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Survey Finds Frustration with Broadband ISP Terms and Conditions

Tuesday, Jul 8th, 2014 (1:13 am) - Score 360

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.

By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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