back to article Typical cynical Brits: Broadband speeds up, satisfaction goes down

British people are increasingly unhappy with their broadband services, and once again TalkTalk is the most whinged about provider, according to a comprehensive annual survey by Ofcom. The regulator found one in five people were dissatisfied with their broadband service last year, compared to just one in ten in 2016. The poll …

  1. Wolfclaw

    Funny for uSwitch t say Talk Talk still have a lot of issues and then go and award them Best Broadband, TV & Home Phone, they need to make their minds up. As for TalkTalk, wouldn't use them if they where the last ISP on the planet !

    1. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

      As for TalkTalk, wouldn't use them if they where the last ISP on the planet !

      personally I would not use them while there's an alternative.... but if they were the last, then a shit provider would be better than no provider.

      1. SkippyBing

        Having used TalkTalk for a brief period I'd go with no provider over using them again. I'm sure I could find something better to do with my time.

      2. Flak

        ... and that is why we have regulators and countries care about competition.

        Former monopoly providers can't just be bad anymore, but they only need to be less bad than the competition!

        1. Wardy01

          ... yeh if only we had one ?

          Ofcom are a poor regulator IMO, not fit for purpose and never will be, they all need sacking!

          They are deliberately allowing ISP's to use terms like "unlimited", "best service" and "ultra fast" in their advertising and never ask those companies to ensure they can be held accountable for that.

          I know that this is really the job of the ASA but when it comes to broadband, if you sign up you're in for a year minimum with no recourse most of the time and all the ISP has to do is move a few numbers around on a computer to force that fact.

          It's time that contract terms and advertising reflected the actual performance of ISP's (e.g. I pay for what i get, and if i have an open complaint for more than 7 days in a month I should get that month free) not what they want from the customer (wallet jail-time).

          ... the irony here ...

          I have 300mbit fiber broadband from IFNL, it's crazy fast, and they just advertise their packages as "fast fiber broadband" ... has TT or any of these other ISP's ever been that restrained in their advertising?

          Maybe it's time we start buying the worst advertised broadband packages and the most expensive ones.

      3. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        "if they were the last, then a shit provider would be better than no provider."

        If they *were* the last provider, no-one else would have a decent connection either, so who would you be talking to?

    2. Wardy01

      That's because ...

      uSwitch doesn't show us "real reviews" they show us "who pays them the most"

  2. wolfetone Silver badge

    "British people are increasingly unhappy with their broadband services, and once again TalkTalk is the most whinged about provider, according to a comprehensive annual survey by Ofcom."

    No, I won't hear of it. The lovely lady on the radio said that TalkTalk won a uSwitch award for being the best company. Now how can they possibly be at the top of one poll and at the bottom of every other poll conducted?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "British people are increasingly unhappy with their broadband services"

      Because the Daily Fail tells them to be.

  3. Aladdin Sane

    "there's a feeling that the provider has struggled to redress its public image since the high-profile data breach of 2015"

    Why not pull a Cambridge Anal. and rebrand?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      WinkWink with substituted vowels?

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

        Wanky McWankface?

        Just wondering

    2. Nick Kew

      talktalk rebrand?


      Hmm, maybe we can come up with something more catchy. Chitchat? Scope for alternative spellings there.

      (though they really can't be worse than inspired-by-Kafka Virgin).

    3. Sgt_Oddball
      Paris Hilton

      Talk talk had a public image worth regressing before 2015??

      When did that happen?

  4. ExampleOne

    The different satisfaction levels between Mobile and Broadband makes me suspect the problem for broadband isn't solely the ISPs fault.

    I would suspect there is a common issue to most ISPs which is BT-OR have issues, and there is little the ISPs can do about it.

    I would also suspect there is an expectation problem: Users don't really understand how any of this technology works and have unrealistic expectations leading to low satisfaction.

    1. Keith Oborn

      I'd say that there is a difference in expectation: people expect their mobile not to work all the time - the general public seems to understand that radio signals can't provide 100% geographical coverage. After all, we all put up with call drops, garbled audio and so on that would never be acceptable on a landline.

      Fixed line internet service (please someone shoot the guy who invented "broadband", along with the guy who misappropriated "fibre") is viewed in the same way as fixed line phone, electricity and so on, and so held to higher standards.

      1. Nick Kew

        There is a commonality in expectation.

