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How to resolve an issue with your ISP

Need to resolve an issue with your ISP, or get help from your broadband provider? While a vast majority of issues can be solved with a single phone call, a small portion may require you to seek assistance elsewhere. We explain what your options are when facing a problem with your ISP.

By on August 14, 2013 at 10:00 AM
How to resolve an issue with your ISP

If you're facing issues with your ISP, or you need help from your broadband provider, to solve your problem and get full support you have to know your rights and what is advisable to do or not do.

Step one: Give your ISP a chance

really annoyed person

There are a number of problems you can face regarding your broadband service. These often include disputes about certain points in the Terms & Conditions, billing errors, a member of the support team was rude to you, you encountered a technical issue and many others. To make sure you don't get transferred five times (and that you don't kept on hold for thirty minutes on top of that), it's a good idea to double check which department you should be dialling: customer services, technical or billing departments.

How to get in touch with your ISP

See all broadband provider customer service numbers

If you don't wish to call, you can contact your ISP's support team via social media (i.e. Twitter or Facebook), email or through the provider's website using a web form. However, sometimes this is not enough. If your issue is not resolved within a reasonable period of time (often estimated by a support team member, tweeted or emailed to you), you then have the right to make your voice heard and contact a company representative higher up the food chain.

Top Tip: Using Twitter and Facebook is a great way of addressing issues and getting them solved quickly because words spread like wildfire on social media platforms. No company likes bad publicity, so every problem (including yours) will be prioritised.

Step two: Lodging your complaint

angry person

If you waited longer than your supplier advised, it is time to find out what are the steps you should take in order to file an official complaint. Again, some providers will have web forms to fill in, addresses to send physical letters to or phone numbers to call up. A formal written complaint is also called a "deadlock letter", which means that you have given your ISP every opportunity to help and resolve the issue but it neglected to do so.

Once you have filed a complaint, companies are under an obligation to acknowledge it and respond to it as soon as possible. If a company foresees a delay in dealing with your issue, it must let you know beforehand that the process may take longer than initially expected.

Top Tip: Make sure your letter of complaint is short and to the point so that it gets read entirely rather than skimmed through.

Step three: Talking to the bosses

very angry person

If a firm did not react in any way to your formal complaint, it is recommended to contact a senior employee within the company (for instance the MD or the CEO). Every C-level executive cares deeply about the way their business is represented and seen by customers which is why they will do their best to be as helpful as possible and make sure that your issue gets resolved quickly.

Top Tip: It is important to not overdo it - a CEO might be less concerned about the fact that you lost your services for an hour last year and might consider your peril nothing but a time waste. Nevertheless, if your issue is serious, for example, you were mistreated as a customer or your services disappeared and no support member managed to help you, you must make the senior executives aware as this is the firm's last chance to redeem itself before you seek assistance elsewhere.

Final straw: Seeking help elsewhere

exploding head

If you've called, complained, spent hours on the phone speaking to senior execs and nothing worked,you have the following two options:


All broadband providers, both business and domestic are subscribed to an Ofcom-approved Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) scheme. In other words, this is an alternative, impartial and free resolution option which will take you one step closer to solving your problem, if not resolving it completely. However, be ready to march at a snail pace as help from ADR schemes tends to take time and not all issues get resolved in the end (the majority do though).

Civil Court

If you think that your case is very serious, you might want to take the matter to court. But think very carefully before taking this path as it is often costly as it is lengthy - although your complaint will be filed under the small claims category, you might end up forking out as much as £5,000 for court expenses. Find out more about the legal process here.

Top Tip: It is wise not to take any legal actions singlehandedly. Although it's not obligatory, it's best to consult a solicitor to confirm how legitimate and serious your issue really is. Be wary that the Civil Court categorises broadband complaints as small, non-serious cases. Consider other routes before taking this one as it will cost you both time and money.

Tips which may prevent issues from starting in the first place:

Happy person

  • Read through forums and see how others dealt with similar situations. What do people on online forums recommend? Talking to someone who encountered the same issue almost always helps;
  • When calling customer services be polite and patient. People working for your ISP are there to help and being rude and short-tempered has never helped anyone;
  • Don't be lured into a deal only because the price seems to be impressive - the service might not be. If your package isn't what you expected, upgrade or switch. It's much easier than seeking court action.
  • Don't delete emails or throw away letters from your broadband provider - even bills - as these can be used as evidence which you might be required to present at a later date.

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