Orange, TalkTalk and Virgin's fees under spotlightHome phone cancellation fees confusing says Which?

22 February 2010

Person talking on the phone

It can be hard to find out how much it would cost to end your contract early on leading providers' websites

Confusion, high fees and lack of transparency – that’s what Which? found when it investigated home phone contract cancellation terms from leading providers such as Orange, TalkTalk and Virgin Media.

When Which? asked nearly 2,000 of its members about their home phone contracts in late 2009, it found that most people weren’t aware of how much it would cost to cancel their home phone contract early.

Many who were sure that there would be a fee assumed it would be just a small admin fee.

The cost of ending a phone contract early

In fact, cancelling a contract early can be very expensive – costing hundreds of pounds in some cases.

Find out how much it would cost to leave a home phone contract with leading home phone providers such as BT, Orange, Sky, TalkTalk and Virgin in the Which? guide to phone contracts.

BT wins on website termination terms transparency

Which? asked 10 of its researchers to search one phone provider’s website for up to 10 minutes to try to find out what would happen if they terminated the company’s phone contract early.

Researchers looked at home phone or phone/broadband bundle cancellation terms for AOL, BT, Plusnet, the Post Office, Orange, Sky, TalkTalk, Tesco, Utility Warehouse and Virgin Media.

  • FAIL - on the Orange, TalkTalk, Utility Warehouse and Virgin Media websites researchers couldn’t locate the relevant terms within 10 minutes.
  • FAIL – on the AOL, Sky and Tesco websites researchers found the relevant terms but terms weren’t clear in explaining how much a customer would have to pay.
  • PASS – on the BT, Plusnet and Post Office websites researchers were able to locate terms and work out how much they’d need to pay.

Overall, BT’s terms were the easiest to find and understand – they were located in just two minutes.

Which? telecoms expert Ceri Stanaway says: ‘A long contract with termination fees is the price we pay for a good deal – but cancellation terms should be fair, easy to find and clear.

'A summary box of additional charges, including cancellation fees – like that used in the credit card industry – would be a step in the right direction.'

Discover what Which? members think of their phone providers in the Which? reviews of home phone services and phone, internet and TV packages.

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