UK regulator Ofcom has introduced new rules giving consumers the right to walk away from broadband contracts that do not live up to promises made about speed, with the ability to drop TV services and fixed-phone packages purchased at the same time.
The new code of practice introduced by Ofcom means that broadband operators must provide minimum and peak-time speeds, before consumers sign up to a deal.
If a customer’s broadband speed then drops below the promised level, companies will have one month to improve performance, before they must let the customer walk away penalty-free. This right to exit also applies to landline and TV packages bought at the same time as broadband, says the regulator.
The rules apply to all the major UK broadband firms signed up to the new Code – BT, EE, Plusnet, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media – which together serve around 95% of home broadband customers.
Ofcom believes that more consumers could be upgrading their broadband connection to contracts that offer higher speeds for the same or at a lower price than their existing service, with only three in 20 broadband customers contacting their existing provider to renegotiate a deal last year.
“When you sign a contract, you should be treated fairly and know exactly what you’re getting. These protections mean broadband shoppers can buy with confidence. Before they sign up, customers will be told their minimum internet speed. And if companies break that promise, they’ll have to sort it out quickly, or let the customer walk away,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s consumer group director.
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