A survey undertaken by a leading price comparison site found that broadband and mobile customers could be over paying as much as £108 million a month in the UK.
The study found that 32% of broadband and 15% of mobile consumers had “fallen out of contract” – that is, their introductory contacts had ended without their knowledge and they’d stayed with the same supplier. 79% of customers said they didn’t know that ISPs and mobile carriers are obliged to let them know when their contract is coming to an end.
Many customers find that when they sign up for a contract they are only given the price for the initial term and when that is up they are often hit with huge hikes. For example, many ISPs will offer you a price a set amount of time, however you will have to look in the small print to find how much the increase will be when it inevitably kicks in.
On the mobile side many companies that combine the cost of the handset with the tariff will charge you the same amount once the initial term has been paid. The monthly fee should be less as after the initial contract, you have paid off the handset and should be paying for a less expensive sim-only contract trusting you don’t upgrade to a newer device.
Nearly half of broadband customers who didn’t think their contract was over were not aware of the finish date of the initial contract. 40% of broadband consumers said that being aware of the end of their contract would cause them to look for a better deal, 47% said they would attempt to renegotiate with their current provider and 18% said they would consider changing ISP.
uSwitch’s head of regulation Richard Neudegg, said:
“It is simply not right or fair that consumers lose out on savings or the opportunity to upgrade to a better service because telecoms rules haven’t kept pace with other sectors.
Getting an end of contract notification is standard practice in so many other industries as a very basic measure to help keep consumers in control. The research suggests many users may simply assume it’s the same with telecoms.
If Ofcom were to introduce end of contract notifications – something they have the power to do – our research shows 89% of customers receiving them would be prompted to consider the quality and value of their service.”
This isn’t to say that all providers are guilty of purposefully keeping customers in the dark to move them onto more expensive tariffs. Many ISPs and mobile companies will make sure they are transparent with customers to make sure they are fully aware when a contract comes to an end. Although all companies should be letting you know when your contract is going to end not all will and it is important that you check to make sure you are getting the best deal possible.
If you’re coming to the end of your contract and want to see what other options are available, then check out our handy comparison tool.