Fri, 24 Nov 06
Broadband deals are tricky enough to navigate at the best of times, but if you are moving home you’ll have an additional hassle to negotiate.
Part of the trouble comes because broadband suppliers are using a raft of tricks and ploys to discourage people from swapping suppliers.
One in six people with broadband (15%) admit their confusion about broadband deals is the reason they haven’t switched providers, price comparison website moneysupermarket.com discovered.
Migration Authorisation Codes have long been a bugbear for broadband switchers. Similar to mobile PAC codes (Porting Authorising Codes), someone switching broadband providers needs to give a MAC reference number from their existing provider in order for broadband connection to be immediately switched to the new provider. Without a MAC code the connection has to be terminated and then switched on again, which can leave people without broadband for weeks.
However, as MAC codes are only a voluntary scheme, there are still some providers who will not give them out to their customers, consequently making it difficult for people to switch.
According to OFCOM, some of the broadband providers who have not signed-up to the MAC code scheme include Tesco Broadband, Talk Talk and PlusNet.
Penalised for moving home
If people are planning on moving house, charges from a broadband provider range from £24 – £150 to switch the service to the new property. Some providers, such as PIPEX, will even reset contract terms so customers start a new 12-month contract when they move in.
Movers may also find the phone line has been blocked by a previous broadband provider, adding weeks of frustration, delays and additional costs to discover which provider was responsible. If broadband is essential to you – say if you intend to work from home - it would certainly be wise to investigate the broadband status of the property before making an offer on the property.
Another hidden charge is a term of the ‘no minimum contract’ deal offered by providers such as Virgin.net, PlusNet, biscit and EFH Broadband. These deals are supposed to offer flexibility rather than locking people into a long contract period, but in reality consumers would still be hit with a typical cancellation fee of between £50 and £70 if you leave within the first twelve months.
Even after a year people would still have to give between one and three months’ notice before they could terminate the contract.
Be prepared to contact your provider well in advance of moving home as you may find a minefield of red tape top go through – even if you are staying with the same provider.
Jason Lloyd, head of broadband at www.moneysupermarket.com, said: “Unfortunately few broadband providers’ deals are as good as they first seem. Some advertised ‘free services’ will incur a monthly fee after a year, so I would urge people to double check the small print before signing up to a new broadband deal to guard against any hidden charges.”
“If you are having problems with your existing provider, it could be worth letting them know you are thinking about leaving the contract to see if they can offer a better deal.”
Charged to upgrade
People are used to upgrading their mobile phone for free with their mobile operator but upgrading to the latest broadband deal is often costly. Broadband providers make it difficult for customers to upgrade to better deals by charging them for new hardware as well as a switching charge. Many providers will upgrade your speed for free if the network has improved, but will charge around £20 as a one-off fee for doing so.
Lloyd added: “It is clear providers are using underhand methods to prevent their customers being tempted away by the range of attractive broadband offers. Hidden charges and a lack of transparency by providers are the main reasons for switching inertia.”
“The first port of call for anyone considering switching should be to speak with their existing provider about what they can offer. In most cases they will have cancellation teams in place who will invariably offer a better deal to anyone threatening to terminate their contract.”
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