Finally, some good news for struggling households trying to get through the cost of living crisis.
The Government has just announced that the big nine broadband and mobile phone service providers have agreed to some immediate changes to support people struggling with their bills. The measures include allowing penalty-free transfers to new service providers for people unable to pay their current contracts, affordable payment plans if cash is tight and an obligation on the firms to promote cheaper deals.
Resolver has been calling for these changes for many years, so we are pleased to see that the proposals below are happening immediately.
The commitments made by the broadband providers after the Government summit, which take effect immediately include:
There are also new rules which came in ten days earlier too. These rules are also great news for broadband and mobile customers.
These rules state:
You will now be given a one page summary sheet explaining the ‘key facts’ about your mobile or broadband contract before you sign up, which will cover fees, mid-contract changes and other important information you need to know.
The businesses must now explain in plain English about how inflation impacts your bill mid-contract. This is because broadband and mobile firms have been announcing hefty increases in the cost of contracts mid-term that were much higher than inflation. Of course, with inflation at a 40 year high this is more important than ever.
The rules will also clarify and simplify the existing OFCOM requirements covering minimum speed of service, contract terms and more.
Broadband customers in particular often complain about poor service, uncontactable firms and rocketing bills. But exit fees can be jaw-dropping for leaving a contract early.
It’s always been hard to summarise these costs as they are calculated using somewhat opaque methods and are dependent on how far in to your contract you are. The calculations themselves have often been buried in T&Cs or lurking in dark corners of websites. Disappointingly, some businesses took a rather militant attitude to these changes, insisting that people paid even when they moved to places where the service wasn’t available.
The new rules are for people in financial difficulties, but we are yet to hear how businesses are defining that. There’s the potential for inconsistency of approach among businesses if that isn’t clear, which is a concern.
Regulator OFCOM have a range of tips on cutting your bill and switching on their website here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/news-centre/2022/tips-for-cutting-phone-broadband-and-pay-tv-costs[However, even if you don’t qualify for a reduction in fees for leaving broadband providers early, you might still be able to do so. Here is Resolver’s guide:]
Communication broken down? Here’s how to switch your phone and broadband provider
When you enter into a contract with a mobile phone or broadband provider but you want to leave the contract early, you’ll have to pay a fee for doing so. These ‘early termination’ or ‘exit’ fees are standard across all contracts – sometimes even pay as you go.
Early termination fees are calculated by working out how long you have left on your contact then billing a fee for the remaining months. With most providers, you’ll need to pay a monthly charge too, though this will depend on the tariff you’re on and will vary quite a bit.
The contract that you signed binds the firm as much as it binds you. So if the business has changed the way it operates, withdrawn services or introduced significant changes, you can ask to walk away and have the exit fees dropped. You’ll need to establish there has been a significant change though. So explain why you feel that the firm’s service has changed for the worse. Remember you can go to a free Ombudsman service if you’re unhappy.
Sometimes the relationship breaks down between you and your phone or broadband company. As with any relationship, it pays to be honest with yourself about where the blame lies. If a business has treated you badly and refuses to listen, list the things they’ve done wrong, make a formal complaint and threaten to go to the Ombudsman.
If you’ve moved to another part of the country, you might not have the signal you need from your service provider. The fact of the matter is, if your service isn’t available in your new home you shouldn’t have to pay an exit fee. Yet some firms are still digging their heels in over this. Don’t take no for an answer.
Where service is patchy, it’s a bit more complicated. If you’re mobile phone signal is now poor, then tell the firm, take regular broadband and signal speed tests using one of the many free apps there are out there or screenshots of the bars of signal on your phone and if you can demonstrate that there’s a problem the firm should let you go without charging you.
There are lots of rules the businesses have to follow on regulator OFCOM’s website. Read up on the rules and make a complaint with copies of your screenshots to the business. You can also claim compensation form missed engineer appointments and service outage issues too.
Check out all of our mobile phone and broadband tips on the Resolver website. www.resolver.co.uk