Cut out the broadband jargon? What jargon?

21 Mar 2014

Consumer watchdog Which? has got on its high horse, telling broadband companies to "cut out the jargon" and "give consumers information they understand" when fixing problems with their connections.

Frankly, I don't know what all the fuss is about. Our fearless lion of a telecoms regulator, Ofcom, cracked this problem back in 2010, when it introduced its Broadband Speeds Code of Practice, making it as plain as day what broadband companies should tell their customers when they ring up to complain about their broadband speeds.

To make it easier for the nannying, simpletons at Which? I've pulled out the relevant paragraphs on how ISPs should deal with speed complaints:

Firstly, when prospective customers ring up to find out how fast their new broadband connection might be, ISPs 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.

What's the 4th Principle? You mean you weren't taught it at school, alongside the eight times tables and the Lord's Prayer? For the dunces at the back of the class, the 4th Principle states that broadband providers must:

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).

See? Plain, simple advice delivered in the no-nonsense language that the man in the street would understand.

Now let's consider Which's alternative wording:

Allow people to exit contracts without penalty if they don’t get the minimum speed estimated at any point in their contract.

Nope, don't get it. Can you run that past me again?

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