In recent months, widely different figures have been bandied around regarding the number of people overpaying for broadband services.
While MoneySavingExpert.com claims 6.5 million people are paying more than they need to, the Guardian recently reported the figure was ten million.
Even if Ofcom’s recent estimate of four million households is closer to the truth, huge swathes of the population are overpaying for broadband.
But how can you tell if you’re among these statistics – and what should change if you are?
Identifying a problem
To determine whether you’re overpaying for broadband, consider these questions:
- Have you been with your existing provider for a year? Most firms offer deals to new customers, with automatic price increases once this introductory period ends
- Has your existing provider increased its fees lately? Ignore claims you’re “getting more” – price hikes always represent lesser value compared to your previous deal
- Do you pay as you go? Unless your internet usage is restricted to social media and light browsing, PAYG is almost always pricier than unlimited data packages
- Are friends and relatives getting a better deal? A quick chat about their broadband services might reveal you’re paying more yet receiving less in return
- What do you use the internet for? Consider how much time you spend online, and what you do. Occasional users won’t need unlimited packages, but Netflix fans certainly will
- Is line speed important? Virgin Media subscriptions are often relatively expensive, yet line speeds frequently obliterate Openreach-based alternatives
- Are you paying for extras? Some policies bundle TV in with data. Do you watch enough fringe channels to justify their extra cost? Is your second set top box always turned off?
Devising a solution
If you’re one of the millions overpaying for broadband, don’t panic.
Recent changes have made it far easier to switch broadband providers, and your new supplier should handle most of the legwork.
This is how to fight back against unreasonable or spiralling prices:
- Ring your existing provider and threaten to leave. Many broadband firms have dedicated retention teams, able to provide incentives or discounts to keep your custom.
- Shop around. If threats to depart don’t cut any ice, look through our site for the best broadband deals. Don’t forget to tailor your search around the services you need.
- Don’t focus solely on headline prices. Some providers offer vouchers, cashback or even free goods. While monthly bills are important, other incentives deserve consideration.
- Consider bundles. It’s often cheaper to sign up for more than one service. Quad-play packages – phone, mobile, TV and internet – typically represent excellent value.
- Approach new providers at specific times of year. The end of each financial quarter is a good time to haggle, as providers strive to meet targets by attracting new subscribers.
- Make a note in your diary a month before your contract period ends. This is the ideal time to research the market, enabling a smooth transition to a new provider.