Broadband, phone and TV customers will be offered their provider’s best deals when their contracts come to an end, Ofcom has announced.
The regulator of the telecoms and media industry has introduced the new rules to prevent customers from being ripped off by the so-called ‘loyalty penalty’. The rules will come into effect on February 15 and will benefit the 20 million customers in the UK who are currently out of contract, according to Ofcom.
Under the new rules, broadband, phone and TV firms will be obliged to inform their customers when their contracts are nearing an end, and of what their current best deals are that they can switch to. They must also tell them what price they have been paying and when they can end their contract penalty-free.
Ofcom said that broadband customers could save an average of £150 each by switching to cheaper packages. It also claims that around 1.4 million people could save an average of £75 a year by switching mobile deals.
“Millions of people are out of contract right now and paying more than they need to,” said Lindsey Fussell, consumer group director at Ofcom. “These new rules make it easier to grab a better deal.
“But you don’t need to wait to hear from your provider. Just a few minutes of your time could save you hundreds of pounds today.”
Michael Waldron, the communications ombudsman at Ombudsman Services, said: “These changes will put more power in the hands of consumers, enabling them to make informed choices and shop around for better deals with confidence.
“They are an important part of Ofcom’s drive to ensure domestic customers and businesses are treated fairly when buying and using telecoms services.
“Anyone who feels the new rules haven’t been followed should contact their provider in the first instance. If the complaint doesn’t get resolved, we might be able to help.”
Tristia Harrison, chief executive of TalkTalk, said: “TalkTalk is committed to making the broadband industry a fairer place and continues to champion the move to full-fibre enabling customers to benefit from faster, more reliable services.
“We already notify our customers when their contract is coming to an end, so welcome Ofcom’s new requirement coming into force that makes it mandatory for all providers to do the same.
“We led the way on fairness by being the first to guarantee no mid-contract broadband price rises across all its plans in 2016. And we haven’t stopped there, from making it easier for new and existing customers to find the best deal through to capping out-of-contract prices, we’ll continue to strive for a telecoms industry that always puts the customer first.”
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