One man’s infuriating 96-minute battle to cancel his Sky subscription highlights the problems customers may face if they want to be released from a utility contract.
Most of us are tied into these contracts, whether for broadband, TV, or phone services. Contracts are growing ever longer, with many reaching 24-months or more. However, what if providers don’t offer the service you want or expect, or your circumstances change?
There are many reasons why you might want to cancel a service. Here are some tips to ensure you’re armed with the right information to avoid a struggle.
Are you in the cooling-off period?
If you’ve recently signed up to a contract, you may be within your rights to cancel it without incurring any charges. Check your terms and conditions, as cooling-off periods vary, although they are typically around 14 days for utility contracts.
Check your contract
Look out for hidden clauses and cancellation charges. Ideally, you’d do this when you take out a contract.
You’ll typically be tied into a minimum contract period, such as 12 or 18 months. If you try to cancel before this date, your provider may try to charge you for the entire period.
Otherwise, you may have to wait until the minimum term of your contract has expired to give notice.
When you do, keep copies and send this in writing, and email. Some providers make a point of stipulating they want a particular form of notice, so don’t give them this wriggle room.
Find out how to get out of a broadband contract.
Check your rights
It sounds like there’s no option but to wait until the end of your contract term, but there may be get out clauses so check your rights. For example, if you have a poor mobile signal at home you have rights under the Supply of Goods and Services Act. You could terminate your contract for non-performance.
Likewise, if you face a sudden mid-contract price rise, you should have 30 days’ notice and be able to end the contract without penalty during this period. However, this only applies for contracts taken out since January 2014.
What can you do if your broadband service isn't working?
Consider a better deal
Before deciding to cancel, check out what offers you can get elsewhere. If you’re happy with these, and they’re competitive, make a note of their details. You could use them to haggle for a better deal with your current provider so you don’t have to face the hassle of switching.
Read our guide to switching broadband provider.
If you’re determined that you’re leaving, write down your reasons in case any persuasive tactics are used to get you to stay.
No matter what the service rep says, stress you’ve given your notice in accordance with your contract, and you won’t change your mind. Remember, they’re just doing their job and it’s not personal.
Finally, ask for written confirmation that your contract has been cancelled. If you still have problems, go though your service provider’s official complaints procedure, and then consider taking this to the particular regulator. Find more details at www.ofcom.org.uk.
Could you save money on your broadband, TV or phone service? Pop your postcode into our comparison tool to see the best deals in your area.