Brits hit with above-inflation price increases for unreliable broadband

 Who is the consumer champion? Broadband prices for Brits have risen faster than inflation, while service is unreliable, the survey found.

The study, which collected responses from nearly 4,000 broadband customers, revealed that 53 percent of respondents experienced slow speeds, dropped connections, outages, and router issues.

These issues are common across all broadband providers, with only minor differences between the best and worst performers in terms of customer experience.

The findings come as many suppliers have implemented above-inflation price increases, adding to consumer frustration.

While many face an ongoing cost-of-living crisis, earlier this year some providers decided to hike prices significantly, causing customers to pay more for mediocre service.

Dissatisfaction with broadband service is adding to the already financially challenged customers.

RocĂ­o Concha, which one? Director of Policy and Advocacy says:

“Reliable connectivity is essential to modern life. Many broadband consumers were hit by mid-contract price increases of more than 14% earlier this year, meaning it’s more important than ever for providers to offer reliable connections and good customer service more important.

It’s totally unacceptable that customers facing these dizzying growth are also experiencing so many connectivity issues. Broadband companies need to work harder to fix these issues and provide better service.

Of the major providers, Sky, Virgin Media and EE had the lowest percentage of customers not reporting any issues, at 32%, 35% and 37% respectively.

BT fared relatively well, with 49% of customers experiencing no performance issues over the past year.

For providers such as Hyperoptic, Shell Energy Broadband, and Utility Warehouse, at least four in 10 customers reported facing at least one issue.

The most common issue reported by customers was frequent connection outages, affecting 19% of respondents. Slow connections were the second most common issue, experienced by 17% of customers.

Other complaints included slow uploads and downloads (15%), router issues (14%), and complete loss of connectivity for at least an hour (14%).

Additionally, 12% of respondents faced slow or interrupted streaming, while 8% were without a connection for more than a day.

The survey also addressed customer service experience.

Some 44 percent of respondents reported experiencing some form of customer service issue, with 11 percent finding it difficult to contact their provider or resolve their issue.

Earlier this year, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, called on providers to improve customer service.

Ofcom was criticized last year for failing to protect consumers by asking internet service providers not to raise broadband prices. That demand was not backed up by regulatory action, leading to higher prices for currently struggling homes.

For customers who are tired of dealing with broadband issues and their contracts are up, switching providers may be a viable option. Previous research by which? Shows that the switch saves customers an average of £92 per year.

However, for those locked into a fixed-term contract, switching is not as simple. Many clients find themselves in a “catch-22” situation where they must either continue to pay higher prices or incur high exit costs in order to terminate their contracts early.

As part of the cost of living campaign, which? Suppliers are urged to allow customers to leave without penalty if prices rise mid-contract. Unfortunately, only a few companies are actively responding to these demands, leaving customers feeling trapped.

which? Ofcom believes that Ofcom’s review should bring about changes that prevent customers from falling into such situations in the future, thereby providing certainty to contract prices.

Concha added: “While some clients were able to switch to better service and prices, many were stuck in contracts where they either had to accept spring above-inflation price increases or pay high exit fees to exit contracts early.”

“It is crucial that Ofcom’s review of inflation-related mid-contract price increases brings about changes to ensure customers are no longer caught in this situation.”

(Photo by Sander Sammy on Unsplash)

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  • Ryan Dawes

    Ryan is a Senior Editor at TechForge Media with over a decade of experience reporting on the latest technology and interviewing leading industry figures. He can often be seen at tech conferences with an espresso in one hand and a laptop in the other. If it’s weird, he’ll probably like it.Find him on Twitter (@Gadget_Ry) or Mastodon (@gadgetry@techhub.social)

Label: broadband, euro

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