Ofcom responds to broadband and phone hang-ups

16 November 2007
Broadband and home phone customers could be left feeling short changed, according to recent reports.

Almost two-thirds of people in the UK (61 per cent) choose their broadband package because of speeds offered by the provider, according to Moneysupermarket.com. However, it reports that 56 per cent do not actually end up with the speed that was advertised when they signed up.

Ofcom is currently in talks with six broadband providers over customer claims that they are being misled. "We've expressed our concern to the Advertising Standards Authority and we're talking to the industry," Ofcom spokesperson Helen Simpson told the Daily Telegraph.

Head of broadband and mobiles at moneysupermarket.com, Rob Barnes, said: “As most people are only achieving half the speed they signed up for, a typical film of 500Mb could take up to four hours to download, instead of 60 to 90 minutes.”

Furthermore, uSwitch claims phone customers are being charged up to £195 to reconnect their landline after moving home. It indicates that as many as 2.7 million people face this fee each year, and that companies now stand to gain £44 million from the charges compared with just £14 million last year.

It claims that, unless a customer holds a contract with BT, Pipex or Toucan, those moving home face the unpleasant choice of having to either pay almost £195 just to continue their telephone service at their new address, or pay a hefty exit fee to terminate the agreement with their existing provider.

Head of communications services at uSwitch.com, Steve Weller, said: “With 44 million consumers relying on a landline to make calls at home, Ofcom urgently needs to grab this issue by the neck. It’s unacceptable that loyal phone customers are effectively being thrown back onto the streets when they decide to move home.”

However, reports indicate that Ofcom is aware of the home phone situation and that it believes these claims may be exaggerated, while Tiscali has dismissed the report as “inaccurate”. Moreover, by comparing deals from a wide range of companies offering telecoms services, either individually and as a package, customers are able to choose a deal that fulfils their requirements and is within their price range.

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