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The Worst UK ISPs for Post Contract Price Hikes on Entry-Level Deals

Saturday, June 15th, 2019 (7:08 am) - Score 5,256
high uk prices and costs

Which? has conducted a new “loyalty penalty” study of entry-level “fibre broadband” and phone bundles across 12 of the biggest broadband ISPs in the UK market. This reveals that customers of Virgin Media, TalkTalk and the Post Office are hit by the biggest price hikes (up to 60%) after their initial contract ends.

The new survey relates to the very common practice of discounting, which exists across nearly all competitive service sectors and is by no means unique to broadband (e.g. Which? does the same by selling a one month trial of their own magazine for £1 and this automatically rises to £9.75 a month thereafter, unless you notify them to stop).

In practice what this means is that the biggest ISPs tend to offer a reduced price for the first 12 to 24 months of a contract term in order to attract new customers, but after this the price will inevitably rise. Sadly existing customers aren’t usually offered the same prices and not all ISPs are clear enough about how much you’ll pay post-contract.

In their latest study Which? examined entry-level fibre broadband and phone deals (conducted on 12th June 2019) from BT, Virgin Media, Vodafone, EE, SSE, Plusnet, Sky Broadband, TalkTalk, John Lewis, the Utility Warehouse and Zen Internet.

Overall it claims that customers signing up to the M50 Virgin Media tariff are at risk of the “biggest monetary hike” at the end of their initial 12-month contract (i.e. an extra £16 a month or £192 over a year if they don’t renegotiate). By comparison Zen Internet and Utility Warehouse didn’t apply any post-contract price hikes, although in fairness their normal prices are often similar to the post-contract prices of the others (Which? didn’t consider this).

Provider (36Mb -59Mb) Fibre Package Length of contract Percentage increase at the end of contract period (month) Pounds increase at the end of contract period (month) Pounds increase at the end of contract period (year)
Virgin Media -M 50 12 months 57% £16.00 £192
TalkTalk -Fast Fibre Broadband 24 months 60% £13.55 £162
Post Office – Unlimited Fibre Broadband 12 months 54% £13.00 £156
John Lewis Broadband -Fibre 12 months 38% £10.50 £126
SSE -Unlimited Fibre 18 months 43% £10.00 £120
Plusnet -Unlimited Fibre 18 months 40% £9.99 £119.8
EE -Fibre 18 months 32% £9.00 £108
Sky-Superfast 18 months 25% £7.50 £90
BT-Superfast Fibre Essential 18 months 19% £6.00 £72
Vodafone-Superfast 1 18 months 12% £3.00 £36
Utility Warehouse-Ultra Fibre Broadband 18 months 0 £0.00 0
Zen Internet- Unlimited Fibre 12 months 0 £0.00 0

In fairness such price offers shouldn’t really be a concern (conversely you could describe the above as showing some of the best discounts), provided the ISPs make their post-contract prices completely clear; ideally right alongside the discounts (some ISPs are better at doing this than others). Equally it’s important to highlight that not all ISPs adopt the same model and many smaller providers, which may offer advanced features (static IP etc.) and better quality, simply charge a set monthly fee that rarely ever changes.

Likewise TalkTalk offers an alternative approach by enabling existing customers to re-contract on to a lower price point than their standard post-contract rate, which is something that Which? might not have been able to reflect if they were only looking at the base post-contract prices.

Otherwise a bit of haggling could save you a fair bit of money (see our Retentions Tips article), although only about 10% of consumers seem to ever do this. Of course if you’re happy with the service then negotiation should be your first port of call before switching.

Ofcom has already moved to resolve such concerns by developing a new system for end-of-contract notifications, although this won’t be implemented until 15th February 2020 (here). The regulator has also started a review of broadband pricing, which is due to be published during autumn 2019 and this could include new measures to help protect the most vulnerable of consumers (e.g. pensioners) who rarely switch.

