Need to cancel broadband? Quite often you can find yourself stuck in a broadband contract that stretches ahead for months and has a hefty cancellation fee if you try to cancel early. Yet if your broadband is far slower than you’re paying for, or you’re faced with unexpected increases in your monthly bill, it may be possible to get out of a broadband contract. Leaving you free to arrange a faster, cheaper and better broadband service elsewhere.
If you’re facing broadband problems, how do you actually cancel broadband and what are your rights when it comes to getting out of a broadband contract?
Cancel broadband after the minimum term
Most broadband providers lock you into a long-term contract when you sign up to broadband. For example, Sky’s Fibre Broadband is an 18-month contract while Virgin Media’s Unlimited Broadband is for a minimum of 12 months.
The good news is that if you’ve passed the initial contract term, such as being a customer on the same package for a few years, odds are that you can leave the service hassle-free. You won’t even need to talk to your existing broadband provider. Simply contact a new provider, set up the account and sign a new contract, and they’ll handle the entire switch over. You may have to return any old equipment, but the services should seamlessly switch over on the same day.
What if you need to cancel broadband while still in contract?
If you’re still within the terms of your contract, then the situation is a little different. You can’t simply cancel your existing broadband provider and switch to another. You may be charged an exit fee or simply not be able to swap. It can work out costing more, even if you end up getting a cheaper broadband deal from another broadband provider.
The first step is to read your existing broadband contract. It should detail how much notice you need to give in order to cancel broadband, what process you need to follow along with any obligations such as returning old equipment. There may be a clause that is helpful, such as the need to give 30-days’ notice no matter where you are in your contract, but this is rare.
Take care to understand what fees you need to pay. Exiting a broadband contract is possible at any time, but you’ll need to pay two types of fee: equipment fee and termination fee.
Broadband equipment fees – While you may be happy to return the old broadband wifi router in the post, some broadband providers don’t really want ageing broadband equipment back so charge a fee instead. Look out for terms in the contract where you’ll be charged a fee for the equipment if you cancel broadband before the end of your contract.
Broadband termination fee – Most broadband providers charge all similar amounts when it comes to termination fees. Typically, you’ll be charged for all the remaining months left on your contract, which could stretch into many months. Termination fees can be hugely expensive, and even if there’s no contract period you might be stung for an exit fee to cover ‘administration costs’ if you cancel within your first year. It’s not unusual to find terminal fees running into hundreds of pounds.
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How to cancel broadband while still in contract
It’s little wonder than many people feel they’re stuck with poor broadband service and have to wait until their contract expires. Faced with expensive termination fees and equipment fees to cancel broadband, it would be understandable for many people to give up.
However, there are quite a few circumstances where you can legally cancel broadband and terminate your contract – all without paying a penny.
Falsely advertised – If your broadband provider made claims it hasn’t been able to keep – even those made by a sales rep over the phone – you have effectively been mis-sold and you can take action. Services must be as described, and you should get the broadband service you signed up to. If you think you’ve been mis-sold, contact the company to complain. Under consumer rights, you can cancel a contract as the broadband provider is effectively in breach of contract by not delivering the service it sold you. You also have rights under the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations if you were subjected to pressured sales tactics or misled when you signed up to the broadband contact.
During a cooling-off period – When you enter into any contract remotely (such as via a website or on the phone) you have a legal right to a 14-day cooling-off period. The broadband provider should inform you of your right to cancel during the cooling-off period. Simply let the company know you’ve changed your mind and they’ll arrange for their equipment to be returned and the service ended.
Slow broadband – Slow broadband, intermittent connections or patchy service are one of the main reasons why people want to cancel broadband and switch broadband provider. In some instances, slow broadband is acceptable as a reason to cancel your broadband contract. The Ofcom rules are clear. If you make a complaint about slow broadband speeds, your broadband provider must investigate it as a technical issue with the service and do their best to resolve. If they can’t fix the slow broadband problem, you’re free to cancel the contract and walk away without paying any termination or other exit fees.
For this to apply, broadband speeds need to be significantly slower. If you are signed up to a 63Mbps broadband contract and the actual speed was 55Mbps, it would likely been deemed acceptable as it’s very hard to achieve the advertised speed thanks to issues such as the wiring in your home, distance from the exchange, wifi range in your house and a whole host of factors beyond the control of the broadband provider.
However, if your broadband speed is dramatically slower – say 10Mbps on a 63Mbps service, then clearly there is a problem. The first step is to raise the issue with your broadband provider using their official channels. Keep a log of progress – sometimes you can get ‘lost’ in the system – and after a period of time, escalate the issue with either the Communications Ombudsman or the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS). They can investigate and force the broadband provider to release you from your contract penalty-free if they can’t fix the problem.
Broadband price increase – While you may have signed up to a monthly fee for broadband, that monthly fee is allowed to be increased – but only in line with inflation. If your broadband provider decides to increase the amount you pay by more than inflation you have the right to cancel your contract and walk away. In any case, your broadband provider must let you know in writing by post or email that it plans to increase its fees. If it’s above inflation, you need to write to the company within 30 days of being notified of the price increase and tell them that you wish to cancel your broadband contract.
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Can you cancel broadband because of poor service
Poor service is more challenging to prove, but if you’ve clearly experienced poor service that has not been rectified then you have grounds to cancel your broadband contract. Legally, poor service would be viewed as a breach of contract, so check if the problem you’re facing is specifically referenced in your contract. Poor service reasons could include failure to install equipment, malfunctioning equipment, poor customer service and support, and long-term faults.
Some faults are to be expected and generally aren’t a reason to cancel your broadband contract. If you experience a fault, such as a lack of internet access, contact your broadband provider to alert them and get an estimated time for it to be fixed. If you don’t have access to the internet for several days, for example, they should offer to reduce your bill to reflect the fact you didn’t have a working service for those days.
Keep a note of the problem along with copies of all communication with your broadband provider. If the problem isn’t resolved, then complain and ask for your contract to be cancelled. If the broadband provider still won’t budge and broadband problems continue, contact the Communications Ombudsman or the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS) to complain.