        If my mobile 'phone service dies, I expect to be able to demand a fix from customer services.

        If my broadband service dies, I expect to be able to demand a fix from customer services.

        The former has always been fine: if all else fails, I can walk into my provider's high street shop and they'll deal with it.

        The latter was OK too, until I had the misfortune to become a Virgin customer. Now I've been waiting since January to get my broadband fixed (and in practice moved to 4G broadband).

    2. Rol

      I don't believe the gripe with ISP's is down to the service.

      I'm with Virgin and am highly satisfied with my connection. My gripe is the price and the lengths they will go to, to up that price.

      All my account information is held on their servers, but do they email me to say the contract is nearing its end? No! Their idea of informing me the contract has lapsed is the usual bill, but with a demand for more money.

      Negotiating a new contract really does take you into a world of misery, that often as not requires a revisit a month later when you realise the new contract has not been actioned, and is now being denied it was ever agreed.

      After nine years of loyalty, and paying the bill on time, I would have hoped the whole fiasco of brinkmanship negotiating would have ceased ,and I was automatically offered their best deal.

      1. GIRZiM

        I loathe VM with a passion to which not even the Bard himself could give word.

        In fact, I’d go so far as to say that, should I ever find myself in a desert for days, no longer trudging but crawling my way in search of water, literally dying of thirst, about to expire on the spot if I do not drink this very second, and I come across not a mirage but an actual can of Virgin Cola...

        I’ll keep crawling.

        Because I’d rather die than touch a Virgin product as long as I live!

      2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge


        I junked VM last year, after being a customer for about twenty years, and having worked for them in the noughties. They kept increasing my broadband speed and then upping the price, when I didn't need the extra capacity; there's just me and the wife, no kids, so we aren't pulling several simultaneous streams, we watch the same stuff. Originally I called to get get downgraded, as new customers could get 50mb, and I was on 100. They wouldn't do that, I threatened to quit, they offered me a fiver off a month, I said that won't cut it,... thinking they'd crumble,but they were stubborn, so I quit. being suspicious, I cancelled the direct debit, and I was right, they didn't cancel the service for two months, I kept phoning, and telling them I'd quit, they were really crap about that, until eventually they sent me a box to return the kit. I was kind of angry they offered me a fiver off,.... after 20 years, I expect loyalty rewards, not them sneaking the price up bit by bit, and forcing me to buy something I don't want.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Left VM ages ago because of their p*ss-poor customer service.

          Got all sorts of excuses for why the broadband was so slow:

          - House was at the end of the (100 metre long) street. If this was copper to the door I might understand, but this was a VM ex-NTL cable straight into the house.

          - The street is uphill (wtf - does data roll downhill?)

          - Wifi router in the wrong place. This is despite even using an ethernet cable directly into the router it was still slow.

          Eventually they figured out at some other contractor had cut into some cable or other.

          And not to mention their TV service, they refused to upgrade the slow buggy Pace set top box for years, HD was prone to streaming-style buffering, then suddenly being at a ridiculous frame-per-second - enough to give motion sickness. And their SD channels had so many compression artifacts it was like watching TV through a frosted glass bathroom window.

  5. SkippyBing

    People are liars

    On the one hand they say they'd like decent customer service, not to be kept waiting, and to feel valued. On the other they then go and choose the cheapest service provider in order to save £3 a month.

    See also Ryanair.

    I'd care less but I've had friends ask me which ISP I'd recommend, presumably because I 'know about the computers', and despite everything I say I still get told 'I went with TalkTalk in the end because they were £3 a month cheaper'. In that case don't ask for my f******g advice, especially if three months later you're going to start complaining about how bad TalkTalk are!!

    And breath.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. SkippyBing

        Re: People are liars

        In my defence I was just trying to tie in with El Reg's new house style of limited sub-editing...

        1. GIRZiM

          Re: People are liars

          Jumping on the bandwagon of grammar-Nazism that appears to be trundling by here, I'd just like to add a request that you never again say "I'd care less" or anything like it.

          It is far too reminiscent of the half-witted American expression "I could care less" - which, to someone like me, who really couldn't care any less, makes absolutely no sense whatsoever unless I stop and think "Ah, yes, that's right - they only have half a brain and/or don't speak English properly."

          Remember: if it isn't British, it's wrong!

