Households lose £250 as broadband companies shut up on cheap deals

Broadband providers have been accused of failing to properly advertise their cheapest rates, costing millions of people £250 a year.

Households in rural areas, which often have to pay more for fast internet access, are among those at risk of missing out on significant savings, according to consumer group Which?.

Many companies have not done enough to provide low-income and older households with cheap fares – called social fares – accessible to households that rely on pension credit and other benefits. Which ones? has warned.

Social rates are charged between £15 and £20 a month and the average household eligible for reduced rates could save £250.32 a year by switching to the cheapest rate, according to Which?.

But the potential savings could be much higher. The average customer with provider Hyperoptic could save £344 annually by switching to the company’s cheapest rate, while the average Virgin Media customer would save £321. These providers offer some of the cheapest discounted deals on the market, priced at £15 per month.

Throughout the month of May, which one? tracked the social media channels of seven major broadband providers offering social tariffs: BT, G.Network, Hyperoptic, KCOM, NOW Broadband, Sky and Virgin Media. Only one provider, KCOM, announced the lowest rates to customers throughout the month.

Similarly, none of the vendors asked customers if they received any benefits or assistance through the process of signing up for a new offer until they reached the final payment stage.

Which?’s Rocio Concha warned it was “unacceptable” that broadband providers were not doing more to educate customers about cheaper rates.

She said: ‘It means millions of households who may be struggling to make ends meet could be missing out on hundreds of pounds in savings.

“During a cost of living crisis, broadband providers must support the most financially vulnerable by clearly promoting discounted offers and making it easier for eligible customers to switch to social tariffs.”

Earlier this year, telecoms watchdog Ofcom warned that around 4.2million households could halve their broadband bills by signing up for special discounted packages, but low awareness meant that just 55 000 had registered in February.

Suppliers told who? that they had pledged to provide low-cost broadband to households that needed extra help amid the cost-of-living crisis. Not all broadband companies offer social tariffs, including TalkTalk and Vodafone.

Lee J. Murillo