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Legal advice: broadband speed’s slow going

We were able to help a member when they got in touch about their slow broadband speed. Here’s why John Lewis Broadband was in breach of contract.

In April 2020, Judith entered a 12-month fixed-term deal with John Lewis Broadband for landline and broadband. For £32.50 a month, the broadband’s estimated download speed was 10.7Mbps, with a minimum guarantee of 9.1Mbps.

But the broadband consistently didn’t hit the guaranteed speed, so Judith had difficulty online. The landline also crackled on calls. John Lewis Broadband was unable to resolve these issues and in November 2020 Judith wanted to end her contract without penalty and move elsewhere.

Judith contacted Which? Legal to discuss her options.

Information given is binding

The Consumer Rights Act 2015 requires that John Lewis Broadband performs its service with reasonable care and skill. Additionally, information about the service that is provided to the consumer before they enter the contract is binding.

We advised that as John Lewis had guaranteed a speed that had not been met, it was in breach of contract and Judith should request to terminate without penalty, as well as requesting a refund of some of what she had paid.

After pursuing the complaint, Judith was allowed to exit the contract free of charge and received £175 compensation. John Lewis said:

“We are very sorry that we fell short in this instance. In the rare instances that speeds fall below our guaranteed levels, we allow customers to leave without a penalty if we’re not able to resolve the issue within 30 days”

Have you ever challenged your broadband provider’s speed? Did you know that the Consumer Rights Act 2015 could help?

Have a legal question of your own?

Which? Legal offers affordable legal advice, over the phone and by email to help you tackle your problem or issue.  

The team of legal advisers will give you tailored information and advice on your rights and next steps, so you can handle your issue confidently.  

Which? Legal can help on a range of topics, from faulty goods and car purchase issues to landlord and tenancy issues, plus much more.

To find out how the team can help you, call Which? Legal on 0117 405 5695 or visit Which? Legal.


If crackling can be heard on the phone, this is a sure sign that there is a problem with wiring outside or inside the house. It’s always worth disconnecting internal extension phones and checking with a phone and computer connected to the master socket as you could be charged for a visit if the problem is with your equipment.

Problems with wiring outside the home can reduce broadband speed, but John Lewis should have been able to offer advice to have the problem resolved. Failing that, they should certainly have allowed Judith to cancel her contract without penalty. Until the problem has been resolved, it’s unlikely that Judith will receive a better service from another supplier.

ian dabbs says:
21 April 2022

BT Openreach own the lines and the street cabinets. The more customers you connect to each NODE in the cabinet the slower the bandwidth ie speed. Basically they are connecting more and more customers and tough luck if peoples speeds are decreasing. OPENREACH the providers of the infrastructure are reluctant to connect existing subscribers to newer closer cabinets Too much work no return. It is a disgrace !