. We will look at their usage and the games that are being impacted, and will work to produce an individual solution that lets the customer get back to enjoying their gaming experience.
"

Provided you can forgive the obvious contradiction between "protecting" gaming and then deliberately restricting it, overall the statement is positive and may bring some hope to customers.

Unfortunately TalkTalk's own users have in fact been contacting them, as the ISP itself suggests they do, about this same issue for several weeks and despite the statement, appear to be telling them something different. Here are four samples from this weeks 'ISP COMPLAINTS':

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Jacqueline - TalkTalk has blocked ports for World of Warcraft users without giving notice to customers, i have been with them for a year and played the game since i signed up with TT and then Friday the 21st April i was no longer able to connect to WoW servers. Spoke to Tech Support at TT and they are unable to help its been over a week and and i am paying for a service i am unable to use.

================

Henry - I have been experiencing intolerable lag when playing World of Warcraft on my Talk Talk connection for the past 7 days now, effectively making the game unplayable. I have experience this problem on both my London connection and my parent's connection in Surrey.

I have written to Talk Talk and called their customer support line. So far neither of these avenues have generated any meaningful response from Talk Talk.


================

Alex - Since Friday 21st April TalkTalk made a change to their system which has made the MMORPG World of Warcraft unplayable for me and thousands of others. When trying to contact this ISP to explain and fix this problem, they give no response (by email) and make you call a premium rate number. I called the premium rate number, was on hold for 1/2 an hour and then got cut off (wasting £15).

================

Mathew - They have changed ports so people that want to play WoW cannot play anymore. There was no warning and no-one can decide why this has happened. They will not let people out of contract either without penalty. NOT HAPPY! Also, tech support has not got a clue!!
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ISPreview understands that other online games, specifically those that also have built-in auto-patchers (Steam [Half-Life2 etc.] and EVE-Online) may also be impacted.

Download/auto-patchers are a key part of usability in many modern online games, they are legitimate download services used to deliver specific content patches and not to be confused with open P2P platforms.

However there may be some good news, several TT customers have today reported improvements, suggesting that the ISP may finally be taking action to resolve the situation. We suggest those with problems try contacting them again.

On an unrelated note, one of our readers also spotted a previously unseen clause in the ISP’s small print T&C’s (5.6):

http://media.phonehouse.com/mediaserver/servlet/AssetServer?id=BBTERMS1149264&ver=3&RD=YES

“ In order to connect to the Broadband Service, we may require you to install on your PC certain software belonging to a third party. We will provide this software, without charge to you, in order to assist with your initial installation (and continued connection) to our Broadband Service and to diagnose any problems that you may face in this regard. You will be required to enter a licence with us governing the use of this software. However, even though we may have provided this software to you we do not own it and so this licence will also support the rights of the third party, which owns the software. We consider that the use of this software is necessary to deliver and enhance our customer service to you and so, if you decide not to install this software, we may not be able to resolve any installation and/or connection problems you may experience. In addition, we will not be liable to you for any matter that may arise as a result of your failure to do so. By installing this software you will also allow us access to your PC so that we can diagnose and fix any problems you have encountered with your connection to the Service. You hereby authorise us to have such remote access. You acknowledge that this paragraph is subject to clause 9.4 but that its provisions shall not affect your statutory rights.”
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