Broadband Customers Give Reasons for Switching

Poor customer service and price hikes from their current supplier and finding a better deal elsewhere were the most common reasons broadband subscribers jumped to a new ISP.

That’s according to a survey of 8,000 broadband customers conducted by Which? magazine and consumer group. The survey found that just half had ever switched to a new broadband provider, although many had expressed dissatisfaction with the service they’re currently receiving.

Their findings correspond with Ofcom data published last year, which found that a third of broadband customers had never switched supplier and another third had last done so more than three years ago. Just 12% of broadband customers hopped to a new service in the last year.

Which? asked those switchers what had compelled them to make the change.

A quarter of customers who switched said it was because they’d found a better deal with a new provider.

Customers departing Zen Internet were the most likely to site a compelling deal elsewhere, with 40% of leavers lured away by lower prices. Zen frequently tops the league tables on customer service, but customers pay for that service with higher bills.

Elsewhere, poor treatment from their ISP drove other consumers— 18% of switchers—to find a new provider. This was doubly true of those ditching TalkTalk. The budget broadband provider performed worst of any large ISP in Ofcom’s most recent customer service rankings, with the regulator finding TalkTalk customers dissatisfied with overall service and especially with complaints handling.

Large numbers of customers sick of poor customer service moved to Zen: 37% of the switchers migrating there gave that as the reason for their move. SSE and Utility Warehouse also received disproportionate shares of consumers who had been disappointed by the service they received elsewhere.

Price hikes pushed another 12% of respondents away from their broadband provider, especially former BT and Sky customers.

9% said they ditched their ISP because the speeds they were receiving were too slow. That figure rose to 19% for former Post Office customers.

Customers tired of dragging speeds tended to gravitate to Virgin Media, whose cable network is the only service to widely offer ultrafast speeds of more than 100 Mbps.

Meanwhile, connection problems were an issue for 7% of switchers, a figure that doubled among ex-EE and Vodafone subscribers. That’s despite Which? research that showed that Virgin and TalkTalk subscribers were the most likely to suffer lengthy outages.

In April Ofcom launched an automatic compensation scheme, entitling consumers to an £8 refund on their next bill if their connection goes down and isn’t restored within two days. The scheme is voluntary, however, and while ISPs covering 90% of the market have signed on, Vodafone and EE aren’t scheduled to participate until later in the year or next year.

In July, Which? found that fear of hassle, including the loss of their ISP-issued email address, and satisfaction with their current service were the main reasons customers didn’t switch ISP, despite the hundreds of pounds they can save by shopping around.

Broadband customers face a £1 billion annual ‘loyalty penalty’ for sticking with their old provider, including post-contract price hikes of up to 60% a month.

Lauren Smith
Written by Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith has worked as a journalist and copywriter for most of the last decade, covering technology, energy, and consumer rights, in the US and UK.

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