Still on dialup at home, I’m using NTL’s Freedom service, whereby you pay £15 per month and get unlimited internet use on an 0800 number, but have to make your phone calls through them. If you make less than £15 of calls per month, the bill is rounded up to £15; make more, and the internet effectively comes free.

For the past two days the wife and I have been unable to check our mail – even though the NTL status page insists email is now fine.

Nope, it isn’t.

telnet pop.ntlworld.com 110
Trying 62.253.162.50...
Connected to pop.ntlworld.com.
Escape character is '^]'.
+OK InterMail POP3 server ready.
user XXX
+OK please send PASS command
pass YYY
-ERR mail storage services unavailable, wait a few minutes and try again.
Connection closed by foreign host.

Of course most people can’t use the terminal, so their email program will say “Incorrect user or password!” which will throw them into fits. “The status page says email’s OK.. what have I done wrong?”

And no, I’m not about to dial a premium-rate line to speak to India to find out that they don’t know when the email problem in the UK will be fixed.

This may be temporary. But a friend in the nearby town had an NTL broadband contract. She was moving and wanted to transfer it to the new house. After an infuriatingly fruitless few days spent trying to get through to a person, she rang the disconnection line instead. Result: NTL lost a broadband customer, who has moved to BT.

I’m not sure it’s going to keep this one either for long after May, to be honest.

Update 4.30pm: pretty much as soon as I posted, email came back. Hmm, tolerable, but I’ve already abandoned using the NTLWorld SMTP server in favour of Postfix on my own machine. Some email gets bounced as spam (because it’s from a dialup) but you’d be surprised how much ain’t. Quick and free.