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UK customers may find themselves facing higher broadband bills very soon
Customers at some of the UK’s biggest broadband providers are being hit with huge bills following the end of their special offers, new research has claimed.
A report from consumer watchdog charity Citizens Advice has found many people signing up to cheap broadband deals are being stung by major price hikes after their initial offers run out.
Some customers face paying out hundreds of pounds more following the end of their deal – with companies such as BT and Sky the worst offenders.
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Citizens Advice looked at the five biggest broadband providers in the UK, and found that many customers don’t realise their costs may rise following the expiry of introductory offers.
Overall, customers on the cheapest basic broadband contracts are hit with an average price rise of £113 a year once their deal ends.
BT 12 month customers faced the biggest hike, with a 67 per cent increase in their bills after their initial deal expired – which could ultimately cost them £198 extra a year.
Sky broadband customers saw a 53 per cent increase, with bills rising from £18.99 to £28.99 a month – meaning £120 extra a year.
EE and TalkTalk customers also suffered from increases, but there was better news for Virgin Media users, whose contract costs do not rise at all after the first 12 months.
Many customers saw their bills rise after an initial deal expired
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ISPA, the UK trade assocation for ISPs, responded on behalf of BT and other providers, telling Express.co.uk that, "Official statistics show the UK benefits from some of the most competitive broadband speeds and pricing in Europe."
"Price competition as well as informed consumers are important building blocks of a competitive market and our members already follow advice from the ASA, the advertising regulator, by clearly stating in their advert if an introductory price applies and for how long."
"We have also been supportive of Ofcom’s efforts to make switching easier for consumers and it is important to note that alongside price, a number of other factors play a role in a consumer’s decision to purchase or switch broadband services, including brand, speed and the availability of bundled services."
The research reveals a worrying apparent lack of knowledge among users in the UK.
Citizens Advice found that over a third (35 per cent) of broadband customers don’t realise that staying on the same contract after their initial deal ends could lead to them paying more.
The charity surveyed 3,000 customers, finding that many stay on the same contract for four years, and many users aged 65 and over staying the same contract for more than 10 years.
Citizens Advice is now urging broadband providers to help customers avoid ‘loyalty penalties’ by providing clearer advice and information concerning costs after the initial fixed deal ends.
The news comes weeks after BT announced price rises for many of its broadband services, with Sky, Virgin Media and TalkTalk also raising costs recently.
“People often choose their broadband deals based on the price that works for them – but our evidence shows that many do not realise the price will rise after the end of the fixed deal,” said Gillian Guy, chief executive of Citizens Advice.
“The government has rightly put energy firms on warning for how they treat loyal customers – the actions of broadband firms warrant similar scrutiny.”
“Extra protections for vulnerable consumers are also a must.”