TalkTalk and Karoo, the ISP owned by KC, need to be more up front with customers about their broadband speeds during sign up.
Telecoms regulator Ofcom conducted a mystery survey between 16 March and 10 May 2013, posing as potential broadband customers.
The results of their incognito shopping spree show that TalkTalk sales reps would only offer an unprompted speed test 47 per cent of the time. Karoo’s staff only offered a speed test without being prompted on 60 per cent of calls, a significant decrease from last year’s figures.
Rivals BT, Sky and Virgin Media fared better when selling ADSL-based broadband, offering unprompted speed tests 81 per cent, 77 per cent and 75 per cent of the time respectively.
When prompted by Ofcom, Karoo reps provided speed estimates 100 per cent of the time, as did EE and Plusnet.
Not a single ISP scored below 90 per cent but it’s interesting to note that some sales teams are still not providing speed tests even when customers ask for them.
Claudio Pollack, Ofcom’s consumer group director, said: “The results of our mystery shopping are encouraging, with the quality of information being provided to consumers at the point of sale improving overall.
“However, the research has identified areas where providers need to do more to improve, particularly in terms of providing speeds information spontaneously and early in the sales process. We’re already working with providers to ensure they tighten up their sales processes where we’ve identified concerns.”
Where ISPs did offer speed tests there’s room for improvement. In most cases, ISPs offered a range of speed tests in order to provide customers with a decent speed estimate. As you can see above, O2 Broadband fared the worst here, offering a range of speed tests in just 58 per cent of cases.
Second worst was Plusnet, offering multiple tests 75 per cent of the time, followed by TalkTalk which only offered tests 79 per cent of the time. O2 Broadband has since been acquired by Sky, which scored well in all categories.
In the table above, you might see that no data has been given about BT Infinity for this category. BT only provides a single speed test for its FTTC (Fibre to the Cabinet)-based Infinity product. Due to the fibre-based nature of the product, BT can say with greater certainty what speeds a customer can expect.
The Voluntary Code of Practice on Broadband Speeds drawn up by Ofcom in 2008 requires ISPs to be upfront about speed data and explain to customers what kind of service to expect.
If you want to get a good idea of the line speeds available in your area you don’t have to rely on the ISPs, you can use our broadband speed test.