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Netheads who step over the users’ crease face dismissal

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People on supposedly unlimited broadband deals are being told that they risk being cut off if they use their facility “excessively”, according to price comparison website uSwitch.

But a report compiled by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) found that 71% of broadband users were unaware that they even had a usage limit, as many of the Internet providers advertise their service as “unlimited”, only including a ‘fair usage’ clause in the small print.

But the question of what constitutes ‘fair usage’ is a vexed one and is not always stipulated in customers’ agreements.

Matt Higgins, a heavy Internet user, was contacted by his provider (who he preferred not to name) and told that his download usage had been “excessive” and that it would be limiting his download speed between 9am and 10pm for a 30-day period.

“I was absolutely furious,” he said. “There was no warning and offer of redress for me – just this dictatorial, bureaucratic decision handed down from on high. It’s put paid to my belief in the idea that the customer is always right.”

Steve Weller from uSwitch commented: “What we are finding is that with exciting new services such as downloading TV programmes and films, people’s consumption of the Internet is on the increase.

“This is starting to put extra demands on Internet connections and what we would like to see is providers standardise fair usage policies by quantifying what ‘excessive’ use is.”

LATE NEWS: Broadband provider Toucan has reacted to uSwitch’s report and dropped the words ‘unlimited downloads’ from its website.



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