TalkTalk scraps line rental to repair hack-damaged brand

One big reboot.

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LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images
LEON NEAL/AFP/Getty Images

TalkTalk's image has suffered since it was hit by a "significant and sustained cyberattack" in June 2015. The hack affected its bottom line too, cutting profits from £32 million to £14 million last May. To aid its recovery, the quad-play provider is attempting a mass reboot today that includes retooled packages, new guarantees and a fresh marketing campaign. The biggest change is an "all-in" pricing model which, similar to Vodafone, bundles in your line rental fee. The company telegraphed this move back in May, and says it'll put "an end to complex, confusing packages."

To keep its most loyal customers, TalkTalk is also making it easier to change packages. If you've been with the company for at least three months, that means you can switch plans immediately, no questions asked. The idea being that longtime subscribers are often irritated by the promotions and cut-price deals offered to new customers. They want the same plan, but find they're not allowed until another six or 12 months, once they've completed their current contract. The reasons are obvious -- providers like to bolster their subscriber base with tempting deals, then convert and retain its established customers on more expensive plans.

The other pet-peeve? Contracts that shoot up in price unexpectedly. Well, according to TalkTalk, both of these problems have now been eradicated. In addition to easy package switching, the company is promising to price-fix new plans for 18 months. That means no rises or "bill shock" until your second year, at the very least. "We've listened hard to what they've told us and we're acting on it," Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk's Consumer Managing Director said. "People are fed up of confusing packages and loud advertising, they're frustrated with deals which shoot up mid contract, and they hate seeing the best deals saved for new customers."

The final step in TalkTalk's multi-part refresh is a new approach to advertising. Taking aim at EE and Three, it's promised to avoid "celebrity-driven" and "shouty" ads, focusing instead on real customers. A new "family matters" video will give you a sense of what it's shooting for:

TalkTalk has long been known as a cheap alternative to BT, Sky and Virgin Media. Sure, the service isn't quite the same -- its speeds are often slower, and its TV packages are a bit naff -- but it's competent enough and keeps your monthly outgoings low. Since the hack, however, that image has changed. A cheaper bill is harder to swallow when you're worried about the security of your personal data. TalkTalk's reputation as a low-cost provider is also under threat from brands such as Vodafone, Plusnet and Relish. To survive and rebound, it needs to bury its troubled past, and fast.

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