/ Technology

What’s broadband provider loyalty costing you?

Millions of us are potentially wasting hundreds of pounds a year by remaining loyal to our broadband provider, according to our new research. So when did you last switch provider?

More than 70% of people have been with the same broadband provider for over three years – and could be missing out on a better internet deal – our research has found.

Usually any introductory offers will have run out within three years – and you will have been moved onto a more expensive tariff – so you’ll be missing out sticking with the same provider.

Which? switch: compare broadband, phone and TV packages

On average, this missing out amounts to existing customers paying 15% more than new customers, but the figure can be as high as 89% with certain deals and providers.

Web woes

And as well as being penalised financially, those who remain loyal to their broadband supplier also appear to have much lower customer satisfaction generally.

Some of the broadband providers with the most loyal customers reported some of the lowest levels of customer satisfaction.

For example, 85% of Talk Talk customers we spoke to had been with the company for three or more years; while customer satisfaction stood at 48%.

Compare this with the company whose customers are the most satisfied, Zen Internet (86%), who have a three year retention rate of just 59%.

Price hike

We investigated the tariff increases for customers moved off of introductory deals and found Virgin Media customer’s faced the biggest average price hike when moved onto a standard tariff.

When they move onto a standard tariff, Virgin Media customers pay an average of 52% more than they would as a new customer.

But the biggest one-off price hike we found was from the Post Office. Its Unlimited Broadband package goes from £15.90 to £30 after the 12-month contract period, which is an additional 89% or £169 more a year.

The message seems clear: switching pays off both financially and in terms of customer satisfaction. So why aren’t more people switching to take advantage of introductory offers?

Switch sense

When I lived with my family, it felt like it always came down to the hassle. Our internet was bundled with our TV deal which we’d had for years, so it felt like quite a big upheaval to finally take the plunge and split it up.

When you have a specific TV deal that works for you, and in some cases a landline as well, it can be difficult to motivate yourself to go through the admin of finding a new deal.

Tasks like that are hardly fun, which is why we’ve recently launched our switching service for broadband – which can help take some of the stress out of the process.

How long have you been with your provider? Do you feel like it’s time to switch? If so, what’s stopping you?

How long have you been with your current broadband provider?

5 years+ (57%, 2,580 Votes)

3 – 5 years (13%, 578 Votes)

1 – 2 years (10%, 427 Votes)

Less than 1 year (9%, 421 Votes)

2 – 3 years (9%, 397 Votes)

I have no idea (2%, 88 Votes)

Total Voters: 4,491

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Comments

I’m somewhat caught by the short and curlies as I have cable broadband supplied by VirginMedia. The price has risen to £44.75 a month for internet alone. It is clear that other ISPs offer cheaper services, but sacrificing cable for fibre is not something I’ll do in a hurry. Isn’t there another good value cable ISP?

Denis Rumbold says:
17 November 2018

I’ve been with Utility Warehouse for 4 years or so and have had standard broadband. I contacted them because I had a phone problem (crossed line). I got talking to the Openreach engineer who fixed the problem (stray strand of wire touching earth) and asked him about broadband. He said that the fibre cabinet was adjacent to the one he was working in. I can see them both from my house. He told me that switching to fibre would make a great difference.

I contacted UW again and am in the process of switching to broadband at little extra cost. I will now have copper into my house from the cabinet, roughly 100 metres rather than from the exchange which is about a mile away.

See if UW is suitable for you.

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Alber says:
17 November 2018

I was with Virgin Media for 2 years till Nov. 6 this year. Virgin increased their prices with an
option to cancel service with out penalty. I tried to negotiate with them on the price increase
but I failed.
So I switched my service. After talking to Virgin (Virgin do not give you option to cancel
by email or via my virgin Media) they sent an email that I had renewed my service with a far higher price.
I called them again, their explanation was the email was an error but since my new ISP asked to transfer asked my landline they have to increase the other service. I requested an email on my cancellation of service. They failed to send that email.
I called again and I requested deadlock letter they failed to provide that. I informed them I will need prove of our communication so I will like us to communicate by email. they fail on that too. but Ms Victoria who is a member of the Virgin team tries to talk to me over the mobile.
Finally, they are demanding 30 days of cancellation and a full payment for the 30. I sent an email to dispute that. 2. on the 6 of Nov. 6 I informed them my new serve was active.3. They just sent me
an email telling me My Virgin TV is active which is not true.

