Tesco’s VoIP service

You can buy everything in the supermarket these days. Last night I was doing our grocery shopping in Tesco (I hate the fact that they make so much money, that they are alleged to be anti-competitive, that I find their customer service to be appalling, and that the shelves are half empty after the weekend, but for some reason I still shop there for the grocery items that we don’t buy locally – generally in person rather than online) and I came out with two Tesco Internet Phone voice over IP (VoIP) handsets…

Tesco Internet Phone
…So there I was, back home, groceries packed away, with some new toys to play with. I’ve been avoiding VoIP up until now but the Tesco deal included two USB handsets and £10 of call credit for £30 (i.e. £20 net), with promises of 2p a minute call charges to fixed phone lines and selected international calls, free calls to other Tesco Internet Phone subscribers and just 10p a minute to mobile (cell) phones. I reckon that at those rates we ought to be able to save some money on our daytime calls (probably not in the evening though) and my wife should be able to call me for free, whenever I’m at my PC and connected to a broadband Internet connection (anywhere in the world). I’m sure Skype is just as competitive but I was put off Skype a few years back when I used it for instant messaging (in addition, SkypeIn and Skype Voicemail are subscription-based, whereas the Tesco Internet Phone offering includes a land line number and voicemail with no ongoing fees, just pay-as-you-go call charges).

Installation of the software was easy, although I found it strange that the phone software was downloaded from the Internet even when installation was launched from the setup CD. One minor complaint would be that I needed to change the capitalisation on the default foldername and program group names but apart from that I just needed to decide whether or not I wanted a desktop icon.

Upon launching the phone software, I needed to let my firewall unblock tescoip.exe but that was a simple click when prompted by the firewall software (the two PCs I used had either Windows Firewall or Zone Labs Integrity Client installed) and then (somewhat confusingly) register online (not as part of the setup wizard) to get a phone number and a password. Although the instructions had led me to believe that I would get a choice of numbers with a local area code based on the supplied post code, in practice it’s not quite that straightforward. Tesco don’t yet support multiple numbers on a single account, so I had two separate account registrations running in parallel to get consecutive numbers for myself and my wife. That worked but, for some strange reason, the process provides four-digit area codes (UK area code prefixes are generally 3 or 5 digits) and none of the towns local to me (Northampton, Wellingborough, Bedford or Milton Keynes) were offered. The closest I could get was Luton (normally 01582, but 0158 according to Tesco), which I believe is still classified as a local call from our area (Bedford – 01234), but not for my family and friends in Northampton (01604). Once the registration process was complete, the account required activation, using a link in an e-mail, following which I could finally complete the setup wizard and connect the USB handset.

Everything looked good until I made a test call between my two Tesco Internet Phone accounts and spent the next hour trying to work out why I could make a call and hear the phone ring, but then there was no-one there when I picked up the call. After playing with firewall settings on the client and my ADSL router (creating various rules to allow UDP port 4569), I found that the issue was much simpler than that – the setup routine had simply left the volume for the soft phone turned right down to zero! Once I had sorted that out, I successfully connected to the test line (*70001234) and set up my voicemail (*123) but was still having problems when I tried calling between my two Tesco Internet Phone accounts (the phone stopped ringing at the receiving end but was still ringing for the caller). That turned out to be a mismatch on my voicemail settings, where the delay before diverting is set both in the phone software and in my online account details.

Tesco Internet Phone

The Tesco Internet Phone service is based on Firefly from Australian VoIP operator Freshtel (not to be confused with Firefly mobile). Using the system is relatively straightforward and calls can be made using either the soft phone on the PC or the USB handset. Status can be set (online, busy, away or invisible), notifications shown when contacts come online (as for many instant messaging clients) and contacts can be either other Tesco Internet Phone users (with status), or normal phone numbers (invisible status). The phone software itself is actually Virbiage Cubix, skinned to Tesco’s design and I’m sure there are other themes available as Virbiage have published a Cubix Skinning Guide.

From my point of view the jury’s still out on Tesco’s VoIP service. The installation routine could do with some work, the online help is patchy (at the time of writing) and the call quality seems a bit tinny (but that happens with cheap handsets on fixed phone lines too)… we’ll see how I get on over the next few weeks. Right now the first disappointment is that my Vodafone
mobile (cell) phones report connection errors when dialling my VoIP number (it works from a BT fixed line though).

For those who want to know a bit more about VoIP, the BBC has an article on making calls over the ‘net. For the more technically inclined, try the general VoIP information and reference. Finally, here’s the press release from last months launch of the Tesco Internet Phone service.

107 thoughts on “Tesco’s VoIP service


  1. Tesco is receiving lots of complaints due to the lack of area codes available. Some customers from certain stores cannot choose a local(ish) number, in some cases the nearest choice is over 100miles away. It should have never been rolled out to stores until “freshtel” had made sure all area codes were available to customers. Also there’s loads of routing problems as some people cannot dial a TESCO INTERNET phone number from BT lines or other networks.

    They don’t even have an area code for large sities like Brimingham or Nottingham etc etc, yet have a code for small market towns like Saxmundham or Pickering


  2. Agree with above. No area codes for hardly anywhere that they’re selling these phones. No Leeds or Bradford or Wakefield or York just as an example in yorkshire, yet they have a code for places not much bigger than a village. It’s a con – you don’t get to find this out until you get halfway though registering. Also have heard nobody can call the tesco number from BT numbers, so what’s the point of it all. Shouldn’t be rolled out until available for all and works properly.


  3. As I said in the original post, I could pick a code that was local (i.e. charged as a local call from my area) but it wasn’t the area code that my BT line uses.

    Contrary to the other comments, I can call the Tesco number from BT, but it doesn’t seem to work from Vodafone.

