Broadband Companies Must Use Plain English

When was the last time you had to contact your broadband provider because of slow connection, broadband servicedropping connection or general uselessness?

Did you get a good result or, like many other people, were you left scratching your head at the response you received?

Well, you’ll be pleased to hear that the consumer watchdog Which? has thrown its toys out if its pram and told the broadband companies that they must cut out the jargon and give consumers information they can understand when having trouble with their connections.

Back in 2010, Ofcom tried a similar tact introducing it’s “Broadband Speeds Code of Practice”. It states that when a prospective customer rings to enquire about how fast their new broadband connection might be, the IPS must:

Ensure that the access line speed information provided within the sales process is a range which is equivalent to the access line speeds achieved by the 20th to 80th percentiles of the ISP’s similar customers (i.e. customers with similar line characteristics). The ISP should also explain to the consumer that the range of access line speeds provided is only an estimate and that if the consumer receives an access line speed which is significantly below this range then the customer should contact the ISP. If asked to explain further or asked to state the definition of “significantly below”, the ISP should provide information on the access line speed achieved by the bottom 10th percentile (or above) of the ISP’s similar customers (”the minimum guaranteed access line speed”) and explain that if the customer’s actual access line speed is below the minimum guaranteed access line speed, then it will follow the process set out in the 4th Principle.

If you’re unsure about what the 4th Principle is, it is:

Log the problem as a technical fault if the actual access line speed is at or below the minimum guaranteed access line speed, or if it is otherwise appropriate to do so. As soon as possible after the problem is logged as a technical fault, the ISP must tell the customer their minimum guaranteed access line speed and explain that if the technical fault cannot be fixed then the customer will have the opportunity to leave their contract immediately and without any penalty provided this is within a three month period of the start of their contract (or longer if the ISP so chooses).

Hmmm, if that’s Ofcom’s idea of plain English best practice, there’s not a lot of hope.

The best thing we can suggest is persevere if you have to phone your ISP and keep asking questions until you get the clarity of answer you’re looking for. Fingers crossed the Which? ultimatum is heeded and broadband companies realise what most other marketers have known for years – the language you use when dealing with customers should be easy to understand and jargon free.

We can but hope.

MPM Computer Consultancy provides IT Services, Support and Training to sole traders and small businesses in Ipswich. Bury St Edmunds and surrounding villages.
Inspiration for this post came from PC Pro.