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Broadband customers calling for help hit with £6million bill

15 October 2009 / by Andy Davies

Broadband customers spend up to £6million a year calling their provider for help, uSwitch.com has revealed.

According to a survey by the comparison website, 16 million calls are made every year to technical support lines – which equates to around 2,000 every hour, with the average call lasting 17 minutes, and six of these minutes are spent on hold waiting for an advisor to become available.  

It seems the cost of the calls can vary drastically between providers, with some broadband companies charging customers nothing to make a call, while others can charge up to £1.75.

The findings indicate that the most common reason for calling, accounting for 37 per cent of calls, is problems regarding connection, while service interruptions and wireless router problems also rank highly, with 18 per cent and 17 per cent of calls relating to these problems respectively.

Conversely, calls regarding set-up problems have halved in the last two years from 16 per cent to eight per cent.

Orange and Tiscali rank lowest for technical support performance in uSwitch's research, achieving a rating of 42 per cent and 47 per cent respectively, while 45 per cent of all broadband users admit they are not satisfied with the support they receive when they ask for assistance.

O2 ranked highest amongst its competitors, scoring 75 per cent for its technical support, keeping customers on hold for no more than two minutes, and allowing them to make calls for free, while Sky also received recognition for its work with a score of 60 per cent.

Commenting on how some broadband providers are now taking measures to reduce call charges for technical support, Jason Glynn, communications expert at uSwitch.com, said: "Some phone companies now include calls to non-geographic numbers as part of their call packages, so broadband customers still faced with calling a premium rate number for technical support could well see their costs go down if they moved onto an inclusive calling plan."

However, Mr Glynn says it is "disheartening" to see some companies continuing to charge consumers for technical support.

"In such a competitive arena it's surprising that they haven't wised up to the fact that customers expect more from their broadband service than a cheap deal. They want a service they can rely on - and when things go wrong they need assurance that their service will be back up and running again as quickly as possible and at minimum expense," he said, before warning broadband providers: "If they are not happy they will simply switch away."

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