The hidden costs of not switching ISP

The hidden costs of not switching ISP are mounting up as cost-of-living pressures bite across the UK

Tuesday, 21 May, 2024

It’s been a month since many of the UK’s biggest ISPs introduced substantial above-inflation price rises.

For many consumers, their first monthly bill at these higher rates will be arriving any day now, generating unwelcome added financial pressures after a year of spiralling costs and dwindling disposable income.

In terms of broadband contracts, the eight per cent increases levied by Virgin Media and BT will have been particularly painful.

They’ve also exacerbated existing hidden costs of not switching ISP, including paying premium rates on out-of-contract tariffs and spending money on services you’re not using.

Yet bizarrely, the rate of switching has declined in recent months…

Flicking a switch

Data compiled by Awin showed a 38 per cent drop in broadband switches in an eight-week period earlier this year, compared to the same period in 2023.

From these figures, it was calculated that UK broadband bill payers would unnecessarily be £53 million worse off as a result of their inaction.

That’s particularly strange in light of the Advertising Standards Authority’s (ASA) recent guidance regarding communicating mid-contract price rises transparently to consumers.

This requires ISPs to clarify whether prices are likely to rise, prominently advertise potential mid-contract increases, and simplify inflation terminology.

Even so, it’s paradoxical that as broadband contracts become more transparent, the number of people switching has declined.

It’s especially perplexing when you consider the hidden costs of not switching ISP…

The hidden costs of not switching ISP

Firstly, any brand loyalty you may have benefited from when joining your current ISP will probably end (or have already ended) in tandem with your fixed-term contract.

Discounts on other products and services offered by that company (such as loyalty points) are among the benefits which are often withdrawn when an initial contact period draws to a close.

These savings may have helped to mitigate high costs, or justified staying with a particular ISP even as competitors promised lower monthly bills.

Price rises at the end of a contract could escalate those standing orders considerably, separately to any above-inflation price increases imposed at the start of April.

As prices go up, the cost savings afforded by bundled ancillary features like mobile SIMs and landlines diminish.

Regarding the latter, over a quarter of UK households are quite happily living without a landline.

Switching ISP is the ideal time to re-evaluate your current contract and jettison any hardware, software or services you either don’t need or already pay for elsewhere.

Antivirus software is a classic example of the latter, with many people effectively paying for coverage through an ISP (even if it’s ‘free’) and then again via separate software contracts.

Buying a new PC with antivirus suites pre-installed might mean ISP-provided software becomes unnecessary, while the same could also be true of VPNs or streaming platforms.

The latter are often duplicated, as smooth-tongued ISP reps encourage people to add streaming services which may subsequently be signed up to separately.

There’s anecdotal evidence that some ISPs are more responsive to complaints or concerns from new customers than long-established ones whose custom may be taken for granted.

What you regard as loyalty could be interpreted as apathy (or a reluctance to haggle) by your provider, though this is far from a universal attitude.

Ultimately, though, reductions in monthly broadband costs represent the most compelling benefit of switching ISP.

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Neil Cumins author picture


Neil is our resident tech expert. He's written guides on loads of broadband head-scratchers and is determined to solve all your technology problems!