Virgin Media customers were the most likely to have experienced a problem with their broadband service over the last 12 months with issues affecting seven in 10 people (70%), according to new Which? research.
The latest results of the Which? broadband satisfaction survey of more than 7,000 broadband customers found that price increases, slow speeds, connection dropouts and router problems were among the most common grievances across the 12 biggest broadband providers.
Virgin Media customers’ top complaint with their broadband service was price increases, with almost half (45%) of those surveyed reporting the issue.
Router problems were cited as the second biggest issue for Virgin customers, impacting one in of five people (21%). One in six customers (16%) told Which? that they had been left without an internet connection at all for hours or even days at a time.
TalkTalk’s broadband service proved to be almost as problematic as Virgin’s, with two-thirds (64%) of their customers reporting an issue with their service. The biggest issue for the Talk Talk customers surveyed was ‘very slow speeds’, with nearly three in 10 (28%) experiencing the problem.
Sky’s broadband service only fared slightly better than Talk Talk. Three in five (63%) customers reported an issue with their service. Price increases were the most common problem according to a third of Sky customers surveyed (33%).
Of the 12 providers included in the survey, Zen Internet customers had the least complaints about their service – however, problems still affected a third (33%) of customers.
Overall, the consumer champion found that most people were suffering from a poor broadband service. Three in five (57%) British households said they had experienced some kind of issue with their broadband service in the last year.
The Which? survey also found that eight in 10 (81%) people had been with their provider for more than two years, suggesting they are out of contract and more likely to be among almost nine million people collectively overpaying on their broadband by £1 billion, according to Ofcom figures.
Ofcom estimates that two in five broadband customers are out of contract and have been rolled on to a higher tariff. Currently, broadband providers are not obliged to notify customers when their contract might be up – meaning that some people risk unwittingly being moved onto a poor value deal.
Nearly half (45%) of people Which? surveyed said they have never switched provider. Three in ten said this was because switching was “too much hassle”, while one in seven (13%) were worried about receiving lower broadband speed.
When Which? spoke to those who had switched to another provider, two thirds (66%) said they found it easy, and only one in seven (13%) claimed they had found the process difficult.
Which? also found customers with sluggish standard broadband connections who stuck with the same provider could even end up paying much more than they would if they switched to a superior fibre deal.
In the most extreme case, BT customers could be paying £45.49 on a non-discounted standard broadband tariff, when the cheapest introductory fibre deal is almost half the price, at £24.99
Even for those who want to stay with their current provider, there is evidence that great savings could be made.
The consumer champion has launched a free switching tool to help consumers compare broadband deals and switch to the best deal for them.
Customers looking for cheaper broadband deals can compare deals with Which? Switch Broadband, a transparent and impartial way to compare tariffs and find the best broadband supplier.
Alex Neill, Which? Managing Director of Home Services, said:
“Year after year customers tell how us how they are suffering with shoddy broadband services, with problems ranging from very slow speeds to price hikes and connection dropouts.
“To make matters worse, it’s more than likely that anyone who’s been with their provider for 18 months or more is grossly overpaying for their broadband.
“Anyone who thinks they might be out of contract and overpaying for their broadband should look to switch provider- a few minutes of your time could save you over a hundred pounds a year.”
Notes to editors:
- Customers looking for cheaper broadband deals can compare deals with Which? Switch Broadband, a transparent and impartial way to compare tariffs and find the best broadband supplier.
- Our research – Which? surveyed 7,035 adults in June 2018 to July 2018 on the problems they had encountered with their broadband providers as part of their home communications survey which runs every six months.
- Broadband customers were asked ‘Thinking about the last 12 months, which, if any, of the following problems have you experienced with your broadband?’
- Number of customers out of contract
- Ofcom estimates that 40% are out of contract – these are the customers likely to be paying more for their deal.
- The Which? research team also looked into prices (September 2018) for full-fibre broadband compared to non-discounted standard broadband. Some of their findings are detailed below:
|Provider||Cheapest introductory FTTC price (per month)||Non-discounted cost of standard broadband|
- In a separate survey, Which? found that 89% of broadband customers who had haggled had been offered a discount, incentive or a better deal. How to haggle with your broadband provider: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband-deals/article/how-to-haggle-for-the-best-broadband-deal
- Which? regularly surveys broadband customers to find the best and worst broadband providers in the UK. For the full results of the latest survey go to: https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband-deals/article/best-broadband-providers
- Almost a million people collectively overpaying on their broadband by £1 billion (p28): https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/117163/Consultation-end-of-contract-notifications.pdf
- Ofcom estimates that two in five broadband customers are out of contract (p32): https://www.ofcom.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0019/117163/Consultation-end-of-contract-notifications.pdf