Too slow, too expensive and too erratic

One of the common complaints I receive from readers relates to broadband. It seems getting connected with good broadband can be fraught with problems. Services can be too slow, too expensive and too erratic.

Take the complaint I received from Susan in Luton, Beds. She waited 18 weeks for her broadband to be installed but three days later was shocked when it stopped working. Susan cancelled her contract but was told she would have to pay an early termination fee.

The provider here was clearly wrong. You are allowed a 14-day cooling off period from the start of the deal, during which you can change your mind and cancel the contract. Duncan from Bedford said his broadband was down for a total of 73 days in the first six months of his contract.

He tried to cancel but was told he couldn’t as terms and conditions provided for outages.

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More consumer rights explained

Your right to the internet

Generally, you should always get what you pay for. Most providers do have terms that provide for outages but, if persistent, it is likely they will amount to a breach of contract so you can terminate. In addition, you may be entitled to a reduction in your bill to reflect long periods you are without broadband.

Kevin, of Brighton, complained his broadband was less than half the speed promised by the provider. This may give rise to the right to cancel the contract. But more investigation is needed as many things can affect broadband speed, such as your home’s wiring, the number of devices connected, the kind of router, the thickness of walls and your devices’ software.

Stacey from Kent complained the monthly fee for his broadband had increased and, as a result, asked to break the contract. His request was rejected. Broadband providers must tell you in writing before increasing their prices.

If the increase is greater than inflation you have the right to cancel the contract, without incurring any penalty. But you must exercise this right within 30 days of notification.

Your broadband consumer rights

It you think your service is bad, the good news is you could be entitled to compensation. That’s because your broadband provider has a legal obligation to deliver what you pay for – and what you were sold.

These are your rights:

  • All goods and services must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, delivered as described, and provided to a proper standard of workmanship.

    In other words, your broadband should work.

  • Both you and your broadband provider must comply with the terms on your contract.

    If you consider your provider to be in breach of the contract – e.g. if you’re not being delivered consistent service – you have the right to cancel it.

  • The contract with your broadband provider must be fair.

  • You have the right to cancel your contract at any point – though in some circumstances you’ll need to pay a fee.

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