/ Technology

Brief cases: faulty router problems


Losing your wi-fi signal at random times can be both frustrating and inconvenient. Where do you stand when your broadband provider fails to solve issues with your router?

Six months after taking out a phone, broadband and TV package with TalkTalk, Which? Legal member Jeanette Hancock started having issues with the wi-fi signal dropping out.

When a reboot of the router failed to fix the problem, Ms Hancock arranged an engineer visit. But the engineer never arrived, and when she contacted TalkTalk it told her that no engineer was booked. She was promised a call back from a manager, which didn’t happen.

She then emailed TalkTalk’s chief executive Tristia Harrison, and had a reply saying the support team would contact her within the next 48 hours. When she heard nothing, she contacted Which? Legal for advice.

Our advice

After getting advice from the legal team, Ms Hancock emailed Ms Harrison at TalkTalk again and made her aware of Which?’s involvement. Within a couple of hours, she received a call back from the support team.

She explained the problems she was having with the faulty router, and the TalkTalk adviser booked an engineer, who resolved the issue. Ms Hancock had a follow-up call from TalkTalk that evening offering an apology, and promising to replace the router if she had any further problems.

The law

Ms Hancock’s contract covered both goods and services. Such contracts are governed by the Consumer Rights Act 2015 (if entered into on or after 1 October 2015), or the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982 (if entered into before then).

These make it an implied term of the contract that the service provider will provide goods that are of satisfactory quality and fit for purpose, and that they will exercise ‘reasonable care and skill’ in the performance of their services.

If a telecoms company such as TalkTalk provides faulty equipment, or a broadband service without an adequate wi-fi signal, one can argue that it’s in breach of contract.

By expressly stating that time is of the essence, and giving a reasonable time limit in which you expect the matter to be resolved, you are fixing a time for contractual performance. If the supplier fails to perform by this date, you can treat the contract as at an end.

This article by the Which? Legal team originally appeared in the January 2018 edition of Which? magazine.

Have you had similar issues trying to get your broadband provider to sort out problems with your wi-fi or faulty router? What approach did you take and did you get the problems resolved?


Talk-Talk there lies the problem Cheap but customer service nil

Thomas Gallagher says:
6 August 2019

been with talk-talk eight years and a month ago my router gave up the ghost, I have had several routers over the years go faulty so went through the same process ring up, they test the router find its faulty they send out new router, same old thing, but not this time they sent me out the new home hub plugged it in waited a few days for it to settle in. but it didn’t so rang talk-talk they tested it and reported sorry its a faulty unit will send out replacement 4-5 working days, waited 12 days and rang back lady on line told me the replacement had been canceled as I was out of contract and would have to pay for new unit ,i was livid complained that unit sent by their end was tested faulty so why do I have to pay her reply was that I could still get wifi on unit, after explaining I pay for BROADBAND to stream content of which the unit is incapable of in a polite way I said I am taking this higher and rang complaints,they say I should get my new hub in the next few days and will get a email from somebody? about a refund for my month charged to me with no working broadband, I am not holding my breath. Tom.G.

While the above lady had her problem fixed I hope this convo doesn’t think that is the answer to Wi-Fi problems . FAR from it I know from personal testing using RF transmitted signals that Wi-Fi can and does get interrupted by many other means , including walls/distance etc . I think it would be foolish of Which to pursue this line based on one customer and remember – call an engineer out – if its your fault then contractually YOU pay . As you know I have spent a long time answering ALL those problems on Which and while SOME of them apply directly to routers/modems the vast majority ere due to other internal factors in the customers house . Be careful here Which !

I’ve never had any router or wifi problems that were down to faulty equipment.

As I had to buy my first wifi router as an extra, I keep it around in case I ever need to do a router substitution test (or similar trials).

Same here Derek my “old ” HH5 doesn’t give me any problems although there is a “HH6 ” version out now . It got good write-ups at the time, thats why I dont want the public to think- its the router silly ! /Only in a minority of the cases it is , otherwise a lot of angry posters will be on here complaining – Which said it was the router and my ISP charged me £150.

Patrick Taylor says:
7 January 2018

I had signal drop-out for my BB rather than my wireless signal. The answer was moisture in a joint they had fitted which made for intermittent and irregular service. So weather was a factor.

