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

Mhari Aurora
·2 min read
Broadband customers are overpaying because of missing or misleading notifications. Photo: Getty
Broadband customers are overpaying because of missing or misleading notifications. Photo: Getty

Consumers could be overpaying £251m ($344m) for their broadband service due to missing or misleading notifications from providers.

According to a survey by comparison site Uswitch, over 8 million broadband customers whose contracts have ended since February 2020 should have received an end-of-contract notification (ECN) between 10 and 40 days before their deal was due to expire.

Out of these 8 million households, almost 3 million did not receive an ECN and are therefore paying £90 more a year than they should be.

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Richard Neudegg, head of regulation at Uswitch.com, said: “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.

“When providers choose language in their notices which lacks the priority or formality that might be expected for such important information, consumers can be forgiven for missing that they have received something that requires action.

“Ofcom must act to make sure providers cannot deploy marketing and pricing tactics designed to fly the chance of better deals under the radar.”

Of the two-thirds of broadband consumers who did receive an ECN in the last year, 88% used the information to get themselves a better deal with their current provider or a competitor.

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Ofcom introduced ECNs on 15 February 2020 to make broadband, mobile and pay-TV providers inform their customers when their contract is ending, and if they could save money by opting for a different deal.

This means all consumers whose contracts ended before 14 February 2020 should receive an ECN before 13 February 2021, but as of 1 November 2020, only six in 10 broadband customers in this situation had received the notification.

Uswitch said some of the language used in ECNs could be causing confusion for consumers as many may not have realised they had received the notification.

The comparison site also claims some providers have been extending discounts beyond customers’ contract expiry dates to avoid having to notify customers when those discounts end.

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