British telecoms regulator Ofcom has announced that the country’s largest ISPs have made a range of commitments designed to protect customers and reduce the cost of services for those subscribers that are out of contract. In a press release Ofcom said it had challenged broadband providers to make their prices fairer for out-of-contract customers, after examining pricing practices, ‘particularly the barriers people face when shopping around, and how vulnerable customers are affected’. According to the regulator, around 40% of broadband subscribers, or around 8.8 million people, are currently out of contract.
As a result of its examination, BT, Sky and TalkTalk have now agreed to allow out-of-contract customers to sign up for the same deals as new customers when they take out a new contract. It did though note though, that BT will only allow existing customers to access new customer prices when sending end-of-contract and best tariff notifications.
Also of note, BT has confirmed that customers that cannot access superfast broadband will no longer pay more than entry-level superfast customers. Both TalkTalk and Virgin Media have, meanwhile, agreed to carry out annual price reviews with their vulnerable customers to ensure they are on the best deal for their needs, providing automatic discounts where appropriate if customers do not respond. Alongside these commitments, BT, EE, Plusnet and TalkTalk have all said they will protect out-of-contract customers from above-inflation price rises. Most of these commitments will come into effect by March 2020.
Furthermore, Ofcom has also confirmed that from February 20202 British broadband customers must be advised when their contract is coming to an end and shown the best deals available. People who choose to stay with their provider without signing up to a new contract will be given details of their firm’s best deals every year.
Commenting, Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom’s Consumer Group Director, said: ‘Broadband customers who are out of contract can make big savings – around GBP100 (USD124) a year on average – by picking up the phone to their current provider and signing up to a better deal … And in future, everyone will be told about the best tariff on offer. Thanks to the commitments we’ve secured from major broadband firms, many customers – including the most vulnerable – will pay less.’