Martin Lewis explains how to cut costs on broadband bundles
Get pensions news and advice plus latest money alerts for FREE now
We use your sign-up to provide content in ways you’ve consented to and to improve our understanding of you. This may include adverts from us and 3rd parties based on our understanding. You can unsubscribe at any time. More info
Currently, Britons are being hit with a double whammy of a 30-year inflation rate high and an annual rise in energy bills of £693. Despite this, broadband providers have received criticism for apparently artificially inflating their service prices despite not experiencing the same pressures as other sectors at the moment, such as the gas and electricity industry. One of the industry experts who is urging his peers to do more is Alex Fitzgerald, the CEO of broadband provider Cuckoo.
According to the Cuckoo founder, there is little regulation in place to protect consumers from broadband price hikes as the cost of living continues to go up.
Mr Fitzgerald said of broadband price increases: “It’s at the discretion of each provider to choose to implement these mid-contract hikes – and it’s also up to them to decide how much to raise them by.
“Just last month six of the eight major providers – BT, EE, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Plusnet and John Lewis Broadband – raised their prices for most customers by between 8.2 percent and 9.3 percent, depending on when they initially signed up.”
Britons urged to ‘check small print’ as broadband prices rise – warn ‘friends and family’ (Image: GETTY)
One of the primary costs hitting broadband customers is expensive exit fees, which makes it difficult for consumers to shop around the market due to being trapped in a contract.
While many broadband providers are providing their customers with social tariffs to help those on low income and benefits, Mr Fitzgerald does not believe enough is being done to target the issue of pricey exit fees.
He said: “Some providers offer social tariffs (discounted broadband packages) to Brits who are on certain benefits, but to our knowledge none of the big providers offer leniency to the UK’s most economically vulnerable should they need to leave their contract early.
“Yet according to the most recent ONS findings, 34 percent of the most deprived said they are finding it difficult or very difficult to pay their household bills, up eight percent since the last report.
“It’s the rises combined with the exit fees trap that is so unfair. It’s going to hurt the poorest the worst but others will be affected. It will hurt those who are just about managing and it will hurt those on middle incomes.
“These hikes are going to hit Brits in their pocket at the worst possible time and because they’re being rolled out mid-contract, customers are powerless to leave for another provider unless they’re willing to fork out for the extortionate exit fees – which can run as high as £450.”
Fitzgerald and the team at Cuckoo have launched a campaign to lobby other broadband providers to scrap their above-inflation price rises.
However, he acknowledges that households and everyday consumers need to speak up first for broadband providers to listen.
Households face higher broadband costs (Image: GETTY)
Mr Fitzgerald added: “It’s difficult to bring about change if only a small number of people are aware of the problem – so right now we need to be spreading the word as far and wide as possible.
“Consumers should talk to their friends and family about this. Find out if they’re aware of these increases, get them to check the small print in their own broadband contracts – particularly elderly customers.
“Out of all the utilities, broadband contracts are often the hardest for pensioners to wrap their heads around. Between all the marketing jargon and different packages on offer, there is a huge amount of complexity to these agreements.
“The confusing small print can trick people into buying unnecessary extras and getting locked into mid-contract price rises. We need to check in with each other and make sure we understand exactly what we signed up for in the small print.”
On what else can be done, he said: “The next step is to engage these broadband providers and demand they do the decent thing – scrap their exit fees and above-inflation increases.
“Customers can put the pressure on by tweeting at their provider, writing a letter to their CEO, sharing their story on social media and also engaging with Ofcom, the regulator, to take responsibility for these shady industry practices and put an end to them.”
Express.co.uk has contacted BT, EE, TalkTalk, Vodafone, Plusnet and John Lewis Broadband asking for comment.