BT To Charge Customers Who Keep Old Routers

BT will levy a charge of up to £50 for customers if they do not return their routers when their contract expires.

The move is an effort to reduce e-waste, after BT told the Financial Times that it would ‘refurbish’ the returned equipment so that it could be reused.

E-waste was in the news last week when Apple responded to the European Union as it seeks to renew its push for a common or universal charger for electronic devices. It warned losing its Lightning port would add to the e-waste mountain and would “irk consumers.”

Equipment charge

But it seems that BT has changed its contract term and conditions in December to state that the operator retain ownership of the router and TV set-top box it sends to customers, even when contracts end.

It is now requiring customers return these devices or face a charge. It will not levy a charge on the equipment at the start of contracts.

Customers can either return the equipment in a padded envelop via the post, or drop it off at a high street shop.

Virgin Media also operates a similar policy of charging customers for kit when their contracts end.

BT meanwhile told the BBC the change would eventually apply to its EE and Plusnet subsidiaries too.

Plusnet had been acquired by BT in 2006, whereas EE was purchased by BT for £12.5 billion in 2016.

BT told the BBC it will charge customers between £43 and £50 if they want to keep their router, depending on the model. The cost of keeping the BT YouView set-top box will be between £60 and £115.

Fibre growth

BT reportedly estimates that the change will stop a million set-top boxes and routers a year being thrown away.

“This will help to limit the amount of waste going into landfill, and allows us to refurbish more equipment and move towards a more sustainable model,” the company reportedly said.

Earlier this week the BT division Openreach announced it was ‘accelerating’ its full fibre build to ‘harder to reach’ market towns, villages & rural areas.

The firm said that 250,000 homes and businesses in more than 200 villages, market towns and rural areas will benefit from the fibre to the premise (FTTP) deployment.

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Tom Jowitt

Tom Jowitt is a leading British tech freelancer and long standing contributor to Silicon UK. He is also a bit of a Lord of the Rings nut...

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