Broadband providers need to bring an end to the "unfair" practice of raising prices mid-contract, TalkTalk says.
Research commissioned by TalkTalk has found that almost nine out of ten (87%) consumers think it’s unfair that providers raise their broadband price mid-contract. Meanwhile, 54% of consumers would support a complete ban on these price hikes.
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The broadband provider is calling for an end to unfair mid-contract price rises.
Tristia Harrison, TalkTalk chief executive, says: “It’s time to end unfair mid-contract price rises. We are challenging all providers to guarantee that the price customers sign up to will be the price they pay."
TalkTalk says customers can feel “cheated” when providers increase prices mid-way through a contract.
“It’s an issue of trust. If customers sign a contract, they expect it to be honoured,” Ms Harrison adds.
TalkTalk also wants all providers to write to customers before their contract expires, warning them about any price rises and offering the option to re-contract at lower prices than standard out-of-contract pricing.
TalkTalk became the first provider to guarantee no mid-contract price rises two years ago.
All major providers except TalkTalk have introduced a mid-contract broadband price increase in the last 18 months.
Ms Harrison says: “Telecoms companies have been ripping-off consumers for far too long. The industry has to change to rebuild trust with consumers.”
Can you cancel your contract penalty free?
Broadband providers frequently raise their prices mid-contract.
BT increased its broadband prices in September for the second time this year by £2.50, while millions of Virgin and Sky customers also saw a hike in prices ealier this year.
The good news is that you can cancel your contract if you are unhappy.
Under regulator Ofcom’s rules, customers taking out new mobile, landline and broadband contracts can cancel without penalty if a provider has not made clear at the point of sale that prices can rise mid-contract.
You have to do this within 30 days of being notified of the change if you want to avoid a termination fee.
However, it can end up being a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire. If you switch broadband provider, there’s a good chance you could be hit with another price rise.
When you are notified of a change in price, contact your provider immediately as you might be able to negotiate a better deal. If not, you can vote with your feet and find a cheaper provider.
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How do other sectors compare?
If your mobile phone provider has increased your monthly plan above the rate of inflation you are also entitled to cancel your policy without penalty and switch.
However, if your network warned you in its terms and conditions that it would be raising prices there is little you can do.
According to energy regulator Ofgem, if your energy supplier hikes rates you have the right to end your contract and switch without penalty.
If your gas or electricity supplier increases its prices you should be notified at least 30 days before the change takes place.
Regarding insurance, premiums are set at the beginning for the duration of the contract.
The price remains the same for the duration of the year as effectively you buy it and either pay for it up front, or are provided with a loan by the insurer to pay for it monthly.