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Survey Finds Frustration with Broadband ISP Terms and Conditions

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014 (1:13 am) - Score 357
uk internet statistics

A new survey of 574 ISPreview.co.uk readers has found that 84.8% of respondents think that the Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) thrown at us by broadband providers are both far too long and confusing, which might explain why a third (32.9%) of people choose to skip them entirely.

Unfortunately T&Cs can be quite important, with many referencing critical contract terms, extra charges and service restrictions that could otherwise come back to haunt you later if you’re not prepared. Sadly in order to get to that detail you first have to wade through a mountain of legal tosh, which is enough to cause even the snappiest of brain cells to scurry off into the distance faster than Rolf Harris’s TV career.

Do you read the Terms and Conditions when signing-up for a new broadband ISP?
Yes – Most of the text – 34.3%
No – None of it! – 32.9%
Yes – A small amount – 32.7%

How easy are your ISPs T&Cs to understand?
Average – 46.3%
Hard – 44.9%
Easy – 8.7%

What is your main gripe with T&Cs?
They’re just too long! – 52.6%
Confusing words / legal speak – 32.2%
Small font / text size – 8.7%
Other – 3.3%
Poorly labelled content – 3.1%

Unfortunately T&Cs, being reflective of a binding legal agreement, aren’t very easy to simplify and it doesn’t help that some services can be associated with several different sets of terms (e.g. Fair Usage Policies, Acceptable Usage Policy etc.) spread across multiple pages, all of which can be very confusing.

Never the less there are some things that ISPs could do to help improve the situation, such as listing all additional charges or penalties in a separate table on the document and making sure that each section is clearly marked and correctly sized, as opposed to lumping everything together in one giant mass of ugly small print. Ofcom could certainly do more to encourage good practice here rather than just generally recommending that ISPs be more transparent.

Meanwhile this month’s new survey asks whether or not you’re receiving the broadband speed that your ISP originally estimated? Vote Here.

Leave a Comment
8 Responses
  1. Avatar TL

    The first laugh out loud joke I’ve read in an ISPreview article in 5 years. 🙂

  2. Avatar adslmax

    No ones like very small print T&C’s.

    • Avatar DTMark

      Talk Talk appear to be the masters of this. We get junk mail about their services; the Ts and Cs are tucked away on a flap section at the bottom and are almost impossible to read.

      Someone spent a great deal of time working out the optimum character width and line spacing in order to ensure that the eye cannot follow it easily with the result that people don’t bother.

      My personal belief is that you can ascertain a certain amount about the company by the way in which terms and conditions are set out and the “promises” that are made; to single out a positive one, Aquiss’s website struck me as particularly clear and no nonsense, and careful not to make claims or promises that are only true when certain narrow definitions are applied.

  3. @DTMark

    Thanks for the kind comments. Its really nice to hear that our efforts, to be as clear, concise and upfront as possible have not gone unnoticed.

    • Avatar DTMark

      You’re very welcome.

      For the benefit of anyone reading – no, I’m not an Aquiss customer nor connected with them in any way.

  4. Avatar No Clue

    Stupid query perhaps but why do the percent figures for each question only add up to 99.9% each time?

    • As I write this the first question is exactly 50% / 50% (total 100%). But otherwise it’s just down to rounding / keeping the output clean and a decision not to calculate deeper than XX.X% because 0.1% here or there isn’t considered statistically important to any of our surveys.

    • Avatar No Clue

      “because 0.1% here or there isn’t considered statistically important to any of our surveys.”

      It would be if you had 3 potential answers and they were all running at 33.3%. Mind you its accurate enough i was just curious if there was a reason why more than anything. It is at least better than some government surveys that never adds up to anything near 100%.

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