Could switching your broadband provider save you money?
For many of us, having an internet broadband connection at home is an essential utility that we would feel lost without. We recently looked at how important it is to improve digital skills in older people, so that they can access services and communicate with family and friends. It can help with staying independent in later life too.
When it comes to getting broadband installed, many of us use package deals, tied in with television services and a phone package. It’s certainly straightforward getting it all from one provider and it’s easy to stick with the same package year after year.
However, as with all utilities, switching providers or renegotiating with your current provider could save you money as better deals become available. This is particularly true for those who sign up for a special offer that lasts, typically, for 12 to 18 months, before reverting to a standard price that is often significantly higher. That is the point at which it is wise to chat to your provider and see if you can move onto a new deal, or to shop around and see if another provider, or mix of providers could offer you more or save you money.
Research recently carried out by Broadband Genie, a broadband comparison website, looked specifically at the broadband-switching habits of the over-55s. The data found that 41% of people in this age group have never switched provider and 49% have not tried to renegotiate their contract. Given that the vast majority of those surveyed had been with their provider for more than two years, there are likely to be a significant number of users on contracts where deals have expired and higher rates are being paid.
Many of those surveyed had, at some point, switched broadband provider, renegotiated their contract and were confident in doing so again, which is good news. However, over a third of respondents had never checked if they could be spending less on broadband, and 39% were unware of when their broadband was up for renewal. When asked why they hadn’t switched broadband provider, apart from those who were happy with the current service (49%), reasons included a fear of losing service, a worry that the switching process was confusing, uncertainty about paying a cancellation fee or concern about being ripped off. With 38% of people feeling that they are paying too much for their broadband, there certainly needs to be more help in increasing the confidence of the over-55s market in making sure they are not wasting money.
The survey also showed that the lack of confidence in switching broadband increased with age. 12% of those aged 55-60 said that they are not confident in their ability to switch their broadband package, but that increases to 20% for those aged over 76.
Rob Hilborn, Head of Strategy at Broadband Genie, said: “There’s clearly more that needs to be done to get this age group taking action on their broadband bill. Switching providers and renegotiating contracts are crucial steps when it comes to getting a competitive, low-cost deal. Older people need to feel confident and informed enough to make good decisions regarding their broadband contract. More support needs to be available to prevent vulnerable groups overpaying. Simply allowing these users to fall onto a more expensive deal and fend for themselves isn’t good enough.”
If you want to look at your current broadband service and whether it is worth switching, the first thing to do is look at what you are currently paying. Find your latest bill and see what you are spending and what you get for your money in terms of television package, free calls on your landline and speed of the broadband being delivered. A call to your current provider will inform you of whether they can offer a better deal than what you are currently on, especially if you suggest that you might change providers. It is also worth using a broadband comparison site to see if there are better deals with other providers – the switching process should be dealt with by the new provider making the exchange simple for you. If you are unsure, then ask someone to help with the process. This could be a family member or trusted friend, or even your paid carer if you have one to help with administrative tasks. Who knows, you could end up saving money every month, which could be put towards other things.