Broadband users overpaying up to £220 a year by not haggling

Most firms don’t reward loyalty with older people overpaying the most, says Which?

Broadband customers who fail to shop around at the end of their initial contract or haggle for a better deal from their supplier are overpaying by up to £220 a year.

Analysis by Which? found BT’s broadband customers were paying the biggest loyalty premium. Only one firm, Utility Warehouse, offered loyal customers the best deals, it said.

Which? asked consumers how much they paid for their broadband, whether they had haggled for a new deal in the past 12 months and what they had saved. It then compared the results to the cheapest deals offered to new customers.

Which? found 72% of the broadband customers it questioned had been with their provider for more than two years and many were overpaying as a result.

Broadband providers advertise cheap introductory deals to entice new customers – usually for the first 18 to 24 months – in the hope they will remain customers but they then subsequently pay the higher levied monthly charge.

The average annual broadband bill paid by loyal BT customers was £540 a year, compared with £372 for customers who haggled or the £320 paid by a new customer.

Which? said Virgin Media had the second-largest loyalty premium. Virgin customers who pushed for a better deal paid an average £384 a year, saving £156.

New TalkTalk customers paid £240, which was £84 less than the £324 paid by loyal customers . Those who haggled at the end of their contract could only save a few pounds a year, paying £318, Which? said.

Only Utility Warehouse offered its best tariffs to loyal customers. A new customer signing up for the firm’s cheapest deal would be paying £25 more a year than an existing one, it found.

Alex Neill, a Which? managing director, said switching providers was the best way to ensure a good value tariff.

“Broadband customers will be appalled that not only could they be paying through the nose simply for being loyal to their provider but that they could, in some cases, also get a much faster internet connection for a fraction of the price that they are currently paying,” he said.

Sign up to the daily Business Today email or follow Guardian Business on Twitter at @BusinessDesk

Alex Tofts, a spokesman for Broadband Genie, said customers aged 55 and older were overpaying the most.

“The majority of users have been with their provider for over five years, 41% have never switched broadband and around half have never tried to negotiate with their broadband provider. The switching process was made easier in 2015, so in most cases the new provider will do most of the legwork when you switch,” he said.

BT said in a statement: “We agree that customers shouldn’t overpay for the service they receive and we encourage customers to contact us to discuss the deals and offers available to ensure they are on a package that suits them.”


Miles Brignall

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
UK's big broadband providers give 'shoddy' service – report
TalkTalk, Sky, Virgin and BT rank worst in annual customer survey by Which?

Rupert Jones

25, Mar, 2019 @12:01 AM

Article image
Half of all UK broadband users get a bad deal, says Which?
Consumer group finds that 53% of households are left unhappy by slow speeds, rising prices or router failures

Patrick Collinson

21, Oct, 2017 @6:01 AM

Article image
Fast broadband speeds not guaranteed by living in city centre, figures show

Research shows slowest area in London includes Barbican, next door to the City of London, while fastest is Charlton in Greenwich

Juliette Garside, telecoms correspondent

27, Mar, 2013 @8:38 PM

Article image
Broadband Britain: how fast is your connection?

Do you have a whizzy 52mbps or a dozy dialup? Help us crowdsource Britain's broadband speeds

Juliette Garside

08, May, 2012 @9:27 AM

Article image
How feasible is Labour's free broadband plan and part-nationalisation of BT?
UK lags behind other countries over full fibre but the election pledge raises many questions

Mark Sweney and Patrick Collinson

15, Nov, 2019 @10:56 AM

Article image
UK’s broadband firms set for £1.7bn windfall with above-inflation price rises
Exclusive: annual bill increases are often several percentage points higher than the January CPI or RPI rate

Mark Sweney

07, Sep, 2022 @8:00 AM

Article image
Virgin Media and O2 owners confirm £31bn mega-merger in UK
Tie-up between parent groups Liberty Global and Telefonica aims to take on BT and Sky

Mark Sweney

07, May, 2020 @8:19 AM

Article image
Ofcom plans to force BT to open up fibre-optic network
BT likely to resist communications watchdog’s move aimed at cutting costs for households and businesses

Juliette Garside

15, May, 2015 @11:54 AM

Article image
Does BT's Openreach deal mean faster broadband or higher prices?
Consumers will hope their service improves when the telecoms group moves its division into a new company

Patrick Collinson

10, Mar, 2017 @1:57 PM

Article image
BT broadband bills could reach £100,000 for rural users
Despite legislation to guarantee nationwide connectivity, black spots could face long waits and huge installation costs

Anna Tims

14, Sep, 2020 @5:00 AM