What happens when your broadband contract ends
When you first sign up to a broadband deal you agree to a minimum contract period, normally of around 12 or 18 months and no more than the Ofcom regulated limit of 24 months. When this period ends your broadband service will continue as normal on a month by month basis.
However, the end of your contract also usually brings about a significant change in the terms of your broadband deal. Or, to put it another way, in most cases the price will shoot up.
Broadband providers offer cut price deals to attract new customers, with the lower monthly charge only being in place during for the length of the initial contract agreement. Once the deal ends a so-called "loyalty penalty" kicks in. The price goes up, and continues to rise every year - and sometimes even more often than that. It's not great for your finances: according to Ofcom, out-of-contract customers pay an average 20% more for their internet supply than those who shop around for a new deal.
The problem is that millions of people don't know when their contact ends, or don't realise that it already has. A ruling by Ofcom attempts to address this by bringing a greater level of fairness and transparency to broadband pricing (and it applies to pay TV companies, too).
From mid-February 2020 onwards, your internet service provider must contact you by letter, email or text message, between 10 and 40 days before your contract ends, telling you:
- the end date for your contract
- the price you've been paying while you're in contract and how the price will change after it has ended - normally an increase
- any notice period you need to provide to end your deal - this may be 30 days
- what their best deals are, including details of prices they usually reserve for new customers
The provider will have to contact you with this pricing info every year you remain on your old deal.
What options do you have?
When your contract comes to an end you've got two main choices for your next step: negotiate a new deal with your current provider, or switch to a new one.
For the overwhelming majority of users it makes no sense to just ignore the end of your contract and carry on with what you've got. Even if you're happy with your provider and happy with the service you're getting, you'll end up paying over the odds for a package you can get cheaper with a single phone call.
The only reason to stick with an out-of-contract deal is if you're about to move house, or there's some other reason why you can't commit to a new deal right now. Even then, you shouldn't do it for more than a couple of months - any longer, and you might be better off switching to one of the 30-day rolling deals that some providers offer.
Does this sound right for you? Take a look at the best no-contract broadband deals available today.
Get a new deal with your existing provider
If you are happy with what you're getting, and don't want to switch, you should be able to sign up to a new deal with the same provider at a much lower price. The key here is to do your research first.
Your provider should have sent you a message telling you what their best prices are, and what offers they have for new customers, so you've already got that. Then, compare broadband deals from other providers to see how much you'd pay with them. Now give your provider a call and see what they'll offer you.
Remember that when you're out of contract you're negotiating from a position of strength, so don't feel you have to settle for their first offer. Ask to speak to the retentions team if necessary, as they'll often be able to give you an even better deal. And if you are genuinely willing to switch, that'll open up the best offers of all.
Switch to a new provider
Arming yourself with other companies' prices gives you a good starting point in your negotiations with your current provider. But if you're actually willing to change suppliers then all those amazing introductory offers become available to you. In fact, some of the offers available to switchers - especially when you factor in rewards and other extras - can be so good that you can skip the chat with your existing provider entirely. Remember, these days broadband switching is 'Gaining Provider Led', so you don't need to worry about migration codes or talk to your existing provider at all. Don't allow yourself to be constrained by old fashioned ideas like brand loyalty, just get the move in motion.
When your broadband contract ends you're fully entitled to up and leave for a new provider at any time. Use our postcode checker to find the best broadband deals in your area to get started.
How to find the best broadband deal
Shopping for the best broadband deal can sometimes be a confusing or even daunting process, especially if you aren't that tech-savvy.
If your broadband contract has ended and you aren't sure what your next step should be, we can help. Our free helpline is run by a team of expert, impartial advisors who will be able to talk you through your options. They can help you find the right provider for your needs, and also give you jargon-free answers to any questions you may have about the switching process or anything else (broadband-related, at least).
Call us for a chat on 0800 093 0405. We're open from 9am to 8pm weekdays, and 9am to 6pm on Saturdays, and it's completely free.
Your call should only take a couple of minutes, and if it's more convenient you can arrange for us to give you a call instead. Just fill in the call back form to book the call for a time that's right for you.
How much money could you save by getting a new deal?
Whether you want to remain with the same provider, or switch to a new one, you can save a lot of money by ensuring you don't stay on an out-of-contract broadband deal.
All this talk of savings is not hypothetical. Ofcom have researched it and found that you can save up to £120 a year on average. By signing a new deal with your current provider you will typically pay £8-9 per month less than if you remained out of contract. Better yet, a third of people who decide to stay are able to negotiate a better deal than even those on introductory offers.
The savings made by switching are even greater, cutting your monthly costs by an average of £8-9 per month.
And finally, there are big savings to be found if you have a bundle of services from the same provider. Get broadband, landline and pay TV all together and you'll wind up paying an average of 26% more once your contract ends.
What should you do next?
So, your broadband deal is coming to an end. What are the next steps you need to take?
First up, check the exact date your deal ends. Although your provider will warn you, it's useful to know the date in advance so you can plan ahead.
Now see what prices, offers and options are available from your current provider and across the rest of the market. Even if you're happy with what you've got right now it's worth checking to see what else is around, because you might be surprised. Use out postcode checker to find the services available in your area, or give our team a call on 0800 093 0405.
Once you know what deals are around, you can decide whether to stick or switch.
Don't be put off by the thought of switching. Providers get away with charging higher rates to loyal customers because they know lots of people think that changing providers is too much of a faff. But it isn't. Take a look at our guide to switching broadband suppliers. It outlines how the process works, and shows you that it's a whole lot quicker and easier than you might expect. And as we've seen, you can save more than £100 a year by doing it.
If you do decide to stay with your current provider, or at least want find out what they can offer you, then it's time to contact them.
Of course, not everyone is comfortable with the thought of haggling over the phone. Most providers offer a live chat service via their websites so you can talk via a keyboard instead (although some might still insist on handling upgrade business over the phone). Don't feel you need to accept a deal right there and then - tell them you'll get back to them later if you want time to think it over. And don't forget that every new contract comes with a 14-day cooling off period, allowing you to cancel without penalty. This can also come in handy if you decide to switch providers and your current broadband supplier later gets back to you with a counter offer.