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People Aged 55+ Found Less Likely to Switch Broadband ISP

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2020 (10:28 am) - Score 1,120

A new Censuswide survey of 2,023 UK people aged 16+, which was commissioned by ISP Zen Internet, has found that 83% of those aged 55+ haven’t switched broadband provider within the last year (vs 55% for those aged 16-24), if ever at all, and could thus be left exposed to paying more via end-of-contract broadband price hikes.

At present it’s a fairly normal practice for the largest providers – in any aggressively competitive market or sector like this – to entice new customers by offering big price discounts on your first minimum contract term (lasting up to 12-24 months), although the price you pay often jumps significantly once outside of that period (post-contract).

Suffice to say that those who switch ISP on a more regular basis, such as to avoid the aforementioned price increases, are often able to save more money than those who don’t (the models that ISPs use to set prices are partly based on a strong proportion of their customers remaining loyal).

Zen claims that this is still happening despite the introduction of Ofcom’s new end-of-contract notification system for broadband users, which was designed to encourage switching by forcing broadband ISPs to keep their customers better informed about the status of their contract, as well as how much they’re paying and best deals etc.

Summary of Survey Findings

– Fears over receiving a worse service elsewhere (36%) and downtime (31%) concern respondents most about switching broadband supplier.

– Respondents are more likely to switch energy providers than change their broadband ISP, with 38% changing energy company in the last year, compared to 32% seeking another internet provider.

– Receiving a worse service than their current broadband provider (43%) is a top concern for over 55s, whereas younger respondents (16-24) don’t want to get caught out with switching costs (35%).

– But there is also a great deal of customer apathy out there, even for those who have switched before, with 35% revealing they had previously seen the benefits of an alternative ISP but did not switch (this increases to 52% for those aged under 24).

– Only 10% found the process of switching harder than they imagined, dropping to just 7% for over 55 respondents who have switched ISP before. In fact, nearly half (46%) of those polled found it easier than expected.

– The biggest trigger points for switching were that respondents saw a better deal (32%), were needing to save money (28%) or were moving house (21%). While a guarantee of no price hikes and being offered the same deals as new customers (both 41%) are the top reasons consumers would stay with an ISP.

– Meanwhile 89% of those who have switched broadband ISP said they benefited from making the switch. Some of the multiple benefits cited include a cheaper deal/cost saving (48%), better reliability (32%), more value for money (28%) and ease of switching (18%).

The news that older users are less likely to switch isn’t a particular surprise (plenty of other surveys have shown the same) and Zen, which has an obvious vested interest here, are quick to highlight their own “lifetime price guarantee” as a counter balance to the discounting culture at bigger ISPs.

Richard Tang, Zen’s Founder and Chairman, said:

“For years the broadband industry has taken advantage of consumer inaction and fears of switching by hiking up prices at the end of contracts of contracts and sometimes even during – the so-called ‘loyalty tax’. While recent Ofcom legislation has made it easier for everyone to be more aware when their contract is ending, most providers will still bump up the cost if consumers don’t act.

Zen is the UK’s only provider that offers a lifetime price guarantee, so the price our customers pay for their broadband services will never go up, in or out of contract while they remain on the same service. Even in today’s climate, consumers should not be afraid to search for the best provider – one that will deliver a great and reliable service and avoid the price increases that can add up over time.”

In fairness Ofcom’s new end-of-contract notification system was only launched in February 2020 and ended up being almost immediately impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. As such it may be a bit too early to criticise the new system before it has even been given a chance to run properly or indeed for a full year.

Equally we should remember that if you’re happy with your current ISP (price isn’t the only consideration), which can make switching seem less attractive, then another way to save money at the end of your contract is to try haggling (this may only work effectively with bigger ISPs that adopt the discounting culture) – see our Retentions Tips article for some help on that.

On top of that there are plenty of smaller providers that adopt a fairly flat level of pricing, which means that their prices tend not to change much between one year and the next (indeed often their prices will only go down over time). Admittedly you might pay a bit more for these than the big boys, but at least you won’t always be having to check through bank statements to see if the price has risen and service quality tends to be better.

Leave a Comment
9 Responses
  1. Avatar Jake4

    Wait, you can take out a broadband subscription before you’re 18?

  2. Avatar Brian

    18-24 month contracts reduces number that will have switched in the last year, also doesn’t take into account renegotiating with the current ISP

    • You have to factor that everybody will be at different stages of those contracts, which is as true this year as it was last year. As such you can still create a baseline of movement by looking over the past year.

  3. Avatar Chris Sayers

    I think the reason is the fear of the change over process, and the mirade of ISP’S out there, we have all heard of the horror stories of failed change overs left without service.

  4. Avatar Mark

    Only Talk Talk and sky have installed equipment at my exchange so not much choice, found the others are slower.

  5. Avatar Verita

    Elderly parent of a friend won’t switch any of her utility bills, despite now paying through the nose for them and moaning about the excessive price hikes. We’ve done everything including spreadsheeting the £500 a year savings for her, but she’s stuck with brand loyalty to firms with ‘British’ in the title. She’s convinced only British Gas can repair her boiler, for instance.

    Her BT Broadband bill/landline bill is enormous but she won’t switch in case she ‘loses her landline number’, despite having a mobile.

    • Avatar Captain Cretin

      I have friends on the tail end of a miles long 0.4Mbps BT line who refuse to switch to a mobile 4G connection, even though for their usage it would be massively faster and cheaper.
      Stood in their lounge, I ran speedtests on my phone using SIMs from several mobile operators and got between 10 and 50Mbps.

      Nope, still wont swap.

      Mind you, 0.4Mbps feels fast to them; until BT replaced all the line between them and the nearest cabinet, they were getting below 200Mbps.

  6. Avatar Captain Cretin

    I think 12 months is a stupidly short time period to base this type of survey on; perhaps if it were mobile only, it might be slightly more relevant, but for land line ISPs, if you are changing every year, then you are making bad choices.

    Sure, people like TalkTalk offer cheap rolling deals, but the service is nearly always (Rhymes with bite).

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