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I too am thinking of leaving virgin because of the continual price hike. I started at £24 a month which seemed reasonable…it has increased to £56 a month!
I get virgin tv, broadband and a telephone line (which I’ve never used)
I’d be quite happy with just the broadband. The rest is superfluous.
My problem is who else provides broadband by cable?
I don’t want broadband via the phone line dangling outside my house.

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I have a similar dilemma to Carl Jackson except that I have Virgin fibre optic broadband. Their price increases are relentless and I have thought about moving but I am concerned about losing the use of my Virgin e-mail address (which I have had for donkey’s years). Changing it to another one and notifying everyone of the new address would be a daunting prospect. It is the sign-in for so many accounts and services and so many friends, relations and acquaintances would have to be told it would be a nightmare.

Purchased BT phone and broadband, purely to watch The Grand Tour streamed on Amazon Fire stick. . Everything ok at first, then in 2nd year stream started buffering and disconnecting, reduced bandwith speed I presume. Still didn’t prompt me to upgrade my BT package. Now I am getting “no signal” onscreen messages for standard tv channels (BBC)!! Is this BT deliberately slowing broadband feeds to push customers into purchasing latest / more expensive, so-called faster broadband options???

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It’s a pain, but there is a way to reduce your costs with Virgin if you are out of contract.

There is a limit to what their retentions dept can offer you… but if you do start a switch to a different provider, and typically move your phone number at the same time… once Virgin receive the request to port your number to the new provider (and now know you are serious) they typically contact you and drop their prices considerably more.

I’ve recently done this – I took a contract with Sky (I took it out at Currys – they seem to have the best offers for sky, and some of the extra’s, such as extra SkyQ miniboxes, don’t register on their charges). sure enough, once Virgin received the porting request, they rang me and offered a significant discount… reducing prices for the same service from £105 mth to £64 mth – along with a £70 credit on my account.

I was within the cooling off period for Sky so simply cancelled my order, had my one-off costs refunded, and am now staying with Virgin.

As I say, its a bit of a pain, but as long as you wait for Virgin to call you (they won’t have the same deals if you call them) you can’t go wrong. Of course, I cannot guarantee this will happen, but it was recommended to me and has worked as expected.

There is a big problem with broadband providers.
Nearly all state that they are ‘fibre optic’ or that their speeds are …..but most are lying.
Most will utilise a fibre optic line ‘at some point’ in their journey but ends at the bottom of your road. It then comes via the telephone lines on telephone poles. Coaxial telephone cable is a big difference to a fibre optic cable.
Any broadband supplier who utilises the telephone line as it’s entry into your house is lying about it’s speed and type of service. As obviously the speed of your internet is only as good as the weakest link in the circuit namely your telephone line. Your telephone line is prone to changes in weather, heat and cold, movement of the line, old fashioned switches or relays, electrical and magnetic fields generated by close proximity to other lines….plus the reduced usage if you happen to use this line for the actual telephone.
Very few companies offer a separate cable that enters your house direct from the fibre source.
I think the providers should come clean and not try to pretend they are super fast if they utilise phone lines.
Now you realise the choice of ‘broadband’ suppliers is severely limited.

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Six weeks ago I moved house to Norwich, leaving a middling BT service in a market twin in Suffolk, which was beyond its tie-in period. I am now in an area supplied by fibre and looked for a combined broadband package to include telephone with cost effective call packages for calling mainland Europe. The choice was limited by my requirements and I chose Vodafone for an 18 month contract which was sold on the basis of ’55 Mbps minimum and 63 Mbps average’ plus all calls (up to an hour) for a fixed £35 per month. This compares to regular £60 to £70 per months costs I had with BT.

So far so good, but the broadband is very unreliable, with speeds measured using the Which? speed test on my laptop over wi-fi varying between 45 Mbps early morning to 3 or 4 Mbps late evening – so bad that even photos on news websites are slow to load.

Now, Vodafone offer a 15% discount if your broadband drops below their ‘Guaranteed Minimum’ ‘until the problem is solved’. I thought I had a case, but Vodafone say that this guarantee is on their ‘sync speed’ – i.e. the line speed to the router from the exchange. When I log on to the router it shows that speed – and it has always somewhere between 51 and 57 Mbps, despite the speeds I actually experience.

So, I have checked and optimised all router and wi-fi settings (in consultation with Vodafone helplines and tech sites) and used a handy app on my phone (Wi-Fi Analyser) to confirm that the wi-fi signal is working well in my house and the problem is not my household wi-fi.