    Mark


  4. Well, I said the jury was out… and I took my two VOIP handsets back to Tesco tonight.

    The service just doesn’t cut it (frankly I think it was launched before it was ready). Aside from the lack of local area codes, the poor call quality and an inability to accept calls from Vodafone, the final straw for me was when I couldn’t even get a call to connect to another landline number (whether or not that was a BT number I don’t know – I guess it could have been unbundled, but sounds unlikely as the destination was in a rural location).

    To “Paul” in the electrical department at Tesco Extra in Milton Keynes (Kingston) – Tesco Internet Phone is not “just Skype”. That’s like saying that a Dyson is a Hoover (certainly in the UK, Hoover is not just a brand, but a generally accepted synonym for a vacuum cleaner – maybe Skype has become a synonym for VoIP).

    The good news is that although Tesco are currently offering a £9.94 discount for buying a pair of Tesco Internet Phone handsets, they didn’t apply the multisave when refunding my card so at least I was paid something for my troubles!

    Mark


  5. Have you considered trying an unlocked VOIP phone adapter? Basically, you can get one of these and sign up with seperate outgoing and incoming VOIP providers like sipgate, or voipbuster.
    That way you are not tied in to a single provider, and you are able to select whoever has the best service/price/etc.

    Kevin


  6. Good idea Kevin – but the Tesco phones were an impulse purchase and I’ll probably leave it for now (we don’t make many calls anyway). Sipgate looks particularly attractive (and has stack of information on the site, including available area codes). The VoipBuster site is a little less informative.


  7. I am a novice on computor but going to america later this year with family who also work for me, thought pay as you go tesco voip would be ok for secretary to phone mobile from office or her home, am I being stupid to think it is more complicated than install cd,plug in phone and go, sorry don’t understand the technical jargon, do you think pay as you go is best option initially will be phoning to tmobile in usa? help


  8. t should be as easy as install CD, plug in phone, then make calls, but given my experience with Tesco’s VoIP service, I wouldn’t be sure that you can call or receive calls to/from all networks.

    There is an alternative to VoIP that I used when I worked in Australia a few years back – I set up an account with a low cost international phone company (I used One.Tel although they’ve since been taken over so might not offer the same type of service). That way I could still make and receive low cost international phone calls (I think it was about 4p a minute back then) and all I, or my family back home, had to do was dial a 4 digit prefix before the international (or local) phone number.

    As for using your cellphone abroad, it’s generally accepted that the best way to get good local rates is to buy a pay-as-you-talk SIM locally, although it may be worth talking to your network to see what deals they can do on international roaming.

    Hope this helps, Mark


  9. thanks Mark,really was hoping to use voip of some sort as conversations will probably be around 1 hour I should think so thought this was best idea, any other suggestions,if I have to sign to a monthly payment which supplier do you reckon with ease and cost effectiveness as obviously we could continue to use in the office anyway, we are bt broadband and bt landline.Thanks


  10. I just bought the phone and downloaded drivers and internet calls.com
    Bit confused about how to use the thing as I can only dial from the handset, if I manually clear the on screen box. Also, unable to drop call from the handset. How much does it cost to get inbound phone number or can I use the tesco stuff also?


  11. Hi all, thanks for your info, was nearly tempted to buying Tesco until I spoke to a friend who supplies mobile phone who says the problem with voip is that it has to be made to landlines USING voip only? is this right as I don’t know anyone on voip and was only buying the phones for my office landline to contact me on mobile in america? sounds like better to buy pack of international mins to phone mobiles? any suggestions, just hoping to have business to come back to, thats if the staff turn in!!


  12. As far as I know, it should be possible make VoIP calls to non-VoIP users (such calls would be passed through a gateway to the public phone networks) but calls like that would not normally be free; however my experience with Tesco was that there were problems with VoIP between Tesco and other networks.

    Mark


  13. Stoneyman –
    Using the internet calls site is not free.
    You get a couple of days free trial to landlines, then you have to top-up. Credit remains for max 120 days even if only free calls are made. They want an initial 10 euros plus tax comes to 11.6 euros. That’s £8 or 15 pence a day. So what at first looks a great deal isn’t so great, unless you use the phone a lot.


  14. Anonymous you are correct that internet calls is not absolutely free. But I make £8.28 / 120 less than 7p per day. Tesco want 2p a minute.
    I have used the phone successfully on Skype although with it and Internet Calls I have had problems dialing from the handset. As both programmes allow you to set up contacts this is no hardship.
    Internet calls for the £8.28 also give you a free incoming number and they also offer call forwarding at their standard rates. i.e free to a uk landline.
    If you are interested in cheap phone calls I highly recommend Martin Lewis’s http://www.moneysavingexpert.com. Go to his Call Checker. If you read his info I do not think you will bother with Tesco.


  15. VoIP is very rarely free for everything. All providers have costs to cover and free doesn’t always mean good. Sure, Tesco is more expensive than many, but they don’t claim to be the cheapest either – just less than BT!

    There are other things to weigh up too, like line/call quality, having to be at your PC to make VoIP calls (unless you have cordless VoIP equipment) and the prospect that your ISP may block VoIP traffic.

    VoIP’s not for everyone. And very few VoIP packages are cheap/free for every circumstance. I just posted my experience with Tesco’s service here, which will probably be fine one day but in my opinion was launched before all the technology infrastructure was in place (e.g. the ability to place calls between Tesco and major UK networks like BT and Vodafone).


  16. I’ve paid my money to internet calls.com and have been given a number. The service works very well, much better than that of Tesco. The only problem I have found is that I can’t use the hang up button on my Tesco handset which is a bit annoying. Have to do it on the lappy. Any way around this? I installed the net2phone drivers.


