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ISP BT Charges UK Customers for Keeping Router and TV Box

Wednesday, Jan 29th, 2020 (1:18 pm) - Score 14,509
bt smart hub 2 router front

The days of keeping your broadband router at the end of a contract are over, at least for some. BT has joined a few other ISPs in changing their terms so that customers will now be charged a fee if they wish to keep their router – or YouView TV box – at the end of a contract (unless you stay with the provider or return it).

The idea of supplied broadband routers being effectively on lease is nothing new and some other providers, such as Virgin Media, already do it. In BT’s case the operator will charge up to £50 for their broadband routers and up to £115 for their YouView TV set-top-boxes, although you can of course simply return them when switching away and avoid the fee entirely.

For its part BT will refurbish and then redistribute the returned units back to consumers, which is something they’ve been doing for awhile. Otherwise customers that choose not to stay with BT at the end of their contract can expect to be sent a padded envelope in order to help return the unit.

This will help to limit the amount of waste going into landfill, and allows us to refurbish more equipment and move towards a more sustainable model,” said BT (BBC). Sadly BT’s routers are also locked down and highly customised for use on their own network, which makes using them with other ISPs difficult (i.e. less reason to keep them).

Meanwhile some consumers may view the simple hassle of having to send their router back as a way of further discouraging switching to a different provider. Apparently BT changed their terms to support all of this in December 2019, although at the time we were too busy reporting on other events to notice (pre-Christmas is always busy).

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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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33 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Mike says:

    With Sky they send you a paid postage box to send the router+power pack back, doesn’t BT do the same?

    1. Avatar photo Toby says:

      Same with VM.

    2. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      A family member has about three Sky Hub / Q Hubs piled up from past changes and they didn’t ask for any back when she finally left, so clearly experiences do vary.

    3. Avatar photo joe says:

      You’ve been able to send them back to BT for years if you wanted to recycle then. You can download a freepost sticker. Sent a 4 or 5 back for a family member a few years back.

    4. Avatar photo jrhop says:

      Yes, we were asked for our BT YouView box back when I cancelled the BT TV part of our contract after a year, I kept it and they never chased it up, box carries on working for Freeview, recording and catch up players. I think this is a good move for the routers, as they just end up collecting dust and then going to the dump AKA recycling centre.

    5. Avatar photo Mike says:

      With Sky if you fail to send it back (presumably if asked) they charge you for it.

    6. Avatar photo Rizwan Patel says:


      Yes, BT actually does provides a free return bag which actually comes in the original box or just phone them and BT will send the return bag in the post via Royal Mail 2nd Class and also you actually can request a free return collection for the BT Router and also for BT TV Box via Parcelforce and the driver will do home collection and if a person don’t have a printer or even a Thermal Printer a BT Customers can actually request for Parcelforce Driver bring a Parcelforce Return Label and also get Parcelforce Tracking details with a collection receipt given to the BT Customer for the Return Collection or return back your own BT Items as returns via your own local EE Store.


      Parcelforce Returns Link:


      Your Local EE Store:


      Free Returns via Your Local Post Office by sending with Royal Mail:

      Click here to print out the pre-paid label 

    7. Avatar photo Rizwan Patel Patel says:

      Actually is very good idea because i personally have informed BT UK Plc personally and the reason for this information because the BT TV Set Box and BT Routers are actually own by BT UK Plc and a person sells it via eBay UK or via Amazon UK without the BT UK Plc personal Consent it’s actually classed as THEFT because it actually belongs to BT UK Plc because what customers has actually have been doing for very long time that informing BT UK Plc that they haven’t received original equipment getting the replacement from BT UK Plc and actually selling it on eBay UK and Amazon UK and making a very big profits so for this reason BT UK has actually start to Cracked Down regarding to this problems and if you actually get caught by BT UK Plc for selling BT UK Plc products via eBay UK and Amazon UK BT UK Plc will Blacklisted the customer/ person for life and bring Legal Proceedings and Criminal Charges against that person.

    8. Avatar photo Leex says:

      Rizwan Patel Patel

      It’s a router/TV box not a car

    9. Avatar photo Steve says:

      Rizwan Patel Patel

      Use some grammer, that was painful to read!

  2. Avatar photo BTlol says:

    My concern here is whether consumers are educated to wipe the route before it’s sent back – and whether the route has any PII stored in ways that are unknown.

    How long before we see “BT’s refurbished router contains previous customers’ PII”.

    1. Avatar photo FlyMeToTheMoon says:

      The routers are reflashed and nobody tampers with them when they are sent back.

    2. Avatar photo Leex says:

      Pii? Do you mean passwords, the router does not work like that, it’s for accessing the Internet

  3. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

    I assume this is going forward particularly for Smart Hub 2 and Complete Disks. I doubt they have an accurate record of the hub or situations where a friend has recommended another and the BT one has been removed.

    The ecological benefit is good but I doubt that is the motive.

    1. Avatar photo FlyMeToTheMoon says:

      The motive is purely for ecological/recycling purposes, companies are under pressure to reduce carbon footprint and several million home hubs being discarded or left in cupboards is not adhering to that.

      I work for the area of BT that deals with this and the intentions are honest. With regard to the keeping accurate records, you would be surprised.

    2. Avatar photo Meadmodj says:

      If that is the case why hasn’t BT changed its policy earlier? I have been banging on about the broadband churn and the discarded routers for a long time.

      Hub packaging has included return labelling for existing products for the last few generations and customers have always been able to request returns. Customers have rightly assumed they can do what they like with redundant kit with much making its way onto selling sites. The products have been sold directly by BT Shop and via Amazon with some of the TV boxes being sold in the large retailers.