    2. Paul

      Re: People are liars

      Indeed, my son is always commenting enjoy his friends "lagging out" when playing online. Most of them have the cheapest internet service. It seems the British want to buy cheap so they can bitch about it.

    3. WallMeerkat

      Re: People are liars

      It's like when people ask your opinion on cars, you recommend them some good deals on nice cars.

      Then they go ahead and buy a Nissan Qashcow anyway, despite them saying they didn't want French and this thing basically being a jacked up Megane estate (same company these days, same engines, same platform, same switchgear etc.)

  6. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Where I live speed isn't the problem

    I can already download adverts far faster than I can click on them. More speed is not going to earn anyone else more money.

    Right at the top of my list is the ritual needed to cancel. If it involves sacrificing a manticor on the third full moon in the February two years in advance then the ISP loses a point. If the ritual is so top secret that you cannot find out what it is before signing up then the ISP loses two points.

    The next up is the cost of the technical support line. I do not want to call it ever. If I have no call it I want the ISP to suffer too. If the support line is £10/minute with 45 minutes on hold until the hell desk operator tells me I have to call the other support number then I would expect the service to break down every time the ISP wants a revenue boost.

    Last up: bundled services. Every single one is an incentive for the ISP to block access to a competitive/competent provider. Absence really will make my heart grow fonder.

    1. Nick Kew

      Re: Where I live speed isn't the problem

      The next up is the cost of the technical support line.

      The cost is now regulated in Blighty, and I *think* that's EU-wide. No premium-rate numbers. Though it can mount up if the *reason* you're calling is that the line is down, and you have to resort to an expensive emergency 'phone.

      Virgin do better than that. After the long, long sequence of menus and adverts comes the On Hold, where instead of the usual dumbed-down Vivaldi or Lloyd Webber or whatever, you get some aggressive yob screaming down the phone (words unclear; message an emphatic "F*** OFF"). Then if the synthetic voice eventually reappears and tells you it's putting you through to a human, it cuts you off instead.

      1. WallMeerkat

        Re: Where I live speed isn't the problem

        Was booking a hotel the other day. Premier Inn was in a good location, cheap, and ticked most of the boxes. I had a specific query though, phoned them up to ask.

        Ring-ring, answered - and cut off!

        So I went back to look, booked a nicer proper hotel just up the road for not much more price.

        These things can be a blessing in disguise.

        1. Nick Kew

          Re: Where I live speed isn't the problem

          I've been in exactly that situation. I'll happily book a Premier Inn, but only when I've checked that the bedroom windows can be opened. I have phoned ahead with that question, and I don't recollect it as a difficult experience.

  7. RobertLongshaft

    Broadband in the UK is an absolute disgrace. BT are the biggest problem and were granted an unfair monopoly on the market by their friend in government.

    BT needs to be fully broken up into its separate entities, obviously it won't though. With plenty of former government types on the payroll they have carte blanche to screw over the British public.

  8. UberMunchkin

    The most important thing for me when considering an ISP is that they are not Virgin Media, after that it is speed and then it is cost. All of them have awful customer service and that isn't going to change any time soon (same as mobile providers) so Speed & Cost are the factors too look at.

    1. An0n C0w4rd

      I would dispute the "all of them" statement. I've been satisfied with my occasional interactions with Zen cust svcs, although I wish they were open longer hours.

      1. Arthur the cat Silver badge

        I've been satisfied with my occasional interactions with Zen cust svcs, although I wish they were open longer hours.

        Ditto. My only major nit with Zen is that they don't support multiple PTR records for the same address(*), but that's not going to worry the average(**) punter.

        (*) See RFC 2181, section 10.2 if you think this isn't allowed.

        (**) Probably won't worry the 9th decile punter either.

    2. GIRZiM

      Re: The most important thing for me when considering an ISP is that they are not Virgin Media

      Never a truer word spoken.

      I'd rather be the cum-sponge in a bestiality fetish club than ever use a Virgin product or service again in my life.

  9. Tigra 07

    Less Talk Talk, more action action...

    "Over the past year the ISP has ditched its mobile phone business to focus on broadband"

    They need to ditch their broadband too. Clearly nothing else will improve things for the customers.

  10. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Failure to understand "up to"

    > British people are increasingly unhappy with their broadband services,

    Most customers are suckers. The first thing they ever look at is the price. Then they look at the number in the biggest font. Then they look at the price again. Then they click BUY

    And when they don't get what they think they bought, it is always the supplier's fault. This is not limited to BB, but applies to most things, on and off the internet.

