Switching landline telephone provider
Switching your landline telephone provider should normally be quite easy. You just need to apply directly to the service you want to switch to, and they’ll take care of the telephone switch for you.
In most cases you will be able to keep your number. The telephone provider you are leaving must allow the number to be transferred, but your new provider doesn’t have to accept the request. If they let you take your number to their service, they will make the arrangements to bring the number over from your old service.
In practice, it’s very unlikely that they would deny you the transfer, but if you can’t keep your number, weigh up the inconvenience of changing numbers versus the money you’re saving – does it seem worth it?
Switching broadband provider
To change broadband provider, you’ll first need to check which packages you can get in your area. Comparison sites like broadbandchoices.co.uk are the fastest way to find out, as you can type in your postcode to quickly see which are available to you.
You can then scroll through the options to compare the monthly cost (remember to take line rental into account) and see any special promotions that you might like to take advantage of. You then need to visit your chosen supplier’s site and select your package and any add-ons.
As of June 2015 you won't need to ask your current provider for a MAC code, so long as you're switching to a provider using the Openreach network, which most broadband companies now operate on. If your new provider does require a MAC code, you must ask your current operator to supply it. They must do so within five days of your request and without charge. It may not be withheld, and the code will be valid for 30 days.
Switching TV package
Access to television services can vary depending on your location, but several websites have useful postcode checkers. Select a package and arrange a date for an engineer to visit, if necessary, and your provider should walk you through any further steps.
The major digital providers are Sky, Virgin Media, BT and Talk Talk, but consider Freeview or Freesat if you want a much cheaper deal, albeit with less choice.
If you want a digital TV subscription, consider what channels you’ll be getting for your money. The big TV companies fight over contracts to supply the best content, and because of this, premium channels such as sport and HD movies can make your package pricey.
If you’re looking into new television packages because you’re moving home and can’t keep your existing service, remember that you need to transfer your TV licence to your new address. You can do this online up to three months before you move.
Finding the best deal
It’s worth taking your time comparing deals – and don’t let yourself be pressured into a decision by salespeople if you’re making calls to enquire about a service.
Many providers offer great deals for new customers, but when these expire you may find that there’s little keeping you interested in the package. You can’t simply re-sign and receive the introductory offer again, so it’s definitely worth having a look at the rest of the market once your minimum contract expires.
It's usually cheaper to sign up to several services from the same provider, but you shouldn't feel loyal to them just because they give you a good deal to begin with. Regularly check competitors to keep up to date with the going rate for products, and make the switch if you can save elsewhere.
On the surface, a £100 Amazon voucher (as offered by one TV provider right now) might seem like a great perk, but you might be able to save more over time by picking a rival service. It’s important to work out which will really benefit you in the long run.
For broadband and phone services, you can often reduce the cost of line rental by paying a lump sum upfront to cover several months. Ask when you’re switching or check a prospective supplier’s website to see if they offer a discount for payment upfront, as you may be able to save a significant amount.
Can I move just one part of a bundle?
Although it often works out cheaper to sign up to a bundle of services than buy separately, it’s not likely you’ll be able to retain one portion of the package while moving the others.
You should contact your provider to find out whether or not this might be possible.
Don’t forget to haggle
It’s worth having a chat with your current provider before making a move, even if you wouldn’t have to face a termination fee for leaving. These companies want to keep you as a customer, and if you point out that you can get a better deal elsewhere, they may sweeten their own to keep you on board.
You might find that you can cut the cost of your TV package by asking for certain channels to be cut out of your subscription, or receive a discount on your bills for a few months by saying that you want to leave. Though this is less likely to work if you haven’t been signed up for long, pointing out discrepancy in pricing between similar plans from different providers could get you a price-match or better.
Can my provider prevent me from switching?
Blocking a customer’s switch is not allowed, unless it is to prevent a switch that the customer was signed up for without their agreement or knowledge.
If you owe money to a provider, they still cannot stop you switching but you will still have to pay your unpaid bills.
Beware termination charges
Before switching your phone, broadband or TV package, you need to consider potential costs for leaving a service. It can be really hard to locate the exact costs of exiting an existing contract on provider’s websites, even when moving through online sign-up processes.
The best way to find out is to ask your provider directly – and it’s a question that you should definitely be asking prospective providers too, to better understand where you stand if you might want to leave later on.
If you’ve already reached the end of a fixed-term contract, you’re free to go whenever you please at no extra cost.