Survey: Americans Don’t Feel Like They Can Get Justice When Wronged By Their ISP

Published on September 21, 2020

It’s no secret that internet service providers (ISPs) cause plenty of frustration for their customers.

We recently set out to discover which ISP was the most-hated in every U.S. state, and in doing so, we learned more about the types of complaints many people have about their ISPs: billing problems, deceptive pricing, misleading sales tactics, poor service, slow speeds, and more.

We also got a glimpse of how many people have struggled with these types of problems — our research led us to thousands and thousands of one-star reviews left for ISPs online. It made us start to wonder: Just how widespread are these problems? How many people have disputes against their ISP, how many of those disputes go unresolved, and what avenues do consumers pursue to find help?

And so, we surveyed consumers, and the results were eye-opening. From our survey, we found that it’s possible that more than 20 million American households have unresolved complaints against their ISPs, and that while many of them look to legal action for help, most ultimately don’t end up moving forward — because the process is too expensive, it’s too complicated, or they just don’t know how.

Our survey results paint a picture of a country where consumers are almost held hostage by their ISPs — many of them experience serious problems, but when they do, they struggle to find avenues to resolution. Here’s everything we found.

More Than 1/3 of Households Had a Dispute Against Their ISP in the Last Year

In our survey, 37 percent of respondents said that they had had an experience with an ISP in the last year in which they were unfairly charged for service, or otherwise treated unfairly.

That’s more than one-third of respondents. And when you extrapolate that finding to the 110.57 million U.S. households that had fixed broadband access in 2018, that’s more than 40 million households with a complaint against their ISP in just one year — 40,446,500 of them, to be exact.

More Than Half of Those Disputes Went Unresolved

What’s even more shocking is what we found when we asked respondents how their disputes against their ISPs had been handled. More than half of them — 50 percent — answered no when asked if the issue was “resolved to their satisfaction.”

Extrapolate that result to all the internet-connected households in the U.S., and this survey finding indicates that as many as 20,371,000 — more than 20 million — U.S. households had an unresolved complaint against their ISP in the last year alone.

That’s a shocking number, so we wanted more details. We wanted to know how people consider fighting against unfair charges and other complaints, so we dug a little deeper. Here’s what we found.

Many People Consider Legal Action, but Most Don’t

According to our survey, a large number of people consider legal action as an avenue for resolving their complaint with an ISP — 35 percent of them, or around 7 million households last year.

But we were shocked to learn that most people just don’t consider taking legal action against their ISP in the event of an unresolved issue.

Of our survey respondents who said they had unresolved complaints, 65 percent said they didn’t feel the need to pursue legal action — including a lawsuit, a small claims court case, a class action suit, or arbitration — or monetary compensation. Only just over a third, 35 percent, said they did consider legal action.

Most People Who Do Consider Legal Action Don’t Go Through With It

But most people with complaints against their ISP don’t even reach that point. Of the respondents in our survey who considered legal action:

  • 67 percent decided not to move forward with legal action
  • 21 percent attempted to pursue legal action but were unsuccessful
  • 13 percent were successful in pursuing legal action against their ISP

Most People Find Legal Action Too Expensive to Pursue

With so many people looking into legal action and then deciding not to pursue it, we wanted to know what made them stop. Here’s what we found.

  • 31 percent of respondents said they stopped pursuing legal action when they found the process to be too expensive.
  • 31 percent stopped because they simply weren’t sure how to proceed.
  • 22 percent of respondents said they wanted to pursue legal action, but the process was too complicated.
  • 16 percent of respondents said they needed help pursuing legal action, but couldn’t find the help they needed.

That last statistic really stood out for us. More than 16 percent of people were wronged by their ISP and wanted help getting justice, but they couldn’t find the help they needed. That help is out there — or, right here.

FairShake Is the Best Way to Get the Justice Your Deserve

Getting the justice you deserve against ISPs — and all kinds of other companies — doesn’t have to be long, drawn out, complicated, or expensive. And most importantly, you don’t have to do it alone.

At FairShake, we help consumers avoid expensive and time-consuming court cases, and instead help them pursue arbitration, a process similar to mediation that employs a professional, neutral third party to help reach resolution in a dispute. You just tell us about your complaint, and we’ll create an official legal demand on your behalf. Then, we’ll help guide you through the next legal steps so you’re never left alone or in the dark.

Ready to get your fair shake against an ISP that let you down? Check out FairShake today.


We surveyed 1,200 American consumers over the age of 18 using PollFish.com between June 15-16, 2020. We asked six total questions about whether they’d had a dispute with their ISP in the last year, whether it was ever resolved, and what they did to try to get justice.

11 percent of respondents were ages 18 to 24. 17 percent were ages 25 to 34. 22 percent were ages 35 to 44. 19 percent were ages 45 to 54, and 32 percent were 55 and up.

58 percent identified as female, and 42 percent identified as male.

To get a bigger-picture view of the scope of some of our survey results, we extrapolated out sample size to the population of the entire U.S., and the number of U.S. households that have fixed broadband home internet access. Our sample size allowed us to apply results to a group the size of the U.S. population with 95 percent confidence and a 5 percent margin of error.

Best of the Best. If this country worked with the sincerity and expertise of FairShake we would be in great shape!

Stocksy_txpd2fb379aCMc200_Medium_1013152 Allie, real FairShake customer

They got more done in a few weeks than I did in over two years.

jonas-kakaroto-KIPqvvTOC1s-unsplash John, real FairShake customer

I can’t say enough good about this company! They are really a light for us in a very hard time.

Mark Mark, real FairShake customer

Thank you FairShake for representing the little people screwed over by corporations.

Stocksy_txpd2fb379aCMc200_Medium_1016567 Amanda, real FairShake customer

I was having problems with the company for months. That you could make it resolved in a few days is wonderful.

eye-for-ebony-nOHn3pIyPaw-unsplash Marisol, real FairShake customer

It's not right what Big Business can get away with if we let them. People need to know someone is out there to help!

Stocksy_txpd2fb379aCMc200_Medium_670432 Virgil, real FairShake customer

FairShake helps put the power and money back in your hands

Take Action