Are you in or out of contract?

Published: 12 April 2022

Millions of people are out of contract and could be getting a better deal on their phone, broadband and pay-TV. Are you one of them?

Three steps to a better deal

According to our research, more than 20 million customers are out of their initial contract period, and many of these are paying a lot more for their services than they need to.

We’ve changed our rules for broadband, phone and pay-TV contracts. From 15 February 2020, your provider must tell you when your contract is coming to an end – and they must also tell you about their best available deals.

If you’re already out of contract, you must be reminded you’re out of contract, and told every year about your firm’s best deals.

But you don’t have to wait to hear from them. By shopping around and speaking to your provider you could save around £100 a year on broadband alone.

There’s a simple, three-step journey you can take to get a better deal.

1. Check if you’re in or out of contract

Do you know if you’re in or out of contract? It’s important to know this because providers often offer customers a discounted rate for the length of their initial contract period. You sign up to this when you buy your service, and it typically means you’re tied in for 12, 18 or 24 months.

You can find out if you’re still in contract by asking your provider, or you can check your account via your provider’s website or app. If you haven’t spoken to your provider in the last couple of years, the chances are you’re out of contract.

If you’re in contract, that’s fine. But you should keep an eye on your contract status and watch out for alerts from your provider.

2. Find the best deals in the market

It’s easy to find out if there’s a better deal available for you. Comparison websites provide information on the best deals out there.

Ofcom accredits a number of comparison sites, meaning you can be sure they offer accurate and clear information. If you find a great deal elsewhere, and you’re happy to change provider, then go for it – it’s never been simpler to switch.

You can switch mobile network with a simple text message, and cancel your broadband contract if you're not getting the speeds you were promised when you signed up.

To find out more, see our guide to switching.

3. Ask if your current provider will match it

If you’re out of contract, you’re probably paying too much, and it’s time to speak to your provider. They might be able to match, or even beat, the deals you’ve seen elsewhere.

We understand that some people would rather not speak to their provider. They might not know what to say, or worry about being sold something they don’t need.

But bear in mind – by spending as little as five minutes on the phone to your provider you could save hundreds of pounds.

What should I ask my provider?

If you’re unsure what you should ask your provider when you speak to them, the following questions should help:

  • Am I still in my initial contract period?
  • How much am I paying?
  • What am I getting for that price?
  • Can I get a better service, and how much will it cost?
  • How long will that contract be for?
  • Do I need to pay any fees to sign up to a new deal?
  • What happens when that contract ends?

What should you look for in a new provider?

When you’re choosing a new product, you should consider if you’d be happier with the service a new provider might offer. We carry out research into the quality of service offered by the UK’s main mobile, broadband and home phone providers.

We’ve looked at customers’ satisfaction with their providers and some of the factors that influence it, such as whether they had a reason to complain, how their complaints were handled, and the length of time it took to for their call to be answered.

Companies must tell customers about their best deals

Our new rules mean phone, broadband and pay-TV companies must contact you between 10 and 40 days before your contract comes to an end. These alerts – sent by text, email or letter – must include:

  • when your contract ends;
  • the price you’ve been paying until now, and what you’ll pay when your contract is up;
  • any notice period for leaving your provider; and
  • your provider’s best deals, including any prices only available to new customers.
  • details of other contracts that are taken as part of a bundle, including the end dates of any commitment periods for those contracts

If you choose to stay with your provider without signing up to a new contact, your provider must send you a reminder every year about the best deals available to you.

An example of a SMS notification a customer would receive before their contract comes to an end

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