This leads me to conclude three things:
1. As the speeds vary by time of day, this is a contention issue which is compromising my band width by other household users.
2. The Vodafone ‘guarantee’ is a con as the sync speed is something they can manipulate and bears no relation to actual broadband speeds experienced.
3. The router speed reading is not showing the true broadband speed coming into the house and so is deliberately misleading customers.

I would be interested to know is others have experienced this.

Cheers

Helios

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Thanks Duncan, I’ll see what I can do and post my findings in due course.

I am now paying over £60 per month for my package with Virgin Media. Each year when it goes up I contact them and though they do reduce it a bit I know I am still paying well over the odds. My ‘problem’ is all my contacts have for me an ntlworld email address. This has been my emaill address for many years and I am told that if I go with another provider I will no longer be able to use this address and the thought of trying to contact everyone – including banks etc – I find really scary

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I was with Plusnet for several years mainly because their customer service looked OK and they were the first to provide Fibre BB in our area when it went live (the other being terrible BT). Although they have been 100% reliable, they were costing me around £45/m for the High Speed BB (up to 76 Mbps) with line rental and anytime UK landline calls included.
But we found that more and more we are using our mobiles to make calls; most house phone calls are junk selling or cons telling me that my computer has been hacked, etc. So it was time for a change.
We went for Vodafone high speed fibre (again 76 Mbps) including line rental but excluding any calls for just £25/m.
So far, everything looks rosy. Other than register with Vodaphone on line, we had to do absolutely nothing until Go Live day. Vodafone kept us informed by email and SMS. We received our new wireless router 5 days before Go Live.
On Go Live day, we followed instructions. On finding our Internet ‘dead’ at 7am, we swapped the old router for the new Vodafone router. It connected in around 10 minutes, automatically updated its firmware and became active after 45 minutes. I accesses the router, changed all the passwords and all was fine.
Performance is identical to Plusnet (8ms ping, 51.5 down and 14.7 up). That saves us approximately £20/m for the next 18 months.
P E R F E C T !

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One thing that would improve the marketplace greatly from the point of view of consumers would be the mandatory day each year that all ISPs would be required to provide Internet pricing in a similar format for the coming years.

So for instance
VM 1 yr £25 pm 2 yr £22pm 3 yr xxpm
BT ditto etc etc

The terms would apply from a start date say 6 mths hence to allow people to switch in anticipation.

You will appreciate that this is an auction system in reverse which gives greater power to the punters. It also will cut out one of businesses favourite weapons of blinding consumers with choices.

The lack of hassle for 3 years would be attractive to many and of course come with state-defined service levels and a standar contract with defined escape clauses.

The idea that BB is a utility and should be properly regulated must be more important than the right of businesses to buffalo and bemuse customers as in so many industries..

I joined Sky Broadband & Landline in 2015 after trying for months, and failing, to get BT to activate my landline on a newly built property. Sky had me up & running within 2 weeks, since then I have enjoyed good services and had my broadband updated to 40mbs over FTTC. My deal included free landline calls 24/7 for £33 per month, a good deal in my view.

Only yesterday (21st December) I ended up having quite a heated exchange with a BT salesperson because I was blatantly being lied to while trying to negotiate a new contract for the new Gfast fibre that has recently become available as our cabinet has just been upgraded.

A bit about my background with BT – We have been in our house for just over 20 years and had phone and broadband (dial up in the early days) and fastest fibre available since it was launched however many years ago that was now. We are only about 100m from the cabinet and up until recently have had a solid 72/19 Mbps connection.

For years I have hated their sales and pricing tactics, so to coin the phrase – “you have to play the game!”

I’ve always phoned up and haggled hard to get a good price at contract renewal time. The last twice I’ve had to resort to going through the pfaff of switching to Plusnet to get BT to send me their “we don’t want you to leave, please call us” email to then speak to their retentions team to negotiate the deal I wanted in the first place.

Their mid contract price increases really annoy me – in my mind a contract should be binding for the duration of that contract.

Around September time BT had its latest mid contract price increase, so on the phone again to negotiate back to their pre price increase price and we were happy and recontacted for the next 18 months.

My other distaste of BT’s (& all other ISP’s) sales practices is that over the last 5-7 years at least their levels of price increases have been way way above the level of inflation.

Roll forward a month and our cabinet gets upgraded to the Gfast Ultrafast fibre service. I’m interested in a bit more speed like everyone else.

