Britons on standard ADSL broadband packages are paying an extra 62 per cent on average after their contract expires, uSwitch research reveals.
The premium leveraged customers affected equates to a whopping, additional £152 a year.
A similar trend was identified among fibre broadband customers, as their prices go up by an average of £158 a year - or 53 per cent - after their contracts expire.
Evidence of the extent of the price rises comes as broadband providers are being urged to follow the lead of the insurance and energy sectors and issue customers with end-of-contract notifications.
As it stands, broadband suppliers are no obligation to notify customers of their contract status. The hike applies as soon the standard 12-month or 18-month contract term comes to an end.
Nearly nine in ten consumers said they would look for a better deal if they knew their contract was about to expire.
Table 1: The following table shows the difference between in-contract and out-of-contract prices for standard ADSL broadband packages.
|Provider||Package||In-contact pricing (p/m)||Out-of-contract pricing (p/m)||Difference (p/m)||% Difference|
|Sky||Sky Unltd Broadband||£18||£30||£12||66.7%|
|TalkTalk||TalkTalk Unltd Fast Broadband||£17||£27||£10||58.8%|
|EE||EE Unltd Broadband||£20||£31||£11||55%|
|Plusnet||Plusnet Unltd Broadband and Phone Line||£19.99||£29.98||£9.99||50%|
|Virgin Media||N/A - no ADSL service||N/A - no ADSL service||N/A - no ADSL service||N/A - no ADSL service||N/A - no ADSL service|
Source: uSwitch.com, correct as of 24/08/18
Table 2: The following table shows the difference between in-contract and out-of-contract prices for entry-level fibre broadband packages.
|Provider||Package||In-contract pricing (p/m||Out-of-contract pricing (p/m)||Difference (p/m)||% Difference|
|TalkTalk||TalkTalk Unltd Faster Fibre||£19.95||£33.50||£13.55||67.9%|
|Sky||Sky Fibre Unltd||£25||£38.99||£13.99||56%|
|Virgin Media||Virgin Media VIVID 50 Fibre Broadband & Phone||£27||£42||£15||55.6%|
|BT||BT Superfast Fibre Essential||£28.99||£44.99||£15.50||53.5%|
|Plusnet||Plusnet Unltd Fibre Broadband & Phone Line||£23.99||£34.98||£10.99||45.8%|
|EE||EE Unltd Superfast Fibre Broadband||£26||£36||£10||38.5%|
Source: uSwitch.com, correct as of 24/08/18
As a result, uSwitch believes end-of-contract notifications would help people avoid paying over the odds.
Richard Neudegg, Head of Regulation at uSwitch, commented: "There’s currently no requirement for any warning when broadband contracts are about to expire, so customers can very quickly find themselves paying increased charges before they have time to react.
"It's important to warn consumers that they are moving onto these higher rates. Consumers have come to expect similar notifications from other industries, so why should it be any different with broadband contracts."
Ofcom is currently running a consultation on the idea of introducing end-of-contract notifications in the broadband market.
According to the watchdog, this would ensure people are aware of any changes to their price or service, as well as point them towards options that let them save money.
Mr Neudegg insisted that Ofcom's consultation on how to implement these notifications must ensure that crucial information "doesn't get buried in the small print of bills, or isn't shown at all".
He said this information must be clear, concise and implemented in a timely fashion.
"Every second’s delay sees broadband customers paying an 'awareness penalty' and forking out much more than they have to when there are cheaper comparable - and often better - services on the market."
Speaking after the launch of the consultation, Lindsey Fussell, Consumer Group Director at Ofcom, said: "We’re concerned many people are paying more than they need to, particularly those who are out of contract.
"Customers have told us they want to be alerted when their broadband contract is coming to an end, and get advice on their options. Under our plans, providers would have to do exactly that."
According to uSwitch's data, consumers who take ADSL broadband from BT saw the biggest price increases, with their bills going up by £246 a year.
Speaking to the Sun, a BT spokesperson insisted it is committed to providing the best service for its customers at great value, and offering discounts on its standard prices.
"We provide all our customers with advice and access to deals, and if a customer is coming to the end of their contract then they can extend it to continue receiving a discounted rate," the representative said.
"We’re working closely with Ofcom as we continue to provide clearer information to our customers about their options."
Plusnet fared better in the figures, but its customers still saw their prices go up by £119.88 a year on average.
"We know how frustrating end of contract price rises are, that’s why we offer all customers on our fixed price contracts an industry-first proactive end-of-contract notification and account review," a spokesperson commented.
"We want to make sure our customers are getting the best value for money and never pay more than they need."