How switching broadband supplier could save you hundreds

Harvey Jones

Find out why being a loyal customer to your broadband provider doesn't always pay...

Households are getting used to switching their services regularly to get the best possible deal. The financially savvy regularly switch gas and electricity supplier, car insurer and even mobile phone company, but there is one service we are reluctant to change. Broadband just seems like too much bother, but too many of us end up paying over the odds as a result.

Consumer champion Which? has found that customers who stick with the same broadband provider and don’t haggle for a better deal can overpay by up to £220 a year. BT customers paid the biggest loyalty premium, with an average annual bill of £540, against £372 for those who haggled. Switching supplier altogether can bring even bigger savings, as new BT customers typically paid around £320. Virgin customers are also paying £540 but could reduce that to £384 by haggling, Which? found.

 

Loyalty doesn’t pay

As with so many services, providers reserve the best deals to win new business, and long-standing customers foot the bill.

Telecoms regulator Ofcom is working hard to get people a better deal. It reckons as many as 20 million could be paying too much for their broadband, landline and pay-TV services because they fail to switch when their original contract comes to an end. It is now ordering firms to alert customers when their contract is about to expire, and inform them about better deals they are offering.

From February 2020, it is ordering providers to send texts, emails or letters between 10 and 40 days before their contract comes to an end. This is an honourable effort, but these notifications will only work if people act on them.

 

Shop around

Don't just look at what your existing provider offers, but compare offerings across the market. BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin Media all have eye-catching deals, the main problem is that they are mostly reserved for new customers. 

New contracts typically run for between 12 and 24 months. If you think yours has expired, check it out now. Then visit online comparison site to see what else is out there, and how much you could save by switching. You could get the same home entertainment package (or better) and save hundreds of pounds a year. Just make sure you wait until your contract comes to an end, to avoid costly exit penalties.

 

Get your haggle on

Switching is a bit of bother. Especially for broadband, as we worry something could go wrong and we could lose our connection for a day or two, unthinkable for many (including me).

If that’s stopping you then haggle with your existing supplier, they may be more amenable than you think. Ofcom is working hard at this, launching a Boosting your Broadband campaign to help people get cheaper, faster deals.

It now forces suppliers to offer automatic compensation, without customers having to claim, for slow repairs, missed appointments and delayed installations. It can only do so much. Ultimately, switching is down to you. So check what you are paying today.