Broadband Customers To Get End-Of-Contract Notice


New Ofcom rules means TV and ISP suppliers must inform customers of best deals, and when a contract ends

Broadband and television customers in the UK from 2020 should benefit from new Ofcom rules that should tell them when their contracts have expired, and if there are better deals available.

The new rules are designed to stop customers overpaying on services when they don’t realise their contract period lock-in has ended, and there are cheaper deals available.

Earlier this month the British communications regulator revealed that households in the United Kingdom are benefiting from a significant increase in average broadband speeds, after average speeds rose by nearly 20 percent in the past year to 54Mbps.

Customer alerts

But now the regulator has also announced that broadband, phone and pay-TV firms must tell a customer when their contract is coming to an end, and must also tell them about the best available deals.

“We want you to have choice when it comes to your broadband, phone and TV package, and also want you to be able to get the deal that best suits your needs,” said the regulator. “You could do this by switching provider or by agreeing a new deal with your current one.”

“To help you do this, broadband, TV, mobile and home phone companies must now send you information about your contract, when you need it, so you can choose the best package for your needs,” it added. “These protections are the latest in Ofcom’s Fairness for customers programme.”

And the regulator believed that the new rules could benefit up to 20 million people who have gone beyond their initial contract period. Many of these people could be paying more than they need to.

“People who bundle their landline and broadband services together pay, on average, around 20% more when they are out of contract,” said Ofcom. “This rises to 26 percent among customers who bundle their pay-TV with these two services.”

Ofcom’s research also found that one in seven customers (14 percent) don’t know whether they are still tied to their original deal; and around one in eight (12 percent) believe they are still in contract, but don’t know when that contract ends.

Better deals

The alert will go out between 10 and 40 days before their contract comes to an end, and the alert will be sent by text, email or letter.

It will detail when the contract ends; the price they paid for this date; any changes to the service and price paid at the end of the contract; information about any notice period required to end the contract; and the best deals offered by your provider. This includes telling existing customers what prices are available to new customers.

“We’re making sure customers are treated fairly, by making companies give them the information they need, when they need it,” said Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director. “This will put power in the hands of millions of people who’re paying more than necessary when they’re no longer tied to a contract.”

Companies have nine months to implement the rule changes and alert system, and have to start sending out notifications from 15 February 2020.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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