How can I challenge my broadband bill?

2 March 2010

"Last month I was left without access to the internet for three weeks due to a faulty connection. Despite this, my broadband provider is still trying to charge me for a month’s service.

"I have tried to reason with its customer service department, as I believe I should not be billed for a service I did not receive. However, the provider says I have to pay the bill in full or it will cut my connection. What are my rights?"

Ingrid Gubbay, of counsel Hausfeld & 
Co LLP, says: 

The contract you have with your internet service provider is subject to the statutory rights you have under the Goods and Services Act 1982. That act requires that your supplier carry out the service it offers “with reasonable care and skill”.

If the ‘faulty connection’ you refer to was due to an issue with the provider, then it has fallen below the standard of service it is required to deliver. Under the provisions of this act, you would be entitled to either a refund if you have paid the bill, or have it reduced for that month.

You may also have contractual remedies, subject to the terms and conditions of the contract with your provider.

If you’re getting nowhere with customer service, look on the back of your last bill. This should give you details of how to lodge a formal complaint with your provider, in accordance with Ofcom’s code of practice, and also details of the alternative dispute resolution service to which your provider belongs.

Moneywise says:

Whether your bill is incorrect, or your broadband speed isn’t up to scratch, your first port of call should always be your internet service adviser – if you struggle to get through by phone then try email, letter or fax.

If your internet service provider either refuses to resolve your concerns or says there is nothing it can do, then the next step is to make a formal complaint to the company.

Details of providers’ complaints procedure should  be published online – alternatively ask the customer service staff how you can make a complaint.

However, if your formal complaint is rejected by the company, and your concerns remain unresolved, then you could try the company in question’s 'alternative dispute resolution scheme' – again, you should be able to find the contact details on the back of your bill or through customer services.

This will act as an independent middleman and might not only help you resolve the dispute but could also pay you compensation.

If your complaint is rejected by the alternative dispute resolution scheme, then you can call the regulator Ofcom on 020 7981 3040. It can give you specific guidance on what you should do next.

Tips to get a successful complaint
Make sure you have copies of all the relevant paperwork and that bills are filed in chronological order
Keep all correspondence between yourself and your broadband provider
Ask for written confirmation of any changes to your contract, or any verbal agreements that are made over the phone
For billing problems, bank statements can add credibility to your claims


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