  17. I have just purchased the Tesco phones and downloaded them ok, the number is ok for my region and it phoned bt and vice versa,I am going abroad soon and will leave the phone for family to contact me, thought all calls received abroad incurred the cost including the costs to go via different call agents? also after reading the reviews can I still change to another supplier and keep the Tesco phone or is it locked?


  18. Just picked two of these handsets up at tesco as they are doing them at £19.99 for one or £30 for 2.

    Not bothered with the tesco software yet, though will proberly set up one account to use the £5 vouchers.

    I currently use http://www.sipgate.co.uk and have got these handsets to work no problem. You need to download sipgates free software phone and the X-TEN driver from here

    http://www.yamamoto-group.co.uk/index.php?page=download

    install the driver first then install the sipgate dialer and away you go.

    Lee


  19. Purchased a tesco internet phone today. The handset will not dial and the help line said that it was due to the software and that they hope to have it sorted out in the next few weeks. WHY ARE THEY SELLING THIS WHEN THEY KNOW IT DOES NOT WORK CORRECTLY!!!


  20. returned the tesco phones and went to maplins who were doing 2 phones for 20. I am now using skype from office pc and phoned abroad and mobikles and landlines, all seems ok and calls seem cheap enough, my pc`s in the office are networked but have only downloaded on 1 machine does anyone know how to use same account on another machine or can’t it be done?


  21. You can log into skype on the same account from different machines on a LAN but I would be surprised if it works simultaneously.

    I note the Tesco phones are down to a tenner. Is there any more feedback on using them for Skype?


  22. I’ve tried Tesco VoIP for about a week and technically I am quite happy with it. Calls to landlines are cheaper with Skype, but calls to 0845/70 numbers are far cheaper with Tesco (in line with BTs I think). And, coupled with Martin Lewis’s call checker as mentioned in a previous comment, you can get 1p/min to landlines and 4p/min to mobiles, so I am happy with that situation.

    Plus you get an inbound number as part of the deal. What’s not to like?

    Well, I’ll tell you. The most awful customer services section that it has ever been my misfortune to encounter. I’m not going to go into details but I pray I never have to contact them again once my current (non-technical) dispute is resolved. The weird thing is that it was such a different experience from Tesco’s online shopping customer service. Different section I suppose and in fact I wonder if the VoIP lot are even Tesco employees.


  23. Got these yesterday and so far work fine, right codes, connected ok one for me one for the missus, where can I get themes for the software tho?


  24. Well, despite a lot of negative comments here, I bought a Tesco phone and managed to install it without fuss. I got a local number, but agree there are some areas missing yet, and can make calls to and from it via my Telewest and Orange lines. Could also take and make calls with BT lines when tested.
    Skype is OK for some calls, but other user has to be on Skype too. With the Tesco phone they could be on any normal phone as well. My only negatives are that the supplied handset it tinny sounding, there’s a delay in speech and email support is terrible. Had some probs getting my voicemail, tells me the person isn’t available.
    I work on hospital radio and we’ve added a Tesco phone as backup as the main BT line we have is often busy when there’s a competition on etc. The new phone can be used for people like myself, working on techie stuff there and needing to talk things through with other people. As calls between Tesco phones are free then that’s a big bonus to us.
    For the price I’m not complaining, I’ve got a new phone number with no ongoing charges and it is getting used.


  25. does the tesco credit run out after so many days if not used as i want to use it for talking to our daughter at uni and not use it to make any other calls


  26. My wife works for Tesco & my son has a temp job there whilst home from Uni. Basically they (all Tesco staff) have been given vouchers to buy the phones with extra discounts meaning the phones will cost about £3 each & thats with the £5 credit. So, theoretically they are paying us to use them. I wouldn’t want to use them initially for making other calls but for our son to connect his to his pc when he goes back to Uni. In this way we would talk for free, hopefully. Is this the way it would work? If so I can’t see how we could lose by using them. Any thoughts?


  27. hay i was wondering how the heck can i get my phone set up???? you see i use aol and it wont except the files needed andsays files are in diffrent format and thats all i can say ive tried verious ways to get it to work but no joy.grrrrrrrrrrrrrr dam phone


  28. ok i bought 2 hand sets, 1 for me and the other for my gf. I installed my gf with no problem, however when i install mine it wont install the drivers for the handset to work, is there a web site to download the drivers for the tesco phone other then the 1 they ask you to d/l from the disc, its doin my head in proper


  29. hi i have a celleron D processor will tesco phones work ok with it im not technical minded so please keep any reply simple like me thanks


  30. Got one of these phones today got my local code and calls to all other phones are perfect. Think these phones are great most of my family have either got them or going to get them, so its very worth while for me since my bird spends hours on the phone. only problem i phoned is that my 3 mobile will not let me call the tesco phone.

    Regards
    Al


  31. I have a tesco phone and have no problems with it.
    Also note, that these phones can be used on the Skype service too. Just go into the sound settings on skype and select usb adio device.


  32. I have just bought a tesco itnernet phone too. I find the quality of it to be alright, but there is a few problems i have that seems to be happening to others. Some calls to certain landlines just dont work. Again, i cant work out if its an unbundled number, but its annoying. I also have the symbols on my handset which nobody at tesco know what they mean. Its almost different everytime i boot the PC. On the handest, right hand side in the middle, displays either TR, TS, WE, and i think it was TU. Any ideas?

    RuffG


  33. I bought a tesco handset about a month ago for £20. I’m utterly gobsmacked that Tesco would allow something as poor as this to be sold in their brand. The product is completely appauling. The voicemail works once in a blue moon and when the computer is turned off, calls from BT and others just show number not known.
    Customer service treats callers like cretins – given the other leads here the problems are well known and the customer service should be better called the fob-off number.


