Contracts

Changes to terms and conditions

Phone and broadband providers can change the terms of a contract so long as they give you a month's notice.

If your provider increases your monthly price beyond what you agreed when you signed up, it should:

  1. give you at least one month's notice of the price rise; and
  2. allow you to exit your contract without penalty if you choose to.

Sometimes your provider might raise the price of services which are outside of your regular monthly amount. This could include:

  • roaming charges;
  • international calls;
  • calls to Directory Enquiries;
  • premium rate numbers; or
  • any other services where you’re charged on a ‘pay-per-use’ basis.

If this happens, your provider should still let you know about the changes but you might not have the right to exit your contract without being penalised. You would be able to exit without being penalised if, for example, you regularly call the numbers or use the services that are being made more expensive.

If your provider does not allow you to exit and you think that the price increase will disadvantage you because of your circumstances, or there is some other reason you think you should have the right to cancel, speak to your provider and give evidence to support your claim.

Some providers have contracts which set out that the monthly prices you pay will increase at certain times during the contract, for example increasing by inflation each year. This should have been made clear to you when you signed the contract but check your contract terms if you’re not sure.

Fair and transparent contract terms

Providers must make sure their contract terms are fair and transparent. We have rules about the type of contract information that you should have before you sign the contract, such as key charges, the length of the contract and the process for cancelling.

How to complain

If you believe your provider hasn't properly notified you of changes to your terms and conditions, or if you believe any of the terms and conditions in your contract are unfair or weren't made clear to you, contact your provider's customer service department and make a complaint.

If your provider doesn't resolve the problem, ask them for a deadlock letter. This will allow you to take your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

ADRs act as an independent middleman. They will examine the case from both sides and reach a decision they think fair. If eight weeks have passed since you first formally complained you can contact the ADR directly.

There are two ADR schemes: Ombudsman Services: Communications, and the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). Every provider must belong to one of the schemes. Your provider will tell you which scheme it is a member of, or you can use our ADR checker.

Tell Ofcom

If you have had problems with the terms and conditions of your phone or broadband contract (if they have changed, or you believe they are unfair), please let us know by filling out our short monitoring form.

Although Ofcom does not investigate individual complaints, your help in highlighting problems plays a vital part in our work and we may investigate a company if monitoring data reveals a particular problem.

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