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Disgusting service. Who to take this complaint to?

Sephiroth

Casual Member
I signed up for Fast4's dialup service a month ago. I needed a week of temporary internet so I was looking for a service with no monthly contract, which I could cancel any time I wanted. I thought I found one.

http://www.fast4.net/dialup.htm

"The service has no contracts and you can be surfing the web within minutes!"

Perfect I thought, no contracts and quick set up. I click to see the packages.

http://www.fast4.net/_files/dial_opts.asp

"all have no fixed length contracts so you cancel any option at any time."

Excellent, easy to cancel and no contracts. So I sign up for the £6.99 service.

When I try to cancel the service a week later I am told that I can not because I am in a contract and must wait a month. Yet when I signed up I was told there are no contracts and I could cancel at any time. Apparently their ToS states there is a contract, but I did not read this because I did not expect their advertising to be a bunch of bull's excrement. When I'm told a service has no contract and that I can cancel at any time, I expect this. It was the only point that mattered.

As Fast4 have billed me for another month, they owe me money. I have cancelled the service but I intend to pursue a refund.

The problem seems to be misleading advertising. So who should I take the matter to? The ASA, OFCOM or Trading Standards?

Their customer services have been terrible and it's a waste of time trying to deal with them. I only have a mobile to make calls and the other day they were taking my call and basically saying "Hi, the queue is too long for you to enter, goodbye" which was costing me 40p a try. I don't wish to waste more money on that.
 

Mel

ULTIMATE Member
The problem seems to be misleading advertising. So who should I take the matter to? The ASA, OFCOM or Trading Standards?
The ASA only cover paid for advertising appearing on a third party publication, so won't be able to make a company remove any misleading claims made on that company's own website.

Trading Standards can take action over misleading claims, and there was a recent act that tightened up consumer protection - "the unfair trading regulations 2008"


I guess a complaint to OFCOM wouldn't do any harm, they might take an interest. They'll likely advise you to use the ISP arbitration services - Fast4 are a member of CISAS (http://www.cisas.org.uk/) - this is an independent service, their decision is binding on the ISP, it is free (for you), and I believe if you were to include a request for the ISP to amend their site as well as refund the extra payment, then it is in the arbitrators power to instruct the ISP to do that; however they'll only investigate if you can show that you've tried and been unable to reach an agreement with the ISP after 8 weeks, unless you can persuade FAST4 to give you a deadlock letter which is unlikely because win or lose, the ISP picks up the arbitration fees.

EDIT: another body you might try a complaint to is the ISP trade body, the ISPA ( http://www.ispa.org.uk/ ) - not sure if Fast4 / breathe are actually a member.
 
Last edited:

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
You should always take remarks like "no monthly contracts" or "no fixed length contracts" with a big pinch of salt because it's usually misleading. The reason for this is because most ISPs will still have an initial 30 day period where you can't cancel, which is quite common. They don't call it a contract but it is technically a contract, even if it's not.. if you see what I mean ;) .

I always expect this when joining any service, unless the package specifically states that you have a "cooling off" period of X DAYs or a free trial. Otherwise it's best to assume that when you pay for the first month, you pay for the first month - end of story. The only exception would be if the service was unusable, which would allow for the claim of a refund.

However if you wish to pursue this then, since it's only a small amount, the best solution is to follow our guidance at the page below and play a long waiting game. I would avoid using the service during this time so as not to appear as though you've taken advantage of something you claim not to want.

http://www.ispreview.co.uk/new/complain/complain.shtml
 
If needed again, BT CLICK still operates on dial up:
08456091300. Free service, no need to register. Charged per minute on your phone bill.
I have used this for years when ever i have temp needed a dial up service.
U/N & P/W BTCLICK.

Jason
 

Sephiroth

Casual Member
Thanks for all the helpful advice guys. :)

I will be doing exactly that in future Mark, I just thought with dial up being such an old technology that a no contract service would be a bit like topping up a PAYG mobile phone where you pay a certain amount of usage that lasts a month. I used a service exactly like that for dial up a couple of years earlier but sadly they no longer do it. Thing is with a 30 day contract you're forced to pay for two months minimum because they don't let you cancel until the day of your next bill.

I am very busy right now but I'll see what I can do. I'm starting to think it's not going to be worth the effort since it's only a small amount of money, but I don't think it's right to not bother as others are surely going to get into this same problem.

And Jason I realise there's still PAYG dial up services but I figured I'd get more for my money if I signed up for a proper service. I mean, this should have cost me £7 which is only going to get me about 8 hours of off peak PAYG. In reality this misleading advertising has cost me about £17 counting the two months of billing and the phone calls I had to make from a mobile.

It's my fault for not reading the ToS, but the average person doesn't expect the ToS to completely contradict the product description. If it was a large company doing that on a popular product there's no way they'd get away with it.
 

Mark.J

Administrator
Staff member
ISPreview Team
That sounds a bit odd.

Usually what will happen is, when you request a cancellation, they will set the account to expire on the day that the next months payment is due. As this is a consumer service then they can't really "prevent" you from cancelling. Definitely grounds for an official complaint, assuming it runs off the typical 30 day style first month only contract period.
 
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