  34. currently tesco has a problem with their voicemail service, the helpdesk people know about this, cant do anything about it and don’t know when its going to be fixed, its down to the techies behind it all.


  35. Thought this would interest all who are thinking abut buying an Tesco internet phone or skype voip style phone. At the moment if you relative or friend who lives outside the uk would like a tesco internet phone you need to buy it from tesco and send it to them if they live outside of the uk. The tesco internet phone is £14.97 at the moment offer ends 20th August and has no line rental and gives cheap calls to landlines and mobiles and free calls to any other tesco internet phone (ANY WHERE IN THE WORLD).

    You can get your friends and relatives to look on ebay as there are people advertising new tesco internet phones that ship worldwide.

    There are also some free tesco internet phone offers (ktvision) are running one. I have three tesco internet phones running on 3 laptops with a different area code for each one giving the impression that i have an office in london one in glassgow and one in manchester. You would be supprised at the difference that makes to your status when the customer thinks you have major branches.


  36. Well I installed the Tesco phone without a hitch. I was up and running in under 5 mins, made and received calls and had a voice mail. Very easy to set up and use.

    But the big question, will I use it?

    Probably not, although this is not a negative on the Tesco option but rather the fact that I have so many options available to me.

    For me though VoIP is not about saving money (makes me laugh when people talk about ‘rip off prices’ when a call is 0.8p more expensive. How many people are on the phone that much to make much of a dent in the wallet? And remember to factor in all aspects of the service – mobile calls, inbound numbers, mailbox charges, set up charges etc) but about making my life simpler. I like the fact that contacts are listed and can be called with a simple click of the mouse. Ideally integrated with my email contacts list, which is downloaded to my mobile. When I miss a call, I want the vmail to hit my email account where I can replay it, delete it or even send it on to someone else. I like to see when someone is online or busy and can then decide to call them later rather than leave a vmail. These are just some of the features that make VoIP interesting to me.

    Funny thing though, we are all VoIP users without knowing it. If you make an international call, at some point the call probably will travel over IP anyway. Carriers have been using VoIP in the network for years – it’s cheaper to install and maintain than traditional phone equipment – but I digress.

    For me I see at least 4 options:

    1) Stick with the BT or an alternative traditional supplier, blowing off the dust of the phone in the corner. Check around and you can get some very low rates with inclusive minutes. Downside is you have to pay the line rental – but probably need to keep a fixed line with most VoIP solutions anyway (not all support 999/911 and will not work if you loose power).

    2) Go for a service that mimics the traditional phone using an adaptor, such as Vonage, Voztel etc. Get some features and you do not need the PC on to make a call. The adaptor plugs into the broadband router and becomes a telephone socket.

    3) Use a PC based softphone solution such as voipgate, Tesco etc. You need the PC on, but get the great VoIP features I like. If you travel with a laptop, you have your line wherever you are. Calling between users is free.

    4) Use a community based service such as MSN, Skype, Yahoo etc for IM, Presence, video and voice. All internal calls are free, and you can buy credit to make outside calls. You can even share documents and photos. Your contacts though generally have to have an account with the same provider.

    I will probably have a mixture of all of these, cause I like playing with technology, and not all my contacts use the same service.

    One other point, most people point to the VoIP service as causing quality issues. Apart from the quality of the broadband connection, the biggest impact is the audio device. So buy a decent headset and you will be fine.


  37. Mark,
    Thanks for your comprehensive and insightful comments, which pretty much sum up what any of us need to consider when deciding on the suitability of a VOIP service provider.

    I’ve never had as many comments on a blog post as this one has generated – that tells me that the Tesco service is, at the very least, contraversial. When I tested it a few months back I said that “The service just doesn’t cut it (frankly I think it was launched before it was ready). Aside from the lack of local area codes, the poor call quality and an inability to accept calls from Vodafone, the final straw for me was when I couldn’t even get a call to connect to another landline number.”

    That about sums it up. The Tesco Internet Phone service sounds good, is reasonably priced (in my opinion) and on the face of it looks to offer a reasonable VOIP service. Customer service may be questionable, but that’s just about normal for Tesco. The major issue though is that until they can guarantee that calls can be made and received from all networks, then a Tesco Internet Phone is about as much use as a chocolate teapot.

    That was my experience back when the service was launched – I hope things are better now.

    Mark


  38. Hi Everyone

    Am just writing to say I have just purchased the Tesco internet phone yesterday and so far so good!

    I can call out to all uk numbers and made a call to someone in America Today. All Uk numbers apart from 3 can call the phone.

    The reception is good, you can hear a bit of an echo but for the money I think they are great.


  39. bought the tesco internet phone today… we cant find telfords area code on the registration … a few people said they had the same problem what should i do? use the closest town/city to telford which is nearly 20miles away???

    please help!


  40. I guess the thing to do is to think about which area codes will be local for most people trying to call you (I think BT counts adjacent codes as local) so if Telford is not available you could try Shrewsbury (for example), but that wouldn’t count as a local call for people in Wolverhampton, etc.

    Mark


  41. Here is some installation advice, based on my initial experience with Tesco’s internet phone. In spite of what it says in the instructions about being able to use a USB hub, don’t. Doing so can cause all sorts of problems, including the error message ‘Drivers not installed’. I spent a couple of hours sorting out my installation before I discovered what the problem was. Another no-no is USB extension leads. The only sure way is to plug directly into a port on your PC. That said, I thought the lead on the phone could have done with being a bit longer.
    Other than that, I am quite happy with my Tesco phone.


  42. WOW, QUITE AN EXPERIENCE …. calls out, no problem. but calls IN a disaster … ++ voicemail settings have a mind of their own, changing as far as I can tell at random … and worst of all try a call from somewhere that has a switchboard (ALL my customers) and I have found it either sounds out engaged or doesn’t ring at all.

