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Cheap broadband deals

B'band & line £351 over 18 months, get £100 vch

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Martin and Consumer Team | Edited by Steve N

Updated Weekly

Wifi router

Too many stick with their broadband provider through thick and thin, overpaying by £100s a year. If that's you, it's likely you can do the double whammy of boosting your package while massively slicing your bills.

Check your broadband and line rental cost now – people on standard deals typically pay BT £492/yr, TalkTalk £306/yr, Sky £348/yr and Virgin £480/yr. The deals below can bring it down to £351 over 18 months, plus you can claim a £100 voucher.

To benchmark, those on standard pricing typically pay BT £39/mth and Virgin £40/mth.

What is broadband?

These days broadband is the standard way of connecting to the internet. Originally people used to dial up over their phone connection. Broadband uses a broader range of frequencies and allows more information to be carried than old dial-up connections.

There are two main types of broadband:

  • Home broadband: This is hard-wired into your house. It's either carried through your phone line (known as ADSL) or by cable. This is what this guide focuses on.
  • Mobile broadband: This isn't generally as fast or reliable, but as it's via the mobile networks, it's far more flexible. If you're looking for that, see our Mobile Broadband guide, which includes how to find free hotspots.

With home broadband, it's important to understand that while the information is carried via your phone line, you can still use the phone while you're online – and the broadband connection is always on. Read more on how home broadband works.

Switching broadband can save £100s

Many people have a broadband provider they're comfortable with and stick with it for ease. But this becomes a licence for providers to print money, as older packages are more expensive and tend to allow lower downloads at slower speeds.

Assuming you already have home broadband (if not, read on to choose), it's crucial to work out what you're paying and the service you're getting. However...

Never just look at the broadband cost. Always look at the upfront costs too. They can be high, so cheap broadband could be offset by these charges.

Here are some typical costs the big networks are charging for long-standing deals. By contrast, using the best deals in this guide, you can often get broadband and home phone for around £17 a month.

Typical standard broadband and line rental costs
Provider Standard monthly broadband cost Standard monthly line rental cost Cost per year for both
BT £40.99 Included £492
Sky £28.99 Included £348
TalkTalk £25.50 Included £306
Virgin (fibre) £40 Included £480

Switching broadband used to be a little tricky, but new rules introduced by Ofcom in June 2015 have simplified the process for many. See the Ofcom implementing easier telecoms switching MSE News story for more details – we explain how it works in the questions below.

Quick questions

Can I ever leave my contract early without penalty?

How long does it take to switch provider?

What do I actually need to do to switch?

What if I have problems setting up my new broadband?

How do I find out what customer service is like?

What if the broadband isn't in my area?

Six things you need to know to slash broadband costs

If you only read six things about broadband before you switch, read these.

  • Faster advertised speed doesn't mean faster broadband

    Internet speed dial

    Remember advertised speeds are just that – "advertised". A provider only needs a paltry 10% of customers to get a certain speed before it can list it.

    While providers may tell you their service is "up to" 17Mb, many won't get near that speed. The actual speed you get depends on a number of factors:

    • How close your home is to the phone exchange.
    • The condition of the lines and wiring.
    • The number of people using the same broadband service in your area (the contention ratio).
    • Providers slowing speeds during busy hours or if you're a really heavy downloader (traffic shaping).
    • The number of people/devices trying to get online in your house.
    • What you're currently doing and programs running in the background, such as your browser streaming a movie clip.

    Many things help to boost your speed for free without switching. Try using a shorter cable from socket to router, cheap household signal boosters and plugging in instead of using Wi-Fi for big downloads. There's a full checklist of tips and tricks in Broadband Speed Boosting.

  • Check your broadband speed – you have rights, if it's slow

    Our 60-second guide on Broadband Speeds goes through the four steps to find out if your broadband's speed is fully up to scratch, and what you can do if it's not. Briefly...

