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New rules for phone and broadband providers

Lucie Spraggs's picture

Could new rules make phone and broadband a fairer market for the customer?

New offcom rules for service providers

 

Broadband, TV, mobile and home phone companies will have to tell customers when their contract is coming to an end and show them the best deals available under new rules unveiled by Ofcom.

The telecoms regulator said the move, the latest in its Fairness for customers programme, could see up to 20 million customers benefit by switching provider or agreeing a new deal with their existing one.

Ofcom said people who bundle their landline and broadband services together pay on average around 20% more when they are out of contract and this rises to 26% among customers who bundle in their pay-TV services.

It said that around one in seven customers do not know whether they are still tied to the original deal.

According to Offcom’s consumer group director Lindsey Fussell, the changes "will put power in the hands of millions of people who're paying more than necessary when they're no longer tied to a contract."

So what are the changes?

From February 2020, firms will need to warn customers between 10 and 40 days before their contracts end to give them a chance to switch to a better deal.

It is important to remember that as some providers require 30-day cancellation notice, so the onus may still on customers to make sure they know when their contract ends, to ensure they aren't rolled onto a more expensive tariff.

The alerts must include:

  • The contract end date.
  • The price customers are currently paying and the price they will pay after their contract ends, as well as any changes to the service after this date.
  • Information about notice periods if the customer wants to end their contract.
  • The best deals offered by the provider, including prices available to new customers.
  • Firms will have nine months to prepare for the new rules. Customers will start receiving alerts from 15 February 2020.