/ Technology

Switching broadband provider – how hard can it be?

Man angry at laptop

If you aren’t happy with your broadband service, the obvious thing to do is switch. But how many of us stick with a bad service because we’re worried about all the hassle that’s involved?

Some of our recent research showed that many of us experience problems when trying to switch internet service provider (ISP). Nearly half of the Which? members who’d switched recently said they’d had problems.

The main switching bugbears include your old broadband provider continuing to take payments, problems setting up the new connection and being left without a broadband service for far too long. It’s this kind of annoyance that puts many of us off.

One of the other things that seems to make people reluctant to switch is losing your old e-mail address. I’ve heard from people who aren’t happy with their current service but don’t want to change for this very reason. Although it might seem like a pain, I don’t think you should let the poor provider tie you in to their email.

Why it’s worth switching in the end

For the sake of an easy life, you might think it’s not worth it. But we want you to get the best deal – so don’t be put off! Even though many people experienced problems, this didn’t stop the majority (78%) of our switching members finding the experience easy.

Two thirds of those asked have been with the same ISP for more than three years. Although time can fly – and many of you may be entirely happy with your current service – I find this slightly worrying. Broadband deals and prices change all the time, so if you haven’t checked out the competition for three years you should do so now. Changing broadband provider could get you a cheaper, better service.

Make sure you know what you’re switching to

It’s worth a quick reminder to check you know what you’re signing up to. Worryingly four in 10 people in our survey didn’t know the advertised usage limit on their broadband package.

You should also make sure you look at the small print. For example, don’t take broadband deals offering unlimited usage at face value. If you’d expect to download as much data as you like with an unlimited broadband deal, watch out – this isn’t always the case. Unlimited deals are often subject to fair usage limits which differ between providers but could place restrictions on heavy users.

But at the end of the day, if you’re not happy with what you’re getting, or think you could get a better broadband package elsewhere. Go on, make the effort and switch. I dare you.


I’ve never understood why people use their ISP email address. There are much better ones, eg gmail, hotmail. Use one of these and you will never need to worry about not switching for that reason.

In reply to Ray’s comments, I think the reasons of reliability, security, and the absence of adverts are the main reasons that I have kept my ISP’s email address when I switched broadband service. I also need to pay £20/- annually for the privilege to keep my old e-mail address which may seem excessive. However, I use the free email service (gmail) as a backup but would never use a free microsoft service as I have little confidence in their ability to keep the service properly secure

I am in the prossces of changing over,I now have no broadband no phoneline & not blest pleased. Sky have me switched Bt,have not change over day was 25th,yesterday,that has gone & Sky say I may not get back online because Bt have not switched & there is a problem at the Exchange.! They will still take my money though I can’t understand why bt are playing about,I only have a few days left on my contract,no fee to pay,Sky is up & running so Why aren’t Bt!!

Rob P says:
27 December 2012

Moving house and trying to get Virgin to transfer phone and broadband services from old property to new was by far the most stressful and annoying part of the whole moving process. Virgin’s promise of a seamless transfer happening in 5 days actually transpired to be 5 weeks in the new property without phone or internet at all, and they lost my old number to boot. So I have cancelled with them and asked them for a MAC code to transfer elsewhere, a process which they have now also messed up. After endless calls to their customer service desk and being sent all round the houses trying to get things put right, I simply can’t speak lowly enough of them.
An additional infuriating factor is that having left me without a landline for 5 weeks and only then having a mobile, they expect you to phone them on an 0845 number which costs an arm and a leg for you to call them.