Broadband woes hit over half of all UK households

More than half of British households have experienced a problem with their broadband service in the past year, a study has found.

Independent consumer website Which? polled more than 1,900 customers across 12 providers for its latest broadband satisfaction survey.

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The most common problems listed by the 56 per cent who reported issues included price hikes, poor speeds, connection drop-outs and router issues. Virgin Media customers were the most likely to have experienced a problem, with 73 per cent reporting some kind of difficulty in the past year, typically due to price.

About 62 per cent of Sky customers reported a problem followed by 61 per cent of BT customers.

Zen Internet achieved the lowest proportion of complaints, with only 25 per cent of customers saying they had experienced a problem. The most common complaint was around recent price increases, affecting one in five (22 per cent) of broadband customers.

Virgin Media customers were twice as likely to have had a problem with price hikes (47 per cent). However, it was also the top complaint in relation to BT, with 30 per cent of its customers reporting an increase. Slow speed was the second biggest problem, affecting 21 per cent of those polled.

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TalkTalk customers were more likely to experience slow speeds than any other provider included in the survey, with 31 per cent affected. Almost one in five people overall (17 per cent) suffered connection drop-outs.

Virgin Media customers were the most likely to be left with no internet at all for hours or even days at a time at 15 per cent of customers.

Other issues included customers struggling to resolve queries with their provider (6 per cent), problems getting in touch with their provider (5 per cent), a long wait for an engineer to visit (3 per cent), incorrect or unexpectedly high bills (3 per cent) and exceeding the usage limit (2 per cent).

BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Virgin Media and Zen Internet, who together serve about 90 per cent of landline and broadband customers in the UK, have agreed to automatically compensate customers affected by slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations from early next year under Ofcom plans.

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Alex Neill, Which? managing director of home products and services, said: “It’s clear that too many households are still suffering from substandard broadband and our research shows that providers have a long way to go before they meet their customers’ expectations. “Customers who suffer from a shoddy broadband service will welcome new measures for automatic compensation. However, providers should do more to stop these problems from happening in the first place. Anyone not happy with the service they are getting should look to switch.”

A Virgin Media spokesman said: “We do everything we can to balance keeping our prices competitive while investing to meet customers’ ever-increasing appetite for faster broadband and better content.”

This article originally appeared in our sister title, The Scotsman