22nd June 2015
Some two million disgruntled UK broadband users have tried in vain to switch to new providers in the past year, missing out on savings worth £83m, claims new research from uSwitch.
According to the price comparison site, those that have successfully switched saved an average of £36 on their annual bills, while 10% of customers saved more than £50.
The research comes as industry watchdog Ofcom introduce new rules governing how customers switch broadband suppliers.
Under the revamped legislation, if a consumer wishes to move the new supplier will handle the whole process, rather than the provider the customer is leaving.
However, more than four million broadband users will not benefit from these new changes, as they do not apply to Virgin Media’s network, just those switching from and to broadband on BT Openreach, which includes BT, Sky and TalkTalk customers. The new rules do not apply to mobile and pay TV customers either.
The analysis also found that that Britons are actually more likely to get a new mortgage than move broadband supplier. Across the telecoms market, 43% of customers have never left their pay TV provider, 31% have stayed loyal to their mobile network, 32% have been with the same home phone provider since the beginning and 30% have never moved broadband provider.
Even though 68% of the broadband deals currently advertised last just one year or less, only 16% of customers have actually switched their broadband supplier in the last 12 months.
Of those who have never moved broadband supplier, 25% said it is not worth the hassle or it is too complicated.
But the survey found that more than half, at 51%, of bill payers would be more inclined to switch their mobile, pay TV and broadband if they did not have to contact their current provider and the network they were moving to handled and guided them through the process.
Ofcom is already investigating claims from customers that providers make it hard for them to leave, with long call queue times when they are trying to cancel, billing issues, and problems unlocking handsets post contract.
Notably some 41% of bill payers would be more likely to switch mobile, pay TV or broadband if it could be guaranteed they would not be left without service, while 26% would be more tempted to move if the process happened within a specified time frame.
Ewan Taylor-Gibson, broadband expert at uSwitch.com, said: “While we’re getting the hang of switching some home essentials like car insurance, when it comes to broadband, pay TV and mobile, people are nowhere near as proactive.
“But this is not an open-and-shut case of consumer apathy. Telecoms is the only sector still languishing under a system where the company you are leaving handles the switch. They’re hardly going to fall over themselves to pack you off to a rival provider.”
However Taylor-Gibson added that the good news is that Ofcom is making improvements to broadband switching, which will hopefully improve some customers’ experiences of moving to new providers. The bad news is this will not include mobile, pay TV or Virgin Media’s broadband network.
“Industry-wide changes are needed to have far more of an impact. The price difference between the cheapest and most expensive broadband deals on the market right now is £120 per year, so we’re not talking about small change. Moving providers or moving deals really does save people money, so it should be simple for consumers to do,” he added.