Broadband troubles (James Sandison)
I read with interest Paul Meyer’s comments in The Shetland Times on his broadband speeds falling short of what had been promised by BT.
The response seems to be similar to: “Go away little man, you are not big enough to take us on. If you don’t like it go to another provider. ”
Apparently Mr Meyer had approached our MP and MSP on this matter. MSP Tavish Scott agrees that Mr Meyer had made a logical case, and was quoted as saying: “If the service is less than advertised then he shouldn’t be paying for the whole service.”
This is not rocket science, and is at variance with other areas of supplier/customer relationships.
Contrast this with another story on the front page of the same Shetland Times, where a visit from the environmental health food safety inspectors found a premises in Lerwick falling short of required standards, and they had had an “improvement required” notice served on them. These inspectors carry much weight, to the extent that they can shut down a business that consistently does not meet legal requirements.
Consider the legal requirements for goods decreed in law by The Weights and Measures Act, which states: “In the case of weights and measures, consumers have no way of verifying the quantity of product they have purchased, such as the weight of some purchased vegetables or the volume of fuel put into a motor vehicle.
“The current legal protections ensure that the goods offered for sale by quantity can be trusted because the amount has been determined by a legally controlled (prescribed) measuring instrument, independently monitored according to risk by local enforcement authorities. By regulating measuring instruments used for trade, both consumers and business can be confident the quantity declared is accurate.”
In other words, customers should know they are getting what they pay for. If not they have redress through the law, and suppliers falling short can find the legal punishment to be quite severe for standards not being met. Statutory bodies also have the responsibility to ensure these standards are checked and complied with.
Many broadband customers do not know how to measure the actual speeds they are getting, so it seems perverse, and against natural justice, that similar principles do not apply to broadband suppliers.
It is time that laws pertinent to telecommunications were changed to give customers the same level of protection. Also Ofcom should be empowered with more teeth to ensure compliance.
The following statement is from the Ofcom website: “Unfair terms – If you believe any of the terms and conditions in your ‘phone or broadband contract are unfair, you should contact your provider. If this doesn’t resolve your problem, ask your provider for a deadlock letter. This enables you to take your complaint to an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme.”
I would consider Mr Meyer to be suffering an unfair contract, and many more people are certainly in the same position.