Martyn James: Precious time to devote to saving by switching

Judging by the messages I’ve been receiving, huge numbers of people around the UK are using lockdown to have a look at where they can make some savings. One of the best ways to save some cash is to drop your current provider of key services like energy, broadband, TV streaming – and loads of other sectors too. Let’s take a look.

Rethink your TV streaming deal
Rethink your TV streaming deal

You can switch it you’re…

… out of contract

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The rules for most business sectors state that you should be notified in advance of a contract renewing. For things like insurance where the regulations are strict, you should be notified in writing a month in advance. However, some sectors just send an email or even a text. I don’t think that’s fair or transparent, so why not set up a calendar reminder a month before the renewal date so you know you’ve got time to shop around?

…if the firm isn’t providing the service you signed up for

If you believe that the business you signed a contract with isn’t providing the key things that you wanted from it, that can often be grounds to break the contract early. However, the rules are not definitive in most sectors, so you’ll have to put your case to the business in detail if you want to avoid an exit fee.

…if the relationship has broken down

If a business has treated you badly and refuses to listen, then make a complaint and take it to an ombudsman or alternative dispute resolution scheme (ADR) if need be. Make sure that you specify in your complaint that you want to move on without charge. And as with any relationship, it pays to be honest with yourself about where the blame lies. Resolver can help you make a complaint – or even pass on your comments – to a business for free.

…you’ve moved and the service isn’t available

Sometimes businesses aren’t very good at logic. One of the big areas of complaint I’ve seen involves people who move to other parts of the UK where a service isn’t available or isn’t much cop. This is most common when it comes to broadband, cable or mobile phone services.

The fact of the matter is, if your service isn’t available in your new home you shouldn’t have to pay an exit fee. Yet some firms are still digging their heels in over this. Don’t take no for an answer. Be polite but firm and ask the business to waive charges if you can’t get the service – and go to the free ombudsman service if they don’t listen.

...the firm changes its T&C’s and you’ll be paying more money

Many contracts allow businesses to change their terms mid-way through. But if the change is “significant” and – more importantly – you’ll be paying more money; you should be given the opportunity to get out of the contract without charge. However, you’ll be given a window of opportunity to do this and if you don’t respond in time, you’ll often be charged if you realise late and try to leave.

Pandemic-related problems

Be realistic about some problems posed by Covid-19. There may be a shortage of engineers and contracts to install services, for example. But you could still negotiate with your existing service provider by letting them know you’re thinking of going.

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