Switching can slash mobile, broadband and pay TV bills by up to £250

As many mobile, pay TV and broadband providers prepare to hike monthly bills by an eye-watering 14% this spring, our latest research finds that customers could save over £200 a year by switching providers.

We asked more than 5,000 customers whose mobile, broadband or TV and broadband package had recently ended whether they had haggled or switched, and how much money they had saved in the process.

It showed that there could be compelling savings on offer – particularly for those willing to move to a new provider. But even those who’d rather stick with their current provider can reduce the amount they pay.

Any savings on telecoms should be welcomed amid current financial pressures. Which? is calling on all providers to allow customers to leave their contract without penalty if prices are hiked mid-contract, to allow more people the opportunity to manage their bills.

Discover the best and worst broadband providers swear best and worst mobile providers for 2023.

Switch providers and save

Our survey shows that switching providers is the best way for broadband, TV and broadband and mobile customers to save money. TV and broadband customers who switched providers made the largest savings on average, but that’s because they also pay the most for their service. Broadband customers who switched had the greatest proportional savings.

Across the board, more than seven in 10 customers who switched providers saved as a result – and bigger than average savings are possible for customers leaving some of the major providers.

TV and broadband customers saved an average of £162 by switching – a discount of around 13%, although customers with some providers saved even more.

  • Those who switched away from Sky saved an average of £261 a year.
  • Virgin customers saved an average of £210 per year.
  • BT customers saved £131 a year on average.

There were also big savings to be had for broadband customers who switched, with the average saving being £92 – an average discount of 16%. However, customers who left BT saved an average of £127.

The average mobile customers who switched saved £95 in the process – a discount of 13%. However, customers who switched away from EE saved £184 and those who left Vodafone saved £150, on average.

Switching providers is easy

In most cases when you switch you’ll only need to contact one provider and they’ll take care of the whole process – that’s the case in all three sectors.

  • Mobile customers can request a code from their old provider via text and pass this to their new provider, and keep the phone number. Read our guide on how to switch mobile provider.
  • Most people who switch broadband providers will also only have to contact their new provider – find out more using our guide on how to switch broadband provider.

An exception is if you move between a broadband provider that uses the Openreach network (such as BT, Sky or TalkTalk) and a provider that has its own network (such as Hyperoptic or Virgin Media). You currently have to contact both providers and organize the timing of your switch yourself. It can take up to two weeks between order and the new service being provided.

But from April, Ofcom will enforce One Touch Switching across all providers. This means you’ll only have to contact your new provider, which will be responsible for managing the switch. The process will also be faster, taking as little as a day, and providers will have to compensate you if something goes wrong and you’re left without service for more than one working day.

Don’t want to switch? Haggle

As you can see from the graph above, customers in our survey saved more than average by switching. But if you’re happy with your provider, you might be reluctant to switch away. You can still make a saving thanks to negotiation – something that is both expected and invited by telecoms providers. Most people do it via a phone call, but you can also try live chat or email if you prefer. Get started using our guide on how to haggle on your broadband deal to discover the simple steps it takes to negotiate a better price.

A saving isn’t the only potential benefit of haggling – it’s also a chance to get a faster speed or more data. And the average customer who upgraded still ended up paying less. But we found the biggest savings were for hagglers who downgraded their deal – if you have more mobile data or more pay TV channels than you need, or 500Mbps broadband when 100Mbps would be enough, that’s worth discussing with your provider.

And, just as with switching, larger than average savings are possible for customers of certain providers.

Virgin Media customers stand to make the biggest broadband savings at £77 per year. Overall, people who haggled with their TV and broadband provider saved an average of £90 a year, but for BT TV and broadband customers, this was £123 a year.

With mobile contracts, Vodafone (£96), Three (£78) and EE (£70) customers could all stand to make a higher than average saving by haggling.

Don’t do anything when your contract ends

Our survey also found that one in five people did nothing when their contract ended. These people are at the greatest risk of overpaying on their broadband and mobile bills. Many broadband providers swear mobile providers are expected to hike their prices this spring.

An increasing number of providers factor price rises into contracts meaning they happen on nearly all their deals every year.

Broadband providers such as BT, TalkTalk and Vodafone use the Consumer Price Index (CPI), published in January, as a basis for their price rises – but they also slap on an extra 3-3.9%. With CPI expected to be around 10%, that means some broadband customers will face price rises of nearly 14%.

Some mobile providers (EE, Three and Vodafone) also base their price increases on CPI. But others use the Retail Price Index (RPI), as published in February, which is typically even higher than the CPI. If that isn’t bad enough, O2 and Virgin Mobile add an extra 3.9% on top of RPI. That means some mobile customers could face increases of nearly 18% this year.

As these inflation-related increases are baked into customer contracts, they will leave many with no choice but to pay them or face costly fees to leave their provider mid-contract. But if you’re an out-of-contract customer, it’s time to take matters into your own hands. Switching or haggling will help you save on your bills.

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Which? calls on telecoms providers to do more

Given broadband and mobile phone services have become essential, Which? wants to see more done by telecoms providers to help their customers through the cost of living crisis and support those who may be struggling to afford their bills.

We’re calling on all providers to carefully assess what level of mid-contract price rises can be justified in the current cost of living crisis and allow customers to leave their contract without penalty if prices are hiked mid-contract – regardless of whether or not these increases can be said to be ‘transparent’.

Natalie Hitchins, Which? Head of Home Products and Services, said: “While our findings show that out of contract customers can avoid mid-contract price hikes by switching to a new provider or haggling with their current one, those still signed up to mobile or broadband contracts could be hit with price increases that could be as high as 18%.

“Given the unrelenting cost of living crisis, Which? is calling for all providers to allow all customers to exit their contracts penalty free if their tariff does go up mid-contract and that anyone eligible for a social tariff should be allowed to move to one without facing exit fees.”

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