1 Check your broadband speed
You should use a broadband speed checking service to see whether you are getting a significantly slower service than you should be able to get.
If you are, then whether your broadband provider is in breach of contract will depend on the reason why and whether there are external factors that are slowing down your broadband.
If you're wondering why your broadband speed is so slow, unfortunately it can be difficult to pin down the cause of the problem quickly.
There are many factors potentially involved in why you might having slow broadband speed which include the exchange, the line into your house and the hardware you're using, like the router.
If you can, check that all these things are working normally and are not contributing factors before starting a formal complaint with your broadband provider using our free broadband complaint tool.
Check Your Speed
You can use the free Which? broadband speed checker tool to find out if your speed matches what you've been sold.
2 Check your broadband contract
You should check the small print of your contract because it might say that the advertised broadband speed is not guaranteed. Instead it will be the the maximum speed you can expect to get.
The after sale information you were sent should tell you a minimum guaranteed speed, take a note of this number as it will be important moving forward.
Your contract may also warn of factors that could affect the speed you receive, such as the distance you are from the telephone exchange.
The contract will probably also explain that the provider can’t guarantee an uninterrupted service as a broadband connection may be lost for a number of reasons beyond the broadband provider's control.
But, you may still be able to claim against your broadband provider if you feel that you were led to believe that you'd have the higher speed on a regular or permanent basis and that this promise induced you to enter into the contract.
3 Contact your broadband provider
If your broadband is not achieving the speeds promised you need to contact your provider.
You can call or write to your provider and explain that you are not getting the speeds you were promised, or that the statements it made to you before you signed up were 'misrepresentations'.
Provide details of any information you were given about claimed broadband speeds before you signed up, and try to provide a log of the issues detailing times and dates of the slow speed, where possible.
You should also ask your provider to check whether your access line speed (the download speed of your wired internet connection) is below your minimum guaranteed broadband speed.
Give your provider a reasonable opportunity to investigate any complaints you raise and to find a solution, say 14 days. Remember that it can be difficult to work out exactly why you're not getting the advertised service.
If your broadband contract started after October 2015 you could also be protected by the Ofcom voluntary code.
The Ofcom voluntary code
The Ofcom code is voluntary, but many of the biggest suppliers are signed up. You can find an up-to-date list of broadband providers who've signed up to the code on Ofcom's website.
These providers must give you the expected range of maximum speeds for your line at the point of sale. They must help you with your speed issues, and if your speed remains below your minimum guaranteed, they must let you exit your contract penalty-free. Or alternatively you can agree to continue the contract at a lower monthly cost.
You can find your minimum guaranteed broadband speed in the information your provider sent you after the sale or upgrade.
And if you want to change broadband supplier you only have to notify the company you wish to move to. Your new supplier will then handle every aspect of the change.
4 Make a broadband speed complaint
If you don't get a satisfactory solution from contacting your broadband provider, go through it's formal complaints procedure. Keep records of all verbal or written communication as this can help your case should you need to take it further.
Make a broadband speed complaint
Make a formal complaint about your broadband speed. Once you've answered some simple questions, you'll receive an email with a ready-to-go complaint letter to send to your broadband provider.Start your complaint
If you prefer you can download this template letter to make a formal complaint to your broadband provider about the speed of your broadband instead.
5 Try alternative dispute resolution
If your broadband provider can’t or won’t help, after eight weeks you can take your complaint to the relevant ADR scheme.
Both schemes have a form that you must complete to start the process. This will enable you to set out your issue and outline the remedy you're looking for.
If you're considering using the ombudsman, take a look at our step-by-step guide to complaining to an ombudsman.
Sue Woollard says:
We live in North London – not a remote part of the country yet our speeds are around 5mps -but we can’t have Infinity because we ‘live too close to the exchange so our copper wired broadband comes...
One place the new rules haven’t yet reached is RightMove. Given the importance of broadband speed when choosing a property to buy, it seems wrong that the old ‘Up to…” description is used. How...
Not a moment too soon.