Which grasses up UK ISPs to Ofcom

Consumer information company Which did some mystery calling to see if UK ISPs say the right stuff when flogging broadband. They didn’t.

It did 12 mystery shopper calls to 11 ISPs to see if the sales patter conformed to either current Ofcom guidelines or a new lot set to be brought in next year. “Under the code, providers should give customers estimated home speeds ‘as early as practicable’ within the sales process – such as when you give your address,” advised Which. “They should also explain that speeds can be influenced by a range of factors, such as network capacity and the number of subscribers to the service.”

But, overall, only 47% of mystery shopees proffered the requisite intelligence, which made Which sad. You can see who the worst offenders were in the table below. Vodafone’s poor performance is especially noteworthy in the context of its ubiquitous marketing campaign in which Bilbo Baggins Martin Freeman gets all English and awkward due to his poor communications services, but then cheers up when Vodafone comes to the rescue. Maybe some of that money would have been better spent on training its salespeople.

Are providers giving information about speeds? Current requirements:

Voluntary Code of Practice signatory Times estimated speed given Times advice about speeds offered
Sky 12 9
Zen Internet 12 2
SSE 12 1
BT 12 0
Utility Warehouse 10 0
Plusnet 10 0
Post Office 10 0
John Lewis Broadband 9 0
EE Broadband 8 0
Vodafone 7 0
TalkTalk 5 0

“Having a clear idea of what speeds you can expect from a broadband deal before you sign up is your right, but our research shows that providers have a long way to go to meet their customers’ expectations,” said Alex Neill, Which MD of Home Products and Services. “We support Ofcom’s action to strengthen the Code and providers need to play their part and implement the new rules quickly and update their advice as soon as they can so that customers have a clearer picture about what they’re getting.”

That’s about it really. Which also noted how well everyone did based on the code of practice Ofcom will impose next year and, predictably enough, they generally did worse, although not in the same order. A few ISPs also provided a generic mixture of contrition and mitigation in response to the findings and all vowed to be good from now on.

Are providers giving information about speeds? Future requirements:

Voluntary Code of Practice signatory Times a minimum guaranteed speed given Times a peak-time speed given
Zen Internet 11 0
EE Broadband 7 0
Vodafone 6 0
Utility Warehouse 5 0
Sky 3 0
John Lewis Broadband 2 0
Plusnet 2 0
TalkTalk 2 0
BT 0 0
Post Office 0 0
SSE 0 0

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