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Cancelling any kind of contract with a company can be a stressful business. You’ll need to wait to speak to someone, have to negotiate which department to speak to and then have to explain yourself. Canceling broadband, landline or TV plans are no exception to this and sometimes customers will find themselves unsure of whether they can cancel or not.
Last update: November 2022
So, how does it all work? We want to make sure you have all of the facts you need to reach an informed decision. Here is our guide on how to cancel your broadband, landline or TV plan.
Will I be charged for leaving my broadband contract early?
To cancel your broadband, you contact your provider and inform them that you wish to give 30 days notice of cancellation. This will mean that on Day 30, cancellation and account closure is completed. A final invoice will be produced with your final payment amount. Calling or using live chat is normally the best way to cancel with your provider.
Can I get out of my broadband contract without paying?
The short answer here is to say no, you will be charged for cancel your broadband contract early, in normal circumstances. There are exceptions to the rule and the most common one is leaving in the 14 days cooling off period. Cancelling broadband, landline or TV plans is possible with no exit fee, until midnight on Day 14 of the cooling off period, which is a regulation across this sector in the UK.
|Cancellation reason||Will I be charged an ETF?|
|Within 14 days of sale||No, you have a legal right to leave for free in the first 14 days|
|Service and connection complaint||Possibly, your provider will more likely offer compensation and resolve the issue|
|I found a cheap deal elsewhere but have 6 months left on my contract||Yes, without exception|
|I have received terrible customer service and want to leave||Possibly, if you complain, you still be given a resolution that is probably not going to be leaving for free. Only if there is a ruling from the Ombudsman for you to leave for free in this case|
|The speed is slower than quoted and it cannot be fixed||No, if your provider is a member of the Ofcom voluntary code you will not be charged an ETF|
What is the cooling off period?
Many customers nowadays use the cooling off period to cancel their broadband as a way to make sure they really have found the best offer. First they sign the best contract they have found so far, before using the next 14 days to double check they have got the best deal.
The cooling off period is also a good time to check the details of what you have agreed to, to avoid any confusion about your new tariff.
The cooling off period applies to products purchased over the phone and online. All you need to do is inform your provider within the 14 day cooling off period that you want to cancel your broadband.
It is worth knowing that it does not apply to sales agreed upon in person.
In which cases can I break my contract without paying ETF
Aside from the cooling off period, there are other reasons that you can cancel your broadband for free. These would depend on each provider, but in most cases a complaint, where the outcome involves the Early Termination Fee or ETF being waived or a breach of terms and conditions from your provider would also potentially allow you to leave for free:
If you’ve been signed up to a service without agreeing
One situation worth mentioning is the scenario where you have been sold a product or service that you did not agree to, or the product was mis-sold to you. In this case you would normally need to complain and get the sales call listened to or have similar action taken to prove the mis-sale. The resolution, if proven, would be that the service can be cancelled without penalty.
If your broadband is slow
Most providers are also part of the Ofcom voluntary code. This is an opt in scheme where providers agree to give estimates of speed and connection that are accurate. They should also give accurate minimum speeds. In the case where these are not met, a customer can cancel the broadband free of charge because the service is not up to the standard expected. If your provider is meeting your contracts minimum speed requirements and your internet is still too slow, it would be beneficial to discover what speed you need for your daily online usage.
If you’re no longer in your contract period
If you are out of contract then you can always leave without an ETF. This is because, while you are with that specific company, you do not have a commitment to them. This is the best situation for looking around at a cheaper deal, you can also use it as a chance to try and negotiate with your current provider to get a better deal for staying with them.
If the price has gone up
Depending on the provider and if they have it in their terms and conditions or not, an example of a breach would be raising your monthly price by more than the rate of inflation. However, many providers now use the Retail Price Index to calculate increases and also include this in their terms and conditions. This would make it almost impossible to challenge the ETF.
You’ve got a complaint
This is a grey area in terms of cancelling without an ETF. Most providers are going to try and resolve your issue and keep you as a customer. It is not normally part of a resolution to a complaint to cancel the contract for free. Instead providers may offer compensation, a discount on monthly payments or an upgraded service for the same costs. To try and cancel in this manner is difficult, but the best way is to ask for it to be part of your resolution. This does not mean your provider has to accept the request however.
What if I want to cancel for other reasons?
This again, is a grey area. The reasons need to be watertight in proving that your provider has failed to deliver the service that they offered. If the reason for leaving is just that you have found something cheaper elsewhere, it is not going to be strong enough.
If you have found a deal that is significantly cheaper than your current one, you could calculate whether it is worth to cancel your broadband and just paying the ETF and making back the savings over a period of months on your new contract.
How do I calculate the ETF?
In most cases the easiest thing to do is actually ask your provider the question – if I cancel right now, what is my ETF?
An example of a calculation from BT is as follows:
The fee is the total of the remaining amount you would have paid up to the end of your minimum period.
