In July 2018 the UK's communication watchdog Ofcom announced plans to help consumers to secure the best out of contract deals. Ofcom believes mobile, broadband, landline and TV package providers are not doing enough when it comes to communicating with their customers about the end of their contract and the options that they have when it expires.
Ofcom has said that more than 20 million people have continued with subscriptions beyond the contracted period, with many unaware the contract had expired and that they are free to negotiate a better deal.
When do the end of contract alerts come into force?
The great news for consumers is that Ofcom has confirmed that mobile, broadband, landline and pay TV providers must tell their customers when their contracts are about to end and in addition, they must also inform their customers of their best value deals. The new rules must be in place by 15th February 2020.
Lindsey Fussell, Ofcom's consumer group director said "This will put power in the hands of millions of people who're paying more than necessary when they're no longer tied to a contract"
Research conducted by Ofcom confirmed that around 14% of consumers are unaware of whether or not they are tied to a contract and consumers could save around 20% if they sign up to a new deal, rather than remain on the current contract beyond the contracted minimum period.
What does the new Ofcom ruling mean for mobile, broadband, landline and pay TV providers?
The new rules mean that service providers will have to text, email or send a letter to their customers notifying them that their contracts are coming to an end. They must contact customers 10 - 40 days before their contracts come to an end.
What information must a provider include in the end of contract alert?
Following the new ruling by Ofcom, providers of mobile, broadband, landline and pay TV must contact their customers within 10 - 40 days of their contract expiry date. The alert that they send out should confirm the following:
- the price a consumer has been paying
- the date a consumer's contract can be terminated without a penalty
- how much notice a consumer needs to give to cancel the current deal
- any changes to the price or service that will automatically come into effect once the minimum contract expires
- the best alternative subscriptions on offer, including the prices that the provider would charge a new customer
How you can start saving money on your mobile, broadband, landline and pay TV now
The new Ofcom rules will only come into place from 15th February 2020 and even when they do, is it enough? Citizens Advice has said that the new rules do not go far enough. Citizens Advice believes that providers should do more than send out a notification and that they should be made to disclose how many of their customers are out of contract and how much extra on average they are paying compared to customers that are within their minimum contracts.
I doubt the rules will ever go that far and if they do it will certainly be a long way off. There are however a few ways that you can easily find out if you can save money on your mobile, broadband, landline and pay TV deal right now. We cover each of them below.
How to save money on your mobile contract
While there are countless comparison sites that will search the market for the best mobile phone deals, you'll need to know what you want before you start searching. You'll need to know whether you want to go for a sim only or a fixed contract and you'll need to know how much data and minutes you roughly use.
A better way of searching for a new deal is to use bill monitor. The service will ask you to provide your login details for your current provider (don't worry it is secure, we have tried it ourselves) and they will then analyse your last three bills to understand your average usage. Bill monitor will then search over 3 million mobile tariff's to find you the best deal. When we tried it, we saved over £360 per year. We provide more information in our article halve your mobile bill in just 2 minutes.
How to save money on your broadband and landline
There are countless comparison sites that allow you to compare deals, but the one we liked the most was Broadband choices. The navigation was simple and we liked the way it highlighted not just the cheapest deal, but the ones that offered excellent value (like special offers on superfast broadband). You can also opt to include pay TV and see the best bundle options.
How to save money on your pay TV package
Before you check for the best deal on your pay TV package you should check to see if you are able to create a 'bundle' deal with your broadband/landline provider. Some will offer discounts and offers and so it may be better for you to have your broadband, landline and pay TV deal through the same provider. If you are just looking for the best pay TV deal then you can use Cable.co.uk. It is a simple comparison site that will display the best deals, including any special offers such as free Spotify for 3 months.
End of contract alerts are clearly a good thing, it is just a shame that we have to wait until February 2020 for the new rules to come into force. It is good to see that more is being done to protect consumers and combined with improvements in technology and the popularity of budgeting apps, it has never been a better time to save money. If you are keen to save money and get your finances in order, our article how to manage your finances and what to focus on first may provide some additional help.