Ofcom will also require communications providers to move all
residential and small business customers currently on rollover
contracts to alternative deals, and to completely remove rollover
contracts from the market by the 31st of December 2012.
Chris Williams, Director at Ofcom accredited TV, broadband and
phone comparison service Simplifydigital.com commented:
"Ofcom's intervention is very welcome. Automatically renewable
contracts are absolutely not in the interests of long suffering
customers who can unwittingly get tied into another long contract
unless they have an accurate annual alarm clock to remind them to
call up their provider at the appropriate time.
"ARCs automatically roll forward to a new minimum contract
period - with penalties for leaving - unless the customer actively
opts out of the renewal during a short window at the end of each
contract period. So if you have a 12 months automatically renewable
contract and you don't proactively call to cancel the contract
before it ends, they will automatically sign you up for another 12
At present, BT is the only large communications provider currently
offering these contracts to residential customers and Ofcom
estimates that approximately 15 per cent of UK residential
consumers are on rollover contracts. Other residential providers
include Adept Telecom, Axis Telecom, Eze Talk and iTalk, while
TalkTalk Business, Titan Telecoms, and Optimum Calls offer ARCs to
|A round up of popular provider contract terms
||Standard Contract Terms
||12 months for phone line, some with automatically renewable
||12 months or no contract option
||12 months or no contract option
Plusnet and O2 both offer options involving no minimum term
- Customers who want to sign up to a Plusnet broadband and home
phone deal can pay £20 or £40 for a wired or wireless router
respectively and a £25 connection fee. After which customers will
be able to leave at any time with 10 days notice.
- O2 customers can pay a one-off charge of £30.63 for 30 day
rolling contracts, O2 customers will have to give 30 days notice to
terminate the service.
Both of these options are beneficial if the service is required
for less than 6 months, particularly as both providers are
regularly awarded high scores for customer service.
However if you need a broadband connection for longer than 6
months, it's probably in your interests to take the normal contract
(as it may well work out cheaper despite the cost of breaking the
contract). For example, O2 are currently offering 3 months free on
The All Rounder and The Works for the 12 month contracts.
Three months free on the latter package means a saving of up to
£85.50, plus no need to pay the £30.63 one-off activation charge
for the 30 day contract package - a saving of £116.
Chris Williams continued:
"We talk to thousands of customers a week, helping them find the
best value deals for them. The great majority take a 12 or 18 month
contract, as these standard contract packages offer the best deals
and often no up-front costs.
"So, unless you definitely need the broadband service for less
than 6 months, we recommend taking a standard contract package, to
benefit from the very best deals."
Simplifydigital's pick of the deals - the 4th of October
|Short/no contract broadband & phone deals
||Value with Evening & Weekend Calls
||• No contract • Up to 20 Mb Speed • 10 GB download allowance •
Free Evening & Weekend Calls to UK landlines
||£65 (incl wireless router)
||£6.49 (plus £11.99 line rental)
|O2 (for O2 mobile customers)
||O2 The Basics with Evening and Weekend Calls
||• 30 day rolling contract • Up to 24 Mb Speed • 20 GB download
allowance • Free Evening & Weekend Calls to UK landlines
||£11.00 (plus £7.50 line rental)
The short/no contract options above from Plusnet and O2 have an
almost identical monthly cost (£18.48 and £18.50 respectively).
There is a larger download allowance and potentially faster speeds
with the O2 package (the monthly prices above are for O2 mobile
customers, non-mobile customers must pay an extra £5 per month
bringing the total monthly cost for the O2 package to £23.50).
The biggest savings to be made are from taking a triple play
service, which will either lock you in to a 12 or 18 month contract
dependent on the provider.
The best entry level bundle deals are shown below. If you are
interested in saving money then taking the BT option is the best
bundle. If your broadband connection is a priority then taking a
fibre optic connection from Virgin Media is ideal and finally if
you're interested in a large selection of television channels then
taking the bundle from Sky is the best choice.
||1st Year Cost
|BT (BEST OVERALL BUDGET TRIPLE)
||TV Essential + Broadband and Evening & Weekend Calls
||• 70 Freeview Channels,BBC iPlayer, Catch-up TV • Up to 20 Mb
speed, 10 GB download allowance • Free evening & weekend calls
to UK local and national numbers • 18 month contract***
||£4.00 for 4 months, £17.00 thereafter (plus £10.00 line
||£182.00 (£302.00 incl line rental)*
|Sky (BEST BUDGET TV TRIPLE)
||Sky+ Entertainment Pack & Broadband Everyday Lite &
||• Over 300 Channels, 6, HD channels, Anytime+ show library • Up
to 20 Mb speed, 2GB download allowance • Free evening and weekend
calls to UK local and national numbers • 12 month contract
||£20.00 (plus £9.95 line rental)**
||£319.00 (£438.40 incl line rental)**
|Virgin Media (BEST BUDGET BROADBAND TRIPLE)
||TV Size: M+ & Broadband Size: L & Phone Size: M
||• 65 Channels, 6 HD channels, BBC iPlayer, Catch-up TV • Up to
10 Mb speed, unlimited download allowance • Free weekend calls to
UK local and national landlines and UK Virgin mobile numbers • 18
||£20.00 (plus £13.90 line rental)
||£289.95 (£456.75 incl line rental)
*customers must take BT line rental saver, a £120 payment
needs to be paid in advance.
**customers must take Sky Upfront line rental, a £119.40
payment needs to be paid in advance.
Information correct as of 04/10/2011
***Not an automatically renewable contract
Notes to editors:
Simplifydigital.com offers a free and impartial "Switching
Support" service for anyone looking to get a digital TV, broadband
or phone package.
Its London-based impartial experts are available for free over
the phone, to answer all those tricky questions and match the
family's needs to the best deal available.
Simplifydigital.com's experts are available for free on 0800 1
388 388 seven days a week (Lines open Mon-Fri 8am-8pm; Saturday
9am-5:30pm; Sunday 10-5:30pm).
You can also use Simplifydigital.com's Ofcom accredited
comparison engine online at www.simplifydigital.com.