Broadband companies are expecting customers to pay for speeds they may never get, with nearly half of people suffering a slow connection, according to a consumer group.
Which? is calling on providers to give their customers “the speed and service they pay for” after a study found 63 per cent of consumers experience problems with their broadband and 45 per cent suffer slow download speeds.
Of the 45 per cent experiencing slow speeds, 58 per cent said this was a frequent or constant problem.
Around a third of people (36 per cent) have had intermittent connection drop outs and one in seven (15 per cent) have on occasion not been able to connect to the internet at all.
The survey also found households are experiencing poor customer service, with 27 per cent waiting two days after reporting a loss of service to have it resolved and 11 per cent waiting a week or more.
The watchdog found 31 per cent who contacted their provider with a problem did not get a resolution at all, a quarter of those who did get a resolution (25 per cent) were dissatisfied with how long it took, and one in five (20 per cent) had to contact their provider three times or more to fix the issue.
Ofcom figures show 83 per cent of British households now have a broadband connection, with the average household paying £12 a month for their internet.
However the majority also have to pay for line rental, which is around £15 a month.
Which? is campaigning for providers to give consumers written speed estimates at the start of the contract, allow customers to leave contracts without penalty if they do not get that speed and fix any loss of connection as quickly as possible with refunds for loss of service.
Which? executive director Richard Lloyd said: “The internet is an essential part of modern life, yet millions of us are getting frustratingly slow speeds and having to wait days to get reconnected when things go wrong.
“It’s less superfast broadband, more super slow service from companies who are expecting people to pay for speeds they may never get.
“Broadband providers need to give customers the right information and take responsibility for resolving problems.”
Populus surveyed 2,012 adults online on January 8 and 9.
An Ofcom spokeswoman said: “Ensuring consumers receive a high quality of service from their broadband provider and are fairly treated are high priorities for Ofcom. That is why, in 2008, we introduced a broadband speeds voluntary code of practice to ensure consumers are protected.
“Providers who have signed up to the code have agreed to abide by strict requirements including giving customers information on their estimated speeds range in writing at the start of a contract, allowing customers to exit contracts without penalty if they receive speeds significantly below that estimate and having robust processes in place to ensure that customers’ speed-related problems are dealt with swiftly and effectively.
“Mystery shopping conducted last year by Ofcom revealed that, overall, the code is working effectively.
“We have, however, already identified areas where it might be strengthened further and have discussed improvements with providers to better serve consumers.
“We expect to publish a revised code of practice in the coming months.”