- the costs BT saves (for example, payments to suppliers) as a result of you leaving early
- 1% if BT gets your final payment early
Specifically that could look like this:
- You pay £35 a month
- You have four months left in your minimum commitment period
- multiply £35 by four months, totalling £140.
- take off VAT, reducing it to £116.67.
- take off the costs it saves (for example, £15 per month, multiplied by four = £60),leaving £56.67
- discount by 1% for early receipt, making £56.10
- add on VAT, making your final early termination fee £67.32
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Each provider is slightly different in the way that they calculate and the figure. The best thing to do is ask them to calculate it for you and then make a decision about whether the saving of a new cheaper plan will offset the cost of the ETF.
Can my new provider pay my exit fees?
Now and again, providers will offer to pay exit fees by way of gaining new customers and taking away from their rivals.
If you are talking to a new provider, you can always ask them to, but unless their sales team have been given a budget for it or have some kind of promotion for paying up to a certain amount of an ETF, then it is very unlikely that they will cover it.
How to reduce the cost of cancelling broadband early
Once you are in a contract, you are limited in what you can do to reduce your ETF. A rule of thumb is that for every month that passes, the cost will come down. This means at least you can work out what kind of ETF you can afford. In general though, there is no process for reducing the cost other than waiting until you are closer to being able to afford the ETF.
What is the Automatic Compensation?
In 2019 Ofcom introduced a new scheme for situations where a customer is left without service. The scheme guarantees a certain amount of compensation for service loss and is a voluntary scheme, adhered to by a number of UK Broadband providers. It leads to payments of compensation being made automatically, so customers do not need to complain in order to get refunded for days without service.
This guide from the Communications Ombudsman shows the breakdown of refunds and situations that lead to compensation:
|Service failure||Customer entitled to compensation if the following applies||Amount in £|
|Delayed repair||Total loss of service. Not fixed by midnight the second day after the company is made aware of the problem||£8 for each calendar day the service is not repaired|
|Missed appointment||Engineer fails to attend a scheduled appointment or cancels with less than 24 hours’ notice||£25 for each missed appointment|
|Delayed provision of service||Failure to provide a service on the date promised in writing by the company||£5 for each calendar day of delay, including the missed start day|
One thing to bear in mind, is that this scheme is designed to avoid customers asking to leave in the middle of their commitment periods. So while it is a good thing to receive compensation, it won’t help you switch without an ETF.
Closing your account
Once the final bill has been produced and then paid off, the account closure will be completed. If you are moving to a new provider, then there is a date for the service ending with your current provider and a start date for your new provider.
Your final bill
When you cancel broadband a final bill is charged, this will include charges for your last 30 days, any out of bundle charges and any outstanding payments. It can also include your ETF if you have cancelled your broadband before the commitment period is at an end. You will never be asked to pay beyond your last day of receiving service. The dates on the invoice itself will reflect this.
Do I have to send my equipment back?
Depending on your supplier you may be asked to return the kit for your broadband. Most providers will send prepaid packaging with a returns label to send the equipment back to them.
With most providers, when you give notice of cancellation, they will arrange to send out prepaid packaging quite quickly. It will arrive in the post, with the expectation being that you will then put the equipment for returning inside and send it back. Your provider will normally specify which kit actually needs to return.
Switching to a new broadband provider
If you are in a position to switch or have found that the ETF is a reasonably low amount, we can help you look at the best options.
Speed, price and customer support are the three most important factors in choosing a provider who ultimately, you won’t want to leave in the middle of a contract.
At Broadband Plans, we’ve reviewed your options and more information on choosing a new provider by comparing the best broadband deals available in the UK.
You may wish to consider 4G or 5G mobile broadband for your home
An interesting and potentially better alternative to conventional home broadband are the new 4G and 5G offerings from the likes of Vodafone, Three and EE. There is even speculation that the technology may become a mainstream choice in the UK market.
Just now a number of offers exist where you are given a router, with no need for a landline and get connected to some very fast speeds based on 4G and 5G mobile networks. We’ve written more about this increasingly desirable option here.
In case you need more information on this topic, don’t hesitate to follow these links:
- How to set up broadband?
- Broadband when moving house
- What broadband speed do I need?
- Switch broadband suppliers
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Can I get out of my broadband contract for free?
Cancelling broadband, landline or TV plans is possible with no exit fee, until midnight on Day 14 Within 14 days of sale, which is a regulation across this sector in the UK.
What is the cooling off period?
The cooling off period consists of the 14 days after the purchase and applies to products purchased over the phone and online.
In what cases can I break my contract without paying ETF?
- If you’ve been signed up to a service without agreeing
- If your broadband is slow
- If you're no longer in your contract period
- If the price has gone up
- You’ve got a complaint
What is includes the final bill?
When you cancel broadband a final bill is charged, this will include charges for your last 30 days, any out of bundle charges and any outstanding payments. It can also include your ETF if you have cancelled your broadband before the commitment period is at an end.
Updated on 30 Oct, 2022
Broadband Specialist & Copywriter