    1. The 'Actual Speed Test'. Take a free speed test online to find what speed you're actually getting – Broadbandchoice's Speed Tester* and Ookla's Speedtest.net are good options. Try at different times of the day to get a range.
    2. The 'Line Speed Test'. The regulator Ofcom has a Telecoms Coverage Checker, which shows the maximum speeds capable down the line (not necessarily in your home) at any given postcode.
    3. The 'Covet Thy Neighbour's Broadband Test'. uSwitch's StreetStats* will show the actual speeds those in the area are getting in their home, broken down by provider.
    4. The 'Minimum Guaranteed Speed Test'. Most providers have joined a code of practice committing to providing a tailored speed estimate before sign-up. If you're getting "significantly below" this, you may be able to exit your contract penalty-free.

    You should always call up and try to resolve things with your provider directly. If this doesn't work, go through its official complaints procedure – the free complaints handling tool Resolver can help you with your complaint.

  • Aim for unlimited data or it'll cost you

    Our data use has rocketed. Catch-up TV and movie streaming hoover it up, and since some packages have download limits, this can be costly. If you just use the net for light browsing, emails and the odd YouTube video, you'll probably be fine with a limited 10GB package.

    Yet web watchers, beware. Watching an episode of Game of Thrones in HD's roughly 1GB, equivalent to looking at thousands of web pages. If you've got a 10GB limit, it isn't long before it's all used up and you're paying extra charges. With BT you pay £1.50/GB when you go over the limit.

    So check your bill now for penalty charges. If your download limit isn't enough, switch to the super-cheap versions below. These days the vast majority of the cheapest deals are unlimited anyway.

    To track how much data you're downloading, get a free bandwidth monitor – try Rokario, Netmeter and TbbMeter.

  • Do you need fibre-optic?

    Fibre optic cable

    Superfast broadband allows much faster speed with greater consistency. While phone line speeds rarely match the 'up to' figures firms boast of, fibre gets closer.

    More of us are using more data online and because of this we need more speed. For simple web browsing and email, common 16Mb connections will do the job. But if you use it for lots of movie downloads, streaming videos, online gaming, or if everyone at home wants to connect at once, you will need superfast.

    Fibre broadband is still being rolled out across the UK. As a general rule, most big cities and towns have access to superfast broadband from a few different providers. Other areas (especially rural districts) may not have access to fibre broadband at all.

    To see if you can get superfast, see superfast best buys below. Alternatively, enter your postcode on Broadbandchoices* and click the fibre broadband tab (if there's no tab, it means you can't get it).

  • Should you get a broadband and line rental bundle?

    Many cheap broadband deals require you to take costly line rental. In the past providers only advertised the sexy broadband price in the headline but from 31 October 2016 the ASA ruled that greater prominence for full monthly costs would be necessary or providers would be in breach of advertising rules. The deal to pick depends on which category you fall into:

    • Only got landline for broadband? Unless you've got Virgin cable, you need a landline for broadband at home. Our poll of 25,000+ people showed 73% of under-65s don't have a landline or rarely use it.

      Millions feel forced to keep it just for broadband. If so, cut the cost and just go for a cheap bundle. Alternatively, you don't need line rental for Virgin superfast – see Cheapest broadband without a landline below.

    • Still use your landline to make calls? If this is you, you'll need to factor in call costs when choosing line rental.

      But you can make massive savings on call costs to landlines, mobiles and overseas without changing phone line by using specialist access numbers. See Cheap Home Phones for a full how-to and best buys.

  • Check if you're under contract and haggle your bill down or your speed or package up

    If you signed up to broadband in the last 18 months, or longer in rare cases, first check if you're still in your contract period. If so, double-check that leaving doesn't breach your contract before switching. Exit penalties may kibosh savings. If you're planning to move home soon, check if your new contract's portable, or consider a no-contract deal.

    Before you ditch your current provider, remember broadband's a mature market and companies are frantic to keep hold of customers, so...

    Just call up, threaten to leave and your existing company will often offer kick-butt discounts.

    Say you want to move to a new provider and it'll automatically lead to a 'why are you leaving?' chat. It should put you through to what we call 'disconnections' but they call 'customer retentions' – these operators have serious discount-giving power.

