Over one in three people who move house in the UK experience an unexpected delay in getting their broadband working with some facing a delay of more than two weeks, new research shows.
A survey carried out for national charity Citizens Advice found that people moving into a new home are often left without a working internet connection for weeks after the date their provider said this would be set up. Others report having to wait at home for engineers on multiple occasions or are left with a slow or intermittent connection.
The most common broadband problems experienced by people who transferred or setup a new service when they last moved house are the connection being slow or unreliable when initiated (15%), engineers having to make multiple visits (11%) and engineers’ appointments being rescheduled (9%).
Having no internet connection or a poor one can be a particular problem when you move into a new home, making it a lot more difficult to do things like change the address for your household bills and cases reported to Citizens Advice reveal the extent of the broadband woes people face when moving house.
One woman in the North East had to wait five weeks to get her internet set up after moving to a new house. Her provider failed to send engineers to fix the problem on multiple occasions, telling her they would have get internet working within deadlines that came and went. She had to use her new neighbours’ computer for important tasks like her internet banking, and the lack of internet made it much for more difficult for her to arrange delivery of specialist equipment for a disabled relative.
Some people who decided to switch providers because they had no broadband for weeks after moving were also told that they would have to pay exit fees of hundreds of pounds to switch to a different service.
One customer who had moved house didn’t have an internet connection for three weeks even though she had paid £82 upfront for the installation and first month of fibre broadband and had called her provider repeatedly about the problem. When she asked to cancel the contract she was told that as the 14 day cancellation period had passed she would have to pay an exit fee of over £200.
The survey of people moving house, carried out by YouGov, also found that 8% of people trying to set up their broadband in their new home received a router that did not work properly, and 5% had not received one at all.
The findings come after the Government last month launched its £400 million Digital Infrastructure Investment Fund to boost investment in full fibre broadband that can offer speeds of up to 1Gbps to households and businesses. The telecoms infrastructure business Openreach has said it believes two million premises will have access to full fibre broadband by the end of 2020.
Citizens Advice is calling for the telecoms regulator Ofcom to put in place the mandatory scheme it proposed earlier this year for automatically compensating people affected by delayed set ups or repairs to their broadband or landline.
‘People paying to have their broadband set up all too often face big setbacks. Moving house can be a difficult and stressful experience and delays in getting the internet can make this worse, if providers fail to keep to promised dates or engineering visits don’t materialise,’ said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
‘Broadband is now such an essential service that people moving house will often rely on it for crucial tasks, like changing their address for household bills or ordering essentials. It is fundamentally unfair that in some cases customers are paying for a service they don’t receive for weeks or even months at a time after moving,’ she pointed out.
‘Ofcom has rightly proposed a scheme that would automatically compensate customers who face delays or missed appointments, regardless of their provider but this is now at risk of being watered down by a rival industry proposal that would be voluntary and lower the amount paid out by at least £52 million,’ she explained.
‘To hold providers to account for breaking promises to their customers, the regulator should move forward with its mandatory automatic compensation scheme. This would make it clear to people what they are entitled to when they get poor service and put an end to customers having to negotiate how much they get back for their wasted time,’ she added.
Citizens Advice is also calling for broadband providers to make sure they do not charge exit fees to customers who experience unreasonable delays, such as weeks without an internet connection, or who move to an area where they can’t receive the same service.
The automatic compensation scheme proposed by Ofcom would work similarly to schemes in the energy and water industry. This would mean that regardless of their broadband provider, consumers would get a set amount of compensation each day past the date that the provider said the broadband or landline would be set up or repaired, as well as for each missed appointment with an engineer.
A separate piece of research has found that average home buyer would be willing to offer an extra £6,500 on a property guaranteed to have excellent broadband speed. Comparison site broadbanddeals found that 88% say a poor or slow broadband connection is a concern.
All those taking part in the survey that stated poor or slow broadband connections would put them off purchasing property in a particular area and 62% said that they are used to fast connections in their current homes and would struggle with anything less. A further 27% also confessed that they need fast broadband in order to carry out work from home.
When asked if they’d ever had concerns about the broadband connection or speed in an area they were looking to purchase a home in, 16% of participants taking part said yes with only 12% of these individuals proceeding to purchase the property.