/ Home & Energy, Technology

Why do big broadband providers keep failing on service?  

home broadband

Our latest broadband satisfaction survey shows the biggest providers are consistently failing their customers on service. Why do these providers rank lowest and why do consumers continue to stand for it?

Today, we’ve released our latest results on customer satisfaction with broadband providers. The fact that it paints the same story as so many of our previous surveys is very telling; the bigger providers fall down on customer service.

For the fifth consecutive survey running, TalkTalk customers have given them the lowest customer score of 40% and Sky experienced the biggest drop of all of the providers since our last survey in April.

Best and worst broadband providers

Choosing provider

Why then, do consumers continue to choose these providers?

I would suggest they go with bigger providers for a number of reasons; reliability, convenience and choice.

On reliability, I think people can be prone to conflate a ‘well-known’ brand with a ‘trusted’ brand. Research like our surveys can hopefully dispel that.

On convenience, bundling packages could have more of an influence in your choice of provider than the broadband service itself.

A third reason is that there can be a lack of choice. In some areas where there is little or no infrastructure deployment, bigger providers may be the only option on offer.

Change needed

If providers continue to recruit and retain customers then there is little incentive for them to change their practice.

We have long argued that the switching process should be easier – both assisting consumers in moving to a new provider but applying pressure to providers to step up in order to retain their customers.


We’d like to hear from you. Why do you think the biggest providers continually come bottom of our satisfaction tables? And what do you think needs to happen to for them to step up and deliver?

Update: 20 October 2017

According to our latest research, more than half of households are still experiencing problems with their broadband.

Our latest customer satisfaction survey reveals that 53% of 1,700 surveyed had a problem with their broadband last year. Six out of 10 customers of Virgin Media (61%) and Talk Talk (60%) and over half of Sky (56%) and BT (54%) customers said their broadband had failed them at least once in that time.

Far too many people suffer poor service from their broadband provider. Problems range from slow speeds to lengthy losses in connection. This isn’t good enough. We continue to advise those dissatisfied with their service to switch.

We’ve campaigned for an end to confusing broadband ads that promise speeds many customers will never get. We think as many customers as possible, if not all, should get the speeds promised by providers. Currently, if these companies achieve just 10% they are deemed to have satisfied advertising rules and regulations.

Test your broadband speed using our free tool and help us build a better picture of the nation’s broadband health in the process.

Take the Which? Speed Test

Comments
Member

TC-The basic problem is the 10 % or so who are miles from a cabinet and who would need FFP which would cost a bomb for each- miles of overhead to remote locations . FTTC has its limits and distance counts . IN your case TC you have my deepest sympathy having Aluminium instead of copper from the cabinet to to the house. It was tried out in the city I worked in and failed as cabinets hear a busy road kept breaking down the connections . At a cost of many £1000,s working 24/7 copper was reinstated . It was down to a “save money ” exercise . AS regards speed testing two testers can be relied on I have tested/retested many times on them they are consistent within a Mbps or two.One is speedof.me and the other Ookla BETA . Speedof.me will even work with an adblocker . It doesn’t use Flash or JavaScript , and, according to US tech posters and the website they post on its the most advanced tester online .You see a large graph as well as results works with iPhone-IPad-Android- Windows-Linux and just about all mobile devices . Ookla will test your speed to many locations round the world ( BETA ) . Try them out for a good indication of your real speed. Please bear in mind that Wi-Fi is sloer than a LAN cable by a good margin and your house wiring / system/ gadgets like baby alarms digital house phones (DECT ) etc will all influence your speed. I have just tried them out to prove they work and they do and the speed quoted co-insides with BT,s assessment of my speed at 100 yards ( as the crow flies ) with FTTC so I am happy with BT whom I have been with for decades . Its possible to get FTTP if you are a business as standard but its not officially rolled out everywhere to the public.. You cant con BT you have pay for a business line first.

Member

I really have nothing to complain about regarding speeds as I am getting what I was promised or more. They are also not out of step with BT wholesale when I checked.

Problem is loss of connection and separately noisy lines which generates phantom phone calls. I pay a BT Business premium so the lines generally get fixed within hours and usually I do not loose both lines at the same time.

I have a separate issue with other providers faulty equipment on our exchange but you try speaking directly to the OpenReach engineers!!! BT Business as intermediaries are useless. It is not their equipment.

We are hardwired here so there is no WiFi losses.

Member

Interesting Tony , yes as a business user paying for it you get better service than thec public. Also your complaints are dealt with by UK based operatives NOT India . I know I have talked to them , nice people, at least in my view . Openreach are not allowed to communicate with the public its down to government legislation , you could try talking to the engineers . Loss of connection and faulty lines are 90 % down to an external fault. I have fixed bad overhead connections / slack connections art the cabinet and the UG squad ( underground ) fix the underground faulty cables usually water ingress . Do your lines come off a pole ? if so the overhead could be rubbing against tree branches or a building or the connection at the black box on the pole DP ( distribution point ) has water ingress . Alternatively the cable coming into your business ( lead-in ) is faulty or it could be the termination point is in the bathroom and condensation gets into it turning the connections into green mould and eventually creating acid ) DC voltage + water . I have fixed every conceivable external to the exchange equipment . noisy /cutting off faults . Get back Tony and we can talk .

Member

Lines come u/ground with final distribution on poles. No issue here as they have been renewed in the past a couple of times (I have been wired for an ISDN connection in the past). Water in the manholes plus other adjacent line work would seem to be main cause ie they fix another’s line and break mine.

