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How to complain to your broadband provider

By Phil Wilkinson-Jones
Tuesday, April 9th 2019

For most people, our broadband works perfectly well most of the time. But sometimes things go wrong and it’s good to know what your options are when they do. From making initial contact with your provider through to talking to the Ombudsman, we’ll talk you through the complaints process and arm you with the information you need to get your broadband issue sorted.

What can you complain about?

  • Billing issues – If you’ve been overcharged or notice something unusual on your bill, such as a phone call you didn’t make, you should get in touch with your provider straightaway.
  • Faulty equipment – Any equipment provided by your broadband supplier is also the company’s responsibility to fix or replace should anything go wrong. If the problem is with equipment you’ve bought yourself, then it’s up to you to get it fixed.
  • Slow broadband speeds – If you’re experiencing slow speeds, ask your provider to check whether your access line speed is below your minimum guaranteed speed. If it’s not, and it’s not fixed within 30 days you’ll have the right to leave your contract without penalty.
  • Connection issues – If your router can’t connect to the internet then it’s time to contact your provider. Most broadband providers will be able to tell you straightaway if there’s a known fault in your area and how long it’ll take to fix it. If the fault is just on your line then you might need to book an engineer appointment with your provider.
  • Email problems – If your broadband package came with the use of an email service, your provider is responsible for making sure this works properly.
  • Customer service – When you speak to your provider, you can expect a certain level of service. If it fails to meet this standard, you’re well within your rights to complain about it.

Check the small print of your contract

If you’re not sure whether your provider will be able to help with a particular problem, have a look at your broadband contract. This sets out what your provider is responsible for and the level of service you can expect.

Check for obvious problems – is it something you can fix?

As tempting as it might be to pick up the phone and start complaining the second you lose your internet connection, there might be a simple solution that doesn’t even require you talking to your provider.

It might be a cliché, but if your internet connection has dropped out, try turning your router off and on again. It's the first thing your provider will ask you to do anyway, so you may as well give it a go before you make the call. Also, it’s always worth checking that all the cables are securely plugged into the right places as this is another simple thing that might just fix the issue.

There are also a number of different reasons why your broadband speed might not match the speed advertised when you signed up. So before you complain, try moving your router to a better location – away from other electrical equipment if possible – and check the router settings. Also make sure that the issue isn’t with the device you’re using to connect, rather than your router.

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Making initial contact with your provider

In many cases, there’s no need to go straight in with a formal complaint. The first step is to talk to your provider’s customer service team – most of the time they’ll be able to help you, either by talking you through how to sort the problem out yourself, by arranging an engineer appointment, or by addressing any billing or contractual issues while you’re on the phone.

Remember to keep calm and explain clearly exactly what the issue is. This will help the customer service team to understand your situation and find the best way to help you. And please stay polite – as cathartic as it can be to vent your frustrations at whoever picks up the phone, the issue is very unlikely to be the fault of that individual.

If you don’t fancy picking up the phone, there are other ways to get in touch with broadband providers. Most have a live chat function on their website, a customer service email address you can write to, and social media teams that will pick up messages on Twitter and Facebook.

Keep detailed records of conversations

Make a note of when you’ve spoken to your provider, what was discussed, and what was agreed upon as the next course of action. If you do end up making a formal complaint or going to the Ombudsman, then you’ll be grateful for this record of exactly what happened and when.

Ask for written confirmation of changes to your contract

Most providers will do this as a matter of course, but if changes are going to be made to your contract, it is in both parties’ interest to have a written record of this. It will quickly resolve any disagreements that may happen in the future.

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Making a formal complaint

If you’ve spoken to your provider and they’ve been unable to help, or simply unhelpful, then it might be time to make a formal complaint. The first step is to let your provider know that you’re making a formal complaint. You can do this over the phone or by writing a letter. Some providers will also allow you to do this via email or live chat.

When complaining in writing, be sure to include your account number and your contact details in your letter or email. The amount of time it will take to get a reply will depend on which provider you’re with and how you decide to get in touch with them. Most providers say they’ll respond to email complaints within five or seven working days, and to letters within 10 working days.

