1st August 2014
Broadband users suffering with poor service are being punished with sneaky charges for trying to cancel and providers are even passing fees on to debt collectors.
Citizens’ Advice Bureau said it has seen evidence of people being locked into unsuitable broadband contracts or hit with ‘arbitrary’ fees for cancelling when they try to switch to get a better service.
The average cost of getting out of a broadband contract is £190 and fees up to £625 have been reported to the bureau in the first six months of the year.
Those who move house are also being hit by cancellation fees despite the fact that they would not be able to use the service after they moved.
The bureau said half of the claims it received about broadband providers were to do with substandard service, including slow connection speeds, persistent faults and bad customer service.
It received 4,500 internet and broadband complaints from July 2013 to June 2014, 3,300 of which were from people living in England and Wales. Of those in England and Wales, one in five of the complaints focused on cancellation and withdrawal from a contract. Another 18% of problems were around complaints and redress and 15% were about concerns over billing, costs and payment.
Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens’ Advice Bureau, said the organisation is now calling for internet service providers to scrap cancellation fees if a customer is having a persistent problem with their service so people aren’t forced to stay in unsatisfactory contracts.
‘People are finding themselves held captive by bad broadband services. Some consumers who have stood up to problem suppliers have found themselves being punished for switching when they’ve been hit with a cancellation fee that is then passed over to a debt collection agency,’ she said.
‘Internet service providers must not shackle customers seeking a better service with unreasonable fees that can turn into shock debt. All internet users need to be able to easily have a way out of inadequate contracts and broadband speeds that only give them daily frustration.’
The Citizens’ Advice Bureau has revealed some of the worst complaints it has received from consumers about their broadband services and fees.