Surveys of how well broadband providers are performing are always difficult to evaluate, but generally, the larger the sample size the more confident you can be about the results. The BBC Watchdog broadband provider survey had 50,000 responses which is a sizable amount, though of course since Watchdog is a consumer affairs show there is a possibility it may attract those who have problems more than those without any issues.
Brightview who had three out of the four top places when looking at the proportional satisfaction ranking table has spoken out about what it feels was a bias that resulted in the larger providers, and those with problems, getting more air time.
Brightview's Global Internet tops proportional satisfaction rating with 95% -
Brightview, the company behind leading ISPs Madasafish, Global Internet and Waitrose.com has criticised the BBC for its handling of survey information during last night's Watchdog programme.
BBC Watchdog's survey revealed Global Internet as the best broadband provider in the country for customer satisfaction, with all three of Brightview's ISPs in the top four in the programme's broadband survey. Global Internet topped the chart with 95% of customers either satisfied or very satisfied. Waitrose.com and Madasafish took second and fourth places respectively, both achieving satisfaction ratings of over 90%.
However, much of the programme focused on volume of voters, meaning that smaller ISPs with the best customer satisfaction records were barely mentioned. BT was cited as receiving the most amount positive votes, but the programme failed to mention that BT also had the third highest number of unhappy customers. This doesn't show how good BT's broadband service is; it just shows how big BT is. Only 64% of the BT customers who voted were actually satisfied with their broadband service, ranking BT a lowly 20th out of the 29 providers in the survey.
David Laurie, CEO, Brightview said, "Basing the programme's results on volume of voters was the supreme example of the BBC's ineptitude at managing a very important survey on broadband providers. As Britain's leading consumer affairs programme, it is Watchdog's duty to inform the consumer, but by telling viewers that the "best" provider of broadband also features as one of the worst, it only confused the issue and failed to make use of some valuable consumer data. The BBC's ridiculous handling of the survey did nothing to reflect customer opinion, and misled consumers into believing that a provider which achieved a customer satisfaction significantly below average is the best."
Laurie continues, "We're encouraged by the commitment the BBC's Watchdog programme has shown to raising awareness of unacceptable levels of customer service in the broadband industry, but the true results of the survey rate all three of Brightview's services among the best in the country - a fantastic testimony to the dedication we show our customers. This fact was completely overlooked on the programme in favour of larger suppliers. Consumers have the right to know about smaller broadband companies that are providing excellent customer service, and by simply concentrating on number of voters, the BBC has made a mockery of its own survey and denied viewers the most important information gathered."
Madasafish, Global Internet and Waitrose.com are consistently rated above the other major ISPs in terms of customer service, speed and reliability on leading independent broadband comparison sites Moneysupermarket.com and ThinkBroadband.com (previously ADSLGuide), as well as Which? magazine.
The full survey results are available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/consumer/tv_and_radio/watchdog/reports/internet/internet_20070321.shtmlBrightview speaks out over BBC's management of consumer survey
We have contacted BBC Watchdog about this press release and received the following response:
I'm delighted our survey has provoked such interest, but sorry that Brightview appear to have missed the part of the programme where we highlighted the performance of both Global Internet and Waitrose.com. We were very clear in how we presented our results, which were not intended to be treated as a statistical analysis, but as the personal views of the 50,000 viewers who chose to take part. And as those views weren't obtained from a proportional sample of the population, it would have been unfair and misleading to look at them in any way other than volume of votes. Surveys will always provoke strong opinions, but we're glad we've encouraged people to look at the performance of their broadband supplier.BBC Watchdog spokesperson
While it is easy to criticise both the presentation of the results online and on the show, given the format the show takes and time allotted to each item, it is difficult to do a large survey full justice. We would always recommend people do not buy any service based solely on the results of a survey or consumer ratings, but spend some time looking into how a company handles problems when they do occur, amongst other things.
BBC Watchdog should be praised for at least bringing issues like customer service in the broadband industry to a prime-time audience, and it has given some exposure to names well known in the industry that otherwise cannot afford the sort of media attention the larger players can.
Our own ratings from the last year do show an overall decrease in the customer service aspect across the board, with a few exceptions: Be with a 16 point rise between February 2006 and February 2007, IDNET a 2 point increase, Madasfish 2 points, Mistral 5 points, Newnet 1 point. The average in terms of customer service across thirty two providers in this period dropped from 58.1% to 49.5%.