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Study Calls on Ofcom to Introduce Annual Statements for Broadband ISPs

Wednesday, Oct 16th, 2013 (1:06 am) - Score 336

A new survey conducted by uSwitch.com has concluded that Ofcom should force broadband ISPs to introduce annual statements, which would give consumers a better overview of their spending and include useful details like the end date of their current contract (31% don’t know when their contract ends).

Apparently almost a quarter (24%) of those who didn’t leave when their contract ended saw their bills rise, which is not surprising because big ISPs often deliver special offers that last the entire length of your first contract period or at least for the first few months (i.e. 84% of broadband deals taken by consumers included an introductory offer).

Overall 87% of respondents supported the proposal to introduce annual statements, which could also cut costs by combining savings from annual line rental schemes and broadband payments into one. At present only 25% of respondents save money by pre-paying for phone line rental and 40% didn’t even know that was an option.

The study found that consumers wanted clearer information about the future cost of their service (i.e. what they would pay after the contract period ended), which some ISPs might find difficult to do due to the changing cost of line rental, capacity and other factors.

Marie-Louise Abretti, uSwitch.com, said:

Keeping on top of bills is getting tougher for many consumers – especially those who no longer get paper copies. And, although many people know there are savings to be made by switching broadband or mobile deals, we often don’t get that gentle nudge to remind us.

An annual statement would ensure that everyone gets a paper bill at least once a year – which for many would be the only time they check their account. As well as keeping consumers updated on their usage and bills, it could also serve as a reminder of how much they could save and when they’re free to shop around. That prompt could be just what some people need to get them more engaged and make them check that they’re on the best deal.

What is clear is that, with broadband now the fourth essential, the communications sector must learn from the energy market and introduce annual statements that are fit-for-purpose as soon as possible. Informed customers are likely to feel more confident that they’re getting the best deal and more engaged with the market – which could help them make real savings on their bills.”

The survey makes various claims about how much money consumers could save by using annual statements to help keep on top of their spending, although there may also be some risks. For example, some ISPs might feel the need to raise their prices in order to protect against future hikes from their own suppliers.

Meanwhile many ISPs already provide a lot of the above requested information when you first sign-up and recording the start/end date of your contract usually only requires a pen.

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By Mark Jackson
Mark is a professional technology writer, IT consultant and computer engineer from Dorset (England), he also founded ISPreview in 1999 and enjoys analysing the latest telecoms and broadband developments. Find me on X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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