Don’t get penalised for being loyal to your telecoms provider

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.

why you should write not phone to complain

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. Haggle on the length of the deal you get offered as well as the price.
  5. Use cashback sites, such as Top Cashback and Quidco. Check them all as they have different offers.
  6. Consider any add ons that would give extra value if thrown in to any bundle but aren’t essential.
  7. If you can’t bear to wait on the phone, try Live Chat.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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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All you need to know about complaining to telecom providers

 

 

 

 


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How will the Coronavirus affect my travel to and from China?

Coronavirus and gaining refunds

An outbreak of a new coronavirus is affecting travel to and from China. Here is some advice on how this may impact on your trip and on your travel insurance.

The coronavirus

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) has advised against all travel to Hubei Province and against all but essential travel to the rest of mainland China (not including Hong Kong and Macao) because of the coronavirus outbreak.

The coronavirus causes severe acute respiratory infection for which there is no specific cure or vaccine and may have originated in a Wuhan seafood market where wild animals are traded illegally.

If you are currently in China

The FCO has advised against all travel to Hubei Province and advises British people there to leave if they are able to do so. However, British Airways has already suspended flights to and from mainland China. Other airlines are still flying but it is expected that they will follow suit. Those in China should look to make plans swiftly.

Britons flying back to the UK are being put in quarantine for 14 days, regardless of whether or not they are showing symptoms.

If you are due to fly to China

Because the FCO has warned against travel, you are likely to invalidate your travel insurance if you still fly and so you should check with your insurer. Whether you are covered by your insurer would depend on the cover you have and the reason for travel. If, for example, you are travelling for a holiday then it is unlikely that this would be considered essential and you should be covered.

An insurer will only cover you if you have booked the trip and obtained insurance before the virus was known about. So, if you bought the trip and left buying the insurance until later you won’t get cover because the virus is now known. It is ALWAYS advisable to take out travel insurance at the same time as booking your trip.

If you are able to make changes to your plans you may also be able to transfer your travel insurance to the new destination.

If you’re booked onto a scheduled BA flight between 26 January and 23 February, you should request a refund. The airline is also offering alternative flights which is a possible option for some travellers.

Although many airlines are offering refunds there is no actual legal obligation for them to do so.

Booking China flight and accommodation separately

If you are covered by travel insurance it may also refund your accommodation costs, if they has already been paid. It also may cover you for out of pocket expenses but this will always depend on the cover that you have.

If you don’t have travel insurance you may struggle to get a refund on the accommodation and the outcome will depend on the insurer’s terms and conditions.

Travelling to an area where there are reported cases of coronavirus

At the point of writing (29 January 2020) the FCO has not advised against travelling to any other places affected by the coronavirus. If you take the decision not to travel then travel insurance will not cover a refund of your ticket costs.

Look out timber frame on a beach "researching, booking and complaining aabout holidays and flights. Tips, ideas and your rights"

 

All you need to know about booking/complaining about holidays/flights/travel links to various posts about flights and holidays

 

 

 

 

Moneybox 29/01/20 discussing callers issues with travel around the area and booked holidays.

Coronavirus - your rights