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Study Claims Sky Has Most Confusing UK Broadband Contract of Big ISPs

Wednesday, Jul 12th, 2023 (9:37 am) - Score 1,904
Contract under magnifying glass

A new study by Uswitch, which adopted a Flesch–Kincaid readability test to examine the Terms & Conditions (T&Cs) of all the major UK broadband ISPs, has concluded that Sky Broadband’s terms are the “trickiest” for customers to understand. On the other hand, Plusnet’s terms were found to be the “most straightforward“.

In an ideal world, we’d all fully read the T&Cs for every new service we joined before completing an order, but in reality most consumers will just skip – or at best, skim read – the massive ‘wall of text’ that typically resembles a modern T&C document.

NOTE: One often ignored issue is that, sometimes, if you try to read through the full T&C during an order process, then your browser session may expire, and you’ll have to start again.

The reason for this isn’t merely that few people have the spare time, or patience, necessary to read all the way through what can feel like a mini novel. But such text can also be incredibly complex, with the worst offenders being stacked full of unfamiliar terms and legal language that make about as much sense as asking a 3-year-old to read through Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace.

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In order to understand just how bad some T&C’s can be in this industry, the new study put the T&C’s for all of the market’s largest broadband ISPs though a Flesch–Kincaid readability test, which are readability tests designed to indicate how difficult a passage in English is to understand. Each provider was then given a Flesch Reading Ease score out of 100.

Rank Provider Readability Score (/100)
1 Plusnet 70.3
2 BT 68.0
3 TalkTalk 66.0
4 Vodafone 65.8
5 EE 63.9
6 Zen Internet 61.3
7 Shell Energy 59.9
8 Virgin Media 54.2
9 Sky Broadband 53.4

The analysis found that Sky’s broadband terms are the most confusing for readers, with a readability score of 53.4, which is almost 17 points lower than Plusnet (70.3), who ranks highest. Sky’s terms are also the longest at 26,756 words – 900% longer than the shortest written contract, EE.

However, neither overly short, nor overly long, terms and conditions lengths are in a providers’ favour as EE and Sky rank in fifth and ninth place respectively. But the length of Plusnet’s terms were also found to be the second shortest, with just 4,479 words.

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Mark-Jackson
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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Comments
5 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Ad47uk says:

    I remember many years ago, going through Sky’s T&C and it was a pain then, and I was only having their TV service, they did not do anything else then. I always look at the contract., when I went with plusnet they were ok. Zzoomm’s contract is pretty straight forward, the Wayleave part was the only thing that threw me because I never had to deal with it before. But i presume that is the same with all fibre providers.

  2. Avatar photo Andrew G says:

    “the new study put the T&C’s for all of the market’s largest broadband ISPs though a Flesch–Kincaid readability test”

    Right, so this in-depth study cut and pasted the text into Word, and clicked on the “editor” button?

    1. Avatar photo JmJohnson says:

      After reviewing both Plusnets and Sky’s T&C’s I’d say yes.
      Plusnets word total was taken from their standard T&C’s for which you’re then supposed to add the additional subsections listed based on what service you have.

      Sky on the other hand have combined T&C’s listed under each service provided.
      A 3rd of Sky’s BB T&C’s are about Sky Talk as you require a Sky line for their internet.

      In essence they’ve compared apples to oranges and even then they’ve got confused over Plusnets… I’d suggest if they can’t get that right then Plusnets is the most confusing.

  3. Avatar photo Arwyn Thomas says:

    I’m an ordinary guy and I find that Sky deliberetly make it impossible to read unless you have a law degree.

  4. Avatar photo john christmas says:

    I was thinking of going over to sky, then saw the confusing deals. My immediate thought was this is a trap, to make them pay more and just make it worse my neighbour warned me off also!

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