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The biggest broadband firms are providing a service that is “mediocre at best” according to a new survey.
The study by consumer watchdog Which? found that most of the biggest firms offer little more than unreliable connections, poor customer service and issues with technical support – despite announcing large monthly bill increases from next month.
Here’s what Which? found
The worst rated of the biggest firms was TalkTalk after it received a score of 51% in the annual satisfaction survey of 4,000 customers.
Users gave it the lowest possible ratings for technical support, customer service and speed.
The firm will be increasing its broadband prices by 14.2% from 1 April.
Coming 10th in the ranking is Virgin Media with 54% of people scoring it low for customer service and technical support.
Virgin’s monthly costs will increase by an average of 13.8% in April.
In eighth place, with a score of 56%, is Sky broadband. Its customers said they had experienced connection issues in the past year.
On Saturday, Sky increased its price by 8.1%. Although customers who are currently on its broadband are still able to switch without penalty.
BT broadband came in fifth, with 59% of users saying it is poor value for money.
On 31 March, the company will see a mid-contract price increase of 14.4%.
Zen Internet came in top spot with the highest rating for the eighth year in a row, scoring at 81%.
Following behind are Hyperoptic and Utility Warehouse, coming in second and third place, and like Zen, they will not be increasing prices mid-contract.
Could inflation be the reason for price rises?
To put it simply, yes.
Providers often link their annual price rises to January’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) or the Retail Price Index (RPI).
However, the current system put in place only forces customers to choose between paying more each month or paying high exit fees, which can exceed £200.
Ofcom is currently investigating whether inflation-linked, mid-contract price rises give customers sufficient certainty and clarity when signing up for new contracts. The outcome will be published later this year.
Rocio Concha, Which? director of policy and advocacy, said: “It’s unacceptable that the major broadband firms are hiking prices for their mediocre services by such huge sums during this unrelenting cost-of-living crisis.
Which? is now calling for providers to allow customers to exit their contracts without any penalty, if prices continue to go up and to cancel price hikes for those who are vulnerable.
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In response to this, a TalkTalk spokesman said: “We’re disappointed by Which?’s approach to research data and would urge them to use more considered and representative evidence.
It said that the findings are counter to “TalkTalk’s recent encouraging trends in customer experience, following significant investment and improvements in customer service in recent months”.
“We’re also seeing our lowest-ever levels of customers leaving us,” it added.
A BT Consumer spokesman said they understand that price rises are not wanted but “recognise them as a necessary thing to do given the rising costs our business faces”.
“With the average price increase just above £1 per week and over three million of our customers exempt from the rise, we’re also doing all we can to ensure our services are accessible to the widest group of customers possible through our market-leading social tariffs.”
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