A new report into broadband, phone and energy providers in Ireland has found that almost all charge customers for early exits, with some costing hundreds of euro.
Fulfilling your contractual obligations with service providers is not always possible, circumstances change, budgets go up and down and decisions have to be made.
However, it’s unlikely you fully understand the implications of leaving your broadband, phone or energy provider, according to Switcher.ie’s latest report.
Surveying 1,000 customers in Ireland, three-quarters were confused by the early-exit obligations they were under and, given it could cost almost €300 to leave a service, this is a troubling figure.
According to Switcher, this could be the fault of certain providers, though not all. The energy market makes this information clear for consumers, with most suppliers charging a flat fee of €50 per fuel if they leave a contract within the minimum term – 12 months is the usual timeframe for this.
Yet, in mobile and broadband examples, things are a bit more confusing. “Consumers who are trying to calculate early-exit fees for their broadband and mobile phone contracts may have difficulty finding this information,” said Switcher.
Switcher.ie’s investigation found that the majority of broadband and mobile phone providers will require customers to pay the monthly charge for the remainder of the term.
Eoin Clarke, MD at Switcher.ie, called on suppliers to “make it really clear” to customers, detailing the minimum term and what that means when it comes to exiting a contract.
“The market for household essentials is competitive at the moment, so if consumers are aware of when their minimum term ends, they can freely shop around for a better deal, which will help them to keep their costs down,” he said.
Digiweb was found to charge the most for an early exit, with €299.70 representing the full six months remaining on a customer’s Fibre Broadband Unlimited contract. So too Vodafone, with its Home Essentials contract costing six months to cancel (€270) if you broke off with exactly six months remaining.
Eir’s more expensive super-fast broadband and off-peak mobile contract costs four months to cancel (€250), while Magnet’s Fatpipe Fibre 24 offer, which is on a month-by-month basis, costs nothing to leave.
Of course, the cost is all relative, with some consumers probably more than happy to pay higher rates for what they consider a superior service. Yet being fully aware of what you are entitled to, and what it will cost you, is important.
“The average energy customer can save up to €360 per year by switching to the cheapest deals on the market, so consumers should keep a note of their minimum term and be sure to switch when this ends to make significant savings,” said Clarke.
Main image of a warning sign via Shutterstock