Worried about costly broadband bills? Your provider may have hiked the price when your contract ended. Here’s the lowdown on this sneaky little trick – and tips on how to beat it.
Moving house can be a costly business, and the last thing you want to discover when you land in your new home is that your broadband bill has gone up.
When you sign up to a broadband deal, you usually enter an initial contract of 12 or 18 months – though some last for 24 months.
Most broadband providers allow you to move your broadband connection to your new flat or house mid-contract with no cancellation fee – provided you give 30 days’ notice.
But if your bills unexpectedly rise once you’ve moved home, this may be because your contract has expired and your provider has automatically switched you to a more expensive deal.
How exactly does this work?
Most broadband providers quietly move customers on to a more expensive tariff when their contract comes to an end, meaning you can unwittingly end up paying over the odds before you have time to react.
New findings from uSwitch reveal customers on ‘standard’ speed packages face price hikes of up to 62% the day after their broadband contract expires. This means bills jump up by an average of £152 a year – or almost £13 a month – the day after your fixed term ends.
New rules are in the pipeline
At present, providers are not obliged to notify customers when their contracts are due to expire, leaving consumers vulnerable.
By contrast, insurance companies do now write to customers telling them that their policies are due for renewal.
The good news is, regulator, Ofcom, is currently consulting on new rules that would require telecoms firms to warn people that their contracts are about to finish.
According to Ofcom, more than 10 million households are signed up to a telecoms package deal where the price they pay will automatically rise when the initial contract comes to an end.
Ofcom has said that customers should receive an ‘end-of-contract’ notification as a stand-alone text, email or letter, sent separately from their bill or other service messages.
However, there are concerns that some sneaky companies will try and bury these alerts deep inside the small print, making them hard for customers to find.
uSwitch has called on Ofcom to ensure these end-of-contract notifications are transparent and effective, in line with other markets, such as insurance, so consumers know when to dodge these out-of-contract charges.
How to beat price hikes
The new rules on informing customers about the end of their contract are set to be introduced in 2019.
In the meantime, there are ways you can fight back against price hikes.
First off, when signing up to a broadband deal, you should make a note in your diary or calendar of how long you are tied in for, and when your contract is due to end.
You could also use a reminder tool. That way, you are not relying on your broadband provider to inform you.
Then, when your contract is coming to an end, you should set aside time to shop around before your contract expires to find a new competitive deal.
You should also familiarise yourself with your cancellation rights at this point, as some providers require 30 days’ notice that you won’t be continuing. If not they will either auto-renew you, or move you to a rolling contract.
When looking for a new deal, research is key, as you may be able to find a new package that is not only cheaper than your existing service, but also faster – especially if you move to a fibre package. You can compare deals at uSwitch.
Switching broadband when you move home
If you are not under contract with your broadband provider for the property you are leaving, there’s a good chance you will be able to find a better deal elsewhere for your new home. You can check what’s available at uSwitch.
If you are still under contract, be careful before breaking it early, as there’s usually a cancellation fee which amounts to the total cost of any remaining monthly payments.
In this scenario, you are probably better off waiting until your contract finishes to move to a new provider.
Which providers operate in my area?
When looking for a new provider, you need to check if the firm covers the area you are moving to, as not all providers serve all areas.
You also need to check what broadband speeds are available in your new area.
Simply input your new postcode here and you’ll be returned options for both standard broadband, as well as super-fast fibre optic broadband.
As an internet user, fast broadband is key, with findings from a recent Zoopla poll revealing a huge 86% of homemovers would not relocate to an area with slow broadband.
Consider a bundle
If your current deal is broadband-only, you might want to think about adding on TV and telephone at your new home.
Bundling means you get all three services from the same provider – and usually works out cheaper than buying them all separately.
If you like the sound of a bundle, do some research to see what bundles other providers offer. You can check what’s available at uSwitch.
But don’t make the mistake of assuming that a bundle is always the best option. You need to look carefully at your broadband, phone and TV usage to check whether in your situation, it may be better to buy separately.