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Customers can quit slow broadband providers

Cherry Reynard
Written By:
Cherry Reynard

Broadband shoppers must be told how fast their new service will be before they sign a contract, according to a new Ofcom Code of Practice.

Providers must now give a minimum guaranteed speed ahead of any sale. That includes an indication of speeds received at peak times – 8pm to 10pm for homes and 12pm to 2pm for businesses

If broadband speed drops below the promised level, the firm will have one month to improve performance – and customers can walk away without being penalised.

They will also have the right to exit any bundled landline and TV packages bought at the same time.

All the major broadband firms signed up to the new Code – BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media, which together serve around 95% of home broadband customers, which applies when switching to a new provider or when changing the current package.

Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “When you sign a contract, you should be treated fairly and know exactly what you’re getting.

“These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. Before they sign up, customers will be told their minimum internet speed. And if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away.”

Ofcom research shows that last year only three in 20 broadband customers contacted their provider proactively and renegotiated their deal. It said millions of households could upgrade to faster broadband for the same or less money.

Ofcom said it would report on companies’ performance next year.

Kate Devine, head of home services at MoneySuperMarket, said: “Ultimately, when it comes to broadband, speed is what matters to consumers, so Ofcom’s decision to introduce a voluntary code of practice for the likes of BT and Sky is a welcome one. It is totally necessary and justified for providers to be transparent with customers regarding the minimum and peak time speeds they’re likely to receive, before they sign on the dotted line.

“Ofcom is essentially challenging providers to back up claims about speed – and if they can’t do within a month of the contract being signed, it’s perfectly reasonable to give customers the right to switch to another provider without incurring a penalty.