The UK’s biggest broadband providers are letting their customers down with shoddy service, according to a survey by consumer group Which?. TalkTalk and Sky were named as the worst suppliers.
BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media supply almost nine in 10 broadband customers, yet Which? said that “year after year” these were the providers that occupied the bottom of its league table.
The smaller provider Zen Internet came top in the organisation’s latest broadband satisfaction survey, which was based on a poll of 8,063 Which? members conducted in January. In second place was Utility Warehouse, an energy and communications company promoted by Joanna Lumley.
Which? said TalkTalk and Sky were “rooted to the bottom of the latest rankings”, with both firms achieving a customer score of just 50%.
Natalie Hitchins, head of home products and services at the consumer group, said it was outrageous that the biggest providers were letting their customers down with “shoddy broadband”, particularly bearing in mind that longstanding customers were the most likely to be paying too much.
In December 2018, Which? claimed that broadband customers who stayed with the same provider and did not haggle for a better deal were being hit with “loyalty penalties” of up to £220 a year on average.
“Anyone who is unhappy with their current provider should take back control and switch to a better deal. You could get better service and save hundreds of pounds a year,” Hitchins said.
Despite having a reputation for cheap deals, TalkTalk was criticised by some members for the quality of its customer service and technical support, and it failed to score well in any category, including value for money, according to the survey findings.
TalkTalk customers were also the most likely to suffer from very slow speeds and frequent connection dropouts in the last 12 months.
A spokesman for TalkTalk said: “While these results are disappointing, we are already seeing more customers than ever staying with us as we continue rolling out major service improvements.”
Sky fared slightly better than TalkTalk in most categories, but two-thirds of Sky customers (67%) surveyed told Which? they were likely to switch provider.
BT, the UK’s biggest broadband provider, also received a relatively low score (51%), with some customers saying they were unimpressed by the value for money they were getting.
Virgin Media achieved a customer score of 58%, but its customers were “by far the most likely” to complain about price increases.
Responding to the findings, Virgin Media said: “We are pleased to see that our customers are the most satisfied among the major broadband providers in the UK, and that they clearly recognise the benefits of our ultrafast network. We continue to invest around £1bn a year on our network, as well as our products and services … we are committed to delivering a first-class service to our customers.”
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Vodafone took the sharpest fall in the rankings , dropping to the bottom half from joint-fourth in the spring 2018 survey, despite a customer score of 58%.
Seven out of 10 people who took part in the survey said they had been with their provider for more than three years.
Ofcom is currently reviewing pricing practices in the broadband market. It has also set out proposals that would require providers to advise customers when their contract is coming to an end and tell them about the best tariffs available to them.