Simplify Digital September 2008

Looking for a TV and telecoms provider?

With more than 530,000 different broadband, digital TV and telephone service package combinations to choose from, shopping for a telecoms bundle can be a time-consuming chore. Simplify Digital claims to help narrow your search with recommendations based on your personal needs. Which? delivers its verdict in this First Look review.

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Simplify Digital

Simplify Digital is available online as well as over the phone

Simplify Digital bills itself as a free, impartial digital concierge service. It’s available online, over the phone via a freephone number, or through third-party partners including Sainsbury’s, the Daily Mail and The Daily Telegraph.

All strands of the service work in the same way: you submit your digital TV, broadband and phone requirements and Simplify Digital recommends packages that match your needs.

This differs from rival services such as uSwitch and Money Supermarket, which typically take just a few basic details (such as postcode) and then list the cheapest headline deals from each major supplier.

It also goes one step further. If you decide to take up Simplify Digital’s recommendation, the company will also set up and oversee the switching process for you.

The service is accredited by telecoms industry regulator Ofcom and holds the Ofcom Price Accreditation Scheme logo. This means the company’s digital TV, broadband and home phone comparison engine has been recognised for providing an unbiased and transparent service.

Will I get a better deal with Simplify digital?

Simplify Digital

You'll be asked about your requirements before Simplify Digital makes recommendations

To test it out, we asked five volunteers to try Simplify Digital’s online and phone services.

All found both the website and phone services approachable, convenient and easy to use and the majority were offered a cheaper deal that met their requirements and approval.

Our testers preferred the flexibility of the phone service over the website, as it gave them the opportunity to ask questions, discuss their requirements and give more detailed information about what they were looking for.

Over the phone, no pressure was felt to take up the recommendation and most were offered a good ‘top match’ recommendation as well as similar alternatives. They also appreciated the chance to get recommendations sent to them for consideration in their own time.

Out testers felt the online service, which involves answering a short questionnaire, was a useful guide, but less helpful overall.

This is mainly due to the one way nature of the internet and the inevitable constraints of choosing options through rigid search tools. For example, we would have liked a wider choice of TV channel requirements (rather than just premium sport and movies), the ability to search for phone deals that include overseas calls and information about achievable broadband speeds in different areas.

Simplify Digital’s website does, however, give you more insightful recommendations than rival sites. In particular, we liked the range of options available for narrowing down the types of TV, broadband and phone package you’re interested in. These options include HDTV, the ability to record and pause TV, a choice of broadband download speeds, the option to search for mobile (as well as conventional) broadband deals and a choice of the times you’d like to have free calls.

Picking your package

Simplify Digital

Results are displayed clearly on Simplify Digital's website

Online results are ordered first by the number of requirements met and then price. Package summaries are detailed and clearly presented, and we liked the way not all recommendations are single-provider bundles. For example, a recommendation could be a BT phone line matched with Zen broadband and Freeview TV, saving you time constructing your own bespoke combination.

However, prices are ranked primarily by initial discounts rather than the long-term monthly costs, so you’ll need to check the long-term price of each deal. And while it is made clear where you have to pay for a BT phone service on top of the monthly fee, the reported savings don't take this into account, so could be misleading.

The site does not explain the differences between your current deal and the site’s recommendations. It would also be helpful if it explained any differences in the TV packages on offer, and what type and what differences there are in the broadband services (for example, any fair use policy and the fact that cable gets closer to advertised speeds than ADSL).

This is of course not so much of a problem using Simplify Digital over the phone, where you more free to ask questions about recommendations.It's a good idea to write down any questions you have before making the call to ensure you get the most out of the recommendations.

Which? verdict

Simplify Digital is a very helpful tool if you’re confused about digital media options and aren’t sure how to get the best deal to suit your needs.

The website is great for narrowing down your options, but is by no means exhaustive. For a personalised recommendation that’s likely to suit your needs and budget, you’re best off speaking to one of the service’s advisers over the phone. But the Simplify Digital website still compares favourably to other online comparison tools, with much greater flexibility than its rivals.

Our testers felt Simplify Digital felt like a genuine service rather than a sales mechanism, and its flexibility really sets it apart from other comparison tools. It’s a unique service that’s particularly suitable for less tech-savvy consumers looking for a better bundle deal.

Pros: Free to use, personalised recommendations, whole market comparison, available online or over the phone, no pressure selling, accredited by Ofcom

Cons: Website lacks advanced search options, doesn’t always take into account full set-up costs