As always I do my research online before picking the phone up to be aware of current advertised pricing.

Now I appreciate that Gfast is new and that there has had to have been some infrastructure investment to make it available, however the same applies to Virgin Media which unfortunately isn’t available in our area, but if it was they are currently offering their roughly 350 Mbps equivalent product for about £35 per month as a comparison (and those guys have had to dig up the road to get their service to you)

I look on BTs website before I make the call and the price for their Ultrafast 2 Plus (not interested in the “Plus” bit, but no option without it currently available) product is showing as £54:95 per month on the standard 18 months contract with £130 gift card cash back (my maths ability works that out to be worth approximately £7:22 per month price reduction) roughly bringing the bill down to £48 per month – still considerably more than the equivalent Virgin product.

So I make the call and get told as an existing customer they are prepared to offer me a special price of £59:95 which is supposedly a £5 reduction from the normal £64:95.

This is where the conversation started to get a little heated when I pointed out to the sales person that while I was talking to him I was looking at their website displaying the above described prices displayed for a new customer and as a loyal customer of over 20 years he was trying to tell me that as that loyal customer he was offering me a “Special” price that was in fact about £12 per month more than if I was a new customer. That would be an extra £216 during the 18 months contract.(£450 more than Virgin!) Some loyalty deal that was!

I put a deal on the table and said outright – if you can do this for £48 per month I’ll take out a new contract with you now. The chap put me on hold supposedly to discuss with his manager for what seemed like ages. I was about to hang up but he did come back to me only to tell me that his first offer was the only offer he could make me and also chipped in that my existing contract price was extremely cheap.

He didn’t like my response when I said no, I’m paying about the right price which is roughly in line with inflation and not your way above inflation inflated prices.

At that point I decided to politely end the conversation because I could see that I wasn’t going to make any sensible headway.

I’m not holding the salesperson personally responsible because I know that they have their hands tied working in a large organisation what they can do.

It’s BT’s terrible sales tactics that I despise and the rest of the ISPs for that matter as they are all the same.

Needless to say that I will be patient to get a reasonable deal and not a ripoff deal in the future.

I wonder what I am doing right? I constantly see TalkTalk down the ratings but having been with them from days of Tiscali and have had glitches (particularly in the early days) but generally I could not be more pleased.
We are on Faster Fibre and consistently get upper 30s down and upper 6s up.
£28.50 for the line and £7.50 for unlimited UK calls

It’s all very well telling people to just swap ISP, but for many it’s not so simple. Email addresses cannot be taken with you.
Just imaging how many people would be changing mobile phone providers if they couldn’t take their number with them.
I would have to reset countless log-ins and tell even more people I have a new email address, so it makes moving from one ISP to another quite a chore.
Which never seems to take this into account. I suppose they assume (incorrectly) that everyone has a live or google mail account. Well they don’t.

Two of my old ISP’s let me keep email accounts with them, but I bet they don’t all do that.

Which also recommends haggling with one’s current ISP as a way to a better deal. That recently worked for me with Plusnet.

I have been wary of using free email services because so many of my contacts have notified me that their email accounts have been hacked.

For years we have had the right to keep our mobile number rather than get a new one when changing phones, which was the case int early days. I would like to see the opportunity to have an email address for life, and this is easily done.

One advantage of using Gmail is that I can use it with any ISP.

Fair enough but I doubt that many will be able to have an email address a useful form, such as [first name].[Surname]@[gmail].com. Perhaps parents should be giving their children names such as John.Smith1357 in preparation for them having an email account with a large ISP. One reason I have continued to use my (small) ISP is that my email address is in the form Forename.Surname@

Actually, that drawback will exist with many popular ISP’s.

Also, having an easily guessable email address makes you more vulnerable to some forms of hacking.

Hi Wavechange – Using your link I tried to send a message to John Smilth but it failed! I think something must have gone wrong when his birth was registered.

With a common name like mine I decided to include my middle name in my e-mail address to avoid having to have numerals. I have been with my unusual ISP for many years now and have never experienced any problems.

I have noticed that a lot of my contacts have been changing to icloud.com . It seems to be trendy thing to do.

DerekP says: Today 07:37

Two of my old ISP’s let me keep email accounts with them, but I bet they don’t all do that.

Certainly don’t, Derek, and not even the charities you thought most trustworthy do that…

Ian, I left that observation for you to make, as I pretty much knew you’d make it.