    If you're still in contract and it isn't worth leaving, check what speed you're actually getting and compare it to the advertised speed you're paying for. See our Boost Broadband Speed two minute check. If you're getting less than advertised ring your provider and ask for a better package, such as fibre, a discount or another concession.

  • We polled 4,000 MoneySavers to see where hagglers had most success. Companies where hagglers revealed over 76% success rates included TalkTalk, Sky and Virgin. See full results.

    For more tips and the top companies to haggle with, see Haggle With Call Centres.

Best buy broadband deals

Below are our top picks. These are mainly price-focused, and these deals are only for those that live in the providers' network areas (typically about 90% of the population). If your local BT exchange hasn't been opened up to rival firms ("unbundled"), you'll pay more.

Best buys Standard broadband & line rental

Broadband usually requires a landline, and rather than getting your broadband and line rental from different companies, at the moment it's possible to get them as a 'bundle' for £351 over 18 months, plus you can claim a £100 voucher. All of the cheapest deals listed below also offer unlimited broadband, so you don't have to worry about going over your download limit.

It's also worth checking cashback sites as sometimes you can get more cashback on top of the below offers. Check deals are the same and be aware that if the site doesn't track properly you may miss out on the cashback.

ee

B'band & line rent £351 over 18 mths, get £100 vch*

Works out equiv £13.94/mth

  • Available to: 99% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 17Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 18 months
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? Weekend
  • New line installation: £30

Until Mon 3 May, new customers to EE broadband* (ie, those who don't currently have it installed) can get the firm's unlimited broadband on an 18-month contract. Click on 'Check your availability online', scroll down and it's the £21/mth broadband option.

  1. Choose to pay line rent upfront if you can afford to. It's cheapest to pay £299 for the 18 months upfront (you must opt for this at sign-up), equivalent to £16.61/mth. Paid monthly line rent's the usual £18.50/mth. Weekend calls to UK landlines are included, see EE call costs.
  2. Unlimited broadband's £2.50/mth for 18mths. It'll rise to £10/mth after.
  3. £7 to pay upfront. This covers delivery of the 'free' compulsory router.
  4. £100 Amazon voucher BUT you have to claim. You'll be sent an email within 60 days of your service going live with instructions on how to claim. You'll then receive your voucher via email within 60 days of paying your second bill.

- What if EE hikes prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, if it does you'll almost certainly be able to leave penalty-free anyway.

- Cost analysis. The cost of the broadband, router delivery and line rental paid upfront is £351 over 18 months, equivalent to £19.50/mth (£21.39/mth if line rent's paid monthly). Claim and spend the £100 Amazon voucher and it's £251 over 18 months equiv £13.94/mth (£15.83/mth if line rent's paid monthly).

-Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's £30 – you'll be told before you commit.

Still in contract? Get up to £50 credit to cover switching costs. If you're in contract elsewhere and have to pay to switch, EE gives up to £50 credit to cover costs (excl call charges). You have to pay your old provider upfront, then claim through EE within 90 days of your new broadband going live. You'll need to upload your last bill from your old provider to the EE site – it'll credit your account once it's verified your request.

Full EE tips, call charges & customer service ratings

Origin

Broadband & line rent £190 for 1yr*

Works out £15.83/mth equiv

  • Available to: 90% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 17Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 12 months
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? No
  • New line installation: £48

New and existing (out of contract) Origin Broadband* customers can get its unlimited up-to-17Mb broadband and line rent discounted on a 12-month contract. The deal's available to 90% of the country; you're told if you get it when applying. Warning: This is a new provider and whilst we've not had a great deal of feedback what we've had has been very mixed.

Here's what you can get:

  1. Choose to pay upfront if you can afford to. Use this link to pay £189.99 for the year in advance* for line rent and broadband, equivalent to £15.83/mth. If you can't afford to, until Sun 30 April, use this link to pay £15.99/mth for line rent and broadband*, but you'll have to pay £9.99 upfront. Note, whichever option you choose, the price will rise to £27.98/mth after 12 months, so diarise to check then if you can get cheaper elsewhere.
  2. Free router. You can opt to be sent one free of charge unless you go for the pay monthly option when you pay £9.99 upfront.

