With more broadband providers on the market than ever before, there has never been a better time to secure a package that delivers extra for your money. Achieving great value, however, often means changing broadband provider to a new service. This leads to the common question of how straightforward is the process of changing broadband provider? Contrary to what you might expect, and what certain providers may tell you, the process can and should be relatively effortless.
Moving from your current provider
When changing broadband provider, it’s common for your existing internet service provider (ISP) to want to retain your custom, while the ISP you’re switching to will be eager to make the transition happen as quickly as possible. This presents a number of potential scenarios:
- An improved deal from your current ISP
- Incurring cancellation fees
- Fulfilment of additional contractual obligations
As such, it’s important you keep a close eye on your responsibilities, know precisely when you are free to move provider, and how much you will be forced to pay in the event of triggering contractual clauses. In fact, before entering any contract with a broadband provider, always ensure you have it clear in your mind and on paper the specifics of your liability. This little bit of knowledge could well prove invaluable in the future.
Identify all costs
The appeal of being able to change broadband providers lies the in the savings you are able to make. But that’s not to say that a great-sounding deal is always as cheap as it seems. Switching from mobile broadband to ADSL, for example, will undoubtedly deliver far superior service and better running costs, but you need to take into consideration start-up fees. Should a new phone line be required, you will be facing a charge of up to £120 plus the cost of a new modem (approximately £40). That’s quite a significant outlay you may not have expected.
Of course, ISPs often provide complete broadband packages when you switch, covering all start-up fees and initial charges. In instances such as these, you will likely be tied into a long-term contract which can only be ended through payment of a cancellation fee. Always identify these potential costs when looking into changing broadband provider, and ensure you compare all packages on a like-for-like basis.
Why is changing broadband provider difficult?
In any industry, the battle for customers is a competitive market. Companies are determined to retain customers for as long as possible, while competitors will put together eye-catching offers in an effort to poach new clients. When it comes to changing broadband provider, all parties with an interest in the service contribute to making the transition difficult.
As a customer, you are the one to trigger the change, usually in an effort to secure better service and better value for money; your existing ISP will want to retain your custom and will do all it can to keep you on its books, whether through retention offers or by charging a cancellation fee; your new ISP will want you to join as soon as possible, and set in motion necessary credit checks for assurances about your suitability to entering a new contract. It is these parties that add to the difficulty of changing broadband provider.
To smooth the process and enable you to switch ISP without losing service, the MAC Code of Conduct was introduced between the ISP industry, BT and Ofcom.
MAC Code of Conduct
Since February 14, 2007, the Migration Authorisation Code (MAC) has been a mandatory requirement for all ISPs. It is a 10-15 digit code generated by a BT wholesale system in order to identify your broadband connection, and will be passed on to your new provider to relay to a BT engineer when you wish to change provider.
Internet service providers are required to adhere to the main principles of the MAC code of conduct, with its implementation aimed at reducing consumer downtime and ease of transition:
- If you request your MAC, the ISP must issue it within five working days of the request, regardless of any dispute. Requesting the MAC is free at the first time of asking, but may incur a charge if more than one request is placed. Once provided, a MAC lasts 30 days before expiration.
- Once provided with a MAC, it is up to your new provider to switch it to its service within this 30-day period. Your new ISP will be able to inform you of the precise date of connectivity to the service.
While adoption of the MAC code of conduct has eased moving between providers significantly, it hasn’t eliminated all problems. Contact XINIXWORLD today to discuss any potential issues you may experience.
Review the market
Changing broadband provider is all about comparing the many offers on the market. From product descriptions to industry reviews, customer forums to social media feedback, it’s imperative that you get the complete picture of your potential new provider.
The starting point for a new ISP begins, of course, through analysing the products available. Usage caps, contract length, monthly costs, your location, and more are all contributing factors to product suitability. Comparing like-for-like products will be the best means of determining which represents the greatest value for money.
After identifying the product best-suited to your requirements, you should look to gain impartial opinions on the provider. User forums are a fantastic resource to discover what others think of a certain product. Similarly, monitoring social networks for customer reviews enables you to identify the strengths and weaknesses of certain providers, making it clear who you should avoid and who you can trust.
Know your rights
Contract law is a hugely complicated part of the English legal system, but you should not be daunted by the terms and conditions contained in your broadband contractual agreement. At the very least, it’s essential that you familiarise yourself with the following terms contained in your contract:
- Agreement term: almost all broadband products are offered as part of a contractual agreement which has a minimum term. The duration of such a term may vary according to provider, but almost all will charge a penalty should you wish to terminate or leave your contract before the minimum period has passed.
- Cancellation policy: extricating yourself from a contract is far from easy, and often comes at a cost. Many companies will stipulate that the cancellation policy requires full payment of the outstanding subscription; others may reduce this amount. Being fully aware of your liability is essential.
- Hidden charges: additional charges can sometimes be found buried in the small print of contractual terms. These come in a number of forms, such as a one-off payment for a service upgrade. Always be aware of any figures stated in your contract, and don’t be afraid to ask your provider for a full breakdown of costs.
- Breaches of contract: aside from cost, one of the most common reasons for changing broadband provider is unhappiness at the service provided. If you’re unhappy with the service you’ve received, you may find that your ISP has breached the terms of the agreement, with a failure to deliver timely service or a lack of support often cited by unhappy consumers.
Open communication with your ISP
It pays to be as open and honest with your provider as you wish them to be with you. If you’re looking at changing broadband provider after being alerted to a better deal, why not ask your current ISP for an improved package? You’re under no obligation to accept, but often the best deals become available once you begin the process of changing.
Of course, if you’re not satisfied with the revised terms, you can request your MAC from the cancellation team, which is bound by Ofcom regulations to provide this within five days. In some instances, your provider may make it difficult for you to obtain your MAC, usually when you’re changing from one Local Loop Unbundling (LLU) provider to another. The difficulty in such a transition lies not in issuing a MAC, but the lack of process in place for moving customers between providers. By referring to the MAC code of conduct and alerting your provider to its contravention of Ofcom regulations, issuance of your MAC may well prove far a smoother process.
It cannot be stressed enough that you should keep a full record over your dealings, both written and verbal. Such information may prove crucial in the event of changing broadband provider when still within your contracted term.
Make the change
Once in possession of your MAC, ensure you pass it on to your new provider within 30 days so that its validity does not expire. In the meantime, it pays to maintain positive relations with your existing ISP, thereby facilitating a smooth change. Changing broadband provider can take time, with technical problems and engineer availability causing hold ups. In these circumstances, it pays to be patient.
Sale of Goods Act 1979
In the event of being unable to switch providers, the Sale of Goods Act 1979 ensures that all goods must:
- be as described
- be of satisfactory quality, and
- be fit for purpose
Failure to uphold these requirements entitles you to demand your money back from the service provider. Further legal advice can be sought from Consumer Direct, a free service provided by the government.
Contact Xinix World
For more details on changing broadband providers, your rights as a customer, as well as your obligations, contact Xinix today. We’ll be happy to offer further advice and answer any questions you may have, call free on 0800 5200 300