Nearly half of all broadband subscribers have never switched their provider, and for many it’s because they fear the hassle.
That’s according to a survey by consumer magazine Which? of 8,000 home broadband customers, published Friday.
But customers shouldn’t be wary of switching and can save hundreds of pounds a year by doing so.
The most common reason customers cited for not switching (43%) was satisfaction with their current service. However, consumers may be unaware their prices for this service have been raised, sometimes sharply, following their initial contract period.
Meanwhile, more than a third (37%) of customers were unwilling to swap their broadband provider because they didn’t want to lose their ISP-issued email address. Some ISPs, like Sky, allow departing customers to keep their email address, while BT and Plusnet give you continued access for a fee. But others, such as Virgin Media, will shutter it after a small grace period.
Consumers are urged to use a free email service, unconnected to their broadband contract, such as Gmail, Hotmail, or Outlook, so they’re not tethered to a slow, inexpensive service or a broadband provider they don’t like.
Additionally, 32% of respondents to Which? said they feared the entire switching process would be too much hassle, entailing extra costs and downtime. However, switching has been streamlined in recent years, with no need to supply MAC codes. The survey pointed out that only 12% of those who switched found difficulties, suggesting this fear is overstated.
20% of non-switchers said they hadn’t found a better deal. However, Which? urged those customers to shop around. Odds are that if you’ve been with the same provider for more than 18 months, you’re overpaying.
An investigation by Which? earlier this year found that inactive broadband customers faced price increases of up to 60%, or £192 a year, if they fail to switch or negotiate a new contract when their old one expires.
14% said they were concerned they’d receive slower speeds, another fear Which? rubbished. Nearly all providers, with the notable exception of Virgin Media, use with the same Openreach network to deliver broadband. They’ll have different traffic management policies, but you’ll largely get the same speed from comparable fibre and ADSL packages across the market.
Meanwhile, switching is more likely to give you a chance to upgrade your speeds, for the same or even less many than you’re currently paying. While fibre optic broadband is currently available to 94% of UK premises, only 45% of us subscribe to it.
Finally, around one in eight (13%) of customers felt loyal to their provider. Which? said the loyalty was misplaced and said that ISPs are well-known to overcharge their most stalwart customers. In fact, the Competitions and Market Authority (CMA) is currently investigating this so-called loyalty penalty, which is estimated to cost broadband subscribers more than £1 billion a year, collectively.
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