How to contact your provider

  • BT – You can complain to BT over the phone by calling 0800 111 4567 from a landline or 0330 123 4567 from a mobile, or even +44 179 359 6931 from abroad. Or you can write to BT Correspondence Centre, Providence Row, Durham DH98 1BT. Unresolved complaints can be escalated by emailing csmanager@bt.com.
  • Virgin Media – You can call Virgin Media to complain by dialling 150 from a Virgin Media landline or mobile, or by calling 0345 454 1111 from any other phone. Virgin’s text relay service is available on 18001 0800 052 2164. You can write to Virgin Media, PO Box 333, Matrix Court, Swansea SA7 9ZJ. Or you can use Resolver,the online complaints tool.
  • Sky – To complain to Sky you can call the provider on 03300 413 019 or write to Customer Complaints, Sky Subscribers Services Ltd, PO Box 43, Livingston, West Lothian EH54 7DD.
  • TalkTalk – You can complain to TalkTalk on 0345 172 0088 or, if you use a text relay phone, you can dial 18001 then 0345 1720088. You can also complain in writing by emailing concerns@talktalkplc.com or addressing a letter to TalkTalk (TTR), PO Box 675, Salford M5 0NL. If you’re not satisfied with TalkTalk’s response, you can ask to speak to a manager. Then if you’re still unhappy you should write to Head of Complaints, CEO’s Office TalkTalk (CEO), PO Box 672, Salford M5 0NG.
  • Plusnet – Plusnet can be contacted on 0800 432 0200 or you can write to Plusnet Plc, The Balance, 2 Pinfold Street, Sheffield S1 2GU.
  • EE – You can call EE’s broadband complaints team on 0800 079 0125 or write to EE Customer Services, 6 Camberwell Way, Sunderland, Tyne and Wear SR3 3XN.
  • Vodafone – Vodafone’s complaints phone number is 03333 041 524. Alternatively you can write to Customer Relations Manager, Vodafone Limited, The Connection, Newbury, Berkshire RG14 2FN.
  • NOW Broadband – You can complain to NOW Broadband by calling 0800 759 1213 or by signing in to your NOW TV account and using the web form or online chat. You can also write to NOW TV Customer Care, The Hub, 1st Floor, Grant Way, Isleworth TW7 5QD.
  • John Lewis Broadband – You can complain to John Lewis Broadband on 0800 022 3300 or write to John Lewis Broadband, The Balance, 2 Pinfold Street, Sheffield S1 2GU.
  • Post Office Broadband – To make a complaint to Post Office Broadband you can call 0345 600 3210, write to Post Office Telecoms Services, PO Box 14125, Selkirk TD7 9AF or email support@pobroadband.co.uk.
  • Shell Energy Broadband – If you want to complain to First Utility you can call 01926 320 700 or write to First Utility Ltd, PO Box 6363, Coventry CV3 9LR. Or you can use online complaints tool Resolver.
  • SSE – SSE can be contacted on 0345 071 9890. You can also email customerservice@sse.co.uk or write to SSE Phone and Broadband, Customer Service, PO Box 230, Havant PO9 9DT. If you’re unhappy with SSE’s response, you can escalate your complaint to the head of the provider’s customer service team – email headofcustomerserviceteam@sse.com, call 0345 071 9853 or write to PO Box 7506, Perth PH1 3QR.
  • Hyperoptic – Complaints to Hyperoptic can be made by calling 0333 332 1111. Alternatively, email support@hyperoptic.com or write to Hyperoptic Ltd, Hythe House, 200 Shepherds Bush Road, London W6 7NL and mark your letter ‘Complaints’. You can escalate complaints to the customer service operations manager at complaints@hyperoptic.com and if you’re still not happy, then email the director of operations at escalations@hyperoptic.com.
  • Direct Save – You can contact Direct Save with complaints on 0800 027 3930 or write to Direct Save, Hannay House, Clarendon Road, Watford WD17 1JA. If your complaint hasn’t been dealt with for four weeks, you can escalate it by emailing escalate@directsave.co.uk.

Requesting a deadlock letter

A deadlock letter will be sent to you by your provider if your complaint reaches the point when neither you or your provider can agree on a way to solve it. You can ask your provider for a deadlock letter at any time if you think things aren’t going to get better, but it’s often worth giving them a bit of time to try and resolve your issue.

Contacting the Ombudsman

If you have a deadlock letter, or if your provider hasn’t dealt with your complaint in a satisfactory manner after eight weeks, you can take your complaint to what is known as an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. There are two ADR schemes that deal with broadband complaints, but you’ll only need to contact the one that your provider belongs to. All broadband providers must be a member of one of these schemes.

The Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) covers Virgin Media, Vodafone, Sky, TalkTalk and NOW Broadband as well as a number of smaller providers. You can submit a claim online, write to CISAS at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution, 70 Fleet Street, London EC4Y 1EU, call 020 7520 3814 or email cisas@cedr.com.

Ombudsman Services covers BT, EE, Plusnet, John Lewis Broadband, SSE, First Utility, Direct Save and Hyperoptic among others. You can complain to Ombudsman Services online, write to Ombudsman Services: Communications, PO Box 730, Warrington WA4 6WU or call 0330 440 1614.

Frequently asked questions

Can I complain to Ofcom?

Ofcom doesn’t investigate individual cases. It advises that you should follow the process we’ve set out here of contacting your provider, making a formal complaint, and then taking your complaint to an ADR scheme if it hasn’t been resolved.

That said, if you’d still like to complain to Ofcom, you can. This will help Ofcom to monitor consumer issues and could lead to Ofcom launching an investigation into a company. You can complain to Ofcom online, call 0300 123 3333 or 020 7981 3040 or write to Ofcom, PO Box 1285, Warrington WA1 9GL.

Who is the most complained-about provider?

According to the most recent Ofcom complaints figures, Vodafone is the most complained-about broadband provider. Between July and September 2018, Vodafone was responsible for 27 complaints per 100,000 customers. Vodafone also generated the most landline complaints. The least complained about broadband and landline provider was Sky.

How do I complain about Openreach?

If you want to complain about any aspect of your broadband service, even if it’s the parts of the network maintained by Openreach that are causing problems for you, then you need to talk to your broadband provider. Your provider will contact Openreach if that’s necessary.

If you want to complain about the behaviour of Openreach engineers – their driving or the work they’ve done in your street, for example – you can raise a complaint online.

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