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Beware if you live in a rural area

jacquiindevon
Dabbler
Posts: 13
Registered: 18-08-2015

Beware if you live in a rural area

So to break down my experience with Plus NET so far:
When I signed up to PN fibre service in July, I was given to believe by checking through their online system I could expect to receive a fibre broadband package which would be better than my standard broadband package I had received through BT. The package advertised and paid for was for up-to 38mbs.
I was told the transfer would be seamless and no break in my service - this didn't happen and at the start of the contract we were without any broadband at all for 2 days.
As I was away I asked my husband to deal with the loss but he had to experience a ‘Marigold Hotel’ conversation with one of PN operatives of ’can I speak to the account holder’.  I had to break my holiday to contact the customer services so he could be’ allowed to’ speak to them.
I patiently waited 10 days for the speed to settle as advised on the PN system - but contacted PN about very low speeds on the 14th August. I receive 7.8mbs download when the cabinet could deliver up to 78mbs
I was told it was a fault on the line and an OR engineer had fixed it - but still had no better speed. So I contacted again.
I was then told that it was another fault on the line and another OR engineer came and said it had been fixed but again no improvement in service.
Finally another OR broadband engineer came last week (a day late) to check our property and found no problem with either the line or any wiring in our property - we are just too far away from the exchange/box
So today I contacted PN today about a reduction in my bill, as I don't see why I should pay for 38MBS when I get less than 10mbs. I have been told at yes they can reduce my package but this won't be on Fibre and I probably won't get the possible 8mbs on that and it would be around 4mbs - which is less than I was getting on BT! When I asked if I could move supplier apparently I would have to pay to get out of  a contract that in no way delivers what it promised.
I feel as PN cannot supply me with a package as described I should have a reduction in my bill to the level of broadband speed I am receiving which is under 10MBS - PN currently advertise this at £4.99 per month and  that is what I feel I should pay and no more.
So my gripe is - Why couldn't this have been said right at the beginning so I didn't have to spend my time  off work for something PN should have been able to deduce from my address/telephone number? Why do people who live in rural locations still have a second rate service? And finally has anyone out there had experience of the ombudsman?


9 REPLIES
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,434
Thanks: 1,012
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

when you signed up you would have been given a speed estimate which would have been the lower of the two numbers for a clean line from http://www.dslchecker.bt.com/adsl/ADSLChecker.TelephoneNumberOutput
jacquiindevon
Dabbler
Posts: 13
Registered: 18-08-2015

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

Hi Old Jim
Thanks for your reply but I had checked and it showed 72mbs max and 54mbs min - even PN agrees that's what I should be able to get. Looking further into it all I find an interesting article on distance from exchange at http://www.increasebroadbandspeed.co.uk/2013/chart-bt-fttc-vdsl2-speed-against-distance - an extract table from the article below shows the fibre drop off rate  per km - PN must have this information and have my address so why was I not informed and had to go through 6 weeks of line checking before a BTOR engineer is honest enough to tell me the facts.
I am miffed because as I see it I changed supplier on dubious information and will have to either live with it, reduce my package to  ADSL to receive a worse service than I had before or will have to pay to get out of a contract that doesn't do what it says on the tin.
I am currently awaiting a call from a manager in the options team to discuss but I am not optimistic. I feel this is not acceptable - if I go into a restaurant and order a full meal I don't expect to just receive a starter. If I did I wouldn't be paying for it and there would be no tip for the waiter.

Community Veteran
Posts: 38,434
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Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

That is distance from the cab not distance from the exchange
All Plusnet have to go on is the information on the link you posted
It is possible that the BT engineer was talking rubbish - it does happen - is it possible for you to have a walk round and find cab 2 and work out the distance to your house
Andrue
Aspiring Pro
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Registered: 12-01-2015

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

Quote from: jacquiindevon
PN must have this information and have my address
Telephone cables rarely, if ever travel in a straight line from exchange to premises. It would make getting at them rather troublesome since they'd have to dig up dozens if not hundreds of gardens and even living rooms Wink  Generally speaking you can assume that telephone cables follow 'the most likely motorised vehicle route' from exchange to your house. That can easily add 50% or more on to the routing so unfortunately it is just not possible for PN to know how long your cable really is purely from your address.
What BT have done is provided companies like PN with access to their telephone line database. This is a fairly accurate record of line length derived electronically. Even then it's not perfect. BT won't know the line length until/unless they run diagnostics on the line. I think this will happen:
* If an engineer attends a fault (voice or broadband) I assume they record the information obtained at that time.
* When a service goes live although if the service is ADSL they'll only know premises to exchange and if fibre/FTTC they may only know premises to cabinet.
And when all is said and done there are things other than line length that impact connection speed which simply can't be known until the service goes live. Oh and this is not a purely rural issue. Urban areas can have long lines as well. A friend of mine used to live in a house whose garden backed onto the telephone exchange. Unfortunately the cable took the 'motorised vehicle' route which meant fifty metres up the exchange driveway, seven hundred metres up to then along the high street and another nine hundred back down and round my friend's road. Ironically although I lived over a mile from the exchange I had a better connection. c'est la vie.
This is why you're given an estimate at sign up. It's because no-one really knows what you'll get if it's the first time that line has carried that service. However it's fairly unusual for the estimate to be as far off as yours seems to be so it bears further investigation. When you run the tests are you running them with a wired connection or over wifi?
jacquiindevon
Dabbler
Posts: 13
Registered: 18-08-2015

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

Hi Old Jim and Andre, thanks for your replies.
On distance -  I can see where the phone line goes and as you say it follows the route of the road. The cabinet is situated outside the exchange (about 1.5 m) and I am around 3.8km from the cabinet.

I understand about the difficulty in accuracy of calculating speeds and wasn't expecting the full download level - However when you read a headline figure I think there can be reasonable expectation to receive at least one third of the potential. It was described as  'super fast'  quote: "Super fast broadband, ideal for busy households"  Just click 'start your order' for an estimate of the speed you can get. We'll just check your phone line, there's no commitment to buy anything".
Well I did and it said I could get up to 72MB on my line at my address, with my number - what else am I to do? I am not a expert - PN and other providers need to be more accurate or at least be more honest.
On possible further investigation of the line, I won't go into the long drawn out story of how this has been handled by PN - needless to say over the past 6 weeks 3 OR engineers have tested the line, been up poles and visited my property they all come to the conclusion it is a distance thing - the last OR engineer knew his stuff and I think was honest and straightforward.
So in the end I am I left with poor speed at high cost without any comeback? If I had been told - 'sorry, you are only ever going to get 7.8 mbs download' I would have stayed with BT. What I think would be best is if PN discuss with me how they can keep my custom (I have telephone calls with them as well) as they cannot deliver what I have paid for - not much to ask I think.
Andrue
Aspiring Pro
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Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

Quote from: jacquiindevon
The cabinet is situated outside the exchange (about 1.5 m) and I am around 3.8km from the cabinet.
I'm a bit surprised you get anything at all from that distance. VDSL doesn't travel well over long distances and as implemented by BT (for good technical reasons) can be beaten by ADSL on long lines.
Quote
Well I did and it said I could get up to 72MB on my line at my address, with my number - what else am I to do? I am not a expert - PN and other providers need to be more accurate or at least be more honest.
It's very unfortunate in your case. Unfortunately as regards the speed 'up to' covers that. The law accepts that services are provided on a best efforts basis and 1Mb/s falls into the range of 'up to 76Mb/s' so you are getting the service you are paying for.
The issue to fight them with I think is misrepresentation. What the law does require of a service provider is that they inform you of changing costs and give reasonable estimates. So I <i>think</i> (I'm not a lawyer) that has to be the way to go. There is also supposed to be a cooling off period (14 days I think) but your holiday may have used that up. Personally I think the engineer visits should have extended that in some way as it shows the line was always way outside the estimate.
So..I don't know. Argue your case (politely) with PN and hopefully they will come to some arrangement. There's no reason why putting you back on ASDL should give you lower speeds than you had previously so that's probably just another estimate innaccuracy (someone quoting the lower end of the range rather than over promising). On the other hand if your new connection is better than the older one (and consider upload speed as well as download) it be better to leave it and just try and get a good-will temporary discount. At the end of the day PN are well within their rights to sell someone a 2Mb/s FTTC service for the same price as a 76Mb/s connection. As far as they and BT are concerned the costs are the same in both cases - if anything very slightly higher for the longer line.
lenny
Grafter
Posts: 207
Registered: 04-05-2015

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

If you are 3.8km from the cabinet and the checker says you can get upto 72mb there is something wrong with the checker
Have a check on here just to compare
https://windows.mouselike.org/be/?DoAction=Home
I am .5 of mile from the cabinet and the checker said I would get up to  36mb
Andrue
Aspiring Pro
Posts: 775
Thanks: 88
Fixes: 1
Registered: 12-01-2015

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

Quote from: lenny
If you are 3.8km from the cabinet and the checker says you can get upto 72mb there is something wrong with the checker
I wonder if the OP was originally on an EO (Exchange Only) line and her cabinet is a new one put in just for FTTC. That could be where the confusion has come from if other properties near hers are on a closer cabinet. Either way I think she should pursue this. It's not fair and fairness is a large part of what contract laws judges things on.
Community Veteran
Posts: 38,434
Thanks: 1,012
Fixes: 60
Registered: 15-06-2007

Re: Beware if you live in a rural area

One thing to try is to start from http://www.dslchecker.bt.com/adsl/ADSLChecker.TelephoneNumberOutput but click on address checker and see what is shown for you and a few neighbours