TalkTalk marches OneTel users into a brave new email world

You will be upgraded, whether you want to be or not

The UK's favourite* telecoms outfit, TalkTalk, has continued its impressive track record of delighting customers with a forced upgrade of legacy users to the shiny new TalkTalk Mail.

"We'll be upgrading your email in a few days," the company breathlessly told Register reader Martin Parker, skipping over the fact that his legacy account would actually be toast by the following day.

TalkTalk has form when it comes to this sort of thing. Last year the company warned holders of legacy Tiscali emails accounts to expect to start paying the company some money or face the prospect of shuttered mailboxes.

It is now the turn of the legacy OneTel email platform (acquired in 2006) to receive a forceful nudge into the TalkTalk light.

While messages should survive the update, the calendar, contact list, and message rules won't.

The upgrade of the email addresses of the former Centrica offshoot kicked off in September, and the company told The Register that emails were sent to customers warning them the upgrade was happening, with a further email sent five days before the migration was due to occur.

For Parker, it was quite a bit less than five days. It was less than one.

Complicating matters further is that once upgraded, customers can no longer use the OneTel email platform, and must log in via TalkTalk's Mail interface. TalkTalk told us: "This upgrade does come with benefits, in comparison to the old email platform it is more reliable and super secure."

Getting into it, however, is an entirely different matter. Parker is not alone – a glance at TalkTalk's forums indicates that things are not going swimmingly for former OneTel customers. One found that, since the upgrade, their previous login credentials no longer worked and complained: "I cannot believe how the instructions are so muddled and unclear."

While TalkTalk's staffers insisted that users needed to switch to using their full email address rather than just their old username, others have continued to struggle. And yes, like those other legacy platforms, you'll need a paid-up TalkTalk account.

We contacted TalkTalk, and the company confirmed that those who did not wish to use its broadband would need to pay to use its email service.

"TalkTalk Mail is a service we offer free to our 4.2 million broadband customers. However, providing high quality and secure email comes at a cost to our business, and we don't think it's fair that our current customers should subsidise those who are no longer with us.

"For that reason, we ask for a small charge of £5.00 per month, or £50.00 if you pay in advance for a year. You are free to cancel your account at any point – there's no contract. If you are paying a year in advance and want to cancel early, you will get a pro-rata refund based how much of your annual subscription is left."

The company also insisted it had given plenty of notice that TalkTalk Mail Plus had a charge, and that those less than keen on the idea could potter off to an alternative provider.

In the meantime, the last word belongs to Parker, who told us: "I will miss my old Onetel account. We had a lot of good times together.

"TalkTalk I won't miss." ®

* It's not [PDF].

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