In terms of customer satisfaction, free broadband services have "backfired". That's the key finding of a new report by service-comparision site uSwitch.com .

TalkTalk and Orange come bottom of the log for broadband in eight out of 10 categories. The problems experienced by these companies contribute respectively to a record 2.8 million and 5.5 million home phone customers not satisfied. That's one in every three who use such services.

The report also comments that over 1.5 million new customers have signed up for broadband, while prices have fallen by 17 per cent, mostly due to the advent of free packages and bundle deals.

However, the advances have also meant a reduction in customer satisfaction of up to 16 per cent.

Indeed, the customer satisfaction gap between top and bottom providers has widened to 11 per cent for home phone and to 15 per cent for broadband.

The report also showed that value for money remains the most important factor for consumers. Despite this, 7.3 million home phone and almost 4 million broadband customers feel short-changed.

Here are some of the report's other key findings:

  • Virgin.net customers are most satisfied, while TalkTalk and Orange customers are least satisfied with their broadband services.
  • BT and NTL hold over 63 per cent market share. They are also the worst performers in the home phone category for the third report running.
  • TalkTalk's 'free broadband forever' customer service problems cost the company top spot in home telephony. Tiscali was voted number one for home phone customer satisfaction.
  • Telewest comes top for broadband customer service while TalkTalk was rated the worst, despite ranking first on value for money.