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Ask Which? – Can I claim compensation after switching ISP?

Three 'w' keys on typewriter

You ask: I recently changed ISP from Orange to BT and feel badly treated. I had no internet for days and their pledge of 24/7 tech support is pathetic when the line closes at 8pm! They said that I can claim, but how?

In our first ever reader Q&A, we get our resident broadband expert, Ceri Stanaway, to respond to your query:

You have my sympathies – it can be incredibly frustrating when internet service providers (ISPs) fail to deliver on promises, particularly when it leaves you without the service you’re paying for.

In my view you’re certainly entitled to compensation for the time you were paying for a service that you were not receiving.

I’m hoping that the fact you’ve sent Which? Conversation your concerns means your broadband service is now up and running, and it also sounds from your email like BT is at least open to offering you compensation. You may need to go through its formal procedures to get things kick-started though. Be clear about what the problem was (including the dates of outage), the impact, and what action you want the company to take.

To complain about a broadband or any other telecoms company, start off by going through its formal complaints procedure.

If that fails, after eight weeks from the date of the original complaint (verbal or written), you can take it to the Communications Ombudsman Services or the Communications & Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (Cisas). Every broadband ISP must belong to one of these complaints schemes.

If you can’t bear to wait eight weeks to escalate your complaint, you can try the Internet Service Providers Association (ISPA), if your ISP is a member.

What’s your experience of changing ISPs? Have you had a smooth ride or has it put you off changing again? Or have you avoided changing for fear of a situation like this?

Sarah Faye says:
12 June 2011

Otelo doesn’t actually exist anymore. It’s the Ombudsman Services which also deals with energy etc

I initially had dial up with BT – It was an appalling service – it was forever dropping carrier. The line was bad – engineers forever “repairing” it.

Luckily Cable and Wireless laid a fibre optic cable – joined immediately. Superb connection but help limited to a “script” that only covered Microsoft. Figured it out manually – Superb connection ever since – Their engineers were fast and efficient when the box went wrong (once since install)