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Survey Reveals the Extra Cost of Being Loyal to Broadband and Mobile Providers

Tuesday, May 21st, 2024 (12:02 am) - Score 1,200
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A new Opinium survey of 2,004 UK adults, which was commissioned by Uswitch.com and conducted between 16th April 2024 to 22nd April 2024, has claimed that broadband ISP customers who haven’t switched for 7-8 years are the worst off, paying on average £22.10 extra a month. The situation is almost as bad for mobile users’ too.

Most of the major broadband and mobile providers tend to entice new customers with big first-term discounts, which promptly evaporate at the end of that term as prices return to their standard level (in some cases, this can double your monthly payments). On top of that, it’s also fairly common for such providers to also introduce mid-contract price hikes that can hit both new and existing customers alike.

In January 2024, Uswitch calculated prices for broadband customers would rise by £27.19 per year on average, and mobile customers would see an average increase of £24.23 per year. This was based on the majority of broadband and mobile providers calculating their annual price rises based on December 2023’s 4% inflation rate plus an additional 3.9%.

The other problem with being loyal is that you can end up being stuck on a legacy contract / package that could ultimately cost a lot more over the longer term, unless you proactively elect to upgrade, change or re-negotiate your existing package (Retentions – Tips for Cutting Your Broadband Bill). The new survey helps to underline the impact of this.

The Cost of Loyalty

The survey found that customers have seen huge variations in pounds-and-pence price rises, depending on their original package and how long they’ve stayed with their provider – with the impact of percentage increases compounding every year.

For example, broadband customers who haven’t switched for 7-8 years are the worst off, paying on average £22.10 extra a month (45% more than the national average increase of £15.20). By comparison, mobile customers who haven’t switched for 8-9 years have been hit by an average £13.20 monthly bill rise (67% more than the national average of £7.90).

On the flip side, those who switched their mobile provider less than one year ago were the best off, with their increases averaging out at £6.70, or 15% lower than the national average of £7.90. Similarly, those who switched their broadband provider less than one year ago saw their price increase average out at £11.75 – 23% lower than the national average of £15.20.

Average amount broadband bills have increased by since March 2024

Length of time spent with same provider Average monthly increase in 2024
Less than one year £11.75
1-2 years £13.40
2-3 years £15.80
3-4 years £15.90
4-5 years £12.80
5-6 years £13.60
6-7 years £15.60
7-8 years £22.10
8-9 years £21.90

Average amount mobile bills have increased by since March 2024

Length of time spent with same provider Average monthly increase in 2024
Less than one year £6.70
1-2 years £7.70
2-3 years £8.50
3-4 years £8.40
4-5 years £7.90
5-6 years £7.00
6-7 years £11.70
7-8 years £12.80
8-9 years £13.20

As if to make matters worse, some 23% of respondents were unsure about how much their bills have gone up, while 44% still don’t know when their contract ends (this is important if you’re looking to leave penalty-free). The most common reason for this is because they rely on reminders from providers to pay bills or renew contracts (28%), although 18% confess they aren’t good at keeping track of dates.

Clearly, the regulator’s End-of-Contract Notifications (ECN) system, which requires all telecoms providers to issue such notifications to existing subscribers at the end of their term (sent by text, email or letter), may not be working for everybody. The ECN system was intended to help tackle the so-called “loyalty penalty” by keeping customers informed about the best deals and thus encouraging switching.

In addition, Ofcom recently moved to BAN broadband ISPs and mobile network operators from doing mid-contract price hikes that are linked to confusing inflation and percentage-based changes (here), although this won’t be enforced until around the end of this year. On top of that, this change is more about improving the transparency of pricing – it doesn’t completely ban mid-contract hikes.

In theory, the regulator’s new One Touch Switch (OTS) system, which aims to make it both quicker and easier for consumers to switch broadband providers on different networks, could help to make migrating between ISPs a lot easier. But after several long delays, that isn’t due to be implemented until 12th September 2024 (here) – assuming it meets that date.

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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 X (Twitter), Mastodon, Facebook and .
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Comments
9 Responses
  1. Avatar photo Kekkle says:

    On the contrary I’ve been with Three for ~15 years and pay £10/month for unlimited data/text/calls. It’s always been around this price, every time the fixed term comes up I simply advise that I’ll switch unless they can keep the price the same and every time that has worked.

    1. Mark-Jackson Mark Jackson says:

      I think part of the point is that a lot of consumers don’t do that, and not every broadband / mobile operator is as receptive to such approaches.

  2. Avatar photo anonymous says:

    Judging by the VM forums, a number of ‘out of contract’ customers who publish their package prices are eye watering expensive! This is where they were on a package and yearly price increases have been applied without any checks to see if customer is paying over the out of contract pricing.

    Ofcom should introduce a rule where yearly price increases cannot be more than ‘out of contract’ list price.

    1. Avatar photo Anonymous says:

      It isn’t just VM, it’ll be BT, Sky and all the others too! I once heard someone was paying about 130/mo for Sky monthly yet the service they receive isn’t worth 130 a month

  3. Avatar photo Billy Shears says:

    Who are these 2,004 people? Have you ever been asked your opinion? I looked at the Opinium website and… it’s modern gobbledygook.

  4. Avatar photo insertfloppydiskhere says:

    I’ve been with O2 for about a year and the former Virgin Mobile for about 4 and a half years before that and I’m better off than most people from not switching plans. Virgin kept actually pestering me by phoning up to switch plans but I’m glad we resisted.

    Not always a bad idea not to switch in some cases, quite happy with unlimited data for £7.37 (originally 2GB for £5 on VM) on the O2 network even if it’s slow.

  5. Avatar photo Steve says:

    It pays to look at the terms of contract before switching also. I’m with Three and get occasional prompts from money saving apps saying I’m out of contract and could be overpaying, yet the contract I’m on has a fixed 3.5% increase every year. All the other similar contracts renewed after October 2022 have a similar increase but also plus inflation so I might save money for a year but then future price rises would mean my old legacy contract offers best long term value for money.

  6. Avatar photo GreenLantern22 says:

    Correlation does not imply causation! All this study says it’s that if you don’t fight for good price you are going to get ripped off. This is well known among most consumers those that don’t either do it because they are unaware, unable to do so or simple lazy. Correlating that to how long they have been with a provider is a mistake. Plenty of examples where people don’t change and get a good value deal.

  7. Avatar photo Clearmind60 says:

    VM -O2
    My bill went up from about £18 to almost £24
    Fathers bill went up from about £8 to £25!!

    We are both out of contract and are going to move elsewhere.

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