Before I start though, just take a moment to work out what you’re paying for your broadband and phone line – as the two are wrapped into one. To see the real impact do it over a year, not just a month. For example, BT price for standard broadband and line is up to £45/mth (£540/yr) and for fibre up to £52/mth (£624/yr) – and many other major providers are similar. Broadband is a big bill.
Millions are out of contract – but they’ll now need to warn you of that and warn you when your contract is ending.
On 15 February the rules set by the regulator Ofcom changed. These aren’t just for broadband t– hey apply to digital TV contracts, mobiles and home phones too.
They must now alert you by letter, text or email 10 to 40 days before your contracts end, and each year they must keep reminding you if you stay out of contract.
The alert must say what you’re currently paying, what the price will rise to once the contract ends, and it must also include how to end your contract.
Crucially the alerts must include what the best deal that firm offer to new customers.
While they must tell you their best deal – that doesn’t always mean you can get it.
Bizarrely, while your provider must tell you what new offers are available to new customers – so you can judge if you’re being overcharged – they don’t have to offer it to you. Though some of the bigger providers, BT, Sky, TalkTalk and Vodafone have voluntarily agreed with the regulator that they will – in which case at the very least do that.
However, for years I’ve been saying that the best broadband deals are all about short term promotions, which include extra incentives on top of the tariffs – whether its £100 credit on your bill, a £75 Amazon voucher or a £150 on a prepaid Mastercard, and these perks don’t need to be included in the cheapest tariffs alerts (nor given to existing customers switching to them).
My suspicion is this means firms will start to increase the costs of tariffs, and instead give even bigger sign-up perks to new customers only.
The hottest broadband deals around
As I’ve said broadband deals are all about short lived promotions, usually only offered via comparison sites and not direct. That makes this rather tricky to write as things are changing all the time. So I’m going to run through the best deals at the time of writing, but for my totally up to date top picks use my broadband.moneysavingexpert.com tool – which shows what deals are currently available. Plus, as many deals are limited depending on postcode, it enables you to see what you can actually get (sadly in some areas there’s very little choice at all).
Shell (yep the energy firm) currently has a couple of deals, via the link above, for broadband and line, both involve giving you bill credit and an Amazon voucher. Factor those into the price over the year’s contract and it’s £12/mth for standard 11Mb speed or £16/mth for 35Mb fast fibre. Also, for fibre broadband and line the Post Office via www.broadbandgenie.co.uk is £21/mth and you get a £50 Amazon voucher, factor that in over the year’s contract and it’s £17/mth. And even if you want to go for seriously fast fibre broadband, up to 100Mb speeds, prices can be as little as £25/mth all in.
To switch just sign up and your new provider should sort it for you, with usually only a few hours of down time.
Rules about speeds have been strengthened
Recently the rules have changed. It used to be that only 10 per cent of customers needed to be able to get the advertised speed, but now at least 50 per cent do, and that’s at peak time between 8pm-10pm. Plus most big firms, including BT, Sky, Plusnet, and Virgin Media have agreed to Ofcom’s code of practice that says they’ll give you a personalised minimum speed before you sign-up, and if your speeds drop below this and they can’t fix it for 30 days you have the right to leave penalty-free (even if you signed up to a phone and TV package at the same time as the broadband, you can leave the entire contract penalty-free).
Don’t want to switch? Haggle!
If you really want to stick with the same provider, then at least try and haggle down the price. Call up your provider, especially if you’re out of contract, and ask for a better deal – explain it’s too costly and you can’t afford it or quote the deals elsewhere.
Be polite and charming, not aggressive. If it says no, then tell it you’re going to leave and ask to be put through to disconnections, known internally as ‘customer retentions’. As their job is to keep you, they have much greater discretion to give you better deals.
In my last poll, over two thirds of people who tried to haggle with Sky, Virgin, BT and TalkTalk succeeded, like Janet who tweeted “Thanks @MartinSLewis I haggled. Got my broadband speed doubled. Next bill half price and will then be £13/mth cheaper against what I pay now.”
If it won’t match the price, then do consider going elsewhere. Yet if you don’t want to leave and you’re worried they’ll disconnect you, then if that happens just say “I need to check with my husband/wife/canary first.”
Martin Lewis is the Founder of MoneySavingExpert.com. To join the 13 million people who get his free Money Tips weekly email, go to www.moneysavingexpert.com/latesttip