Fast and stable internet at home is becoming more and more important in everyday life. But what if the network is actually worse than ordered? A legal claim…
Bonn–A year after the introduction of a right to lower prices in case of poor internet, test measurements continue to show in thousands of cases that the provider’s performance was far too poor. From mid-December 2021 to the end of October 2022, consumers completed about 28,000 test measurements necessary for the legal requirement, which the Federal Network Agency announced upon request.
Almost exclusively a reduction requirement was found. However, the number of these measurements has decreased significantly compared to the initial period of the trial, well over half of the mentioned measurements (15,000) took place in the first two and a half months.
The chairman of the confederation network, Klaus Müller, is positive about the legal justification. “The measurement tool has become well established after a year,” says the former consumer lawyer. “We help thousands of consumers prove that their provider is underperforming.”
Reduction right for landline internet
The right of reduction relates to fixed-line internet. If the network at home is significantly worse than agreed in terms of the collective agreement, the households have the right to a reduction in the monthly benefit. The necessary measurement instrument for this, broadbandmeasurement.de, which can be used in the browser or as a desktop app, was launched on December 13, 2021.
Since then, the app has been downloaded and installed 100,000 times. Many consumers began the time-consuming measurements after download but did not complete them. 30 tests are required over three days, with varying time intervals between tests. Only those who persevere get a protocol at the end. The protocol does not contain how much consumers can reduce their monthly bill by – consumers must clarify this with their provider. If the provider is stubborn, consumers can go to the High Court. They would have good cards there.
Measurements too complicated?
Consumer advocates complain that the measurements are too complex and not user-friendly. According to their estimate, the number of unreported households that have worse internet than contractually agreed is high.
The reasons for the recent drop in the number of measurements are unclear. ISPs see the development as proof that their performance has improved. They also point out that the number of measurements with demonstrably defective internet is very small compared to the 38 million broadband connections in Germany. “In our opinion, the overall very low number of complaints clearly shows that the vast majority of users feel that they are well taken care of with their internet connections,” says Jürgen Grützner from the internet industry association VATM (Association of Providers of Telecommunications and Value). -Added services).
Grützner emphasizes that the providers responded favorably to legitimate complaints from their customers, and “the concerns in customer service can be resolved without having to go through the formal procedure via the Federal Network Agency”.
Vodafone is also talking. “Only very few landline customers have so far applied for a reduction, which we have of course granted in justified cases,” says a spokesperson for the company. “The number of applications is also steadily decreasing and there are no lawsuits in this regard.”
Telekom is a bit more specific. “The number of complaints is at a low level in the low triple digits per week,” said a spokeswoman for the Bonn-based group. “We take care of every case and are always looking for accommodating solutions in the interests of our customers. Of course, we also provide the statutory reductions.” So far there have been no complaints.
Criticism of providers
Consumer advocates, on the other hand, criticize the providers. According to their results, the companies rejected a reduction “usually or do not respond, even if the necessary documents were submitted,” according to a statement from the Federal Association of Consumer Organizations (vzbv). “If reductions are given, reduction amounts are often offered that appear too low to those affected.” ISPs use different criteria to calculate the reduction amount. For consumers, it is sometimes “not explained in an intelligible way, even on inquiry, how the reduction amount occurs”.
“From the vzbv’s point of view, binding guidelines must be drawn up on which the internet providers’ calculations of the reduction are based,” says vzbv digital employee Susanne Blohm. “The Federal Network Agency, as the competent regulatory authority, seems appropriate to initiate a discussion process within the industry and make appropriate specifications.”
The Consumer Advice Centers offer an online discount calculator that allows internet users to find out the exact amount of the discount they are entitled to, according to information from consumer protection groups. After the launch of this website there were 16,000 hits in June, since September the value has been around 2,000 per month.