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UK’s largest broadband suppliers failing on customer service

Consumers say they’re unimpressed with BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, and fast-growing Vodafone has seen its customer satisfaction levels slump

The UK’s big four internet service providers (ISPs), which control 90% of the broadband market between them, are failing on customer satisfaction metrics, according to Which?, a consumer rights and advocacy organisation.

Which? polled just over 8,000 of its members at the beginning of 2019, and found that BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media all received customer scores of below 60, with TalkTalk firmly rooted to the bottom of the table.

TalkTalk’s customers were particularly likely to criticise it for the quality of its customer service and tech support, slow speeds, and frequent service dropouts. Sky users also complained of slow speeds, and two-thirds said they were thinking of ditching it; BT did not impress in terms of value for money, speeds and service dropouts; and Virgin Media users complained that they were seeing frequent price increases and technical problems, particularly with routers.

Vodafone, meanwhile, crashed into the bottom half of the Which? league table, returning mediocre ratings across the board. Having previously scored highly in such reports – it came fourth in the Which? spring 2018 survey – this suggests the fast-growing ISP may be experiencing problems scaling its customer service operations.

The latest statistics from Which? also appear to show that continued efforts to encourage more people to switch suppliers in search of a better deal are yet to have much of an impact, with an average of seven out of 10 people saying that they had been with the same ISP for more than three years. A wealth of other evidence exists to show such people also tend to be overcharged, often to the tune of hundreds of pounds every year.

“It’s outrageous that the biggest providers are still letting their customers down with shoddy broadband, especially when we know that long-standing customers are the most likely to be overpaying,” said Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at Which?.

“Anyone who is unhappy with their current provider should take back control and switch to a better deal – you could get better service and save hundreds of pounds a year.”

Broadband Genie’s Alex Tofts said: “If you’re not receiving the service you were promised from your broadband provider, don’t hesitate to get in touch with them. There’s a good chance they will be able to resolve the problem.

“But if your situation doesn’t change, there are other options you can explore. Submitting a claim with a resolution scheme can help – CISAS are managed independently by Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution [CEDR], an Alternative Dispute Resolution provider, and certified by Ofcom.

“Switching provider is also a good way to improve your service and save money in the process. If your contract is currently up for renewal, you can look for a new package without paying cancellation fees,” he said.

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