TalkTalk customers attempting to claim a free upgrade offered to them in the wake of October's high-profile hack have been left frustrated after logging in to their accounts to find they were unable to select the upgrade they wanted.

After the cyber-attack the embattled provider last month announced the sweetener deal for all its four million customers – not just those whose personal or banking details were accessed.

On its website today TalkTalk started offering the choice of upgrade options – including TV channels, a mobile Sim, landline and mobile calls or a free broadband and Wi-Fi health-check – though its customers have been able to request an upgrade by calling 0800 230 0403 or via live chat since 1 December.

But a number of TalkTalk users took to the MoneySavingExpert forum and emailed us to say they'd been having difficulty choosing an upgrade online, with some finding their upgrade had been pre-selected for them.

One forumite wrote: "It seems they are choosing upgrade options for some." Another MoneySavingExpert reader emailed: "I was really looking forward to choosing my free upgrade, only to find that after all their hype about 'choose your free upgrade', they make the choice for you whether you want it or not!"

Further, customers wishing to upgrade online can only do so using their TalkTalk home broadband, so if for instance you're at work, you won't be able to choose your package online. The provider confirms this isn't a glitch; it's part of "ongoing security measures" it's put in place.

A message on the TalkTalk help page reads: "We know that a small number of customers might be having trouble choosing their free upgrade online. We're working really hard to fix this, but in the meantime, you can still choose an upgrade over the phone. Give us a call on 0800 230 0403 and we'll be happy to help."

TalkTalk told us at 6pm today that the pre-selection issue encountered by some customers has been resolved. It adds that anyone who accepted a pre-selected option, but would rather another, should call to discuss this further.

What are the upgrade options?

TalkTalk customers can choose one of the following upgrades until 31 December:

  1. TV channels – open to existing TV customers only

  2. Only those who currently have TalkTalk TV can opt for this one for free. You can choose from one of the following TV boost packages – films, kids, entertainment or Sky Sports, which will be free for three months.

    This upgrade would normally cost between £5/month and £30/month depending on the channels.

  3. A 12mth mobile Simopen to all customers

  4. Any current TalkTalk customer can choose this option – a 12-month mobile Sim. It's very much a value option though, with a monthly allowance of 100 minutes, 250 texts and 200MB of 3G data.

    If you go close to your allowance, it'll send you a text message. If you go over, you'll be charged out-of-bundle fees, which are 40p/minute to call landlines and mobiles, 15p per text message and 15p per MB of data. TalkTalk Mobile piggybacks on the Vodafone network.

    Normally this Sim costs £5/month.

  5. Unlimited UK landline and mobile calls – open to broadband/home phone customers

  6. MSE update 2.42pm 11 Dec: TalkTalk says this offer is not available to customers who already have its unlimited UK landline and mobile calls.

    For those who already have a TalkTalk landline and broadband, it's offering calls to mobiles and 01, 02 and 03 numbers (excludes 084/087/09 as well as 118 numbers) free for 12 months.

    While it's 'unlimited', TalkTalk does operate a 'fair use policy' of 1,800 minutes per month (30 hours). Calls are free for the first 60 minutes only, so if you pick this option, make sure you hang-up and redial within the first 60 minutes or you'll be charged the standard rate of 11.5p/minute for landlines and mobiles. Some non-inclusive calls may be subject to a connection charge of 17p too.

    This calls package normally costs £7.50/month.

  7. A broadband and Wi-Fi health check – open to broadband customers

  8. If you already have TalkTalk broadband, you can arrange for an engineer to visit your property to check your broadband and Wi-Fi and improve their performance for free. The engineers operate between Monday and Friday 7am-8pm and on Saturdays between 7am-6pm.

    If an issue is found, the engineer will attempt to fix it there and then. However TalkTalk says that if there's a problem with the line, it'll need to refer the issue to BT Openreach. We asked whether engineers would attempt to up-sell to customers and TalkTalk's confirmed they won't.

    The broadband and Wi-Fi check usually costs £65 for a visit.

TalkTalk customers left unable to choose free upgrade online
TalkTalk's online upgrade offers

How do I upgrade online?

Now the online issues have been fixed, these are the steps you need to take to choose your free upgrade.

  1. You'll need to log in to My Account from your TalkTalk network at home. 

  2. Once you're logged in, you'll automatically be taken to its free upgrades page where you'll see all the offers available to you. TalkTalk says it's tailored the page to suit current packages, so you'll only see the free upgrades that apply to you.

  3. After you've found a free upgrade you'd like, pick it from the list and press the 'Upgrade me' button (the steps are slightly different for mobile SIM cards and broadband and Wi-Fi health checks). Then, in the window that appears, confirm your choice by choosing 'Confirm your free upgrade'.

  4. Once you've chosen your upgrade, in most cases you'll be taken to an order confirmation page and it'll add your upgrade straightaway.

Will I automatically be charged for the upgrade after the free period ends?

MSE update 2.44pm 11 Dec: TalkTalk originally told us that there are no ongoing charges associated with any of the upgrade options above. However it's now told us that for customers choosing the 12-month mobile Sim, after the free upgrade period, it will become chargeable.

What if I don't want an upgrade, can I cancel my contract instead?

We've asked TalkTalk what would happen if customers did not want to upgrade and asked to cancel their contracts instead. It says only those who can prove they've lost out financially as a result of the hack will be able to leave penalty-free. See the Four million TalkTalk customers to get free upgrade and the TalkTalk website hack MSE news stories for more information.