Getting the best broadband deal usually means committing to a long-term contract – typically 12, 18 or even 24 months. But, the shine can wear off a broadband deal all too quickly if a free or low introductory rate ends or you’re not getting the service you expected.
It doesn’t have to be bad service, either: moving house or simply seeing a cheaper offer from another broadband provider can make you want to stop your existing broadband contract.
Whatever the reason for wanting to ditch your broadband deal, the first step is to check your contract.
How to check your broadband contract
Read the small print
Your broadband contract sets out your rights should you wish to cancel the service. This includes how much notice is required, how to cancel, what equipment needs to be returned and what fees must be paid if you cancel during the minimum contract term.
Nearly all providers charge a termination fee if you cancel the service before the minimum agreed period has expired. Typically, you must pay all the remaining monthly subscription fees for the contract period. Even if your broadband deal has no minimum contract period, you may still be charged a cancellation fee if you cancel within the first year.
Termination and cancellation fees can make swapping to a cheaper deal less appealing, as you’ll end up paying more simply to switch broadband provider.
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When you cancel your contract, you may need to return any equipment that the broadband company provided, such as the router or TV set-top box. Some providers don’t request this but will charge a fee instead, so read the small print so you know what to expect.
Tip: downgrade your broadband contract
It’s best to avoid cancelling your broadband contract during an agreed minimum term because of the fees involved. However, if you’re determined to leave and you’re prepared to pay the exit fees, look to downgrade the deal you’re on first.
Is your broadband slow? Read our guide to speeding it up.
Some broadband providers let you switch to a cheaper deal to lower your monthly bill. That way, if you do have to pay out your contract, you’ll have less to pay.
However, check the small print of your existing contract as some providers only allow this if you’ve had the original contract for a certain amount of time.
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Get-out clauses for a broadband contract
You may be able to terminate your contract early without paying a penalty for the following reasons:
Cooling off period
Most broadband contracts have a cooling-off period of between seven and 14 days after your sign them. So, if you change your mind or find a better deal during that time, you’re allowed leave without penalty.
The deal was mis-sold
If the contract for your broadband deal differs from what you agreed with the salesperson, you should be able to cancel the contract without having to pay a penalty.
First make a formal complaint to your broadband provider claiming misrepresentation. You can ask that the terms of the contract be changed to match what the salesperson said or look to cancel the contract without charges.
The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations can also help if you’ve been the victim of misleading actions or aggressive selling.
In line with Ofcom rules, if your broadband provider raises its prices mid-way through your contract period, you can exit the contract without having to pay a termination fee. You have only 30 days from notification of the price increase to cancel your contract, after which it’s automatically deemed that you agree to this new price.
However, before you act, check the small print of your contract. Some providers have added clauses to their contracts to cover this new rule, stating that prices may rise during the fixed contract period. As this means you’ve been given fair warning of possible future price increases, you won’t be able to leave without paying a penalty.
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You may have grounds for escaping your contract if your broadband provider has failed to provide an acceptable level of service. This is considered a breach of contract. Poor service includes installation delays, slow broadband speeds, connection dropouts and bad customer service.
Read our tips on what to do if your broadband isn't working.
You’ll need to keep a detailed log listing the dates and times of intermittent service or slow speeds. Write to your provider to formally report the issue and keep a record of all correspondence.
If the problem isn’t resolved within eight weeks or you’re not satisfied with the provider’s response, ask for a deadlock letter to take your complaint to either the Communications Ombudsman or the Internet Services Adjudication Scheme (CISAS).