Switching broadband provider can get you a better service and could save you money. Follow these tips to get the best deal you can...
1. Ask for a better broadband deal
It may seem obvious, but simply asking your current provider for a better deal could be the answer. As the market continues to become more competitive, companies have to work harder to keep their customers.
If you're a loyal customer and your provider is scared of losing you, there could be some good discounts available when you simply have the guts to ask for them. But remember, it's not all about price - you might get better service by switching to a different provider.
Also, if you've had your contract for some time, chances are that you could get the same thing for a lot less just by asking for it. You never know - so be cheeky and ask for the latest deal!
Check what broadband deals and special offers are on the market by comparing packages for your postcode.
2. Know your rights
Ofcom's switching rules work to fairly facilitate the "migration" of customers from one supplier to another. Your current provider will issue you with a Migration Authorisation Code (MAC), which you simply pass on to your new provider, allowing your service to be set-up without a break in your service.
Although MAC codes can't be used to switch between cable and copper wire ADSL providers, or some full local loop unbundled (LLU) providers, all participating ISPs must issue your MAC code within five days of you asking for it.
- Are you free of your contract obligations? If you have signed a contract you have to see it out or else you'll incur a cancellation fee - even if your current provider is signed-up to the Migration Code of Practice.
- Read the details of your warranty - Has your supplier made breached their service agreement? If so, you might be able to terminate your contract with them on these grounds, but make sure you read the small print and get professional advice first.
3. Keep a log
If you've been having trouble with your broadband connection, make sure you keep a record each time you've experienced a problem. Take a screen grab of your error message, or keep a detailed written log.
Keep a diary of calls made to customer services - who you spoke to and how long you had to wait. Remember, calls to customer service centres can range from free to over a £1 a minute, so check first and keep your phone bills as a record of the total call charges.
This kind of information may be crucial evidence if you want to cancel when you're still within your minimum contract period.
4. Ombudsman Services: Communications and Ofcom
If you are having service problems and want to switch provider but are having trouble doing so, you can write an open letter to Ombudsman Services: Communications, the office of the telecommunications ombudsman.
Around 300 telecoms companies are signed-up to Ombudsman Services: Communications, which was set up to investigate complaints made by home phone and broadband customers.
While the service is free for members of the public, it will actually cost your supplier money to be investigated, so you will be taken more seriously when you get Ombudsman Services: Communications involved with your complaint.
If your supplier isn't a member of Ombudsman Services: Communications, you can still write to Ofcom, the independent communications regulator for the UK.
It's a good idea to send a copy to the head of customer services at your supplier too.
5. Keep up the pressure
Being on hold for long periods of time and then getting nowhere can be disheartening, but don't give up. Ring regularly, stay cool and never be abusive to the call centre staff.
Remember, if you have any grievances, they're with the company - not the poor operator you're speaking to - so keep calm and be polite. Staff will often be more willing to help callers who seem relaxed and friendly on the phone.
Make sure you are well organised and have your facts to hand - you could also offer to post factual evidence of your problems if necessary.
6. Make yourself heard
If none of this works, you might want to get in touch with the newspapers. You can also tell us about your problems by email - visit our "contact us" page for details" - and we may be able to get our contacts in the media to help lobby.
But always make sure you have your facts straight before you get the media involved. You don't want to end up in court!
It's far better to keep the issue between you and your provider until you get the resolution you're seeking. Only go to the papers when all else has failed.
The type of broadband you currently have can sometimes limit your choice. If you are currently with Virgin Media (www.VirginMedia.com) or Kingston Communications, then you have a cable connection and will need a BT landline installed if you want to switch to an ADSL connection.
There is currently no migration procedure in place if you want to do a full LLU to LLU swap, which means it can take longer to switch.
8. When is "free" really free?
Before you switch, make sure you have checked out any hidden costs in your chosen package.
If you are considering a cheap or "free broadband" deal, take into account the quality of service you will be getting. Your new contract might also have a download limit, which could mean you end up paying more than your monthly rate for heavy downloading.
Read our article on the hidden costs of broadband
9. Think about service
There's more to broadband than a cheap monthly charge. You might also consider the opening hours and costs of phoning your chosen provider's call centre. Full details are available on the broadbandchoices price comparison calculator.
Also, if you're a technophobe and want to get through to a UK-based call centre when you have a technical problem, make sure you check out where in the world your new supplier's technical support and customer service team is located.
10. Come to us
If you have any questions about switching, simply email or call us. Alternatively, use our broadband comparison calculator to find the best deals in your area.
You can find detailed information on each service by clicking individual deals to learn more about broadband speeds, download allowances and any hidden costs.
Monthly cost: £2.50 1st year cost: £60.00
Monthly cost: £6.50
(for 12 months)1st year cost: £84.95
Monthly cost: £7.50 1st year cost: £90.00
Monthly cost: £7.50
(for 6 months)1st year cost: £138.00
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