Thanks to everyone who got in touch after the Mirror / MoneyTalk’s guide to switching and broadband last year I’ve picked a few of your questions about broadband and TV services to answer. Keep them coming and I’ll get on to your questions in the year ahead!
I want to break free
I recently moved to a different part of the UK and told my broadband provider so they could transfer my contract. They can’t offer the service in my new home but they’re still charging me £220 to leave – is this fair?
One of the biggest broadband bugbears I get asked about is excessive exit fees. When you want to leave your broadband contract mid-term, the business is allowed to charge you a fee. Annoyingly, some of these charges can be jaw-dropping. Some broadband companies are relatively clear on what these fees will be on their websites, others are really ambiguous. What we all need to be aware of is the earlier you are in your contract, the higher the fee if you want to leave early.
I think this is really unfair – and I’m not alone, the whole nature of exit fees is under scrutiny at the moment. After all, is it really costing the business £220 for you to leave a contract early? I believe businesses should be made to give you clear guides to what you’ll pay when you leave your contract early before you sign up, so you know what you’re getting in to.
However, we are where we are. But just because a business can charge you extra cash doesn’t mean that it’s fair. So if you’re moving somewhere where there is no service, or it’s patchy, then you should not have to pay the exit fee. I’d also expect the business to be reasonable if you have to move out of the country unexpectedly or experience a life-changing event. If the firm doesn’t play ball, then make a formal complaint and head to the Ombudsman for telecoms. There are two free Ombudsmen and the broadband firm is obliged to tell you which one you can go to if they can’t sort out your complaint.
The mystery router
I’ve been told that my landline is being turned off in 2025 so I opted to go digital and upgrade my broadband for the TV package but now nothing works properly.
Lots of people have contacted me panicking about the big ‘switch off’ of the traditional landline service in 2025. It’s clear that most people don’t fully appreciate what’s happening or why and that’s causing quite a bit of distress. In addition, some broadband firms are using the switch as an opportunity to ‘upsell’ their broadband and TV packages.
What’s happening is the old copper wire systems are being replaced by new fibre / digital technology. You won’t have to use a computer to make calls – all that’s happening is a switchover to a new system for routing the telephone calls. So you’ll get a box you need to plug in to keep your landline service. Regulator OFCOM have a guide here: https://www.ofcom.org.uk/news-centre/2021/upgrading-landlines-to-digital-technology
However, Resolver has received over 1,500 complaints about problems with cables and upgrades of the last 12 months, so some people are experiencing difficulties. If things have gone wrong, make a list of the problems and make a formal complaint to the business asking them what they are going to do to resolve the matter and over what time frame. Ask if you can ‘go back’ to your old system while the problems are addressed – and if this can’t be done, ask for compensation to cover the time lost while the problems are sorted.
If you are older or because of your circumstances might be more vulnerable, make sure the business knows that you need help as a priority – and again, you can go to the Ombudsman if the matter isn’t sorted out in eight weeks.
My favourite programmes have suddenly vanished from streaming services / channels have vanished off my TV package.
The competition on TV and streaming services is intense these days. So it’s not unheard of for whole channels to vanish from your TV package or more commonly, for TV streaming box sets to suddenly disappear.
There’s not a lot you can do if your nostalgia binge of season 8 of the X Files is brought to a sudden close by another paid-for service buying up the rights. RuPaul’s Drag Race Fans, take note: I can’t make the new US season air in the UK for free. However, if you have signed up to a TV package or service specifically for a channel or programme, you might be able to break the contract early without charge. Don’t forget they know what you’ve been watching! So be willing to compromise if you’re locked into a long contract.
Contact the business direct though, in case the problem is due to a technical error. I wasn’t thrilled when I was contacted three times on Christmas day by someone who was very unhappy that ‘specialist’ channel’ Babestation wasn’t on air.
Featured in Mirror – Martyn James