John Fitzsimons reveals the broadband gripes that get us hot under the collar, and looks the top five ways to improve your download speeds.
When it comes to broadband, I do not exactly have a brilliant track record. In the past I've been guilty of failing to shop around properly for the best value deal for me, and of making daft, impetuous decisions.
This was characterised when, on a whim, I opted to go with the Post Office for my broadband supplier. It hasn't gone entirely smoothly, and there have been a fair few times when I've been left pulling my hair out (what's left of it anyway).
I'm not alone - thousands of us are driven to distraction by failures by our broadband providers. But the shocking fact is that, for many of us, nothing comes of our complaints.
Our unresolved gripes
New research from lovemoney.com partner, Broadbandchoices.co.uk, has found that more than half of our complaints - 54% in fact - are not successfully resolved.
Even worse, more than a third of dissatisfied broadband users don't even bother registering their complaint, sceptical that it will do them any good. Indeed, the vast majority had no idea of how to even go about registering their dissatisfaction.
Here are the top three issues that have grated with you:
1. Download speeds
2. Customer service
3. Reliability issues
How to complain
The fact that there is uncertainty about your complaining options is a touch worrying though, so I'm going to try to shed some light on the process. Here's how you should go about complaining with an Internet Service Provider.
- Go direct to your Internet Service Provider with any issues. Insist they explain fully their complaints procedure before you officially register a complaint.
- It helps to document all correspondence with your Internet Service Provider, with times and dates of all discussions, as well as recording the names of any staff you speak to.
If, after eight weeks, there has been no resolution, then you should contact an alternative dispute resolution organisation and get their advice on how to proceed. Your best bets are the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) and the Office of the Telecommunications Ombudsman (OTELO).
Get the most from your broadband package!
While complaining is one route to getting a better broadband experience, there are plenty of things you can do at home to improve your internet connection.
I'm going to focus on that biggest gripe - download speeds.
1. Change your browser settings
The majority of us are still using version 6 of Internet Explorer, which downloads all files on a web page in a sequential order. As a result, if you are going onto a page with a lot of pictures, chances are it will take longer to load.
However, if you upgrade to version 7, or use a different browser (Mozilla Firefox is a popular choice among my techy friends), then you might be able to get those pages up quicker.
2. Tweak your router settings
Have a read of your router's manual. It should detail ways to maximise performance.
3. Don't let your neighbours nick it!
This is one I definitely need to do! If you have a wireless router, then people in your street might be able to access it, and ride on your internet coat-tails, and this, sadly, can slow your own ride down.
Your wireless network will have a name - that's how you know which network to select when attempting to go online - and the vast majority of the time it will be something the manufacturers have given it. Mine is Linksys, followed by some numbers, for example.
Keeping this as the name acts as a beacon to hackers or naughty neighbours that you have not changed your security settings, so they are likely to have a go at nicking your net connection. Change the name to something more obscure, and they might be put off.
However, different routers have different methods for changing the name. I'd recommend reading the router's manual, or having a search on the net for how to do it for yours.
The second step is to set a scrambling code - this prevents anyone that doesn't know the code from connecting. It's known as a WEP key.
Again, your router manual should be able to tell you how to do this. Once you have changed the name of your connection, and set up a key, make sure you write them down or else it won't only be your neighbours that can't use your broadband!
4. Scrap going wireless
Simple but true - if your internet connection is a bit slow when you connect wirelessly, try connecting your PC or laptop directly. In fact, even the type of cable you use makes an impact; ethernet cables tend to be more efficient than USB ones.
5. Get a better aerial!
Most aerials are 2dBi (this represents the length of the aerial) so getting a longer aerial will improve your connection strength and speed. Experts reckon a 9dBi aerial will up your signal strength by up to 50%!
Those are my five top tips, but I'm certain there are loads more out there on how to get great value for money from your broadband package - be sure to share them via the comment box below!
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