      Without clarification and very good records you could actually charge a customer for a equipment they actually own.

      A way forward would be to indicate on their account any equipment owned by BT and loaned as part of the service. In addition Ofcom should insist on provider change that if new equipment is being sent out that a returns process exists for the other ISPs kit as sending out a separate letter a week later would be too late.

      100% records. I doubt it.

    3. Avatar photo FlyMeToTheMoon says:

      You are literally stating most of what they already do, they record the products that leave the distribution centre and assign it to the customer account it’s being sent to, and have been for over 10 years, that’s every single one bar the odd one that’s missed by the scanner. If people buy them directly from the shop then BT can’t do anything else but offer them the chance to return any unwanted equipment, again they already do this.

      You seem to be vilifying the company for no reason at all, they receive well over 3500 return parcels back into the distribution centre every single day, these are then processed, graded then either refurbished on site or sent for recycling. This includes phones, broadband equipment, TV boxes and anything else sold/rented directly by BT. All refurbished hubs are sent back out into the field as swap boxes, these are used to replace faulty equipment, people with old equipment being upgraded or stock to kept in OR Engineers vans to be used for the same purpose.

      How I know all this, it’s what I do for a living.

  4. Avatar photo Marty says:

    Use your own router I suppose might be the better option in this case

    1. Avatar photo Stephen Wakeman says:

      Whether you use your own router or not, the majority of ADSL and VDSL packages ship with an ISP modem router by default. If that’s the case then you still have to send it back to them even if you’re using your own and never opened the thing.

  5. Avatar photo Spoffle says:

    When I signed up for my BT connection last September, the guy on the phone told me to sell my hub if I didn’t plan on using it. I’d asked him if they can just not send me one since I have my own router already, to avoid paying the £10 delivery fee.

    I wonder if they’ll make them optional now given their change in terms?

  6. Avatar photo Matt says:

    I mean if you are leaving not much point in keeping it. At least it means it can be reused again to some form.

    1. Avatar photo Spoffle says:

      Is that what you mean?

  7. Avatar photo MikeP says:

    Hardly a new thing. BeThere did this. And actually passed the debt to a collection agency if you neither returned the modem/router nor paid the £50.

    You could ask me how I know this, but I couldn’t possibly comment.

  8. Avatar photo malcolm fielding says:

    What if you are a disabled person and unable to go to the post office to send it back, I’ve kept two TV boxes over the years, the first time the lad told me to keep it, the second time they asked for it back but I ignored them and nothing was done, if they want it back they should collect it

    1. Avatar photo James says:

      I work for BT. Advisors have the option of arranging a Parcelforce collection from a customer’s address.

  9. Avatar photo Rahul says:

    This is going to be a bad idea. Basically the implications of this is now that you are returning back your old router, new customers will now be receiving used routers of ex BT customers instead of receiving a brand new BT router!

    That old router is going to have reduced life expectancy and can show its signs of wear and tear.
    This is enough for me to be discouraged not to join BT broadband in future. I want to receive a new router when I sign up and not have to be given a second/third hand router that was already used.

    I believe I suffered the same problem with Plusnet ADSL when I signed up last year and I had to contact Plusnet to send me a new router as the first one was showing its bad symptoms of rebooting by itself. Actually Plusnet support forum offered me a new replacement when I described them the symptomatic issues.

    1. Avatar photo FlyMeToTheMoon says:

      This isn’t the case, the ‘refurbished’ routers are only given out as replacements, new customers get new equipment.

      Also the refurbishing isn’t just a case of repackaging the router, they are fully tested and updated firmware with any cosmetic damage replaced too.

  10. Avatar photo NE555 says:

    The risk to the consumer is that the router may get lost in the post, or not logged properly on arrival – then you’d still be held liable for the £50 or whatever.

    So at very least, you need to take it to the post office and get a certificate of posting. To be safe you’d pay for Recorded Delivery.

  11. Avatar photo Brett Baker says:

    Any problem is when you are forced to take the router. When I upgraded my BT package 2 years ago I had to have a new router which I had to pay the delivery for, even though I didn’t need it. So now if I don’t send it back I will be charged!

  12. Avatar photo Stephen Wakeman says:

    I got an email from PlusNet a few weeks after I cancelled with them. It asked if I would be willing to send their Hub back for recycling and they’d send a prepaid postage bag to me.

    As a sweetener, you can opt in to a competition for people who send their equipment back. I sent it. It’s a good idea. It was doing nothing and would only have ended up at the dump otherwise.

  13. Avatar photo Ycea says:

    Hello. I would like to know if this is an adopted law or the terms of a particular site. I just bought a TV box on SwitchOnShop and I don’t know if I have to pay for it

  14. Avatar photo Mel says:

    I hope they have the sense to offer the option of not receiving a router at-all, I for one would consider having to store their router for a year, 18, or 24 months, or whatever and return it at the end of contract in good condition a hassle I wouldn’t want, I’d rather opt out of having it in the first place.

    The last two times I’ve been with BT, they sent me a pre-paid plastic bag after I left requesting that I return the routers and a youview box. I kept them since at the time the contract said they became your property on receiving them and my only reasons for taking the BT TV package was to get the “free” youview box plus and a larger cashback, I didn’t watch their TV channels.

    Still using the free BT hub 5A flashed with openwrt as my main router, and was using the smarthub 6A as a wifi access point until I got a plusnet hub one 🙂

  15. Avatar photo Barry Buckley says:

    Flymetothemoon can you ring me 07583122427

    I would like to help the recycling process

Comments are closed

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