    Sorry, I said otherwise had no problem with calls out, but sometimes calls to voicemail *123 (Tesco Voicenmail) register as 123 (BT speaking clock!!). If this happens then you get charged … I know it’s the “petty cash” but that’s why we bother with VoIP.

    As for the so-called help desk, need I say more???? What a MESS! They mean well but are over-run with problems.

    I don’t want to sound as if I’m just a trouble-mongering clown (actually an IT professional … is that the same thing??) so feel free to email me if you share my concerns that this is a release before it was a tested piece of software …

    Join me and give me some REAL evidence and experience & I’ll take it all the way to Leahy at the top of Tesco

    I’ve sceen grabbed every step of my mess … your screen graps would help!

    david.wynn@lineone.net


  43. Hi, just thought that you would like to know that for expats this is GREAT!! My friend sent me a phone and now we can speak to all the family for free provided they go out and buy a phone. Yes there can be a time delay (echo) but we get that anyway from time to time even on vodaphone. I doubt we will use it all the time, but when we want to speak to the kids or grandkids..its free!! Can’t say fairer than that!! Oh and by the way..no international area codes either….am I worried..naaaaaaaaaa!!


  44. I bought one of these phones about a month ago and haven’t had the slightest problem at all.

    Installed easily enough and once i’d played with the configuration settings etc i’ve been able to ring out and receive incoming calls without any problems.

    Bought another a couple of weeks ago to send to the USA and have spent hours since chatting away to family over there without it costing me a penny, wonderful.

    They had a few problems setting it up but more to do with them not reading the help pages i think, i rang Customer services from here for them and found them very helpful.

    Obviously there are glitches to be sorted but the odd annoyance is acceptable to me, not so for business users maybe, but i’ve spent over three hours on the phone to the USA today and it hasn’t cost me anything, VERY ACCEPTABLE.


  45. I cannot get my tesco phone to work…it rings I hear them, but they cant hear me. Also normal BT line doesnt recognise my tesco no! I’m on a netgear wireless router is this the problem..any one help? mike


  46. i have the same problem, dials OK and rings when its answered they cannot hear me. All sound comes through my speakers not handset no matter how I change settings. I also have a netgear router. HELP!!


  47. Hi, same problem with the tesco internet phone and also using a netgear wireless router (phone rings, no sounds, i can hear them but they can’t hear me)-can anybody help????
    Jen


  48. I no longer have my Tesco phones – I took them back months ago but if you are having problems from behind a router it’s worth checking that the appropriate firewall ports are open. I would expect that to be affecting all routed connections though rather than just Netgear routers.

    HTH, Mark


  49. Hi everyone! I can’t help but agree with the comments about customer turn-off treating callers like cretins … I am using my second handset because I had hours of fun trying to get the first faulty one to work. Tesco seem to have fixed the Voicemail problems which to start with had a random settings feature. My biggest problem hasn’t been mentioned: NO-ONE CAN CALL A TESCO VoIP NUMBER IF THEY ARE BEHIND A SWITCHBOARD.

    What this means is that 99% of my business customers cannot call the number and colleagues staying in hotels etc cannot call the number. Customer “service” say it is a known problem but cannot tell me when it will be fixed.

    For the moment this service is unusable for a business person.


  50. Can anybody tell me (sorry if it’s a dumb question), can I use my Skype phone to call a Tesco voip customer, and if so is it free?


  51. Did anonymous on 15-07-06 find out how to instal their phone on AOL. I have just bought one and can’t instal it.


  52. Ok, so I bought my Tesco handset and software a few hours ago and just spent 10 minutes installing it. I’ve tested it on a mobile number and a landline and it was all working perfectly! There was a slightly annoying echo when I phoned the landline but nothing I can’t get used to.

    I’m at University and am spending loads calling home to speak to my Mam, so this is excellent as she’s just got herself one too – the installation was quick and easy so I think even she can do it!

    I’m quite excited about the possibility of free calls now as my mobile bills have been absolutely huge! The only drawback is having to be sat at my laptop whilst I speak, but I suppose a long conversation wouldn’t be done on the move anyway! Great stuff. I’m sure there are lots of technical difficulties, and I might encounter some, but my installation was absolutely fine, and so was ringing out [we’ll see about the incoming calls soon enough].

    The one thing I was considering was just downloading the software and not buying the installation CD and handset, but I wasn’t sure if a registration code was needed. It seems quite strange to have the installation CD when all it is really is a link to their website. Seems like a nifty way of making people buy the handsets instead of downloading the software for free.

    Slight ramble, sorry, but I thought a good experience with the phone might be nice. Obviously for business purposes or official calls then you may not be as excited as I am, haha.

    Good luck anyway.


  53. I purchased the cordless Tesco Phone, pleased with the service, but the handset is very poor quality. Now on my second replacment. Has anyone used a different cordless USB phone that works with Tesco?


  54. Hi message to anonymous who wanted to know what the tu we fr symbols were on the right hand side of the phone display – they are the days of the week !!! Got a Tesco voip phone pretty pleased, got dial code (01344)and an easy number to remember. Calls are a bit echoey, cant get it to work properly over a two user windows setup – phone only works on user that installed the phone software. Also computer takes an age to ‘be usuable’ when windows has loaded. Once its running its fine.


