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Citizens Advice calls on government to strengthen voice of telecoms consumers as new poll shows majority face service issues

25 January 2018

Six out of 10 broadband consumers experienced slow service or had their connection stop working entirely in the last year, disrupting the ability of some consumers to work or study (24%), pay bills or online bank (16%), or connect with friends and family (21%), new polling from Citizens Advice has found.

This latest polling builds on previous research from Citizens Advice that shows consumers face more problems in the mobile and broadband markets than other essential markets like energy and water.

With over a third of people saying they feel government does not take into account the interests of ordinary service users about mobile and broadband issues, Citizens Advice is calling on government to strengthen the voice of consumers in these markets by establishing a telecoms consumer advocate in the upcoming Consumer Green Paper. This would ensure telecoms consumers have the same representation as other essential markets like energy and water.

The new polling shows the wider impact a broadband service disruption may have. Nearly a quarter (24%) said it had an impact on their ability to work or study, and 21% said it had an impact on their ability to keep in touch with family and friends.

21% of people are either always or regularly unable to pay bills online or do online banking because of their broadband connection.

Young people were more likely to be adversely affected if they faced a telecoms service disruption, with 33% of 25-34 year olds reporting a broadband service issue had a fair or great amount of impact on their ability to work or study.

The survey also found:

  • Broadband customers spent on average 2.4 hours trying to resolve an issue of poor or no service.

  • A quarter of those surveyed felt they could not trust their broadband provider to resolve their problem quickly.

  • 26% of those who switched broadband provider experienced delays.

Gillian Guy, Chief Executive of Citizens Advice, said:

“People now rely on their broadband and mobile connection for the day to day running of their lives.

“Yet the majority of people continue to face significant disruptions that can waste their time and stop them from being able to pay their bills, bank online, study, work or connect with family and friends.

“The government’s Consumer Green Paper is an opportunity to strengthen the voices of telecoms consumers by establishing a consumer advocate in broadband and mobile markets to reflect how essential these services are to people.”

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Notes to editors

  1. ComRes interviewed 4,127 British adults aged 18+ online between 12th and 16th January 2018 on behalf of Citizens Advice. Data were weighted by age, gender, region and socio-economic grade to be representative of all GB adults. Full data tables can be found at www.comresglobal.com.

  2. The Citizens Advice service comprises a network of local Citizens Advice, all of which are independent charities, the Citizens Advice consumer service and national charity Citizens Advice. Together we help people resolve their money, legal and other problems by providing information and advice and by influencing policymakers. For more see the Citizens Advice website.
  3. The advice provided by the Citizens Advice service is free, independent, confidential and impartial, and available to everyone regardless of race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, religion, age or nationality.
  4. To get advice online or find your local Citizens Advice in England and Wales, visit citizensadvice.org.uk
  5. You can get consumer advice from the Citizens Advice consumer service on 03454 04 05 06 or 03454 04 05 05 for Welsh language speakers.
  6. Local Citizens Advice in England and Wales advised 2.5 million clients on 6.2 million problems in 2014/15. For full service statistics see our publication Advice trends.
  7. Citizens Advice service staff are supported by more than 21,000 trained volunteers, working at over 2,500 service outlets across England and Wales.