Making a complaint

Making a complaint – Check your rights

ComplaintsIf you are unhappy with your broadband supplier and want to make a complaint, start by contacting their customer services team first, before starting down the complaints path which will be outlined on their website. When you speak to them, try to be as calm and friendly as possible – whatever problem you have it won’t be the fault of the person you speak to. It may sound obvious but our experience is that most customer services employees will go the extra yard to help customers who are calm, reasonable and polite. It’s human nature.

When you have a problem that isn’t resolved in a reasonable time, it pays to know your rights and options before taking matters further. With that in mind, the following advice should be helpful.

Broadband Consumer Rights

Consumer rights can be pretty complex to unravel and understand but your basic rights in how they relate to broadband are outlined here:

  • All goods and services must be of satisfactory quality, fit for purpose, delivered as described, and provided to a proper standard of workmanship. In layman’s terms, your broadband should work.
  • The product – your broadband services – must be as described. This means, for example, that if you were sold broadband with a promise of 50Mbps download speeds as a minimum but only get 20Mbps, you can cancel.
  • Both parties, yourself and your supplier, must comply with the terms on your contract. The terms and conditions must have either been provided to you in a document or be posted on your supplier’s website for all to see. If you believe your provider to be in breach of the contract or its terms, you may have the right to cancel it.
  • As with all contracts, your contract with your broadband provider must be fair.
  • You always have the right to cancel your contract at any time, but in some circumstances there may be a charge to do so.
  • If a dispute is dragging on without resolution you have the right to ask for resolution through the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme, which your supplier will have signed up to.

General Complaints

If you have a general complaint, whether it relates to broadband, customer service, billing or anything else, the first thing to do is always to contact your supplier’s customer service department and raise the issue with them. Calling the supplier and speaking to their customer service team is often the best way to get complaints resolved.

ISPA logoIf your provider is a member of the ISPA (Internet Service Providers’ Association) they will deal with complaints according to their published code of conduct, which includes an obligation to respond to your complaint within five working days, and resolve it within 10.

You will need to be able to describe your issue succinctly and explain what needs resolving, such as a fault fixed, a refund, clarification on an issue, or something else.

If you’re not satisfied, you can then start a formal complaint through the supplier’s official complaints process, which you’ll usually find detailed on their website – typically at the bottom of each page.

My complaint has not been resolved

If you have failed to get resolution after speaking to your supplier’s customer service, and also not been able to get satisfaction through their formal complaints process, you can then take things further.

If at least eight weeks have passed since your original complaint and it has not been resolved you can contact either CISAS or the communications Ombudsman Services and ask them to look into the problem.

The above process will generally see most issues resolved, but if you’re still not satisfied, you could choose to speak to the Citizens Advice Bureau to ask for legal advice.

I’m not happy with my broadband connection

speed testBroadband speeds and connections are probably the most common cause for complaints, but are sometimes not as clear cut as you would hope. If your download speed is far lower than the guaranteed minimum promised in your contract, you have the right to complain and even walk away if the problem is not resolved.

However, you need to first understand what your actual speeds are. Guaranteed speeds are those which arrive at your property and NOT those that your devices are showing. This is important because you can easily find that although the network measures delivered speeds as being (say) 30Mbps, your wi-fi connected device might be showing less, considerably so depending on a multitude of factors. When discussing broadband speeds with your supplier’s technical support team they will doubtless run through these things with you.

Possible factors include the wiring in your home, how many devices are connected, what router you have, whether your devices are accessing the service via WiFi or ethernet cable, how thick your walls are, the software on your devices, and so on. Of course, if you have a fibre broadband service with a promised speed of 30Mbps and you’re getting 3Mbps, something is plainly wrong!

I have no broadband service at all!

If your service stops working, contact your supplier and advise them as soon as possible. Some interruptions to your service, including those caused by line or network faults will normally be covered in your contract and are not particularly unusual.

Interruptions caused by work being undertaken on the local network happen on a daily basis across the country, but are usually rectified within a few hours. Services sometimes need to be turned off while engineers are working on lines, cabinets and exchanges. In most cases, your supplier won’t even know about such hiccups.

For other faults, once you have reported them to your supplier they will run a network investigation/test to see what the fault might be. In some cases such faults can be rectified remotely and in others it may be necessary to get an engineer out to carry out works. For most people, this will mean your supplier will raise a fault with Openreach and ask them to fix it.

Regardless of the possible issue, report the fault as soon as possible and ask your supplier to fix it. If it’s not resolved quickly, then you can follow the supplier’s complaints process to escalate the issue. If your broadband service isn’t fixed within 30 days after it’s activated you then have the right to contact your supplier in writing, advising them that you intend to cancel.

Be aware: If you have missed paying a bill, you could also find that your supplier has suspended service in accordance with your contract terms!