Broadband consumer rights

For any product you buy - or service you sign up to - it’s really important that you’re aware of your consumer rights.

When it comes to your rights when you sign up to a broadband service - be it standalone, or within a broadband, TV and/or phone package, we’ve got all of the information you need.

Cancelling your broadband

If you’ve got a broadband plan you’re not happy with and are considering cancelling the package and switching to a new broadband provider here’s what you need to know:

  • There’s a 14-day cooling-off period: on all broadband packages, so if you’re within this time period, you can cancel with no charge.
  • Being outside the cooling-off period: but within your contract’s minimum term, a cancellation charge will apply. This may be a set fee, or the cost of the remaining contract term.
  • If your contract’s minimum term is up: you can switch without penalty, but you’re still responsible for giving your provider the notice shown in your contract, when you want to cancel. This will ensure you’re not charged after you’ve moved to a new provider.

If you still have several months remaining on your contract, you should raise any issues with your provider first.

If you can prove that you’re not receiving the service you signed up to, it’s possible you’ll be able to exit the contract without charge.

You can also leave without charge if your provider changes the terms of your contract - for example the monthly price.

Complaining to your broadband provider

All providers have a complaints process, so talk to the provider directly about the issue and a resolution may be easily found. Here’s how to go about it:

  • You can contact most providers by phone, email or post, and many have online help centres too, so choose the method that works best for you.
  • Outline your complaint clearly, and be sure to include contact details so that they can update you on the status of your complaint.
  • Ask for an estimated timeframe for the complaint to be resolved.
  • Request a copy of your provider’s code of conduct, which will set out how they deal with complaints.

If your complaint’s taking too long to be resolved, or isn’t resolved satisfactorily, you can escalate it to ComReg, once you’ve exhausted the complaints process with your provider.

Not getting the speed you paid for?

Broadband speeds are a tricky one. Be aware that when you sign up to a plan, the advertised speed is an ‘up to’ or average speed, and not a guarantee of the speed you’ll actually get.

The speed you get depends on a number of factors, such as:

  • The type of broadband you have
  • Whether you’re using a wired or WiFi connection
  • The distance from your home to the nearest cabinet or ‘exchange’ (unless you have a Fibre-to-the-Home connection)

If your broadband is really underperforming in terms of speed, you should carry out a speed test and check the speed you’re actually getting.

Do a few tests at different times of the day, to get an idea of what your speeds are like on average.

You could improve your speeds using some of our tips for people with slow broadband, but if you’re still not satisfied, you should contact your provider to discuss it. They may be able to help, or provide some new equipment that could make a big difference.

If the issue still isn’t resolved, shop around for a new plan when you’re out of contract - possibly with a different type of connection.

Not only could you get improved speeds, you’ll probably get a nice introductory discount too.

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Your rights when you’re switching to a new broadband provider

When you switch to a new provider, there’s a 14-day cooling-off period, and in that time you can cancel without penalty if any aspect of the service doesn’t suit you.

Remember to contact your current provider to ensure you’re free to switch, and give them the required notice so that you’re not charged after you’ve switched.

You’ll be able to arrange a cut-off date with them for service, and then you can confirm an installation date with your new provider, to make sure you experience as little downtime as possible.

It’s unlikely that your phone service will be affected, but a loss of broadband service can sometimes occur temporarily during the switching process.

Once the switch happens, make sure you cancel any direct debits with your current provider.

What to do if you’ve been overcharged for your broadband

It’s really important to check your bills because although rare, mistakes do happen, and could easily be missed if you pay by direct debit.

If you do notice an issue with any of your bills, all you need to do is contact your provider. They will rectify any issues and you’ll usually be refunded next time you’re billed.

What happens if you’ve gone over your broadband limit

When you sign up for a broadband deal, it will either be advertised as ‘unlimited’, or have a data limit attached to it.

Some ADSL and fibre broadband plans offer unlimited data, but satellite broadband and mobile broadband packages tend to have relatively low data limits (between 10 and 60GB).

If you go over the fair usage limit or your plans data limit, you’ll usually be charged per GB for doing so, so it can be costly. If your provider doesn’t impose charges, they could restrict your service once you go over the limit, which can be very frustrating.

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