  55. I have just bought the Tesco Cordles Internet phone and dont want to use Tesco service, however phone wont register with the computer unless the Tesco client is loaded. Does anyone know where I can get a vanilla driver, or know who is the manufacturer of the DECT handset


  56. i purchased tesco int phone 1yr ago ideal if you have friends living abroad just purchased cordless model cant fault it saved around £1200 on phone calls this year.

    dont steal B T hates the competition


  57. I work from home and with three kids, the phone is theirs after they get home. So I thought I’d get the tesco internet phone as it aseemed to offere everything I need; a phone right at my desk /computer, can be answered if i’m about and go to voicemail if not.I thought I could give my new nukber to business colleagues but as other have mentioned, it doesn’t accept calls from “switchboards”. Actually it’s the ISDN system that gives the problem. My landline is ISDN and cannot call my tesco phone. My office has a system phone but is not ISDN, and can call the tesco phone no problem. Who can fix this?I would pay good money to be independent of my kids monopolising the phone….


  58. This is for all ppl interested in voip services have tringotel bcoz they have partnered with Sunrocket and there are additional features available in this company and the voice quality is awesome. I am using this service for several months and there are no issues till now.

    U GUYS ROCK!


  59. I’ve had my Tesco Internet phone for about 6 months. It works like a dream (fingers crossed). It’s my own house phone. No landline. I have a mobile phone as a backup, but haven’t needed it so far.


  60. Jeannette,
    Glad to hear that it’s working for you – it’s now a year since I originally wrote about my experiences and at the time I felt that they had gone to market with the product before it was ready. Hopefully now everything has settled down and they have many satisfied customers such as yourself.

    Mark


  61. I have a question – if you cancel your line rental with BT, does Broadband still remain active on that line? If so, then the Internet Phone would be great without line rental. Does anyone have a definite answer to that?


  62. Paul, Your Broadband connection does stay active when using the VOIP Phone.

    I like the Tesco Service but must say that the software used is terrible. It feels like it was coded in a hurry to meet the demand and I have had a few issues of how the software makesa nuisance of itself on start up. I have used MSCONFIG to stop the annoying pop-ups but the whole thing should be rewritten.

    If anyone knows a way I can log into my tesco account to use the credit I have without having to reinstall the software I would be more than interested to hear from you.


  63. Paul,
    My understanding of ADSL is that it is a service offered over your phone line providing both data and voice channels. In theory it could be offered without the voice component but to my knowledge BT do not have a product which does this. I’m pretty sure that if you cancelled your line rental with BT you would find the whole line was “cut off” – not just the “phone” – i.e. you would lose the “Broadband” element too.

    Mark


  64. thanks for feedback. I guess I’ll keep paying Line Rental for a bit longer.

    I have a Freshtel account, but on Vista, the Freshtel software loads the New Account Wizard each time my PC restarts. However the Tesco software also works with Freshtel accounts (Both use the VoiceDot Network), and Tesco seems to work with Vista.

    I’ve also tried to load the Freshtel “themes” and load them into the Tesco phone directory, but even both have the suffix “SK2”, I can’t get them to work. Any luck with Themes???


  65. Hiya Mark,
    Great discussion going on here…

    Just wondered if anyone had seen or used this http://www.phonefromhere.com

    It lets you make calls on your tesco phone account without the handset, just using you PC hooked up to the web. If you have a laptop with inbuilt mic and speakers all the better!

    Access to make calls from your account on the move :-)

    Cheers
    G


  66. Just for the record, I used the browser-based Tesco Internet Phone to dial the numbers that didn’t work when I tested the service last year and it all worked as expected. It wasn’t an exhaustive test but I guess Tesco have ironed out some of the early connection issues (as I said at the time, it seemed to have been launched prematurely).

    What was more impressive is that even though I haven’t logged on for over a year, my number was still active and my credit had not expired… how cynical of me to suspect that might not have been the case!


  67. Hi Mark

    Thanks for taking the time to try out our softphone

    Sorry, yes we did develop the Internet phone, it is a prototype for the software we have recently developed. We are looking to see if it is useful for people and how it works for them.

    But we are not Tesco and do not make any money from it :-)

    Maybe you or others will find it of some use – always happy to recieve feedback :-)

    Thanks again
    Georgia


  68. I was not very impressed with the phone, every thing was easy to set up, and get working. But when I went to use itunes the sound would always come out of the phone and not my load speakers. You could change itunes to use my sound card, so it would come out of the speakers. But then the phone calls would come out of load speakers, and not the phone. So I gave up with it and chucked it in the bin.


  69. Tesco IP Phone! I finally purchased one of these a little while ago – and after it sitting on the shelf in my room for about 3 months (away on holidays etc) finally sat down this morning to install and register it.

    Ohh dear – what a performance! Running Win XP Home Edition with all up to date service and security packs installed, with Norton AV running as AV on PC – all good so far.

    However, loading the CD (which as someone else commented, takes you to a website to d/load the installer – why???) as soon as I connect to the website, it closes and does not save the file. Did the obvious and checked security settings etc, all ok!

    No joy!

    Then connect to the website manually and goto the help section (written by a 8 year old judging by the total LACK of any real help content!! sorry to any 8 year olds reading this, not insulting you!!) and downloaded the installer program.

    IT DOES NOT WORK!! Brings up different error messages, or as it is now doing, when you click on it, nothig happens – it does not load, it does not run, it does nothing.

    Have emailed tech support and waiting for comments.

    Anyone have similar experience??

    Chris


  70. Hello All
    can anyone help ? i have a tesco cordless FF128. The main problem i have is, when i have an incoming call i can only get ringing via my pc, i cant get the handset to ring no mattter what i try. Does anybody have any suggestions?


  71. cant get the phone to work all i have is This device cannot start. (Code 10) i am using vista…it worked on xp okay but now its a bugger


  72. Is that the real Swampy (Daniel Hooper)? Chances are that the device drivers for their handset are not Vista-compatible. I don’t have a Tesco handset to try out but I’d try googling for Vista drivers for the E337 handset.

    Amanda – probably worth checking your sounds and audio devices settings in Control Panel (I assume you are using Windows).

