The telecoms loyalty penalty
You might hope that being a loyal customer to a company would result in that company being loyal to you and treating you well. However, unfortunately, loyalty is penalised in many consumer sectors, including insurance, energy and telecoms. In so many cases, a new subscriber will get a better deal than a loyal customer who has been with the company for years.
Why do they do this? Well, it’s easy to entice a new customer with low-priced offers. Whereas companies can take advantage of the fact that many existing customers will stay, even if the pricing isn’t great, because people think it’s too much hassle to change.
Ofcom has recently announced changes which will hopefully help improve the situation in the telecoms sector. The regulator says that 40% of all households are overpaying for their broadband and the extra customers are paying could be at least £100 more a year.
Ringing the changes
From 15 February 2020 all broadband providers must tell customers when their contract comes to an end and inform them about the best deals being offered to new clients. Does this go far enough to help the 8 and 1/2 million households affected get a better broadband deal and save money?
Issues with changing packages
With many providers you can upgrade online but to downgrade you have to ring the company’s customer service line. This means the inevitable long waits and then hearing them trying to convince you to stay or to upgrade. In its research Which? found that One in two of us abandon customer service calls. 69% of people who gave up on a call said they were on hold for too long.
I recently downgraded my package with Virgin Media. They refused to do it in writing. I refused to discuss it over the phone and waste my time. I won. I emailed the CEO’s office and told them to give me the options in writing or I would go to the Ombudsman. I got my package downgraded. You can get CEO details from
Ofcom’s Director of Consumer Policy, Selina Chadha, told the BBC Moneybox programme that the regulator wants companies to treat their customers fairly. “It should be as easy to sign up to something and that would go for upgrading and downgrading as well I think that as a principle that’s absolutely right”.
Issues with switching providers
In December 2019 Ofcom launched a Consultation titled: Fair treatment and easier switching for broadband and mobile customers – Proposals to implement the new European Electronic Communications Code. However, given that the consultation document is 193 pages long (!), one does wonder how many consumers will actually respond!
A big issue for many consumers wanting to switch is not wanting to lose their email address. Companies must already allow customers to keep their phone number when switching and in 2020 I think we can all agree that one’s email address is as crucial as one’s number, possibly more so when it’s used as identification on so many websites! Chadha said Ofcom would do something about it if it was shown to be a barrier to switching. Seriously? Isn’t it obvious?!
10 Top Tips for getting the best Telecoms deals
- Have a good look at, and write down, what you are using with your current contract. What do you need? Check the download speeds. Check what you are and are not using. Do you use the add ons like Spotify, etc.
- Use comparison websites such as Moneysupermarket.com, Compare the market etc. as well as going to telecoms providers’ sites direct. Get an idea of the range of packages available and what you are prepared to pay before you make any decisions or start to haggle with your current provider.
- Use all the information you have gleaned from comparison and cashback sites when speaking to someone. Remember, if you’re ordering by telephone or on the internet you have 14 days to cancel should a better deal come along in the meantime.
- Haggle on the length of the deal you get offered as well as the price.
- Use cashback sites, such as Top Cashback and Quidco. Check them all as they have different offers.
- Consider any add ons that would give extra value if thrown in to any bundle but aren’t essential.
- If you can’t bear to wait on the phone, try Live Chat.
- Try contacting the CEO’s office. You can find the email address for any telecoms CEO on the website ceoemail.com Point out that you are a long standing loyal customer and that you don’t want to leave but will be forced to do so if it is not possible to receive a better offer. The CEO may not respond personally but someone from the Executive team will do.
- Check to see if you have any deals available with credit cards or discount cards you may have, such as a student card which may give you some money off a package.
- Be polite and assertive. If you are rude then no-one is going to want to offer you anything. Be assertive and persistent, politely arguing for a deal you want.
So let’s hope that Ofcom bring in more rules and soon. In the meantime to do fight for that better deal!
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