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Loyal broadband customers pay more than customers who switch

More than 70% have been with their broadband provider at least three years and could be missing out on a cheaper deal

Many broadband customers are staying with providers that offer poor customer service. By doing so, they potentially pay hundreds of pounds a year more than they need to as some providers take advantage of their loyalty.

Our recent survey of 7,000 broadband customers found that 71% have been with their broadband provider for at least three years. Usually when you’ve spent three years with a provider, any enticing introductory offer will have ended and means you’re moved on to a more expensive standard tariff.

Our analysis of current broadband deals has found this could leave you paying an average of 15% more than a new customer, but the figure could be as high as 89% depending on the deal and the provider.

Switching to a new deal will mean you stay on more affordable introductory offers. Use Which? Switch Broadband, a transparent and impartial way to compare tariffs, to find the best broadband provider for you.

Mediocre providers, loyal customers

Our survey found that broadband providers with the lowest levels of customer satisfaction are some of the most likely to have customers who have been with them for at least three years.

TalkTalk had the most loyal customers of the 12 major providers surveyed, with 85% being signed up the supplier for more than three years. But with a customer satisfaction score of just 48%, it came in 11th place (out of 12) in our league table. It’s also the provider that garners the most complaints, according to Ofcom’s latest official complaints figures.

Our analysis found that the average increase between the price of a TalkTalk introductory offer and the standard cost of broadband after the offer was more than 15%. But one deal – the firm’s Faster Fibre Speed Boost deal – rises in price by 54% (from £25 a month to £38.50) after the 18-month contract period ends, representing an increase of £162 a year.

BT‘s customer score of 49% meant it placed in 10th. Yet 80% of its customers had stayed with the provider for at least three years.

The average standard BT tariff is 23% higher than the price of its average introductory deal, but its standard broadband package rises from £24.99 to £32.99 after 18 months – a 32% price increase and £96 more a year.

Sky received the lowest customer satisfaction score for its broadband at just 47%, but it still had a majority (60%) of customers staying loyal for more than three years. Sky customers face an average increase of 42% when moving to a standard tariff once their introductory offer has ended. The biggest increase is a 50% rise (from £20 to £30 a month) on its Unlimited Broadband Package – an additional £120 annually.

The biggest gaps in price

When we explored the differences in price between introductory and standard deals, we found Virgin Media customers face the biggest price rises of the 12 broadband providers. When they move onto a standard tariff, Virgin Media customers pay an average of 52% more than they would as a new customer. The supplier’s biggest increase comes after the first 12 months on its VIVID 100 fibre deal, with the price rising by 74% (from £27 to £47 a month). That’s an extra £240 a year.

Eight in 10 (79%) Virgin Media customers told Which? that they had been with the supplier for at least three years, despite the firm receiving a middling customer score of 59%.

However, the biggest one-off price increase we found was from the Post Office, which earned a customer score of 56%. Its Unlimited Broadband package increases from £15.90 to £30 after the 12-month contract period, which is an additional 89% or £169 more a year. The introductory offer is also currently the cheapest deal on the market.

Compare the differences in the average increase in price (between an introductory offer and standard offer) by provider using our graph below.

The best broadband providers

Fortunately, some of the highly rated providers in our customer satisfaction survey also have loyal customers.

Zen Internet achieved the highest customer satisfaction score, at 86%. Six out of 10 of its customers told us they had been with the provider for three years or more. Zen Internet has one of the smallest average increases between its introductory offers and the standard cost of its packages once the offer is up, rising by just 9%.

However, the price rises by 19% on the firm’s Unlimited Fibre 1 deal – from £37 to £43.99 – clocking up £83 more a year.

Seven in 10 customers have stuck with second-placed Utility Warehouse for more than three years. Utility Warehouse was awarded a customer satisfaction score of 79% for its broadband.

Along with Vodafone, Utility Warehouse bucks the trend by keeping its prices the same even once the introductory period ends.

Switch broadband provider

Customers who stay with a provider for longer than two years are likely to be outside of their minimum contract period – and paying more than they need to. If you’re in this boat, it’s worth weighing up switching to a new deal. For more information on how to get started, read our guide on how to switch broadband provider.

If you’re with an excellent provider, you may be able to get a more affordable deal without having to switch. Read our guide on how to haggle for the best broadband deal for our advice on how to negotiate with your supplier.

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