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All About Internet Service Provider Refunds

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 28 Nov 2012 |
Internet Service Refund Contract

Choosing An ISP

Consumers have a lot of choice when it comes to Internet service providers. Experiences vary enormously, but there have been a surge of complaints in the last 3-4 years with the growth in broadband and then wireless Internet connections. Several providers now offer ‘free’ broadband, although if something is ‘free’ alongside other services this does not mean that it should be of lower quality than the other services you are paying for alongside it. Internet services are usually provided on a contract basis, although there are pre-pay WLAN packages available for short-term use. These are, like mobile phone vouchers, more expensive than longer term provider packages.

Can I Get A Refund?

If you have signed up to a broadband package, and have received your free router but have not yet been connected, you may be entitled to request a refund. You can expect a service to commence within a reasonable time, so if it doesn’t you should be able to cancel. You will have to return the router, though. If the router they supply to you is faulty, but your broadband has been connected, they are entitled to repair or replace the router. However, a faulty router doesn’t mean you are entitled to a refund for your entire broadband package.

Breaking Your Contract

It can be extremely frustrating when something goes wrong with your internet connection. You can spend a long time on hold waiting to speak to someone about troubleshooting, and even then there’s no guarantee that it’s not a fault with the line. But where do you draw the line between a technical fault, or a serious breach of contract?

If you are without your internet service for a certain period of time, it’s important that you tell your service provider. Usually you will be entitled to some compensation for this, which generally means that money will be taken off your bill. Also, even if your service has been poor, you will probably not be entitled to all your money back under the contract.

Once you have signed up to a broadband package, it can be extremely difficult to cancel it. That’s why you should use caution when deciding who your provider is going to be: as the cheapest introductory rates aren’t always the best long term solution.

It’s important to remember that you don’t automatically have the right to cancel your contract with an ISP because you may be in breach of contract and liable to penalties. Similarly, you shouldn’t simply cancel your direct debit payments, as this is likely to be breaching your contract.

You’re Not Alone

If you don’t feel like you’re getting the results you want, there are a lot of trade and arbitration associations to help consumers who are having problems with their Internet Service Providers:
  • Ofcom (the communications watchdog)
  • Otelo (the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman)
  • The Office of Fair Trading
  • Trading Standards
  • CISAS, Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme
  • ISPA – the UK Internet Service Providers Association: not all ISPs are members, so check whether your ISP is before you approach them.

If you have experienced persistent problems with your ISP try to keep a list of dates when your service has been interrupted or unreliable. This can be extremely helpful when you come to make your complaint.

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