    HTH, Mark


  73. thanks for getting back quick it seems there are problems with vista at the moment so no new drives just yet


  74. just to add – i got a Tesco Internet phone (the E337) some months back and am very pleased. To get a local number and voicemail is good, and I find I can easily use the handset for skype and voipstunt as well. So i can use Tesco for incoming calls, and the likes of voipbuster for outgoing (v. cheap or free ) calls. Marvellous. As i have Virgin as my broadband supplier, I am tempted to dump their £10.50 a month phone line rental.


  75. I am having probs with my Tesco FF128, can anyone help?
    In the ‘Audio Settings’ there are SPEAKER, MIC and RINGING.
    * In SPEAKER I have only “SoundMAX Digital Audio” and Modem #1 line playback as choices.
    * In MICROPHONE it has, as above plus “USB Camera”.
    * In RINGING it is, as SPEAKER with 2 tick boxes.
    I have no idea at all which of this lot to use.
    I can ring out to a mobile and my BT line. BUT… the mobile to which I ring can’t hear me, neither can I hear them.
    It’s all down to these Auidio Settings. I am asked for “Cordless USB Phone” but that isn’t available to me.
    Can I re-install the CD and try to get “Cordless USB Phone” even if I have a phone number and am registered?
    Thanks in anticipation.


  76. MichaelM – The FF128 is currently not supported by Vista this is what I am getting with my FF128 also.
    Waiting for the Vista driver update to arrive – if it ever does!


  77. Extra to the above. I find I can ring out and people can ring in, but, all sounds come via PC. Details are as above. How do I get the thing to operate via the handset?


  78. I have been using the Tesco service for a couple of months and, being based in UK and in Thailand, I am very pleased with it. I can call a Thailand mobile for 2p a minute from UK … using a TH mobile to call a TH mobile in Thailand is about 4.5p a minute so even used overseas it is a good deal.

    In answer to Michael M – I can use either speakers or the handset just by changing the settings in [MENU] … [OPTIONS] … [AUDIO DEVICES] . I use XP on both my workstation and Acer Aspire laptop.

    The only thing I can’t (yet!) do with it is run my Linksys SPA2102 to be able to use the system on a normal phone without my PC. I think I MAY be having problems with the Dial Plan … NOT with Tesco because I can call other Tesco numbers, but not PSTN or mobile numbers. Incoming calls from PSTN, VOIP and Mobile are all OK.

    So overall VERY pleased with what I have (and my USB phone was about £7.50 with £5.00 credit at my local Tesco store) .

    Wouldn’t touch SKYPE with a 50 foot bargepole! I don’t like a scam that uses a paying subscribers’ PC as a relay, or that circumvents firewall protection to do so. Ethical companies purchase their own nodes – not use subscribers’ PCs as supernodes to make more profit or perhaps cover the inadequacies of their system.

    Be very very wary of SKYPE. …. http://skypejournal.com/blog/2005/10/pesky_facts_1.html

    Many Universities and corporate outfits have banned Skype because of security issues and excessive bandwidth usage. Tesco only uses the bandwidth YOU need.

    Chris


  79. Hi
    I was wondering if any users out there had installed the software and connected the cordless GG100 model to Windows 98 First Edition. It does state that the minimum Operating System that supports it is Windows 98 SE (Second Edition), but I have often found that I can install software and/or devices in Win98 where similar “minimum requirements” notes tell me the same thing.

    I have an overseas friend who uses Windows 98 1st Edition and we would like to be able to contact each other if I send her one of these phones.

    Cheers
    Bill


  80. I’ve recently purchased a GG200 double cordless phone bundle but can’t get it to work. I think that it may be because the telecoms operators in Dubai block port 4569. Everything with the installation seemed to work but the onscreen phone just keeps saying unable to connect when I try to log in.
    When I called the Tesco helpdesk they said that they couldnt help but mentioned something about changing the port.
    Does anyone know of alternative ports that can be used?


  81. i’ve just tried the above, the device does install…

    Now i do still have an issue, the phone rings, i can hear someone talk to me, but for some reason carn’t talk to them…..

    I’m unable to select cordless USB phone for microphone in the tesco software…..

    Anyone any other ideas… ?


  82. i purchased a cheap internet fone from argos and installed it on the skype network… works fine except i cant dial from the handset, the quality is better than tesco fone i installed for a friend. but skype charge 1.50 to input 10 quid credit, and 4p clips off instantly, great if ure doing a long call to germany. will my cheap argos fone work if i install the tesco software?, i think i just about prefer tesco.


  83. I purchased a Tesco phone (E337) on Saturday for £3.74 which included £5.00 credit. With a view to subscribing for unlimited calls for £5.00 if it turned out ok.

    Read Tesco’s terms and conditions and discovered in the small print that their call packages were for domestic users only. No good to me as I run a small business.

    Also their call packages with unlimited calls wasn’t unlimited but was subject to “fair usage” whatever that might be (they must want to keep it a secret as they go into a lot of detail about fair use but don’t actually clarify what fair use is).

    No problem, as I had £5.00 credit. I could play about and see if voip was a viable alternative to B.T. and then go elsewhere where businesses are welcome.

    Sunday: Made a call to father in law who is a bit deaf, he actually commented on how clear the line was. Asked friend with B.T. Mobile to call me no problem. Called the voice mail and left message. No problem. Retrieving messages no problem. Seems like I am on to a winner.

    Monday: Downhill fast. Tried to call a few of my suppliers. Of those that didn’t hang up because they couldn’t hear what was being said, most commented that my call seemed to be fading, others described my calls in a less charitable way, and one even suggested that I buy a decent mobile phone.

    On two attempts to a particular number got a pre-recorded message to the affect: “the number you are calling is not connected” whatever that means so had to use a normal phone.

