Pricewatch: Reader’s queries

Should broadband providers be able to use the phrase ‘up to’ in relation to speeds?

Mon, Apr 14, 2014, 01:00


David Howarth asks if we can do something about contracts for broadband services and the misguiding statements that are justified by the words “up to”.

“I would like your assistance in getting the phone companies to address what appears to me to be fraudulent billing practices associated with broadband landline services. While the small print states ‘up to’ the speed you are paying for, the phone companies have set the speed well below the 4MB I am paying for,” he writes.

“When purchasing a 4MB service, would it not be reasonable to assume that the speed would come within say plus or minus 10 per cent of this speed?” he asks.

“I have had problems with my home broadband for several years and have never been able to sustain a download speed of 4MB. The majority of the time it has been between 1MB and 2.5MB. Despite repeated calls to the Vodafone service desk they have never been able to fix the problem or adjust my bill,” he continues.

“Three weeks ago my broadband performance was down to 0.02MB. I had had enough. I called the Vodafone service desk and requested a permanent fix to the problem. After running line tests, the same line tests they have used every time I call and complain for the past two years, they told me the line needed to be looked at by Eircom and this would take three to five working days. Three weeks later, and after multiple calls to the Vodafone service desk and visits from Eircom, the problem is still not fixed, but I have found out more details regarding Vodafone billing practices and line-speed allocation. There does not appear to be any link between what you pay for and what you get.”

He says Vodafone had set the speed for his service at 1MB, even though they charge him for 4MB, and when asked why they had set his speed to 1MB they stated is all the line is capable of.

“When I asked why they sold me a 4MB service when the line could only function at 1MB, Vodafone stated that the contract states ‘up to’. When asked why there was no link between what the line speed is set to and the billing process, the Vodafone service desk said I have to talk to the Vodafone billing department. The billing department wants the problem with the line to be resolved before they talk about eligibility for compensation.”

He talked to Eircom and asked what would be a reasonable expectation for broadband speed for his home, based on its location and distance to the exchange. They stated 3MB.

“Can we collectively raise our voice to have this practice of putting ‘up to’ made illegal? In the area of broadband it must be costing the consumer millions of euro. It has started to creep into other areas of advertising too, with toothpaste and dandruff manufacturing claiming up to 100 per cent dandruff free or up to 100 per cent improvement in plaque removal. ‘Up to’ is not a practical definition for consumer products and or services.”

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