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Broadband, phone and TV firms must warn customers before they're out of contract

Broadband, TV, mobile and home phone companies must alert customers before their contracts end and tell them about their best available deals, under new rules announced by the communications watchdog today – but don't rely on this to get you the best deal.

Ofcom says around 20 million broadband, TV and phone customers are out of their initial minimum-term contract, meaning many are now likely to be overpaying. It says customers who bundle their broadband, landline and TV services pay around 26% more on average once they're out of contract.

But from February 2020, firms will need to warn customers between 10 and 40 days before their contracts end to give them a chance to switch to a better deal.

Yet as some firms require 30 days' notice, the onus is still on customers to make sure they know when their contract ends, to ensure they aren't rolled onto a more expensive tariff.

If customers choose to stay with their provider once they're out of contract, they'll be sent a reminder every year about their firm's best deals.

Check our Broadband, TV and mobile guides for more info on getting the best deals on your broadband, phone and TV.

What are the new rules?

Under the new rules, telecoms and pay TV companies will need to send customers a letter, email or text between 10 and 40 days before their contracts end.

Ofcom says the 10- to 40-day rule gives firms flexibility to cope with the amount of enquiries they will receive, but there could be cases where a customer who has to give 30 days' notice is only sent the warning 10 days before their contract ends.

The alerts must include:

  • The contract end date.

  • The price customers are currently paying and the price they will pay after their contract ends, as well as any changes to the service after this date.

  • Information about notice periods if the customer wants to end their contract.

  • The best deals offered by the provider, including prices available to new customers.

Firms will have nine months to prepare for the new rules. Customers will start receiving alerts from 15 February 2020.

Out of contract? Try to haggle or switch

Once you're out of your minimum contract term, you can leave without paying any penalty and there's a good chance you can save by switching to a better deal.

You'll typically have to give 30 days' notice to leave, so if you're still in contract you should make a note of when your contract is up and ensure you give plenty of notice – especially as the new alerts could give you just 10 days' notice before your contract ends.

See our Mobiles and Broadband & Landline sections for full help on finding the cheapest deals.

Alternatively, if you're willing to stick with your provider, this is a chance to haggle a better deal – especially as you have the right to leave penalty-free. See our Haggle with Service Providers guide for more.

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