Broadband help and issues
By Claire Nottage | Friday, December 2nd 2022
For most of the time, our broadband connection just chugs along quietly, without us even thinking about it. But occasionally problems do crop up, from slow broadband to payment issues. When this happens it’s good to know where you should turn to get the problem sorted quickly.
Most providers have extensive information on their websites for customers needing help, but if these do not answer your question you will need to get in touch directly. With phone numbers, web chat, email and social media all offering points of contact, we look at the most common customer issues and the best ways to get them resolved.
Problems with your bill
Broadband contracts commit customers to paying a certain amount each month for a fixed period in order to receive their service. These amounts can vary if customers are charged (knowingly or otherwise) for additional services, but occasionally mistakes happen and you may find that you have been overcharged.
If you think you are being overcharged
First you should check your contract and see whether you are subject to additional fees for any of your services. For example, if you have an inclusive calls package, you may find that you have made a phone call to a number that is not included. This information will be shown on your bill or on your online account.
If you are sure that you have been overcharged, then you should make a phone call to your provider and ask them to investigate. Alternatively you can use the online chat service if it is available, or make contact via social media. Your provider should issue you with a full refund for any monies taken in error.
If you are struggling to pay your bill
Most providers will be prepared to come to an arrangement with you to spread the cost of your bills if you are struggling to make payments. If you are mid-way through your contract, you are legally committed to paying for the duration of it, but your provider may be able to reduce the payments or look at spreading them over a longer period to help you manage the cost.
Always contact your provider as soon as you think you can no longer afford the repayments and explain your situation, otherwise they are likely to slap on a fee for non-payment. Contact your provider by phone or online chat and they will most likely take steps to help you.
If your broadband connection has slowed down or starts to drop out, then you may have a fault. Most broadband providers have a ‘check service’ status on their website so if you can get online somehow, visit these pages first to find out if any planned maintenance work is going on in your area, or what you can try at home to fix the problem yourself.
Most providers use the Openreach network to supply their services and so they will have to instruct Openreach to fix a fault. The exception to this is Virgin Media that runs its own network and is therefore responsible for all repairs.
Before you contact your provider, it’s worth running through a few basics to see if you can resolve the problem yourself since customer services will probably ask you to do this anyway. Unplug and plug in your phone line again and switch your router off and on again – this can sometimes be enough to fix the issue. Also plug a device directly into your router – if you can get online that way then it’s likely that you have a problem with your wifi rather than the connection coming into your home.
If you have tried all options to fix the problem yourself and have had no luck then you should contact your provider directly to report the fault.
Customer service phone numbers
Here is a quick rundown of the best ways to get in touch with customer services with each of the most popular providers.
The fastest way to deal with a BT fault is to text FIX and your landline number to 61998. BT will then run tests on your line and call you back within 30 minutes. If they cannot fix the problem, an engineer will be sent to address the issue with the network.
Virgin is directly responsible for its own network of cables. Call customer services on 0345 454 1111 to report any issues. Customers can check their network status, run tests on their hardware and even book an engineer by logging in to their account.
Sky does not have a dedicated fault report line. Instead you should call Sky customer services on 0333 7591 018. You can check the status of your connection by logging in to your account
You can check your service status by logging in to your account online or on the TalkTalk app. If there are no faults or maintenance issues listed you should call customer services on 0345 172 0088.
If you can get online somehow, you can report a fault by logging in to your account online. Alternatively you can call customer services on 0800 432 0200.
Vodafone offers a detailed diagnosis service via its website and app, which you can use as a starting point to work out where the problem is. If this doesn’t help, you should call customer services on 0333 304 0191. Alternatively you can call 191 from a Vodafone mobile.
EE has a page detailing all the steps you can take to resolve a broadband issue yourself. If none of this works, you can call customer services on 0800 079 8586.
SSE customers with broadband issues can get in touch by calling 0345 071 9627. It also has extensive details as to how you can try to resolve any issues yourself on its website – if you can get online using your phone in the meantime.
NOW Broadband advises its customers to check the status of your broadband service by logging in to your account where you can run a line test and book an engineer visit if necessary. If that brings no joy you can call on 03303 323050.
John Lewis Broadband
If you need to speak to John Lewis about your broadband service, you can call customer services on 0800 022 3300. Note that you will need to have your username and password to hand.
Slow or unreliable broadband
Immensely frustrating, slow broadband or broadband that drops out can be caused by a wide range of issues, from your distance to the cabinet to where you put your router.
If your broadband has only recently slowed down, it could be due to a fault on the line, but could equally be caused by heavy usage, such as downloading large files or more users online at once than usual. If you have changed your router’s location that could also cause problems.
If your broadband speed is slower than what you are paying for then you should contact your provider via online chat or by calling customer services. If there is a fault on the line, then your provider will arrange for an engineer to fix it.
If there is no fault and your connection speed is reliably consistently slower than the estimated speed you were provided with when you signed up, then you are entitled to make a formal complaint. Most providers will have an official complaints number to call. If not, start with the customer services number.
Use social media to speed up response times
If you are struggling to get an issue with your broadband dealt with, then it is a good idea to take to social media where your complaint will be seen by thousands of people. Providers tend not to like this, and as a result you are far more likely to get your complaint dealt with swiftly.
Most broadband providers have accounts on both Twitter and Facebook where you can state your problem clearly and politely to get the best response.
Frequently asked questions
What causes broadband issues?
Broadband can be affected by a number of things from wiring to the number of people using a connection at one time. It’s worth trying to resolve a problem yourself before contacting your provider to see if it’s a straightforward fix.
What is the Universal Service Obligation?
Since March 2020, Ofcom states that if you receive a broadband service with a download speed slower than 10Mbps, you are entitled to ask for an upgraded connection. This could be a pre-existing connection or it could require the installation of new cabling.
How quickly are broadband faults fixed?
Depending on the complexity of the issue, most faults should be fixed within two days, but can take longer if more major work is required. Your provider should keep you updated on the progress on repairing your fault.
Can a faulty telephone line affect my broadband?
Yes. Unless you are on a full fibre, ultrafast connection with Virgin Media or any other provider, a telephone line is used to provide your broadband service. If there is a fault with your phone line you should report it to your provider.
How can I find out if there is a broadband fault in my area?
Most providers will be able to show you this information when you log into your account online. Look for a section on the website called Service Status.