When you sign up for a broadband deal with an internet service provider (ISP), such as BT, Virgin Media, Sky or TalkTalk, you enter into a legal contract with them. As such, you're entitled to receive the broadband service you were promised, and have that service provided with a high level of care, skill, reliability and efficiency.
If you don’t get the service you were promised, your broadband provider may be in breach of contract. You then have the legal right to terminate the contract if you can show a definite breach of that agreement, or seek financial compensation.
Find out when you are entitled to cancel your broadband contract
It depends on the nature of the problem
However, much depends on the broadband problems you’re experiencing and the reasons for this. For example, short interruptions to your service, caused by necessary maintenance work carried out by your provider, may be covered under the terms of the contract.
In the case of lower-than-expected broadband speeds, it’s important to remember that, in general, advertised broadband speeds are not guaranteed in your contract.
Most providers advertise speeds up to a given number. However, if you were guaranteed a certain speed, say 24Mbps, by a salesperson when signing your contract, this forms part of your contract. If you don’t then consistently receive these speeds, your provider could be in breach of contract.
Whatever the cause, don’t take broadband problems lying down. Follow our step-by-step advice for complaining to your provider so your broadband problems are quickly sorted.
Step 1: Contact your broadband provider
Call your broadband supplier and talk to them about the problems you’re having. It may be something simple, such as routine broadband maintenance work in your area that will be finished soon, or that your wireless broadband router needs replacing. Follow any advice they offer, and ask for a (free) replacement router to see if that helps.
Step 2: Log broadband problems
Keep a diary of all the broadband interruptions you experience, including slow speeds and intermittent service. You can then show your provider exactly when and for how long their service was unavailable, as this can help them understand the problem and find a broadband fix.
Step 3: Put broadband complaints in writing
If the problem persists, make a formal complaint. Write to your broadband provider saying that you consider it to be in breach of contract because it is not providing the service that was agreed to. Attach the diary of the interruptions to your service.
You can request a refund for the times you didn’t receive the broadband service you’d expected, as well as ask for the problem to be resolved.
Don’t expect an immediate response. Allow a couple of weeks for the broadband company to investigate your complaint, determine the issue and find a solution.
Keep a record of all verbal and written communication, as this can help should you need to take your complaint further.
Read our guide to switching broadband service provider
Step 4: Take your broadband complaint further
If you don’t get a satisfactory reply, or eight weeks have passed since you first complained in writing, you can take your complaint to the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Scheme that your provider uses.
Every broadband supplier in the UK must be a member of either the Ombudsman Services or the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). Check your broadband provider’s website for the relevant scheme – you should find details of this under the company’s complaints procedure.
Each ADR scheme also lists members on its website and both provide guidance on how to make a complaint. The scheme will review your complaint and come to a decision it thinks is fair.