Contracts

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 receive before you enter a contract.

For residential and small business customers (with ten employees or fewer), before you can give your consent to enter into a contract, you should receive a one-page (or three-page for bundled services) contract summary in writing, that includes key information, such as charges, the length of the contract and the process for cancelling. Before you are bound by the contract, the provider must also give you a more detailed set of contract information in writing.

Changes to terms and conditions

Phone and broadband providers can change the terms of a contract but they must give you at least one month's notice and a right to exit the contract without penalty if the change does not benefit you. However, you won’t have the right to exit the contract if the change being made is:

  1. exclusively to your benefit, for example a speed upgrade;
  2. purely administrative and has no negative effect on you, for example a change in the address or bank details of your provider; or
  3. directly imposed by law, for example, a change in the rate of VAT.

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 be made clear to you when you sign the contract so you know what you will have to pay at different points in the contract. If this was made clear at the point you entered the contract, you won’t have the right to exit without penalty when the increase takes place.

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 and it has been at least eight weeks since you made the initial complaint, or you have received a deadlock letter from them, you can take your complaint to an alternative dispute resolution (ADR) scheme.

ADR schemes are independent bodies that carry out an impartial assessment on complaints between a customer and a communications provider, and reach a decision based on the information submitted by both parties. ADR schemes are free to use.

Ofcom currently approves two ADR schemes: the Communications and Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) and Ombudsman Services: Communications. You can use our ADR checker to see which provider belongs to which scheme.

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 role in our work and we may investigate a company if monitoring data reveals a particular problem.

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