Advantages 3 in 1 package - competitively priced
Disadvantages Slow Digi-box set-top
|Customer service quality|
|Customer service waiting times|
|Tariffs & Charges|
|Accuracy of Charges|
|Range of services (call waiting, etc)|
|Value for money|
I moved home, after 7 years at my previous address at the end of July 05 and used the opportunity to look at my out goings and service providers, which included landline telephone provider, internet service provider, and stat-alite (or should we call it multi-rubbish channel provider) providers.After beginning my research and seeing a very good deal that suited me down to the ground immediately, I actually continued with a process that is usually reserved for my female friends when shopping on a Saturday, or any (for that matter), afternoon ... and that, my readers, was to persist with the task in hand and continue looking endlessly, for hours, for a product that would not better the first product I had set my eyes on, and that satisfy my requirements. I am obviosuly spending far too much time with the girls in the office ... I always used to know what I wanted and be straight in and out (ahem!).
Anyway, on with the review ... I decided to direct BT (my previous landline service provider), Zen (Broadband provider), and Sky (Satellite television provider) to the rubbish dump, where they could duly tear up my bank details and prevent themselves from taking any further monies from my bank account, full of my hard earned pennies .... and I really do mean pennies. It seemed quite logical and fairly obvious to me that consolidation was the way forward, and that the future was not orange, but sort of purple, lime green and emerald ... or, more specifically, in the hands of the ladies and gentlemen at NTL.I saw a 3 in 1 package for NTL advertised on TV prior to my house move and wondered whether there had been any divine intervention in the future choice of my adult themed activites via telephone, television and interent ... Of course, there hadn't because I don't do that kind of thing. However, it is one of those oddities of life that you often don't take complete note of all advertisements that are around you, because ... errr ... well ...., because, for one, there are that many around us these days ... just take the web for a start, with all the pop up advertisements for ... well, I don't really know .... and then you can now see advertisements on the doors of hackney cabs ... crikey, they will be painted on the local school gates shortly.... one of the big cereal companies or something silly (Now, there is an idea ... I should be in Marketing! (C) for that idea owned by me 24/01/06). And, number two, you focus more upon the advertsiments that are most reelevant to you at any particular stage in your life. Therefore, it is probable that the NTL advert I had seen was a long standing advert about a 3 in 1 package, but that matters not now, as I have purchased it.
I managed to negotiate, or at least it seemed to appear that I negotiated, a package with Family television (plus dual sports, which includes Sky sports free for a month), a landline (with my old BT number swapped over - I had to give BT 3 months notice though), plus 1MB Broadband with unlimited access (very handy for logging on to Ciao and trying to assist people in making informed purchases about a variety of consumer products), all for the remarkable price of £480 per month ... no, only joking ... that would be the charge for 15 months. The charge is actually £32 per month, plus any telephone charges, and the minimum contract period - like most of these contracts - is 12 months.The telephone line rental is the basic package as I utilise my mobile telephone more so than the landline, but there are a range of different unlimited talk plans providing flexibility based upon your needs and they are certainly competitive when compared with alternative telecoms providers. There is usually a monthly rental charge for a package, with minimal connection charges for telephone calls, and then no additional charges unless you are on the telephoen for longer than an hour without a break in connection.
The television package provides a whole host of additional digital satellite channels in addition to your 5 typical UK terrestrial channels - BBC1, BBC2, ITV, Channel 4, Channel 5. The channels include a host of documentary, travel, shopping, sports, childrens, music, and comedy channels, such as MTV, Sky Sports 1-3, Sky Sports News, Sky 1, Sky News, UK TV Gold, Comedy Channel, History Channel, E4, Discovery. You may note that I have failed to mention Movies ... one of my passions .... I always find the movies offered on Satellite television to be largely repetitive and not all that entertaining, so I decided not to include this within my monthly package, something I had actually discarded from my Sky television package in my final year of subscription with them. I much prefer to purchase DVDs anyway, especially as I can review them for the good people here at Ciao!!The digibox provided is a little slow and doesn't quite follow a logical order in terms of the numbering of the channels, which takes a little time to get used to. The constant freezing of the screen when you try to change channels can also become a little tiresome and annoying, but it's just one of those things you learnt to be accustomed with.
Another complaint I would have about NTL is that when the order arrived for installation, the order sheet was lacking the vital information pertaining to the broadband internet access, which was actually the most important thing for me at a time when I had little time on my hands and needed to do internet banking, especially with finances being a priority after moving house ... typical ... c'est la vie! I called NTL and they had no record of the order, despite it being a 3 in 1 package !! Therefore, a second engineer had to come out later in the week, and I had to get away from work for a few hours to let him in to do the job ... not an easy swerve at the time.Finally, in terms of the customer service element, and this is a STRONG WORD OF ADVICE, as I wasn't overly impressed with the response I received ... On my second bill from NTL, I noticed an additional charge for £15.00, which I immediately queried. I aked why there was a £15.00 charge for an "additional digi box"? The response I received was not, are you sure a 2nd box wasn't delivered sir, or have you not ordered a 2nd box? But, ah yes, that quite frequently occurs, it is a billing error..., we will amend the bill for you and credit the £15.00 to your next bill. I later questioned to a friend whether NTL pro-actively research bill errors, or allow them to go unnoticed, charging customers for an additional set box, until it is spotted. The answer I may never know, but it made me wonder.
Overall, I am happy with the facilities and service I have for the price I pay. It could be cheaper, but, it's competitive.So, what is the future for convergent services and is this the way forward? At the moment, I feel that there is room for the consolidation of services, to lower price, as you find with the tour operators, who combine the costs of air-fares, with local transfers and hotel accommodatoin to provide us with low cost holidays we would not be able to put together cheaper ourselves. However, is a short-term gain necessarily a long-term winner? I am not so sure in this particular market. At the moment, there is a great deal of competition from smaller companies providing individually tailored services and products, who are competing with the larger brands within the market place, such as BT, Sky and NTL. However, as the larger companies combine services to reduce costs for themselves and to the end user, smaller companies will eventually be eeked out, because they are facing spiralling costs and cannot compete with the big boys. It is a phase and process that happens in most industries, with the smaller companies being swallowed up by the larger ones in a consolidated market. This will leave no more than 5-6 big players, who will eventually drive the price up long-term, to a level above the rate of inflation. Therefore, there may be both short and long-term advantages to utilising different suppliers and not putting all our eggs in one basket ... for one, it makes for a competitive market with longevity, but then ... I could be wrong !!
The choice is ultimately yours, but hopefully I have given you food for thought. If you look at my ratings below for the service, you may wonder why I am recommending the product at all, but I generally find a poor level of customer service across all industries in the UK, especially when compared with other countires, and thus my level expectation is set much lower. Therefore, to me, it is a good product as per my level of expectation (If that makes sense?!) .... Happy converging.
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