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Mark Jackson
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 Twitter, , Facebook and Linkedin.
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15 Responses
  1. Avatar dave

    Sky have just changed their contracts about a month ago though so there are 17 months worth of customers who will get a 52% increase in their bills when their contracts end.

    The Sky figure gven is based on the new Superfast product.

    • Avatar Mike

      Just switch between Sky and NowTV, both use same router and you can keep new customer bonuses.

  2. Avatar Gary

    I phoned taltalk when my contract ended (super fast fibre) haggled and got another 18 months for the same price,they were very polite and it was very easy.

  3. Avatar SuperFast Dream

    Crikey, I’m glad I don’t use the Internet…

  4. Avatar SimonM

    So if an ISP offered 24 months for £1 per month, and at the end of that charged their reasonable standard monthly charge of, for example £17.99, they would be top of the “bad” list in such a Which? survey.

    And that would be despite being the cheapest potentially overall compare with all of the rest. I’m beyond bored of these headline grabbing things Which? keep pumping out (not complaining about ISP Review, but instead Which?) sure they’ve done some good things for consumers in the past, but honestly can’t think of anything recently. I think their surveys are often misleading and ultimately they appear to be “praying” on people who don’t know better to sign up to their paid service/subscription.

  5. Avatar TheFacts

    Surely ‘The best for low price initial contract’?

  6. Avatar Paul

    I am with Virgin Media. I have vivid 200 and talk more phone contract. My contract came to an end £65 per month I was paying.
    Also I had a lot of issues with my broadband etc.
    I had a guy call me from virgin asking how everything was, I said I was not impressed with the quality of my broadband etc, I have had these faults.
    I mentioned to him I was thinking of cancelling and then joining again to get the newbie benifits.
    He offered me the same package for £55 per month. Result.
    I have been with them for 9 years and most of the time it is hassle free.
    The only reason we have a phone is my partners parents and family live in France so she needs to talk to them.

  7. Avatar Michael V

    Yeah! I was paying £24 for sky DSL broadband. They wanted £32 after 12 months. Sky won’t even try to keep us. One of the reasons I chose Vodafone home fibre was the £22 & no stupid price hike after 18 months.

  8. Avatar gerarda

    Once again Which? demonstrate they either don’t understand numbers or are simply seeking sensational PR

    Awful organisation.

    • Avatar Gadget

      in the “good-old-days” the Which testing in their labs was concerned with things like time to boil a kettle, or washing machine spin speed – unfortunately when more and more things became service oriented the micrometer and “AVO” no longer applied and they seemed to lose their way some might say superceded by the likes of Trustpilot et al.

    • Avatar alan

      I suggested to them months ago, why not publish/download single reports for a nominal fee so that members of the public are not locked into their contract
      ie Washing Machine report for lets say £2
      Acknowledged it was a good concept, but obviously nothing ever came of it.

  9. Avatar Michaal

    Virgin media are the worst scum to earth renew my contract 70 meg with line rental paying £22 a month after 3 months £27,£29,£39 wtf no calls made on landline.

  10. Avatar Alan

    I have been with PlusNet for 10 years+.
    Always ring the Retention Group at the end of my contract (18 months) and have never been given an increase.
    When my Copper contract ended last Sept, I was offered FTTC at a lower price
    My speed increased from 7Mbs to 38Mbs and paying less.
    With reduction on by bill for introducing new (family) members to PN, I pay less than £20/month

  11. Avatar Web Dude

    Mark – are you sure Which? charges 9.75a month, not per quarter?

    I was with them from late 1980s for about 20 years, paying 4.50 or 4.75 a quarter and they overlooked my account paying any increased charges until one day they spotted their mistake and wanted to bump it up… significantly.

    I cancelled, partly because I wasn’t willing to pay the higher fee, and because it seemed like their special reports on white goods etc came round every 2-3 years, and the final determinant was that, despite my having no interest in cars, and despite them doing Motoring Which? as a separate magazine, they always seemed to have some car reviews in the main, ‘all users’ magazine, which irritated me.

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