Providers must now tell you when your contract’s up, and what their best deals are
20 million customers are out of contract with many paying over the odds
Ofcom launches #InOrOut campaign to help people slash their bills today
Phone, broadband and pay-TV customers must be warned when their current contract is ending, and what they could save by signing up to a new deal, under Ofcom rules coming into force tomorrow (15 February).
UK watchdog Ofcom says users could save £150 a year on broadband alone once they are informed of alternative deals and that around 20 million customers are out of contract with their suppliers, leaving many paying more than they need to.
Ofcom says that users can earn big savings on their monthly bills if they take advantage of discounts available when signing a new deal. But 16% of broadband customers don’t know if they are in contract, rising to 21% of over-55s.
So Ofcom is introducing rules to ensure people can see whether they are on the best deal. Phone, broadband and pay-TV companies will have to warn customers between 10 and 40 days before their contract comes to an end. These alerts – sent by text, email or letter – must include:
when your contract is up;
what you’ve been paying until now, and what you’ll pay when your contract is up;
any notice period for leaving your provider; and
your provider’s best deals, including any prices only available to new customers.
Anyone who is already out of contract must also be reminded they are out of contract, and told every year about their firm’s best deals.
Ofcom says that last year, they found that out-of-contract broadband customers could save around £100 a year, on average, by agreeing a new deal with their existing provider. Some could save £150 or more, depending on their provider. And this does not include savings people could make on their TV package too.
Around three million out-of-contract broadband customers could actually upgrade to a higher-speed package with their provider and pay less than they do now.
Among mobile customers who buy a handset and airtime bundled together in a single contract, 1.4 million could save money by switching to a cheaper ‘SIM-only’ package at the end of their existing deal. Last year, we found that they could save £75 a year, on average; but some could save as much as £150.
Many people will pay fairer prices following commitments Ofcom has secured from mobile operators and broadband providers to cut prices for out-of-contract customers. Most of these are now in effect, with some broadband commitments coming in shortly.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said:
“Millions of people are out of contract right now and paying more than they need to. 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.”
Ofcom Campaign #InOrOut
Ofcom has launched a new campaign encouraging people to check whether they are in or out of contract, and helping them secure a better deal.
They have launched a new dedicated advice hub which walks customers through the quick and easy journey of making sure they are not paying over the odds – helping to earn big savings in just three simple steps: