Consumer watchdog Which? says broadband customers are having to choose between mid-contract price hikes or exit fees of over £200.

Andrew Wooden

January 30, 2023

2 Min Read
Bill Contract Tear

Consumer watchdog Which? says broadband customers are having to choose between mid-contract price hikes or exit fees of over £200.

Which claims broadband customers ‘are trapped in a lose-lose situation’ in which they have to either accept ‘exorbitant’ mid-contract price rises or pay exit fees, which vary but can be as much as £200.

The report says many ISPs raise prices every April in line with the Consumer Price Index (CPI) plus an additional 3% to 3.9%, and these price increases are often applied mid-contract, meaning people end up shelling out more per month than the price they signed up to.

Apparently, many will have mid-contract price hikes of more than 14% thrust upon them, while EE customers would see the largest potential annual increase of £66.89.  Meanwhile according to its calculations, BT customers face the highest exit fees of £219.04.

There are Ofcom rules about unexpected price hikes and the right to exit contracts in the event of them, but Which? claims this is often circumvented by the fact that price rises are written into the terms and conditions, meaning exit fees would still apply. Ofcom is looking into whether or not these are made prominent enough.

On the plus side, the report notes that Zen Internet, Hyperoptic and SSE have all promised not to raise prices during people’s minimum contract period.

“It’s hugely concerning that many broadband customers could find themselves trapped in a lose-lose situation where they either have to accept exorbitant – and difficult to justify – mid-contract price hikes this Spring or pay costly exit fees to leave their contract early and find a better deal,” said Rocio Concha, Which? Director of Policy and Advocacy. “Which? is calling on providers to let their customers leave without penalty if they face mid-contract price hikes. Providers should also carefully consider the level of any price rises when many consumers are already under huge financial pressure.

“With many households struggling to make ends meet, it is completely unfair that people are trapped in this situation. Telecoms providers need to step up and play their part to support their customers through the cost of living crisis.”

It’s not great optics to hike prices midway through a contract at a time when many households are under the cosh when it comes to monthly bills. If it’s written into a contract it’s all above board, but it’s surely understood that consumers don’t tend to read through the reams of legalise when they sign up. They could, of course, but without a law degree the average T’s and C’s docs we are presented with when signing up to all sorts of services cannot be described as easily digested or to the point.


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About the Author(s)

Andrew Wooden

Andrew joins on the back of an extensive career in tech journalism and content strategy.

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