Switching broadband: Is it worth the effort?
Broadband customers pay over the odds to avoid the 'hassle' of changing provider, but is it really that difficult to switch to a better deal?
Switching provider can save you a packet. At least that's what we're encouraged to believe by the adverts for various comparison websites. In many cases, they’re absolutely right - changing from one provider to another can trim your household bills dramatically.
How much money can you really save though, and is it worth the trouble of switching?
The 'hassle' of switching broadband provider
We've all seen the TV adverts that inform us, quite rightly, you can save a fortune when you do your homework and compare prices online. It's usually a painless process - wait until you're out of contract then tell a new provider you'd like to sign-up. The rest is taken care of by them.
Of course, it's not always that straightforward. From existing providers dragging their heels to possible downtime or hidden costs, it's true there are factors that sometimes complicate things. A recent survey by communications regulator Ofcom found that 15% of customers run into difficulty trying to switch.
As a result of switching being a pain for some, there are people who choose to give up and stay on unsuitable or out-of-date, expensive packages.
Why it pays to switch to the right package
Our research has shown that a bundle can take more than £200 off your annual household bills and up to twice as much if you're paying for a digital TV service as well. It's been estimated that Brits could save more than £2 billion by 'bundling' their services.
Not only do bundles offer the best value for money, but they give you the added convenience of just one monthly bill rather than seperate paperwork for broadband, phone and TV.
How you can make it easy for yourself
Your starting point when switching broadband should always be a comparison service accredited by Ofcom, the UK's communications regulator. Ofcom subjects these sites to rigorous audits to ensure that comparisons are fair and unbiased at all times.
What to think about when choosing a broadband bundle:
Think carefully about how you use the internet and consider your needs as a household. Do you spend hours every day streaming TV online? Unlimited broadband isn't always necessary, but a generous limit will help you avoid paying extra for data add-ons.
Fibre optic 'superfast' broadband is increasingly an option for more households. Virgin Media's cable service delivers the fastest speeds that are widely available - up to 120Mb - but it's horses for courses and if you're a light internet user, speed may not be important.
Don't pay extra for inclusive calls if you're never going to use them. However, if you make overseas calls - maybe you have family abroad - check the cost of phoning internationally. Calls to mobiles can also be steep, so don't overlook them when choosing a bundle.
All packages and providers offer slightly different combinations of channels. Make sure you do your research and factor in the cost of adding those crucial sports or movie channels, depending on your priorities.
Look at all the options available and carefully compare, but avoid skimping if paying less means you will not be getting the best value for your money. Bear in mind that providers and packages can vary depending on where you live.
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Compare broadband deals at Broadband Choices