Citizens Advice calls on the Government to establish a telecoms consumer advocate, to ensure consumer representation and protection.
Consumers now have access to powerful devices and services at affordable prices and many people rely on their broadband and mobile connection for the day to day running of their lives.
Recent research by Citizens Advice looked at consumer experiences of using these services and found concerning numbers of consumers still struggle to get adequate connection.
- In the last year, 6 in 10 (59%) consumers with a home broadband connection reported problems with a slow service or a service which stopped working entirely.
- Nearly 1 in 10 (8%) are always or regularly unable to access the internet via their mobile phone at home.
- More than half of those who reported a problem with their mobile or broadband service to their provider (54%) experienced further difficulty resolving it.
Telecoms scored the worst of any of the sectors investigated.
In their report, Access Denied, Citizens Advice highlights the concerning levels of consumer problems in telecoms markets. In 2016, UK consumers reportedly experienced 27.6 million problems with their phone, TV or internet service each year. This is more than any other market, including energy (7.6 million) and water (1.7 million).
The impact of poor quality or disrupted mobile and broadband services affects consumers’ ability to keep in touch with friends and family, to pay household bills online and for 33% of 25-34 year olds, the ability to study.
The poll also found broadband customers spent on average 2.4 hours trying to resolve an issue of poor or no service, with a quarter feeling they could no longer trust their broadband provider to resolve the problem quickly.
Citizens Advice call for the Government to establish a telecoms consumer advocate.
According to the charity, a dedicated independent advocate for telecoms consumers, could play a crucial role in helping Ofcom and the government to meet these challenges. Not only would they act as a consumer voice, they would highlight any issues and ensure consumer interest is accounted for in the decision making process.
Citizens Advice chief executive Gillian Guy said: “People now rely on their broadband and mobile connection for the day to day running of their lives.
“Yet the majority of people continue to face significant disruptions that can waste their time and stop them from being able to pay their bills, bank online, study, work or connect with family and friends.
“The Government’s Consumer Green Paper is an opportunity to strengthen the voices of telecoms consumers by establishing a consumer advocate in broadband and mobile markets to reflect how essential these services are to people.”
An Ofcom spokesman said: “Telecoms providers haven’t always kept pace with their customers’ needs so we’re protecting consumers by ensuring faster repairs and installations, and automatic compensation when things go wrong.
“We’re also shining a light on how different providers perform, and looking at ways to help people shop around with confidence.”
A spokesman for the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport said: “Broadband is no longer a ‘nice to have’, but a modern necessity, and we all know how frustrating it is when it doesn’t work. That’s why we’ve introduced a raft of measures to help Ofcom protect consumers including receiving compensation when their service falls short.”
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For more information, please email us or call 01892 514687 and speak to one of our UK Business Managers.