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2M Face Hidden Broadband Price Rise

Leading broadband providers have compromised customer satisfaction by not telling them when their contracts are ending.  

Providers are supposed to send customers notifications before their contract is due to end, allowing them to negotiate a better deal or switch to a different, cheaper provider.  

Broadband providers have failed to do this which has left millions of customers out of pocket, in some cases more than £100! 

In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, Ofcom, the UK’s communications regulator, has said that they will not be taking any enforcement action against those providers that did not notify customers that their contracts were ending.  

Which providers are guilty? 

BT and Virgin Media are the most notable culprits. However, they are not the only providers who have been found lacking in commitment to a fair, transparent service.  

According to an article published by Which? in February 2020, as many as 8.8 million people in the UK paying over the odds for broadband because expired contracts are being renewed. 

To tackle the problem of overpaying for broadband, Ofcom insisted that broadband and mobile phone providers contact their customers 10-40 days before the end of the contract. However, in the current coronavirus pandemic, providers are no longer following these guidelines.  

Some customers say they cannot switch 

It is one thing to secure a cheaper broadband deal, it is another to change providers entirely. In fact, one in seven customers on a fixed term contract said that they had been unable to switch providers, despite their contract ending.  

The coronavirus pandemic has made switching providers challenging. Virgin Media customers have been unable to switch to a provider that uses an Openreach network, such as BT, TalkTalk, or Sky, because of the restrictions around engineer home visits.  

Moreover, some providers have not been clear on whether switching is even possible. Customers have reported confusing, mixed messages leaving them unsure if they can get out of a contract that, in some cases, has doubled in price overnight.  

The problems this causes 

With much of the UK still living under lockdown despite a steady relaxation of the rules, having access to reliable, high performance broadband has never been more important. 

At present, there are tens of millions of people working from home. Although networks have repeated said that they can confidently deal with the strain of extra traffic, the situation does not help anyone who wants to switch providers.  

Engineers are still being dispatched for essential work, but this does not include setting up new connections for customers. Despite being able to setup a connection remotely, people still rely on providers to set up their internet service, because they do not feel confident in doing it themselves.  

How the big providers have responded 

Considering much being said of this in the media, providers have released statements to assure customers.  

Virgin Media has said that it is pausing end of contract notifications, but that customers can get in touch when their contracts are ending to discuss their options.  

BT has said that it had ‘temporarily paused’ end of contract negotiations to prioritise urgent work for their vulnerable customers and directed customers online to discuss all contract queries.  

TalkTalk has said it ‘plans’ to send end of contract negotiations but is reviewing the best way to do so under the current circumstances.  

Sky has said that it is still issuing out of contract negotiations, but most of their customers are resolving their issues online.  

But we must ask, are these solutions enough?  

With all that has come to light in lockdown, can customers really be blamed for wanting to switch broadband providers?  

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