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Broadband customers trying to beat price increases by switching providers are trapped in high exit fees

Broadband customers trying to beat price hikes by switching providers are trapped in high exit fees, consumer group says

  • Major internet providers are expected to increase bills by 14 percent or more in April
  • But those looking to move to another supplier could be hit with a £200 exit fee
  • Many suppliers raise prices in line with inflation every April

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Broadband customers hoping to beat looming price hikes are being ‘trapped’ by providers penalizing them with fines if they try to switch, experts say.

Major internet providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, EE and Virgin Media are expected to increase their bills by as much as 14 per cent or more in April, representing a whopping £66 increase in annual bills.

However, consumer champions Which? say those looking to move to another supplier could be hit with exit costs of £200 or more while under contract.

It calls on the companies to let customers leave without penalty if prices are raised midway through the contract.

Broadband customers hoping to beat upcoming price hikes are being lured into a trap by providers penalizing them with fines if they try to switch, experts say. [File image]

Broadband customers hoping to beat the upcoming price hikes are being ‘trapped’ by providers punishing them with fines if they try to switch, experts say. [File image]

Many suppliers raise prices every April in line with the rate of inflation plus an additional 3 percent to 3.9 percent. That? calculates that the average EE customer would see the largest potential annual increase of £66.89. This is followed by BT customers who can pay an additional £65.59 per year.

Rules set by the regulator Ofcom give customers the right to terminate their contract without penalty if they are faced with unexpected price increases.

But it doesn’t apply in this case, as companies include fine print stating that they can impose interim price increases linked to the rate of inflation.

That? found that the highest early exit fee would be £219.04 for BT customers. This was followed by Shell Energy Broadband, EE and Plusnet customers, who would pay £160.20, £150.49 and £144.75 respectively.

Major internet providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, EE and Virgin Media are expected to increase bills by as much as 14 percent or more in April. [File image]

Major internet providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, EE and Virgin Media are expected to increase bills by as much as 14 percent or more in April. [File image]

Major internet providers such as BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone, EE and Virgin Media are expected to increase bills by as much as 14 percent or more in April. [File image]

That? Policy and advocacy director Rocio Concha said: “It is completely unfair that people get stuck in this situation. Telecom providers need to do their bit and do their part to help their customers through the cost of living crisis.”

A spokesman for BT – speaking for BT, EE and Plusnet – said the average price increase for customers will be around £1 a week, adding: ‘We are balancing our own rising costs due to high inflation and making essential investments in digital infrastructure for the UK.’

Sky stressed that it has not made any announcement about this year’s price increase. A spokesperson said: ‘Sky’s price increases are not tied to inflation. We have no plans to change our approach in the future.

“If Sky implements a broadband price increase, customers can cancel their broadband contract without penalty.”

TalkTalk called on Ofcom to help suppliers with lower increases.

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