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26 May 2021

5 reasons you're wrong about switching broadband provider

A high proportion of customers have told us they're not planning a switch - but they could end up overpaying as a result
Man using a laptop at a desk at home

When we surveyed more than 4,000 broadband customers, half told us they were unlikely to switch broadband provider in future and 44% said they had never switched provider.

But only a third those who had never switched said it was because they were happy with their provider. The majority were holding back for reasons ranging from concerns about speed to a potentially misplaced sense of loyalty.

Our research has shown that people who switch provider at the end of their contract pay significantly less for a broadband deal. So we've taken a look at some of the top reasons people have never changed providers and explain why we think it's still worth considering a switch.

Discover which broadband providers we recommend - read our round-up of the best and worst broadband providers for 2021.

'Switching provider is too much hassle'

A quarter of those who had never switched told us they avoided it simply because they were daunted by the process. But most of the time, switching is simple. When we asked customers who had recently switched provider, two thirds said they'd found it easy.

In the majority of cases, you'll only have to contact your new provider and your new connection should begin on the same day the old one is switched off.

We've broken the switching process down into four straightforward steps. Get started using our guide on how to switch broadband provider.

'I haven't found a better broadband deal'

Just over one in five people told us they'd never switched providers because they hadn't been able to find a better deal. If you're on a cheap tariff, you may be happy to stick with your provider as long as the service is decent, but our research has shown that longstanding customers are more likely to pay high amounts for their broadband.

It may also be worth considering an upgrade. In some cases, switching to a faster fibre connection may actually cost less, but if there is a negligible increase, this could well be worth paying. Fibre offers more than just faster speeds - it's also more reliable.

Read our guide on the benefits of fibre broadband to find out why it's worth considering.

'I am loyal to my current broadband provider'

Some 17% of people gave us a somewhat surprising reason for never having switched - loyalty to their provider. If you're sticking with your broadband provider out of loyalty, make sure it's being returned. A good provider will not only offer good broadband service, they should have helpful technical support when it's needed, and not charge you over the odds.

But our research has shown that those who stay with the same broadband provider for long periods are more likely to be paying high amounts for their deals. Many major providers automatically increase their prices at the end of a minimum contract period, meaning customers who stay out of contract with their provider are particularly at risk of overpaying.

Switching is one way to make sure you're paying a reasonable amount for your broadband deal, but if you're happy with the provider you're with, consider contacting them to check you're not paying more than you should when you are out of contract.

Haggling can sound like something that requires a lot of effort, but it's usually straightforward. It'll help remind your provider that loyalty should go both ways. Read our guide on how to haggle for your broadband to get started.

'I'm afraid I'll receive lower broadband speeds'

While some 12% of those who had never switched were concerned about their speed dropping as the result of a switch, the majority of providers use the same Openreach network to deliver their broadband. It's possible you'll see slight differences in the speeds they offer - each uses different traffic management policies - but your speed shouldn't drop dramatically.

However, Virgin Media and Hyperoptic are exceptions - they each have their own broadband networks that allow them to offer higher speeds than those you'll see on the majority of the Openreach network. It's worth checking what's available in your area - ultrafast broadband (more than 100Mbps) is available on parts of the Openreach network.

Providers advertise average speeds, but when you switch broadband providers you should be given an estimated speed specifically for your property - this will help you check what's on offer.

Use our broadband speed checker to find out if your speeds match up to what you're expecting.

'I don't want to lose my email address'

Concerns about having to switch email addresses were raised by 10% of people who had never switched. While some providers, such as Sky, will allow you to continue to access your email address after you've moved on, others, such as BT and Plusnet, charge a fee for the privilege.

But some providers don't give the option of keeping your email address if you switch away - for example, if you leave Virgin Media you'll have access to your email account for 90 days before it's deleted.

It's best to avoid becoming beholden to a broadband provider for your emails in the first place, particularly given there are many free services available. Luckily some of these services - such as Gmail and Outlook - also have mail fetching features that will import all the emails from your old account.

You'll need to keep your old email account active initially to give you time to change the email address on all your associated accounts. Set up email forwarding in your old email account, too - then when emails get forwarded to your new inbox, update the address they're sent to.

While migrating to a new email address may take some initial effort, it'll mean you won't feel tied to any particular provider simply for an email service in future.

It's worth exploring other broadband deals on the market to check you're paying a reasonable amount. Which? Switch Broadband can help you find the best broadband deals where you live.