The cost of installation, broadband and line rent paid monthly is £199.98 for the year, equiv £16.67/mth. Opt to pay upfront and it's £189.99 for the year, equiv £15.83/mth.

- What about calls? Call costs to landlines are a bit more than BT's, a little less to mobiles (11.5p/min to landlines and 13p/min to mobiles, 17p connection fee).

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line, or you're switching from cable, you'll need to pay for a new line. (see below).

- Direct debit is the best way to pay. You'll have to pay £4.50 extra per payment if not.

Full Origin tips, call charges & customer service

Best buys Fibre-optic broadband & line rental

Superfast or fibre-optic broadband offers a much faster speed with greater consistency, though it's usually pricier than normal broadband. If you're a heavy user – if you love to stream movies and music, or regularly download things – it can be a better option. It can also be a good idea if there are several people in the household likely to be online at the same time.

However, if you only use the web to browse and check emails or social media, or stream and download less frequently, you might be better off boosting your existing broadband speed instead. Our Broadband Speed Test guide shows you how.

BT

Fibre & line rent £408 for 1yr, get £100 card*

Works out equiv £25.66/mth

  • Available to: 83% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 52Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 12 months
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? Weekend
  • New line installation: Free

Until Thu 4 May, BT broadband newbies can get a one-year contract for line rent & up-to-52Mb speed unlimited broadband (up to 3x faster than standard) using this BT link*. The deal's available to 83% of the UK – you're told if you can get it when applying. Here's how it works:

  1. Unlimited fibre broadband and line rent £28.99/mth for 12mths. After it jumps to £47.49/mth. Weekend calls to UK landlines are included – see BT call costs.
  2. You pay £59.99 set-up costs. Includes activation and p&p for the 'free' router.
  3. Get £100 on a prepaid Mastercard but you MUST claim it. This makes the deal really hot, but annoyingly BT won't remind you to claim, so diarise to use this Mastercard claim link. You've up to three months to claim after activation – it may take up to 45 days.

- Is the price fixed during the contract? Technically no, though BT told us it has no plans to increase it. If it does, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

- Cost analysis: You pay £407.87 over one year before calls. But claim & use Mastercard (which is like cash) & it's £307.87, equiv to £25.66/mth.

- Anything else? You get 100GB of free online storage and you can opt in to BT Sport free for three months, £5/mth after, on a 12-month contract. A 30-day rolling contract costs £5/mth. If you want to watch on Sky, it's free for three months, £7.50/mth after, on a 12-month contract. Regular cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but often on more expensive deals.

Full BT call charges, tips & customer service ratings

ee

Fibre & line rent £486 over 18 mths, get £100 vch*

Works out equiv £21.44/mth

  • Available to: 83% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 38Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 18 months
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? Weekends
  • New line installation: £30

Until Mon 3 May, new customers to EE broadband* (ie, those who don't currently have it installed) can get the firm's unlimited up-to 38Mb fibre broadband on an 18-month contract. Click on 'Check your availability online', scroll down and it's the £28.50/mth fibre option.

  1. Choose to pay line rent upfront if you can afford to. It's cheapest to pay £299 for the 18 months upfront (you must opt for this at sign-up), equivalent to £16.61/mth. Paid monthly line rent's £18.50/mth. Weekend calls to UK landlines are included, see EE call costs.
  2. Unlimited broadband's £10/mth for 18mths. It'll rise to £16/mth after.
  3. £7 to pay upfront. This covers activation and delivery of the 'free' compulsory router.
  4. £100 Amazon voucher BUT you have to claim. You'll be sent an email within 60 days of your service going live with instructions on how to claim. You'll then receive your voucher via email within 60 days of paying your second bill.

- Can EE hike prices? Sadly, telecoms firms often do, if it does you'll almost certainly be able to leave penalty-free anyway.

- Cost analysis: The cost of the broadband, router delivery and line rental paid upfront is £486 over 18 months, equivalent to £27/mth (equiv £28.89/mth if line rent's paid monthly). If you'd spend £100 at Amazon anyway, factor it in and it's £386 over 18 months, equiv £21.44/mth (£23.33/mth if line rent's paid monthly).

