The best things in life may be free but the advent of free broadband has heralded plummeting customer satisfaction.
Research from broadband analysts Point Topic has discovered the percentage of broadband users describing themselves as 'very satisfied' or 'fairly satisfied' has fallen from its 2006 rating of 92 per cent to 77 per cent this year.
The survey which examined user satisfaction on elements including after sales support, speed of service, billing clarity and value for money. The researchers found after sales support has seen the biggest drop in dissatisfaction with the percentage of users 'fairly' or 'very dissatisfied' growing from seven per cent last year to more than 18 per cent in this year's survey.
Tim Johnson, chief consultant at Point Topic, said a number of factors are contributing to the drop in fat pipe happiness. As well as new entrants - typically 'free providers' finding themselves unable to cater to great numbers of new sign-ups - Johnson said broadband jealousy can be an issue.
He said: "The other thing is people are left behind - if you're still using BT and your friend next door has gone to TalkTalk, has managed to get their connection and is paying less, you're thinking 'I'm not terribly happy with what I've got'. There's a change in the market and all sorts of people are left out of joint."
The report has found that as a result of poor customer service, ISPs are likely to see an increased rate of customer churn - with 25 per cent of users saying they are ready to ditch their current ISP.
Johnson said: "The newcomers are stirring it up and trying to get churn - they're pleased to see it and I'm sure they want it higher. The establishment is definitely worried - they are seeing what they can do to hang onto people. A lot of messages in this survey in terms of concern about quality of service will help them."