In this case the article is incomplete as it ends witha promise of assistance if required. It does not say if she actually had a new router or a visit from an engineer – or both. I loathe part articles.

Patrick Taylor says:
7 January 2018

Sorry. She did have an engineer. But the cause of the problem is not made clear. User error? Bad cabling? But not the router. This seems to miss a learning point.

Charging for a replacement router was certainly the modus operandi for VirginMedia and I had to point out strongly that the contract was for them to replace faulty or old equipment. Perhaps this side of the complaint could be enlarged. What is TalkTalk’s philosophy on engineer call-outs where it is non-company fault, or a replacement router is required.?

Perhaps they could be asked ?

The advice given here could also be useful to anyone who has problems with their mobile phone service and other services involving contracts. No-one should be expected to continue with a contract if let down by a company.

Knowing that intermittent faults can be hard to trace (such as the water in a connection mentioned by Patrick T) I would be prepared to let a company have several attempts to sort out a problem but I would have no hesitation in asking for a contract to be cancelled if an engineer failed to turn up twice unless I had been informed in advance.

Duncan’s comment about ISP charges makes me wonder, why are these charges so high? If a provider is charging £120-150, say, for a call out that is not down to their faulty equipment, that seems to be effectively punishing the customer – in most cases any work carried out is unlikely to be worth this amount. Even if the engineer is only able to attend 3 call outs per day, that still appears to be a healthy profit for the providers. I am aware of one elderly neighbour who is very worried in case something should go wrong with her phone, in case it turns out to be a chargeable call out.
Perhaps Which? should be pushing for lower charges in this area?

This all started Dave3 when I was still with BT/GPO when they split the public kicked up with the help of thec media to constantly condemn BT . This was one of thec legislative results to make BT “equal ” with other providers hence the MASTER SOCKET . After that ALL the wiring was the customers and they were responsible for it . They hadn’t thought that through completely as many of the public woke up to high charges . BT,s charges are in line with a lot of companies of their size . Previously we issued official paperwork if there was a blatant damage by the customer , not bothering about small stuff BUT that changed with the new legislation . WE were informed -quote- it would NOT be our interest if we DIDNT charge the customer and yes they started checking up on us. It was explained to us the cost of sending an engineer out to a customer and god help the engineer who didn’t charge if wiring was cur t due to house /building renovation , especially overhead wiring so make sure you dont knock down a telephone pole ( and get caught ) as you are talking £ 100,s just for the pole not w the work. I cant see the charges being reduced much as other private companies would complain and if anybody thinks America is going to make things better then check out USA charges some would make your hair stand on end . Many in the USA add it to their house insurance obviously raising the premium.

Mike Inglis says:
13 January 2018

Had continuous problems with BT Hub 6 dropping wifi and broadband signals. BT replaced the hub but the replacement did exactly the same. BT engineer told us there was a known problem with the Hub 6 and advised us to try an old Hub 4 which solved the problem, but as we originally chose BT for its “fastest in UK Hub 6” we did not have the service that we ordered in the first place. Changed to Plusnet and were promised up to 35Mbps but only got 6 or 7. After more than 8 engineer visits we were told that we should never have been sold fibre as we were too farfrom the cabinet and the best we could get would be 10Mbps which weonly see very occasionally, usually mid 9s. No improvement in sight anytime soon!

I agree, the article is lacking in detail & doesn’t make sense. It implies that it wasn’t a long running issue, so taking legal advice seems a bit over the top!

I may be wrong but as far as I know, most Service Providers don’t have their own engineers to send to site. It’s normally a Broadband trained Openreach engineer, who will only check the line….not the router. If anyone is going to change the router, it will be the provider you have the contract with.

If it was a WiFi issue, Talk Talk wouldn’t send an engineer….unless they have their own engineers to deal with routers etc?!

As said before, WiFi signals can be affected by a number of things and just because a user loses the signal from time to time, it doesn’t mean the router is faulty. Obviously, some routers are better than others + routers supplied by Service Providers aren’t going to be the best. Firstly, if you live in a large, solidly built property, most routers will struggle to reach all corners and Boosters/Powerline Adaptors may be required….or better still, one of the new Mesh type systems.

If we’re not talking property size, then the location of the router can cause problems. It’s not unknown for end users to site their routers on the floor….this doesn’t help the WiFi signal one bit. Also, a router sited near to electrical equipment (especially tv’s & cordless telephone bases) will also have have problems with WiFi performance. In rare instances, a strong signal from a neighbours router can also cause problems.