Yes I do get to speak to OpenReach, but only when they call to check out and fix a problem for me. If I could do this directly it would save 90% of the hassle. Their engineers are usually very helpful, often acting over and above their call of duty. I know HMGov have separated the telephone functions but the current complaints procedure is designed to thwart. Ofcom do not make it easy.

Local exchange problems may be a combination of one of my phone numbers coupled with other provider equipment not filtering out their line faults. I can establish the source of most of the faults ie Virgin, BT Commercial and TalkTalk but there is no effective means of handing over this information. In reality OpenReach should be doing the logging – performance, reliability or otherwise.

The tree scenario is unlikely but in one case it was traced to this but on a Virgin connection.

This is getting rather technical and off topic as regards Broadband performance. Happy to talk directly if this is possible to set up

Member

Just a comment on internal faults…unlikely. Fault reporting generally goes > if its your equipment it will cost you £175 to fix > its not my equipment at fault !!! I have a dual WAN set up and the other half is working perfectly > incidentally both are connected to master sockets which are BT responsibility and the internal phone system is DECT only > if you check there has been history of line faults (aluminium) for many years etc etc etc.

OpenReach still check and have not identified an internal fault for many years.

Member

As far as I am concerned if you read the convo title it says-why do big broadband providers fail to provide service . My technical comments have every-right to be heard as other posters want info on this subject . I talk to the public on Which not behind closed doors . If you don’t like that so be it but I will carry on providing info as I feel I am providing a service . You obviously think I don’t . I will let others answer you and clear your fault for you.

Member
Martin says:
8 November 2017

I see BT are up to their old tricks again of advertising misleading broadband speeds. I recently received an e-mail notification of a price increase and the e-mail gave me a button to click that said “Upgrade your broadband”. When I clicked on the link it took me to a page for “Your Personalised Broadband Offer” which was to upgrade to ‘Unlimited Infinity up to 52Mbps’. I’m currently on “Unlimited Faster Broadband up to 17Mbps” and in fact I actually get close to 20Mbps during the day but a good less in the evening with numerous interruptions to the service at all times of the day and night. Before placing an order for “Infinity up to 52Mpbs” and what I had hoped was the start of an improvement to my current service I contacted BT to ask them what speed I would actually be able to get. After a long conversation with first line support people they decided they couldn’t answer the question and put me through to second line support which seemed to be a UK based person. After long delays and giving them info several times about account number, address, current package etc they eventually told me that “Unlimited Infinity up to 52Mbps” wasn’t actually available to me after all. Why do they make an offer that they must have known they couldn’t deliver ? I was thinking of moving to Zen but after reading some of the comments I don’t think I’ll bother. Looks like another Christmas with 10 family members where none of us will be able to do much on our broadband! Why is it so hard for broadband providers to give high speed reliable and stable broadband.

Member

You actually have a point Martin , its the new advertising dogma to increase sales . In days gone by you had technical staff who knew intimately what was going on in the field as they had worked in it . Now its a case of the sales staff having limited engineering knowledge due to policy of using a “receptionist ” system where bye all their data is not built in but is supplied by a computer. while they might not admit it not all faults can be traced by computer testing . Likewise the dront desk sales staff dont get or know advanced engineering details this is now separate from them . I agre nobody should be contacted to boost sales on the strength of speed when the person answering the phone doesn’t know intimately what is the REAL engineering speed of every customer of BT . It creates upset, annoyance and anger in those who end up being told -no you cant get xxx speed . whoever thought up that sales strategy should have their wages/bonus cut because it is bad policy .

Member

Advertising has always been used to increase sales, and it has almost always only involved sales and marketing staff who can dream up the plus points of their products, unencumbered by the knowledge from their engineers and designers. Or employing an advertising agency. Not untruths, just the advertising norm.

However, before we s**g of business for doing this, think of what the government does, the NHS (waiting times??), your local authority, all making promises that they fail to deliver.

You need to see through publicity and do a little research for yourself – pick up the phone or use the internet. Just like Martin did. Take nothing at face value.

Member
Colin H says:
13 November 2017

I think we’re never going to see any real improvements until there is true competition at an infrastructure level. And if we ever get that it will be big companies of the likes of BT, Openreach, Sky & Virgin that will be providing it… I live in a small village and am with BT (Infinity 2); when I signed up a year or two ago I was amazed that I got pretty well the full advertised maximum upload and download speeds. Gradually my download speed has pretty well halved, although the upload speed is still fine. Openreach engineers do the stock routine checks and tell me it’s line contention, bad weather or there’s an ‘R’ in the month. They tell me it’s the best speed my line can support. Clearly it isn’t as I used to get double, nor can they tell me why I get exactly the same download speed regardless of weather or time of day, or why the exact same piece of copper has deteriorated so badly in the last few months (or if it has why it can’t be repaired), or why the line contention and weather don’t affect the upload speeds, etc. They are minimally trained and unwilling/unable to try to solve problems beyond doing the basic checks.

By the way, if we’re voting voting for worst customer service in my book BT is absolutely streets ahead – I lose the will to live if I have to call them about anything, let alone anything remotely technical. And I’m a Sky customer too. In all seriousness though, for many people in the UK is there really any point in switching providers if they all have to rely on the same infrastructure, and the tender mercies of Openreach?

Member

Colin if your speed has gone down over the months and nothing external has changed then you have noise generated by many more customers in your area or you a using more computers to access the internet -ie-family etc . It can also be that your Wi-Fi has interference from some of your gadgets you have in the house. Unplug all the connections to your master socket by undoing the face plate (two screws ) then plug your router into the internal socket ( test socket ) via a LAN cable – connect to computer switch OFF your Wi-Fi and try that for two days or more and let me know if the speed changes .