BT, Sky, Virgin, Vodafone and others pledge to help broadband and mobile customers struggling with bills
The UK's biggest broadband and mobile providers – BT, Sky, TalkTalk, Three, Virgin Media O2, and Vodafone – have agreed to a set of measures aimed at ensuring customers struggling to pay their bills during the cost of living crisis don't get cut off from essential services.
Under the new measures, which were put forward by the Government, providers should offer struggling customers ways to stay connected, such as letting them move to cheaper packages penalty-free, or agreeing manageable payment plans.
The move comes after millions of mobile and broadband customers were hit by a spate of big price hikes earlier this year, including 9.3% for some BT and Vodafone customers and 11.7% for some O2 and Virgin Mobile customers.
Broadband providers that offer cheaper "social tariffs" for those on universal credit and similar benefits will also be expected to do more to raise awareness of those deals, after Ofcom data showed that less than 2% of eligible people are taking up the discounted offers. Check our full list of Discounted broadband deals to see if you're eligible.
The new measures will be voluntary but firms will be monitored by the regulator
Here's a full list of the commitments made by the telecoms firms, which are supposed to take effect immediately from this week and which will be monitored by Ofcom:
- To support customers who may be struggling financially and to treat them with compassion and understanding.
- To offer ways to keep struggling customers connected, such as allowing them to move to cheaper packages without charge or penalty, or agreeing manageable payment plans.
- To continue to protect the connectivity of customers known to be vulnerable as a priority.
- To commit, with support from the Government, to raise awareness of low cost products to those claiming universal credit.
- To consider more ways to help mobile customers, in particular, including exploring tariffs, options to improve existing low cost offers, and increasing the promotion of existing deals.
So if you're struggling, it's best to contact your provider as soon as possible. A number of firms, including BT, Sky and Vodafone, have previously told us they'll help those who are having difficulties paying their bills, and the Government says that, as a result of the new measures set out above, you should expect support if you ask for it.
Not happy with your provider? Here's how to complain
The broadband industry doesn't have the best customer service reputation and while one 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. However, you can do something about it:
- First, log the complaint with your provider. Each provider has its own complaints procedure, but you should start by explaining what the problem is and what you want them to do about it - and include any evidence to support the complaint. Your provider will be able to advise you on the next steps.
Your provider has six to eight weeks to resolve your complaint but you may get a written response sooner. Once you've been sent a 'deadlock letter', which'll contain a final offer, if you're still not happy you can then you can take your complaint to the appropriate alternative dispute resolution scheme.
- If you're unhappy, take the complaint to an adjudication scheme. All providers apart from Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile and Sky use the free Ombudsman service. Virgin Media, Virgin Mobile and Sky use the Communication and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).
- If you're still unhappy, take your complaint through the civil courts. If you've appealed the resolution that came out of complaining to an adjudicator, you'll be left to take your issue to court.
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