Home Money My BT broadband is very slow and hasn’t worked for a week. Can I cancel my contract? DEAN DUNHAM answers

My BT broadband is very slow and hasn’t worked for a week. Can I cancel my contract? DEAN DUNHAM answers

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My BT broadband is very slow and hasn't worked for a week. Can I cancel my contract? DEAN DUNHAM answers

My BT broadband is very slow and hasn’t worked for the last week. Can I cancel my contract?

Kelvin Stiles, Hampshire

In April 2021, communications regulator Ofcom introduced a voluntary Automatic Compensation Scheme, under which broadband and landline customers receive an automatic payment from their providers when they experience loss of services, if their circumstances meet its requirements.

So, as BT is a member of this scheme, you will be entitled to compensation of £9.76 per day until your service is restored if it has been down for more than two full working days and the loss of service has not been caused by equipment failure or activity in your home.

As for the problem of your broadband being slow, this could give you the right to cancel the contract.

To determine what remedy you are entitled to, you must follow the following five steps.

1) Make a daily note, for a period of two weeks, of the speeds you are receiving; to find out, use an online Internet speed checker and take a screenshot of the result each time.

2) Find out what speed you were promised when you signed the contract and compare it to what you actually get.

3) Read the provider’s terms and conditions to see what they say about internet speeds. In particular, check whether the terms state that the broadband speed advertised when you signed up for the service is not guaranteed and is instead the maximum speed you can expect to get, and whether a “minimum” speed is mentioned anywhere.

A statement about the maximum speed you can get is not a promise that you will achieve that speed, and is therefore not a contractual promise that you can enforce against the provider. Your contract may also warn about factors that could affect the speed you receive, so you should check this carefully too.

4) If after investigation you feel that you are not getting the speed you were promised, file a complaint with your provider and make sure to send a copy of your daily notes and screenshots of the speed checker results. This shows that you have evidence to back up your complaint.

5) If your supplier does not help you, lodge a complaint with the approved alternative dispute resolution service.

This year my water bills have quadrupled and it can’t be right, so I’ve refused to pay. Even though there is a clear error in the billing, my water supplier is now threatening legal action. What can I do?

Erin Green, Northampton

The first thing you need to determine is whether you have a water leak, as this is a common cause of excessive bills. Therefore, you should inform the water company that you believe this is a possibility and ask them to investigate, in which case they should suspend your account. This will stop all enforcement actions until the investigation has been completed. If there is a leak, the responsibility to repair it depends on your location.

The water company is responsible for the underground water network and usually the service pipe. This is the part of the service pipe that reaches the boundary of your property from the main network.

External shut-off valves are also typically owned and maintained by the water company. In most cases, it is their responsibility to maintain the supply line, which is the section of service pipe from your property line (usually where the water meter and shut-off valve are located) to the property itself.

If there is a leak and the water company is responsible for it, they should adjust your bills so that you are only charged for the water that your property has used. If the leak is your responsibility, ask the water company what their policy is, as many offer a one-time free repair or subsidized repairs to their customers.

If, despite following the steps above, your problem is still unresolved, you can take your case to the Consumer Council for Water (CWW). This is an independent organisation representing the interests of consumers. It has the power to investigate most complaints. You can find out more here: www.ccwater.org.uk.

If you are not satisfied with the CCW’s response, you may request to appeal your case.

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