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How to complain to your broadband provider

How to complain to your broadband provider

If your broadband service isn’t up to standard, you are fully within your rights to complain to your provider.

Whether you have a specific issue, or a more general customer complaint, there should be an easy way to submit your feedback. Not only should your provider then use your comments to improve its service, but it can also lead to your problem being solved with more urgency.

But is it really that straightforward? And what do you do if your complaint isn’t resolved by your provider? Here’s everything you need to know about making a complaint to your broadband provider.

Confirm what the issue is

Before submitting a formal complaint, it’s always worth checking that the problem isn’t something you can resolve yourself.

Here, we’ll walk you through the most common broadband customer complaints and how to resolve them.

Connection problems and broadband speed

If you’re having problems connecting to the internet, or your broadband speed is much slower than promised, there are some things you should do before raising the issue as a formal complaint.

Here are some quick fixes you can try yourself to get the connection back to normal:

  • Check your device or use the internet on another device to see if it’s a fault with the equipment you’re using.
  • Run a broadband speed test while you’re connected to Wi-Fi to see if the speed is slower than what you’re paying for.
  • Reset your router and reconnect your devices to it.
  • Move your router to somewhere more open and central in your home. Objects can block its signal strength, so make sure nothing is in the way.

If you’re still experiencing slower speeds or no internet connection at all after these steps, you should then contact your provider’s customer service team to report your issue.

Hopefully, the customer service team will be able to help you resolve it. If that isn't the case, or you are unhappy with how your provider has attempted to resolve the situation, you can submit a formal complaint regarding your broadband connection.

Billing, payments and contract complaints

You might want to complain to your broadband provider because of an increase to your fees, changes to your contract terms, or an unexpected bill. But it’s important to make sure you’ve checked the details of your agreement before proceeding with a formal complaint.

Depending on who you signed up with, price rises are often mentioned in the terms and conditions of your contract when you sign up. Many providers now add the annual CPI rate of inflation (3.9% in 2021) to their prices each year, and new or recontracting customers will have to accept this yearly increase before purchasing any of their deals.

Essentially, it’s always worth confirming what your agreed terms were when you initially purchased your broadband deal. If you can’t see anything in your own documents that allow for a change to your payments, but your provider still imposes new charges, you are entitled to complain and potentially even to switch to another service free of charge.

Are you out of contract?

You might have seen an increase in your bills because you’re now out of contract. Most providers significantly increase monthly prices for customers who carry on using their services after the fixed-term period of their contract has ended, so it’s always worth keeping note of the date you signed up.

Even though providers are required by law to send you a notification that your contract is coming to an end, it’s easy for those messages to get lost amongst all the other marketing texts and emails you receive from them. So make sure you read all of your provider’s communications carefully.

The good news is, once you’re out of contract you are completely free to switch to a new broadband package that better suits your household. Compare broadband deals with Uswitch to find the right option for you.

Compare broadband deals

Switching broadband

One of the common problems customers run into when switching broadband is discovering their preferred deal isn’t actually available at their home. This is most likely an issue with postcode availability versus address availability — the latter of which you can only really find out if you contact a provider directly.

Almost all online comparison searches you’ll run for broadband will be based on your postcode availability. This means there’s a chance the results you get may not be able to connect to your home.

However, our Broadband Network Checker will let you compare multiple providers for speeds you can actually get at your address not just your postcode. Try it out to find much more bespoke broadband speeds.

Sometimes though, issues with switching broadband might happen a little further down the line, such as faults in the connection to your property or delays to the installation date. These can occasionally be out of the provider’s control, such as with the coronavirus pandemic, but you shouldn’t experience any internet downtime as a result of these kinds of problems.

But if your broadband connection or bill payments are in any way affected by issues related to switching broadband, you can raise them in a complaint to either your old or new provider.

There are lots of measures in place to make switching broadband as easy as possible for the customer, but if you do run into issues along the way, there are steps you can take to clear up any confusion and have your problem resolved swiftly.