- Need a new line? If you don't have a line (or for those with a cable one or, in a few other cases), it's £30 – you'll be told before you commit.

Still in contract elsewhere? Get up to £50 credit to cover switching costs. If you're in contract elsewhere and have to pay to switch, EE gives up to £50 credit to cover costs (excl call charges). You have to pay your old provider upfront, then claim through EE within 90 days of your new broadband going live. You'll need to upload your last bill from your old provider to the EE site – it'll credit your account once it's verified your request.

Full EE tips, call charges & customer service ratings

Best buy Top deal if you want BT

Let's be straight – BT often isn't the cheapest provider around. But as many of you tell us you'd like to stick with the big boy, here's the best standard speed deal we've found. Remember BT broadband customers can also get BT Sport at a discount which is a bonus for footie fans.

BT

Broadband & line rent £298 for 1yr, get £50 card*

Works out equiv £20.66/mth

  • Available to: 99% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 17Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 12 months
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? Weekend
  • New line installation: £49.99

Until Thu 4 May, BT broadband newbies can get a one-year contract for line rent & up-to-17Mb speed unlimited broadband using this BT link*. The deal's available to 99% of the UK – you're told if you can get it when applying. Here's how it works:

  1. Unlimited broadband and line rent £23.99/mth for 12mths. After, it jumps to £40.99/mth.Weekend calls to UK landlines are included, see BT call costs.
  2. You pay £9.99 set-up costs. Includes activation and p&p for the 'free' router.
  3. Get £50 on a prepaid Mastercard but you MUST claim it. This makes the deal really hot, but annoyingly BT won't remind you, so diarise to use this Mastercard claim link. Claim up to 3mths after activation - it may take up to 45 days.

- Is the price fixed during the contract? Technically no, though BT told us it has no plans to increase it. If it does, you should be able to ditch your contract penalty-free.

- Cost analysis: You pay £297.87 over 1yr before calls. But claim & use the Mastercard (which is like cash) & it's £247.87, equiv to £20.66/mth. Regular cashback site users may see bigger cashback elsewhere, but often on more expensive deals.

- No line/switching from cable? Installation's £49.99.

- Anything else? You get 100GB of free online storage and you can opt in to BT Sport free for three months. It's £5/mth after on a 12-month contract. If you want to watch on Sky, it's free for three months, £7.50/mth after on a 12-month contract.

Full BT tips, call charges and customer service ratings


Best buys Broadband-only deals

It's outrageous that people who just want broadband almost always need to pay for a phone line too. There are some options, as we explain below, but they're often more expensive than the cheapest line rental and broadband deals (see above).

The alternative options include:

  • The cheapest no-phone-line broadband deal we could find is with Relish.net*. It costs from £20/mth but it's only for those in central London – it uses its own 4G wireless network. As it's a relatively new company, it's difficult to assess its reliability though.

  • If you go for mobile broadband you won't need line rental but it isn't as reliable as home broadband. For more info and the best deals around, see our Mobile broadband guide.

  • Satellite broadband is suitable for people who live in rural areas where traditional fixed lines are unavailable. It uses a satellite dish to provide an internet connection to your router. However, you can only get speeds of up to 20Mb and it's very expensive.

Here's the only traditional, truly standalone broadband deal – taking a phone line is almost always cheaper however.

Virgin Media

Fibre broadband-only £402 for 1yr*

equiv £33.50/mth, £14.99 upfront, no line rent needed

  • Available to: 50%+ of UK
  • Speed: Up to 100Mb
  • Download limit: Unlimited
  • Traffic shaping? Yes at peak times
  • Contract length: 12 months
  • Deal requires line rental? No
  • Inclusive calls? No
  • New line installation: Free

Anyone who doesn't have Virgin Media* now can get this up-to-100Mb speed (about 3x standard) unlimited broadband deal on a one-year contract, provided they live in the 50%+ of the UK that can get it – you're told if you can before applying. IMPORTANT: But as we say above, it's cheaper to get broadband & line rental. Here's what you pay...