    However two people I called said nothing, so I can only presume that the calls were o.k. unless of course they were to polite to comment.

    I presume that someone tried to call me back, as I was informed with a pop up that I had a voicemail message. Unfortunately despite trying a number of times to retrieve the message, the call to the voicemail either drops after a few seconds or I get the “Talking Clock”

    To sum up, if you are only calling friends with a sense of humour and plenty of patience and you are really, really desperate to save money, buy a couple, give one to a friend that lives abroad and take advantage of the free calls between Tesco phones. If however you expect trouble free communications don’t bother.

    I now understand why Tesco only offer this service to domestic users; quite simply business users would not accept such a “Mickey Mouse” operation no matter how cheap.


  84. Bought the Siemans DUAL phone. Works fine after you spot the mistake in the installation help, the VOIP port to open on your router is 5060 NOT 5600 as they have printed.

    Very impressed with the network, phone isn’t too bad .


  85. hi to all in this group. I have a problem with my tesco E 212 handset phone, can anyone help ?
    purchased and installed in october 2007, and till yesterday all was ok. THEN ….. handset says “check pc”, cannot open from on screen shortcut….. keep getting a dialogue box appearing that says .. ERROR ” OEM verification failed.”
    have e- mailed help line from google site address, but as yet have had no reply.
    because handset is not functioning, cannot phone help desk ( im an ex pat living in Turkey.)
    have checked firwall exeptions etc and all is ok.
    anyone got any ideas ??
    regards john.


  86. I found this page by searching for “The problem with Tesco Internet Phone is…” – And wow! did I find some problems! :-)

    I have given TIP two chances now – First with a headset, total disaster. and then (thinking it may have been because I cheaped out on the basic headset) with a cordless USB model… And I’m sorry to say it seems little has changed. Mark talks of full area codes not being available. well, I live in one of the areas he mentioned and the full area code was available for me (both times) Mark also highlights the Tesco customer service experience – I agree.

    If you are thinking of going for the TIP – and want an honest opinion. Mine (for what its worth) is… for the money it costs, make your own mind up :-) Some people (myself included) have had more hassle than good times, but others – well… rave about it.

    Oh Mark – “I just wanted to make one thing clear. This is a blog – not a support forum” – Everyone I know loves a popular blog… And anyway, (dare I say it…) “You started it”

    Just kiddin’ – cool blog btw.

    Gareth.


  87. Mark,

    Is it really necessary for you to have a real phone in your hands when calling someone? If not, then the best voip thing that occured on the Internet in my view is VoIPDiscount – they offer free 300 minutes a week to landline phones in the UK. Can Tesco & Co beat that? And there are also plenty of other “cheap calls” deals over there that repeat the VoIPDiscount offer. And I also use Skype of course – but only for Skype to Skype calls because the quality is overwhelming.
    In no way I’m endorsing someone here, just letting you know that there are other better voip options out there.

    George


  88. @George – I find that sometimes a hard phone is necessary – the call quality on many of these cheap USB handsets is awful and softphones vary too.

    IMHO, the best call quality I have is with a Cisco 7940 running SIP firmware and using Sipgate – colleagues have commented on the clarity of the connection (even better than my BT line).

    As for free calls – you need to look at the whole picture. I still need to pay BT line rental to have an ADSL line (LLU is not a viable option for me), so I might as well use them for my calls – and they include free calls at evenings/weekends. That leaves mobiles (600 minutes a month free on my mobile tariff, to any network) and non-geographic (which, AFAIK, no-one offers free of charge). I use the VoIP line for daytime calls and international – and I’m happy to pay low cost rates if the quality is good. Experience with Skype and other “free” softphone-based services says that they just don’t cut it when it matters (probably fine for chatting to Aunt Maud in Australia, but not for a business call).

    As for Tesco… the original purpose of this post… they were shockingly bad when I wrote this nearly 3 years ago – I don’t know if they are any better now but I avoid Tesco products as far as I can. In my opinion, the company is just too big and it’s having a negative impact on the high street (the failure of Woolworths can largely be attributed to the power of the supermarkets that have taken away their market).


  89. Mark,
    You’re right about the phone package you’ve chosen. The difference between you and me is that I don’t call as much as you do. If I was to choose from mobile phone companies, I wouldn’t choose a contract with 600 free minutes, I’d choose ASDA with their 8p per minute rate on Vodafone network with the best quality connection.
    By the way, if you’re upset about non-georaphic numbers, in 90% of cases there’s always an alternative entry listed at http://www.saynoto0870.com.
    The normal VoIP quality is not great but I can speak to friends and family and this is the most important thing. The quality of the voice call in my view doesn’t depend on the equipment but rather on the internet speed and the encription characteristics. After all, how else can a simple microphone be improved? For the business users as you it won’t work but in a couple of years time I think there wouldn’t be any difference between VoIP and normal phone.
    And the Tesco… Tesco is a reality. I am very sorry to see Woolworths go – there’s one on my high street I used to pop in to grab some day-to-day stuff. Would I drive to Tesco to get this stuff now? No way. You’re boycotting Tesco – it’s your choice, I’m not against it and not for it, but in Tesco you can also buy non-Tesco products a bit cheaper than in other shops and one have no problems to give them back if they stop working. That’s the convenience of Tesco and, again, a reality. And people like convenience. It’s a shame this country follows America in everything from huge supermarkets through to obesity, language and to the the insane levels of borrowing but that’s the direction world is heading I guess.
    George


  90. Personally I find that VOIP is cheaper for some people and not for all. If you are on a all you can eat calls package with your Telco, why would you pay per minute for VOIP for a UK call? I’m not anti VOIP as I use it myself occasionally, but for the majority of my calls, POTS works fine for me.
    But I do know in the corporate arena, VOIP is heavily used now. Horses for courses.

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