Internet and broadband service providers should comply with a number of regulations, rules and codes of practice to ensure customers are not misled when choosing an internet package and help them get the best service once they’ve signed up to a contract. Here are five regulations that all internet and broadband providers should know:
1. Advertising speeds
There are guidelines by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) that regulate how internet and broadband suppliers can advertise the speeds of their services. Any ‘up to’ speeds advertised must be achieved by a minimum of 10% of the service’s users. However, the ASA is looking to implement new guidance on this subject in 2017 as the organisation is concerned that people are still misled and don’t get the speeds they expect.
2. Estimated speeds
Most major broadband providers have also signed up to Ofcom’s voluntary Code of Practice that refers to speed estimates. According to the guidelines the supplier is required to provide an accurate estimate of the likely range of speeds before a contract is signed and to explain the factors influencing speed. A provider should also give customers advice if the speed is slower than expected and alternatively offer a faster product or if not available, let them cancel the contract without any charges. Selected providers have created internal rules regarding the length of time that an ‘estimated speed’ will remain valid for in a certain area.
3. Usage allowance and terminology
When a broadband package has no usage allowance limit, customers are able to download and upload as much as they want. According to ASA guidelines, the terms ‘truly unlimited’ or ‘totally unlimited’, however, can only be advertised when no traffic management controls are applied that could limit any data rates. It’s absolutely crucial to use the right terminology with customers to ensure that you don’t get caught out.
4. Distance Selling Regulations
Although the ‘Distance Selling Regulation’ no longer applies to UK law, The Consumer Contracts Regulations 2014 still covers consumers making purchases that are not conducted face-to-face. If a customer purchases a package or a deal from a provider online or over the phone, their consumer rights are not affected, giving them a minimum of 7 working days to cancel their purchase. Some providers allow more time for this as part of a ‘cooling off period’, but this varies between suppliers.