  1. Unlimited fibre broadband £32.25/mth for 12-month contract. It'll then remain at £32.25/mth after the 12 months.
  2. You pay £14.99 installation. There's no charge for the router or delivery.

Over the 12-month contract the total is £401.99, excluding calls. Monthly it works out to be £33.50/mth if you factor in the activation fee.

Full Virgin info and customer service ratings

Best buys Short-term contract broadband

If you're planning to move home soon, living in student accommodation or you want the freedom to leave with a short, no-penalty notice period, the deal below allows you to sign up on a monthly rolling contract, which although more expensive, can be cheaper than paying penalty charges to get out of a standard 12- or 18-month contract.

However, if you are planning to move, first check if your new contract's 'portable', meaning you can take it with you. Some providers will let you do this, but it's on a case-by-case basis.

DirectSave

Rolling 28-day contract, equiv £31.73/mth for first 12 mths*

Cancel with 28 days' notice, £33.90 upfront

  • Available to: 89% of UK
  • Speed: Up to 17Mb
  • Download limit: 20GB
  • Traffic shaping? No
  • Contract length: 28 days
  • Deal requires line rental? Yes
  • Inclusive calls? No
  • New line installation: £29.95

Newbies who take Direct Save Telecom's* line rental can get unlimited broadband on a 28-day rolling contract (its standard contract length is 24 months) for £11.95/mth.

However, if you need a new line, eg, if switching from cable or if you don't have a working line, it's £118 on top.

Not heard of Direct Save Telecom before? Read on for more.

  1. Sign up directly. Go via Direct Save Telecom*
  2. Broadband and line rent's £28.90/mth. Direct Save Telecom could increase prices at any time, but as you're not tied into a long contract, you're free to leave by giving 28 days' notice. There's a 20GB/mth download limit. Unlimited broadband will set you back £33.90/mth.
  3. You need its router. It's 'free' but you'll need to pay £8.95 p&p and £24.95 for activation.

The total 20GB broadband, router p&p and activation cost for the first year is £380.70, equivalent to £31.73/mth.

Full Direct Save Telecom info and call charges

Cashback sites may pay you for signing up

As an extra boon, members of specialist cashback websites can be paid when they sign up to some financial products. Do check that it's exactly the same deal though, as terms can be different. And remember the cashback is never 100% guaranteed until it's in your account. 

Full help to take advantage of this and pros & cons in our Top Cashback Sites guide.

Problems with getting an MSE Blagged deal?

If you signed up to an MSE Blagged deal – a best-in-market offer we've negotiated exclusively – which involves you being sent a voucher, we'll always do our best to ensure you get the voucher.

But as we warn above, there can occasionally be problems with the deal tracking. In particular, if you were running ad-blocking software or cookie blockers when you signed up for the deal, or exited your browser while in the process of signing up, this can stop it tracking correctly.

Key tips

  • Many vouchers are supposed to arrive within three months of installation (see each deal for specific details). If it hasn't been that long yet, please be patient.

  • If you're waiting for an email voucher, please do check your spam folder regularly in case it's been diverted there.

Below we've listed the main past blagged deals, including the MSE Broadband Switch Event Sky deal, so you can check what you're due.

Warning: This is an archive so these deals may no longer be available.

BT: Broadband and line rent deals

EE: Broadband and line rent deals

Plusnet: Broadband and line rent deals

TalkTalk: Broadband and line rent deals

Sky: Broadband and line rent deals

How to complain about your broadband provider

The broadband industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while a provider may be good for some, it can be hell for others. Common problems include installation dates not being met, limited service or slow speeds, incorrect billing and more. It's always worth trying to call your provider first, but if not then…

Free tool if you're having a problem

This tool helps you draft your complaint and manage it too. It's totally free, and offered by a firm called Resolver which we like so much we work with it to help people get complaints justice.

If the complaint isn't resolved, Resolver can escalate it to the free Ombudsman Services (or CISAS if you're complaining about Virgin Media).

Important: if your issue is about a voucher or incentive that was part of an MSE Blagged deal, then instead just let us know by emailing voucherhelp@moneysavingexpert.com as that's usually quicker.