Commitment Phobia Hits Broadband Market

Fear of long broadband contracts is causing consumers to seek more flexible service options, according to firsthelpline.com.

The independent broadband comparison and switching site has seen a marked increase in callers to its helpline searching for advice on how to avoid getting locked in to long-term contracts. Because of this, firsthelpline.com is calling for service providers to include more flexible service offerings for commitment-phobic consumers, and to be more transparent about the costs of cancelling contracts.

Several broadband suppliers have started to tempt new customers by offering them an introductory offer on the proviso that they sign up to long contracts. firsthelpline.com believes UK consumers are wary about signing up to lengthy contracts offered by providers in a bid to control customer churn. Reasons such as poor service, being unable to commit because of living in rented accommodation, or wanting to be able to change deals easily as new products are introduced are all cited as fuelling commitment phobia.

firsthelpline.com offers these tips to commitment-phobic consumers:

Short term contracts: If you are renting or just simply need broadband for a short period of time, there are providers that offer short term contracts so you don’t need to sign up to a full year – however, bear in mind that these will often charge a higher premium, or even try and claw back waived fees for things like activation or modems if you leave within a year.

Cancellation fees: Charges for cancelling a 12 or 18-month contract early vary by supplier. Many will charge you the remainder of your contract up front, while others will charge a one-off flat fee. While no one wants to pay this, the cost may not be too prohibitive if you’ve found a much better deal. If you’re thinking of leaving early because you’ve received poor or no service, you might also be able to persuade your provider to waive any exit fees.

Moving house: Most providers are willing to let you take your broadband account with you if you’re moving home, rather than force you to pay a cancellation fee – after all, it’s in their interest to keep you with them. If you are moving, plan ahead and give your provider plenty of notice to make sure the transfer is as smooth as possible.

Try before you buy: There are plenty of horror stories about poor service from broadband providers, and some have wised up to this by offering potential customers broadband with no strings for a trial period. If you don’t like the service from your new provider, you’re free to move.

“As the broadband market evolves many customers want greater transparency in fees and charges, and greater flexibility to choose a service that reflects their changing needs,” said Aamir Baloch, director of telecoms at firsthelpline.com. “As an independent switching service, we want to see more appealing alternatives to 12 and 18-month contracts come to the market – especially as customers continue to switch broadband suppliers over the next year.”

Baloch continued: “Many people have read bad things about broadband providers and may be rightly wary about signing up to a long-term contract. They may work fine for most people, but the public should be made aware that signing up to a long-term contract doesn’t remove your options to change later.”

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