Sorry Which? but I think you need to provide more detail as this article could cause more trouble than good.

Chris Best says:
13 January 2018

I have had quite a number of problems with my router’s WiFi distribution, and the usual advice given by Sky is to change the router channel. I have high speed broadband, which is quite effective through the wired connection to my computer, but WiFi connections can be erratic and/or very limited in the amount of data they will carry. Technical advice seems to be that house design, router location, and RF interference will all play a part, but so will the WiFi settings used by my neighbours, so regular channel resetting is recommended. This culminated in my new smart TV being unable to show Netflix because of WiFi problems giving a data capacity of less than 0.3 mbs. While I understand the problems that WiFi brings, surely the broadband providers should make it clearer that the bigger bandwidth we are paying for is only going to be reliably delivered down a hard wired connection – or they should be working on an automatic channel agile router to improve the likelihood of good bandwidth across wireless connections.

ian rodham says:
14 January 2018

I have had a similar problem with Which! Failing to reply to my communications

Tony Braines says:
3 April 2018

My Sky Q Box does everything it is supposed to i.e no problems – my modem occasionally fails but it takes just a few minutes to get it working, speeds slow between 12.00 and 2 am, needed an Engineer once after initially going with Sky, engineer there the following day with a Brand New Q Box. My experience with Virgin totally the opposite, poor everything except speed was much faster and maintained 24 hours

John H says:
4 April 2018

I’ve had several broadband suppliers and often suffer intermittent dropouts. I think my problems are down to some faulty equipment between my property and the exchange all of which are own by BT/Openreach. When it’s working my speed is always as fast but frustrating if using a tv catchup service such as BBC iplayer and it stops 3 or 4 times during a film while my connection drops and re syncs. With a mobile phone if you have poor signal you can change provider and that’s problem solved but with broadband you’re stuck with the same line going back to the same exchange no matter who you buy your services from.
So if you’re having problems that aren’t caused by your router your pretty much stuffed.

my VM superhub router 3 not only provides me with 350+ broadband, but wireless all round the house and is a VM hotspot tranmitter locally. On occasion the router does pack up, its used all day every day so hardly mind blowing, VM get another out very fast and all I have to do it call a number and its activated there and then.

For more than three years my dual-band router has worked faultlessly. It defaults to the 5G band, which gives me a reliable download speed of around 76 Mbps on my FTTP service. The WiFi range is rather limited, and when sitting in the garden I have to switch to the 2.4G band if the signal drops, because this band has a longer range. This is not quite as fast but that is not important for me.

I had a problem with the router and after a hard reset the 5G band was working again but I could no longer use the 2.4G band. I was told that I would be sent a new router and that this would not need to be switched between bands. I confess to being a little sceptical and it is early days, but it does seem to work.

It was @duncan-lucas who explained to me the benefits of a dual band router, and I would now like to know why my new router manages to combine the faster speed with the longer range.

After months of trials BT introduced the new Smart Hub 2 (SH2) –notice the break in the old continuation –HH1-2-3-4-5.
This HH is especially designed to output a much stronger signal and includes an FXS port (phone ) for VoIP protocol which BT will be moving all its subscribers in a few years to .
Its suitable for FTTP although you could have a special variant for FTTP and is part of BT,s advertised -SOGEA (standalone broadband ) ,do you have the premium “BTPlus ” package Wavechange ?

The new router has 7 aerials (antenna ) positioned to maximise wi-fi performance —
all your devices auto connect to the fastest wi-fi channel and continually scans itself to ensure best performance and will AUTO reboot itself if there is a problem .

Hope this is of some help .if not get back Wavechange.

I don’t use BT but automatic channel selection does make sense and the router is ready for VOIP when that becomes available. Thanks Duncan.

VOIP will be useful, but don’t we need to get basic broadband up to a decent capacity and speed in all areas first?

VOIP will be essential for new installations where there is only a fibre and no copper landline cable. My home is 20 years old and uses a copper wire for the phone and a fibre for broadband. It may not be long before the copper wire becomes redundant, reducing maintenance costs.