    1. Paul

      Re: Failure to understand "up to"

      Part of the problem is that they simply have no clue when it comes to how to tell a good ISP offer a bad one.

  11. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Virgin Media...

    Virgin media believe that the best customer experience is to offer (A) a deliberately confusing triage page for all issues, (B) offer no telephone number that I can see, and then (C) respond with a "We'll respond in 48hrs if we can be arsed" response to all messages or queries etc. submitted via email.

    I totally get that driving down calls and offering multi-channel is what most call centres are about these days, but it's still awesomely shit service Virgin.

    1. Rol

      Re: Virgin Media...

      Yeah, I noticed that too, and it's not just a VM thing as several companies don't offer up their contact details, even when logged into their sites.

      Best bet is to type into your search bar (Google / whatever)... Contact virgin media.

      In Google the top highlighted response is the answer you are after.

  12. Haku

    The problem with the internet is that essentially it's a reflection of humanity.

    And having a faster internet connection just means you can access the droppings other human beings have left online at a quicker rate.

  13. Kyorin

    I actually like Virgin media...

    I have the yearly fight over the price every time my contract is up, but usually end up getting what I want or some kind of beneficial compromise (this year it's a price reduction and doubling of my speed to 200Mb). Aside from the arguments over the price every 12 months, the speed is good and it's actually quite rare that I have any issues - I could count the amount of issues over the last 5 years on one hand (or 3 fingers). We stream quite a lot of content, sometimes a 4k Amazon stream in our living room and two other Netflix streams simultaneously elsewhere in the house, and it does cope quite well.

    1. PapaD

      Re: I actually like Virgin media...

      Same here

      I seem to be able to negotiate a price reduction each year, by accepting an upgrade to my service. I've rarely had problems, and when i do the really easy to remember helpline number* hasn't had long queues, and i've had an engineer out fairly quickly.

      I can only assume based on the complaints against Virgin Media is that they have totally different service centres for different parts of the country. I've used them in 4 properties so far, and generally been happy with the service

      *Its really easy to remember, just dial 150 of 151 from your Virgin landline

      1. Anonymous IV

        Re: I actually like Virgin media...

        Helpline number ... It's really easy to remember, just dial 150 or 151 from your Virgin landline

        What is this 'landline' entity of which you speak? Ever-so-many people do not have such.

    2. GIRZiM

      Re: I actually like Virgin media...

      You are Richard Branson.

      Drop dead and fester, Dick!

      I hope your business fails.

      I hope you lose your home.

      I hope your children are cold, hungry, miserable and without gifts this Christmas.

      I hope your wife/husband leaves you, taking the children with her/him and gets a restraining order preventing you from ever seeing them again.

      I hope your children forget who you are or what you look like … never to remember you for as long as they live.

      I hope you end up a ranting, homeless, alcoholic tramp with pneumonia, pleurisy and leukemia … ridiculed and avoided even by other insane casualties on the streets … beaten and raped in dark alleyways … pissing your last in the bottle that kills you … uncared for, forgotten and unnoticed … your corpse ravaged by feral cats, dogs, crows and rats … leaving not even a stain on the street to remind the World that you were ever here.

      I would wish you the Season’s Greetings, but, frankly, I hope it’s your last … and besides, I can’t find a Christmas card with the motto “Die, you bastard!”


      Clearly our experience of Virgin Media differs somewhat ; )

  14. Rol

    Go large!!!

    Problem is, I don't want to go large. I'm happy where I am.

    My ISP, seemingly every year offers me a free upgrade to my bandwidth, and without fail puts up the price about a month after.

    I used to pay less than £19 for broadband and a few incremental "free" upgrades later I'm paying £29

    I now refuse all free stuff from them and have begged them to put me back on 10Mb, which is still more than I need.

  15. WibbleMe

    Does anyone know if OfCOM has set minimum latency/line gain its one thing to have bandwidth another to actually have a responsive internet experience.

  16. silks

    Virgin Media to Close Swansea Call Centre

  17. Mr Gullible


    On the positive side, I've had a very pleasant time with PlusNet (yes, I know, evil BT) and also O2 a few years back before they were bought by Sky. In both cases, I had to make a techy call, and the person on the other end knew their stuff and solved the problem quickly - and the PlusNet guy was a real yorkshireman too (The O2 guy was a geordie). The service is reliable and I've had no speed issues.