Thought I detected a distinct structure… 🙂

John Ward says: Today 10:05
I have noticed that a lot of my contacts have been changing to icloud.com . It seems to be trendy thing to do.

We’ve had iCloud addresses since they first appeared in October, 2011, and they’ve never been spammed or hacked.

Wavechange –

You’ll notice I edited your post a little. It got picked up on our filters. Just in case there is a John Smilth out there!

Personally I found double barreling my name meant that I was pretty much guaranteed the email I wanted!

Thanks Abby. I had forgotten that the filters pick up email addresses.

Parents need to make sure that their child John is not christened by someone with a lisp. 🙂

Derek and John – I had wondered about whether it is wise to include my forename and surname in an email address but this is very commonly done when assigning email addresses to employees. In my case I have four characters after the @ and my ISP is a smaller one, so I hope that offers some protection.

Using a middle name seems a common way of choosing an email address that is not already in use. I have a friend whose email address has160739 appended to his name. He will be 80 on the 16 July. 🙂

Although convenient, using date of birth data in a email address is probably not great for security.

My middle name is more like a surname than a first name and the only problem it gives rise to is that people think it is my surname and address me as such. Nevertheless, it gratifies my desire for a unique nomenclature.

I’ve just found that Plusnet, despite telling emailing me “We always look for new ways to offer the best value for money, like our Fixed Price Broadband Contracts. Available to both new and existing customers, these guarantee no price rises mid-contract on your broadband and line rental. They also come with end-of-contract reminders and account reviews, so you know you’re on the right deal for you” have completely different contracts for new and existing customers, with only 18 month overpriced offerings available to existing customers. They never advised me of coming to the end of my contract and the best they will offer me is a deal that is for 18 months, with increases except for line rental, offering a worse service that I currently get from them at more money than new customers on 12 month contracts. I reluctantly went ahead ‘without prejudice’ as I feel their communication is misleading but have always been happy with their service.
Where I live there is no fibre, (although it passes about 20 yards from our house) max speeds are supposedly about 3mb, I can only dream of the 10mbps everyone is supposed to be getting soon, the new speed estimates are so low that it is unusable for most things but as I can theoretically get over 1mb I can’t qualify for the grant to take me up to a reasonable level.
Life sucks out in the country with all the providers seemingly trying to make us pay for the town and city dwellers getting ever faster broadband.

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Steve, it may be worth your while haggling with PlusNet, see:-https://www.which.co.uk/reviews/broadband-deals/article/how-to-haggle-for-the-best-broadband-deal

It worked for me 🙂

I tried haggling and even got on to a manager to complain about the misrepresentation in the email and the fact it was tying me into a longer contract and it would be costing me £121 more than a new customer in the first 12 months, for a lesser service and no router, but they said they were offering me the best possible deal. So much for loyalty and all the adverts and promises. Personally I think the man on the Clapham Omnibus would have read the email the same way I did and assumed they meant everyone could get the same contracts. When I’m paying significantly more for a terrible (up to 3mbps) connection than a new customer on fibre something stinks in my mind.

I am about two miles out of the nearest village in a sparsely populated area between two villages, both villages have fibre, nearest house on fibre about a mile as the crow flies and the fibre between the two villages passes on the other side of the road from my house. I used to have very fast broadband but some legislative change made it impossible for it to be continued once the local exchange was unbundled apparently as the provider was no longer allowed to provide the microwave link to me.

https://press.which.co.uk/?s=broadband
”Get the message – Millions of broadband customers at risk of overpaying as new end-of-contract rules introduced
15 February 2020

My current broadband and land line contract expires next month and I had it in my diary to renegotiate with the same provider – very desirable for me because my email address is with them and I do not want all the hassle changing it would bring. And I’ve been very content with their service. However, in line with the new rules they contacted me first and I was invited to renew my contract. In anticipation I was prepared to take the new customer rate – which I had negotiated last year although I was a long-established customer – but they, without prompting, offered me an 18 month contract 12% below that. Their “full” rate had no such negotiation occurred would have been 1.56 times what I was offered.

The process was simple. I am bothered by such large differences, though, in pricing but wonder how many people are actually charged the “full” amount.

I think negotiating prices is, in many cases, desirable in a commercial environment; I work on the principle that my current provider might want to retain me as a customer and is prepared to give me an incentive to stay, while they make a little bit less out of me.

However, the size of the disparity between offerings can be disturbing. But it is a (commercially) free country and, providing there is no monopoly, I have the same freedom to change provider.