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UPDATE TalkTalk Issues Warning Over Rolling BT Contracts
By: MarkJ - 03 March, 2009 (1:26 PM)

UK ISP TalkTalk (The Carphone Warehouse) has warned that thousands of BT's customers could find themselves being unwittingly and unfairly automatically tied into another full term contract.

BT's rolling contracts mean that, unless a customer notifies the operator of an intent to leave, they will automatically be signed up to a new contract and forced to pay up to 180 if they then want to leave:

We believe that rolling contracts are a sharp practice at any time, but particularly so in the current credit crunch and with given the riches available in the market, said Andrew Heaney from TalkTalk. We would like to see these unfair rolling contracts stamped out and have already called upon Ofcom to take a firm line in this area.

Andrew Heaney continued: BT cynically places the onus on its customers to cancel their contracts simply because it knows that many of them will simply forget.

Typically most ISPs operate off a different policy, where once at the end of a contract the customer essentially becomes a free agent. This makes it easier to change providers as you don't have to worry about paying for any remaining months of service when you want to leave:

Jo Stockwell, 39, from south-west London, is a BT customer who's unhappy with the idea of rolling contracts: "I've been a BT customer since 2006 but my contract is coming to an end, so for the last 3 months I've been hassled by calls from them suggesting I move onto a rolling contract - apparently because I can save 3!

I really wouldn't feel comfortable doing this as I don't like the idea of being tied in, and I think it makes it easier for companies to hike up their charges if they know you've got to stick with them. I'm seriously considering moving ISP and I'm doing some research into other alternatives at the moment.

We've never liked the idea of contracts like this because it's hard for an ordinary consumer to tell the difference, which is usually hidden away deep within the services Terms and Conditions.

UPDATE - 4th March 2009:

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