If you experience a long period of downtime while switching broadband, or believe you were promised something that wasn’t actually available to your property, you are fully within your rights to complain.

Customer service

We’ve all had at least one poor experience with a customer service team — those moments are often frustrating, feel like a waste of time and they could affect your opinion of the company for years to come.

Where good customer service can prevent you from needing to submit a complaint, poor customer service can exacerbate the issue and make things even more confusing than they were before. Here are some of the main ways this can happen:

  • They’re hard to contact: You’re finding it very difficult to get in touch with the right customer service team, perhaps because they don’t have a call centre, or they are only open while you’re at work.
  • Rude or unprofessional staff: A customer service representative has treated you poorly or disregarded the importance of your issue.
  • They put you on hold or take too long to respond: This can waste a lot of your valuable time.

Learn more about what makes good customer service for broaadband with our dedicated guide.

Be ready to provide evidence

Before raising a formal complaint to your broadband provider, you should make sure you have all of the relevant information to hand. This means you can easily refer to it when arguing your case. Documents you might want to collect beforehand include:

  • Your account details
  • Proof of your problem with times and dates where possible
  • The terms you initially agreed to
  • Any past communication with your provider
  • Ofcom policies that relate to your case (if there are any)

Contact your broadband provider

When you decide to make a complaint, you will need to get in touch with the right department.

Look through our guide on how to contact your broadband provider. This will tell you where to find customer service numbers, emails and web pages for each of the main broadband providers in the UK.

Taking your complaint further

Sometimes, complaining to your provider still won’t resolve the issue. If your problem is still ongoing and it continues to affect your service, you can escalate it to an independent body that has wider-reaching powers than your provider.

Contact the ombudsman

Escalating your complaint to your provider’s communications ombudsman could help you get the solution you deserve.

In order to do so, you'll first need to get a deadlock letter from your provider. This can only be organised once you've exhausted all other options with their complaints department first. Once you receive the letter, you have a 12-month window to contact the ombudsman.

However, you'll also be able to complain to the ombudsman if your issue is still unfixed eight weeks after initially contacting your provider. You'll just need to be able to prove the date you initially raised the complaint.

Escalating your complaint this way can lead to a range of different outcomes, including an explanation or apology, changes to your contract, or even financial compensation.

There are two broadband ombudsmen that cover UK-based providers: Ombudsman Services and the Communication & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). Here's where you can go depending on which provider you have.

Broadband providers covered by Ombudsman Services

  • BT
  • Plusnet
  • EE
  • Hyperoptic
  • John Lewis Broadband
  • Shell Energy Broadband
  • SSE Broadband
  • Community Fibre
  • Direct Save Telecom
  • XLN Telecom
  • Origin Broadband
  • Onestream

Visit Ombudsman Services: Communication to escalate your broadband complaint for one of the above providers.

Broadband providers covered by CISAS

  • Sky
  • TalkTalk
  • Virgin Media
  • Vodafone
  • NOW Broadband
  • POP Telecom
  • Starlink Internet Services

Complain to CISAS about an ongoing issue with one of the above broadband providers.

Register an Ofcom complaint

Ofcom is the UK’s telecoms regulator and recently-appointed broadband watchdog, so it's always introducing new policies to make broadband services fairer and safer for customers. While it won’t take specific action based on one complaint, it regularly publishes the number of complaints it receives about each broadband provider.

So if you’re unhappy with your broadband service and your provider hasn’t offered the right solution to the problem you’re experiencing, you can help hold them accountable in Ofcom’s quarterly complaints report.

While your case might not get any specific attention via this route, there is always the chance that it might impact a future policy decision from Ofcom. This could eventually influence the way all broadband providers have to treat their customers.

You can contact Ofcom by calling its advice and complaints hotline at 0300 123 333 or 020 7981 7040 or visiting its mobile, home phone and internet service complaints page.

If you’re looking to switch away from your provider, you could find a cheaper, better deal for you and your household by comparing broadband deals with Uswitch.

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