Brits 'overpay £251m' for broadband due to not knowing contract end dates

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2 min read
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Uswitchfound that nearly 3 million broadband users (33%) whose deal ended last year said they were never alerted that it was ending. The charge was on average £90 per household. Photo: Getty

UK broadband customers could be forking out a collective £251m ($343.9m) too much a year due to missing end of contract notifications from their providers.

That’s according to research by price comparison website Uswitch, which found that nearly 3 million broadband users (33%) whose deal ended last year said they were never alerted that it was ending. The charge was on average £90 per household.

End of contract notifications were introduced by the UK’s regulator in February 2020, meaning 8 million people should have received one since then.

Consumers whose contract is coming to an end should receive an ECN by letter, text or email between 10 and 40 days before their deal expires.

They have led to more than 4 million customers switching to a better deal with their existing supplier or a competitor.

The language used in these notifications could mean that people fail to realise they have even received the document, reducing the chances they will open it or take action promptly.

Subject lines for some ECN samples seen by Uswitch use a neutral tone and talk about “An update to your broadband service” or “A little reminder about your contract,” in contrast to the more urgent language deployed by providers in other circumstances.

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Uswitch has also seen examples of providers extending pricing discounts beyond contract end dates, creating a loophole and avoiding the requirement of sending a formal notice when these new discounts end.

Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com, said: “Life is challenging at the moment and with people juggling so many responsibilities it’s important to make sure that consumers can access information about their household bills easily.

“Millions of broadband customers have received an end-of-contract notification or out-of-contract reminder in the last year, and it’s great to see that the vast majority have acted to get themselves a better deal.

“However, the fact that a third of consumers whose contract was due to end say they didn’t, or couldn’t recall, receiving an end-of-contract notification should ring alarm bells.

“More must be done to build on the success of these notifications so that all customers have a fair chance of engaging when their contract comes to an end.”

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