With copper and FTTC installations the copper wire is currently used for both phone and broadband, so the service provider rather than the customer will benefit from VOIP. The main current use of VOIP seems to be to provide services for business and other large users.

As we have discussed before we need the entertainment companies contributing to the roll-out of proper fibre broadband because they require and profit from fast broadband. For balance, it may be Netflix et al. that have helped create a demand for decent broadband services, so rural areas might benefit in due course.

Progress is being made John and those with below 10 Mbps are now in single figures as regards the UK broadband population.
The problem (as usual ) is that those subscribers are (usually ) on long lines from the exchange and costs to up them to FTTP is very high per subscriber ,the government will need to help financially here .
There are many incentives ,if an area gets together the cost could be very low but getting people to contribute is not easy , also (controversially ) the ISP,s supplying the services look for exclusivity (barring of other ISP,s ) but there are several small notable companies that will provide the fibre to a point in the road and local people can run their own fibre to their homes .
There are many variations of this so its not easy to list them all.
Again (as usual ) lobbying for high speed broadband by Big Media is pushing this .

Duncan – Here is a post from someone who is tied to using FibreNest, which is owned by Persimmon: https://conversation.which.co.uk/technology/broadband-advertising-win-internet/#comment-1573354 I wonder how many other companies tie customers to a single ISP.

Someone recently posted about being tied to Virgin Media because of the cost and the fact that other service providers could not provide a usable service because of the length of the line.

DerekP says:
28 August 2019

Here in the wilds of Fairbourne, this week’s holiday cottage has Post Office Fibre Broadband, giving 36 Mbps down and 9 Mbps up, as per Which? test.

Thanks Wavechange, but is it a fact that people who do not use a computer or don’t want broadband will have to use a router so that they can make and receive telephone calls? Fibre is not a particularly new technology for telecoms so surely a fibre landline will carry telecom traffic as it used to before the world went mad for broadband?

When we were discussing FibreNest I looked up the cost of having a landline service without broadband and it was £10 a month, which seems very reasonable. I don’t know how you pay, John, but at present I have a bundle that includes both landline and broadband, which seems to be a common arrangement.

For the foreseeable future there will be people who want either a phone service or broadband and they will need to be catered for. With new homes, these services will be provided via a fibre.

Persimmon/FibreNest both run out of the same office building and have the same secretary ,after some detective work I have found who probably provide the actual fibre and engineering .
It is likely (don’t quote me ) that City Fibre do the work therefore their terms and conditions as an ISP should apply to its customers but there is a rub.
City Fibre has been bought out by Bidco a US venture capital grouping including Goldman Sachs West Street Infrastructure Partners /equity house Antin .
Bit by bit “UK owned ” is becoming US owned .
Virgin Media was guaranteed exclusivity by HMG to allow it to compete with BT .

Good to see you back, Duncan. I hope you are well.

Although the number of households without access to fast broadband is decreasing, reports still occasionally come into this site from people struggling to get 1-3 Mbps and there are several anomalies where the gaps in coverage are still waiting for a service. Hopefully this situation will soon come to an end.

Service on my router recently improved; it used to cut out during or at the termination of a phone call but that no longer happens. I didn’t do anything to change it so I assume there was a weak link or a fault somewhere in the landline that has now been rectified. BT have bolted lots of new apparatus onto the street cabinet.

Wavechange – we have a BT bundle that includes landline phone and broadband and overall the service is fine.

When we lived in a new house with FTTP we could still use the phone without a router connected.

If you can accept an answer from me —–? –yes .
Copper is being made redundant, its official in some years from now but that all depends on the speed of roll-out in rural areas.
A “Smartphone ” will be the UK “standardised” means of communication ( unless its to do with the Government (security in wartime ).
FTTP technology will not use analogue means , having said that ,at present , BT has an engineering means of using home phones over the system but that to will be phased out (eventually ).

Thanks, Duncan. I was born with an analogue spoon in my mouth so as I get older I was hoping I could regress from the use of digital technology and dispense with computers, smart phones, and so on and lead a normal life again.

Ah, but your fingers are digital, John, and you are smart in the old sense of the word.

I remember being puzzled that it is possible to have a master socket with FTTP but subsequently read that this is possible unless higher speeds are needed. It would be interesting to know what is being installed in the latest new build homes.

Thanks John ,nice to be back ,yes I am still soldiering on although I cant say the same for my wife.