LOCKDOWN means we’re all spending a lot more time online, so we’ve rounded up ways to save more than £500 on your broadband bill.
England has been put on national lockdown amid rising coronavirus cases and the stay at home restrictions mean a lot more Netflix binges and time on Zoom.
But this also means extra demands on your broadband.
Users already downloaded record amounts of data last year so it is vital you are on a deal that is right for you and that you are not paying over the odds.
Here is how to cut your broadband bill and access savings worth £507.
Switch your contract or provider
Broadband providers hike prices once a deal ends.
Providers are supposed to remind customers when their deal comes to an end between ten and 40 days before their contract expires so you can save money by switching.
But if you don’t switch your deal you could end up paying up to £150 more on average for your broadband in some cases, according to industry regulator Ofcom.
Enter your postcode and broadband requirements such as the speed, if you want both an internet and a landline and how long you want the contract to last.
How to save on broadband and TV bills
HERE’S how to save money on your broadband and TV bills:
Audit your subscriptions
If you’ve got multiple subscriptions to various on-demand services, such as Amazon Prime, Netflix, and Sky consider whether you need them all.
Could you even just get by with Freeview, which couldn’t cost you anything extra each month for TV.
Also make sure you’re not paying for Netflix twice via Sky and directly.
Haggle for a discount
If you want to stay with your provider, check prices elsewhere to set a benchmark and then call its customer services and threaten to leave unless it price matches or lowers your bill.
Switch and save
If you don’t want to stay with your current provider check if you can cancel your contract penalty free and switch to a cheaper provider.
A comparison website will show you deals available in your area and can manage the switch for you.
All you have to do is provide your address and payment details for your chosen provider.
You can even switch during a contract if you find cheaper deals but check for any exit penalties.
Remember to search for deals from both your current and new suppliers and work out how much data you need so you don’t end up paying too much for unlimited downloads that you don’t use or face extra charges for exceeding your limits.
Use Broadband Finder’s usage calculator to estimate how much data you need.
Check your landline usage
Most broadband deals come with a landline that is loaded into the price – but how much do you actually use your home phone?
Use a comparison website to see if you could save money by only opting for free weekend and evening calls or not having a phone line at all.
For example, you can currently get unlimited broadband and anytime calls from John Lewis for £25 per month.
Can I get compensation if my broadband cuts out?
BROADBAND and home phone customers can get automatic compensation from providers for service or engineer visit issues.
These payments are automatic, although had been paused in March 2020 due to the coronavirus lockdown making it harder for providers to carry out repairs.
But as of June 5, regulator Ofcom says most providers should be back up and running the scheme as normal.
Under the rules, customers get £8 back for every day the service stops working after two working days of it going down.
Customers are also due £25 if an engineer misses an appointment or cancels with less than 24 hours notice.
Plus, if there’s a delay to the start of a new service you will usually get £5 for each day, including the missed start date.
But if your service goes down it’s still worth asking for compensation, even if it doesn’t fall into one of these categories.
If you’re unhappy and your provider doesn’t resolve your complaint then you can take it to one of two dispute resolution (ADR) schemes – Ombudsman Services: Communications, or Communications and Internet Services Adjustment Scheme (CISAS).
You’ll need to check which of the two your provider is signed up to.
But if you only use your landline in the evenings and weekends you could pay £19 a month instead with the same provide, saving you £9 a month and £72 in the first year.
You can save a bit by not having a landline, EE offers unlimited broadband without a phone for £23 a month on an 18 month contract, saving you £2 per month compared with the all-inclusive John Lewis deal or £24 in the first year.
The best deals aren’t always advertised widely.
In fact, you may need the gift of the gab as you can often get the biggest savings by haggling with your provider.
Consumer watchdog Which? says you could save £120 a year on your broadband contract by haggling.
The MoneySavingExpert website suggests arming yourself with knowledge on the amount of data you use and other deals on the market so you can call your provider and persuade them to give you a better rate so they can keep you as a customer.
Cheaper deals for struggling families
Some providers offer lower cost broadband deals for those struggling financially.
BT has launched a Basic package for Universal Credit claimants.
It costs £5.16 a month for home phone or £10.07 a month if you want unlimited broadband included with average speeds of 10Mbps.
Under the deal, you can get line rental, a £1.50 call allowance, and free weekend calls up to 60 minutes a pop to 0845 and 0870 numbers.
You won’t need to pay a connection charge for installing broadband but you will need to pay £9.99 to have the a router sent to you.
In comparison, TalkTalk offers unlimited broadband with speeds of 10Mbps for £18.99, so you could save £13.83 per month or £165 a year if you are eligible for the BT deal.
KCOM offers similar Flex packages for customers on certain benefits such as Universal Credit and you can get a home phone and 3GB broadband for £9 a month.
Virgin Media is also offering an Essentials package for Universal Credit claimants.
It is a broadband-only deal with speeds of 15Mbps for a fixed price of £15 per month. There is no fixed contract length so there won’t be any price increases as long as you are still claiming benefits.
Ofcom has ordered providers to treat customers fairly and avoid switching off their supply if they are struggling with their finances.
You can ask for payment holidays or deferrals if you are struggling.
Telecoms firms including Three, BT and Vodafone have all said they will provide free data or broadband for kids studying at home.
This is to help struggling families with remote learning amid school closures.
Three said it will give unlimited data for free to disadvantaged children, while BT’s EE is offering 20GB of data a month at no extra cost.
Vodafone has previously offered SIM cards with 30GB of data for free to schools and colleges for disadvantaged students.
Parents with no fixed broadband who can’t afford extra data increases will be eligible for support if their children’s school has shut due to Covid-19.
It’s up to schools, trusts and councils to request the support for you though, which they can do on the DfE website.
If you think you qualify and you haven’t heard anything, it could be worth speaking to your child’s teacher and ask for help.
Hundreds of thousands of vulnerable kids have been given free laptops to help them study from home during the coronavirus crisis.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously pledged to roll-out superfast broadband across the country but there are doubts over whether this will work.
It comes as hundreds of customers were let without internet yesterday as Sky broadband crashed.