Thanks to new changes being brought in by Ofcom, customers who are receiving internet speeds that are slower than what they signed up to will be able to cancel their contracts. The communications watchdog is toughening up the industry code of practice so that frustrated families are not forced to undergo months of substandard service.
At the moment households can only exit their contract within the first three months of their agreement, this means that people on long contracts can be stuck with slow speeds for over a year. The only other option that is currently available to these people at the moment is to cancel their plans with high exit fees.
The change in regulations are likely to come into effect in January 2016 at the earliest. Virgin Media are not required to follow the restrictions due to technical reasons but Ofcom reports that the company has agreed to act “according to the spirit of the code and will treat customers fairly”.
This new development comes as the regulator tries to increase the rate of switching in the broadband market. This would increase competition between the big broadband companies and hopefully means that customers would be offered better deals. The “big four” broadband companies are currently Sky, BT, TalkTalk and Virgin Media. Vodafone have also tried to enter this market by launching a range of deals this Wednesday.
This follows a change in the switching process that is designed to make it easier for consumers to change between providers. It used to be the case that a customer would have to ask their current provider for a piece of technical information that they would then pass on to their new supplier. Now under the new rules the provider that a customer wants to switch to can ask the old supplier for this information directly.
The CEO of Ofcom, Sharon White, said:
ìThis will make a real difference for consumers and will encourage more people to take full advantage of competition in the sector.”
ìAccess to a reliable internet connection and mobile phone is essential to the functioning of the economy, to the way people work and live their lives.î
The CEO of Citizens Advice, Gillian Guy, welcomed the changes:
ìHidden charges and unfair penalties are all too common for mobile phone and broadband consumers and customers have been hit by sky-high exit fees despite getting bad service,î she said.
ìWe have found some people can face up to £625 to get out of a broadband contract and £800 to exit a mobile phone deal. It is good to see Ofcom taking a stronger stance against the companies acting unfairly and hopefully this will start to make the market better customers.î
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