    Contrast that with my well-deserved appalling customer service experience when I switched to TalkTalk. - Half an hour trying to explain to someone in India that they had one digit of my sort code wrong causing them to try and charge me for a failed DD. The language barrier was just painful and eventually the line just went dead (no fault of mine, I managed to stay very polite throughout). Served me right for being tight fisted.

    You get what you pay for. My current contract is £40/mth and I'm happy with that if I know I can actually communicate with someone should the need arise.

    1. WallMeerkat

      Re: PlusNet

      With Plusnet too. On the rare occasions I need to get through, the Yorkshireman/woman on the other end of the line is polite, friendly, useful, and to be honest usually good banter.

      Yes they're evil BT now, and I have my suspicions about my speed - downloading a Playstation game seems to take an entire day, but when I go to a speedtester site/app their QoS kicks in and there is suddenly a slight increase in speed.

      But their customer service is a world away from the pain that was Virgin Media.

  18. JohnMurray

    I was with SKY, then they upped the subscription to £30/month, for 3.5Mbps.

    So went to NOWTV (SKY!) for £20/month and 37Mbps...using the same copper line....hmmmm

  19. The Specialist

    Andrews & Arnold

    A price well worth paying. An excellent ISP all round.

  20. pɹɐʍoɔ snoɯʎuouɐ

    I still pine for the days of Be...

    I have no clue what customer services were like, I never had to call them. In the 4 years I was with them my connection never dropped, speed was as advertised, latency was very low, no extra cost for 5 static IP addresses.....

    If you knew what you were talking about, you could drop tech services a call and ask for particular settings to be tweaked on your line to get additional speed...

    I had a sniffle when they were taken over by O2, but cried like a baby when Sky took over....

    but to be fair, Except for the shitty skys own router that you cant set to use RADIUS for wifi authentication, and the connection drop once or twice a month, its not that bad... Constant speed. reasonable latency,,,, The only contact I have with customer services is the anual call to sky to complain about the price and tell them I want to leave, getting al the necessary MAC numbers etc.... then letting them talk me it to staying fir another year at a massive discount,

  21. Anonymous Coward

    The good news is that Comcast is going to enter the British ISP market...

    Time for Brits to learn the REAL meaning of pain!!

    (Actually, no, I don't think Comcast is entering the British ISP market. I don't think the United States would do that to you guys.)

    1. tfewster

      Re: The good news is that Comcast is going to enter the British ISP market...

      You can have TalkTalk, so long as you take it all. That way, overall ISP ratings in both the US and the UK might improve.

    2. Nick Kew

      Re: The good news is that Comcast is going to enter the British ISP market...

      I don't think the United States would do that to you guys.

      What is spoken (or written) in jest ...

      My experience of the US is very limited, but I've seen much that is good when there. Yet your most famous and successful exports are utter trash. Conclusion: you export your worst stuff, but keep your best stuff for yourselves.

      Our Virgin Media is owned by a US corporation. I don't know if that has any bearing on its evilness.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: The good news is that Comcast is going to enter the British ISP market...

        We export good TV shows to you guys, so that's a plus.

  22. Kev99 Silver badge

    Talk Talk wouldn't hold a candle against Frontier Communications on this side of the pond. Frontier refuses to do anything to upgrade service, even with federal and state grants. And the customer service is more like cuss-toe-mer disservice.

  23. Jagged

    Talk Talk are the worst.

    My father used to be a Tiscali customer who were taken over by Talk Talk. Its now impossible for him to speak to anyone because their systems can't recognise Tiscali customer accounts. Bunch of useless *****

    1. Wilseus

      "My father used to be a Tiscali customer who were taken over by Talk Talk. Its now impossible for him to speak to anyone because their systems can't recognise Tiscali customer accounts. Bunch of useless *****"

      Computer says no. *Cough*

  24. Wilseus

    Call back?

    I wonder why ISPs don't have their customer service department automatically call you back like Amazon do?

    That would solve the problem of long waits on the phone.

  25. Anonymous Noel Coward

    Lately, my Internet has increased to 3,000 kbps from the 765 kbps TalkTalk stuck it at for the last year...

    I'm suspicious.

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