Loyalty is an admirable attribute to have among family and friends. Consumer loyalty, on the other hand, is something that inspires little honour, especially when better values are available elsewhere. In fact, the primary reason customers choose to remain with a provider is sheer indolence or the fear of change.
Nonetheless, with the economy staggering, more and more citizens across the UK are entertaining the notion of switching to cheaper internet service providers.
Switching providers, however, requires a few steps beyond cancellation and subscribing to a new service. The following guide will help you make the transition to a new provider, as well as offer tips on how to improve service with your existing one.
Deciding to Switch
There are a number of reasons why customers may want to switch providers, the most common of which are faster download and upload speeds, more affordable packaging, unlimited downloads or higher allowances, and improved customer service. However, those who wish to make a switch should note that download speeds may have more to do with location than the ISP. It would be wise to check with other individuals in the area as to their experience with specific broadband providers.
In addition, not all providers share the same call centre hours, and the less technically inclined may want to verify that assistance will be available during the hours they need it most.
Making the Switch
1. Contact your current internet service provider (ISP) and request a MAC code. It should be a 17 to 18 digit alphanumeric code and provided within five days of your request. The MAC code contains all the essential information required to switch your broadband provider over, such as the type of connection and the location of the nearest telephone exchange.
2. Once you have obtained the MAC code, visit a broadband service website to check the ISPs available in your area. In addition to aggregate sites, you can visit a provider directly and utilise their postcode checker.
3. After carefully comparing the various packages, sign up online to the service of your choice. Make sure you do not cancel your current service until your new provider indicates your internet is ready to go. It can take upwards of two weeks to set up a new ISP.
Long Term Contracts
Although switching providers may provide a significant discount, often times those discounts are offered in conjunction with a long term contract. These contracts can range from anywhere between 18 to 24 months, and can be subject to large penalties if broken prior to the end of the commitment. Some customers might find it easier to simply negotiate a better deal with their existing ISP in exchange for a similar contract.
On the other hand, customers may want to steer clear of any long term deals, as both pricing and bandwidth speeds are subject to change dramatically over the course of the next few years.
For example, the average 1 Mbps connection could cost an upward of £50 per month in 2003. Today, a 24 Mbps broadband package costs as little as £7 per month. Although this represents close to a decade of time, as technology grows exponentially, so does the pace at which advancements are made. Part of the reason existing consumers pay more for their broadband is because their packages are based on outdated pricing structures.
On the other hand, those who opt for more flexible plans will find themselves paying far more upfront than consumers who sign up for discounted contracts.
Be Aware of Your Rights
The rules instituted by Ofcom make switching providers quick and effortless. Simply request the MAC code from your existing subscriber and pass the information on to your new one. Nevertheless, existing ISPs will make every effort to retain your services, even delaying the delivery of the MAC code. The law states that a MAC code must be provided within 5 days without exception. A MAC code cannot, however, be used to switch between an ADSL and cable ISP.
Also be sure to confirm you are free from any contractual obligations to your current ISP. Terminating your contract early can come with significant penalties. Before you request a MAC code, make sure to verify with the customer service agent that you are not under contract. If you are, you may still be able to switch based on a breach of your agreement.
Keep a log of any and all problems you experience with your current ISP, whether it be slow speeds, dropped connections, or poor customer service. This information can be used as evidence to terminate a contract before it expires.
Otelo and Ofcom
There are two regulatory agencies that help investigate and solve consumer complaints regarding telecommunications companies. Otelo serves as the telecom ombudsman for approximately 300 companies in the UK. For suppliers who are not members of Otelo, customers can contact Ofcom, an independent regulator serving the UK government.
The type of broadband you currently subscribe to could severely mitigate your choices of switching. For example, those with Virgin Media or Kingston Communications can only switch to other cable providers. Those who wish to switch to a ADSL connection will need to install a “BT” landline. Furthermore, for those who want to swap from LLU to LLU provider, there is no set migration procedure, making it more labor intensive to switch.
Ultimately, UK laws are constructed to help facilitate the switching of broadband providers, thereby increasing competition and creating better pricing for the customer. If you feel your current ISP is not performing up to your standards, it might be time to make the switch.