Keeping track of all your contracts for your mobile, TV and broadband can be confusing at best of times, with many customers shelling out more than they have to for a contract that’s actually expired.
Thanks to a ruling from communications watchdog Ofcom, consumers will no longer be left in the dark regarding their various technological contracts, with the new rules coming into effect tomorrow (15 Saturday) – this is what you need to know.
What is going to change?
Broadband, phone and TV companies will now have to tell customers when their contract is coming to an end, under new rules announced by Ofcom.
Ofcom said, “We want you to have a choice when it comes to your broadband, phone and TV package, and also want you to be able to get the deal that best suits your needs.”
To make this a reality, Ofcom has ruled that broadband, TV, mobile and home phone companies must be more clear and forthright about customers contracts.
These protections are the latest of Ofcom’s Fairness For Customers programme.
Why is this happening?
According to research from Ofcom, more than 20 million customers have gone beyond their initial contract period and are potentially paying more than they need to.
“People who bundle their landline and broadband services together pay, on average, around 20 per cent more when they are out of contract,” a report from Ofcom explained.
The report goes on to explain that around one in seven customers don’t know even if they’re still tied to their original deal, and around one in eight believe that they are still in a contract, but don’t know when that contract ends.
Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com, says: “For years, providers have profited from not always being entirely transparent about the status of their contracts.
“The introduction of end-of-contract notifications and annual out-of-contract reminders should finally put an end to this murky practice and help consumers know the best time to consider their options.
“Our figures suggest mobile and broadband consumers could be £1 billion a year better off if they take the opportunity to move to a better value deal.
Ofcom Consumer Group Director, Lindsey Fussell, said, “We’re making sure customers are treated fairly, by making companies give them the information they need, when they need it.
“This will put the power back in the hands of millions of people who are paying more than necessary when they’re no longer tied to a contract.”
What are the alerts?
Telecoms and TV companies will need to write to their customers 10 to 14 days before their contract comes to an end in order to warn them that it’s expiring.
These alerts can be sent to you by text, email or letter and must include the following information:
- The contract end date
- The price paid before this date
- Any changes to this service and price paid at the end of this period
- Information about any notice period required to terminate the contract
- The best deals offered by their provider, including telling existing customers what prices and deals are available to new customers
Those who stay with their provider without signing up to a new contract will be sent a reminder every year about their firm’s best deals.
When will this come into effect?
This announcement was originally made by Ofcom last year, 15 May 2019 and it gave companies nine months to prepare for these changes and adjust their systems as necessary.
Those nine months are now up, with customers receiving these notifications from this Saturday (15 February) this year.