Silver surfers scared to switch broadband providers

price calcualtion/istock/OlegGRResearch commissioned by Broadband Genie has found many over 55s could be paying too much for their broadband service, but lack the knowledge or confidence to choose a new package.

The study looked at how often broadband users aged 55 and over switched providers, when they last switched, and the reasons they haven’t switched. What we discovered is that a significant number of over 55s may be paying more than necessary, and many don’t feel confident about switching providers.

The survey of 1,500 people aged 55 and over was carried out by OnePoll on behalf of Broadband Genie. For further guidance, see our guide to broadband deals for seniors.

A huge number of over 55s have been with their ISP for a relatively long time - 51% said they had been using the same provider for more than five years. And 41% said they had never switched broadband companies.

38% also say they have never even checked to see if they could be getting a cheaper deal, and 49% have not attempted to negotiate a better price with their existing ISP. 39% don’t know when their package is due for renewal.

Broadband prices are often discounted for the first year before increasing to a higher rate. Coupled with regular price rises, it means that those who don’t switch regularly or negotiate a better deal can end up paying a lot more than bargain hunters who stay on top of the latest offers.

When we look at the reasons why people haven’t switched, the good news is that 49% say they’re happy with the provider. What’s worrying are the minority who cite concern or confusion over the process of switching.

7% are worried they could be ripped off, or don’t know if a cancellation fee applies. 14% think it seems confusing and 17% worry about losing service. 13% of respondents are “not at all confident” about their ability to switch providers. 38% also said they feel like they’re paying too much for their service.

Switching is not usually complex. When moving from one provider using the Openreach (BT) telephone network to another - from Sky to TalkTalk for example - it is now a “gaining provider led” (GPL) process where the new ISP does most of the work. And the disruption to connectivity can be very brief so you may not be offline for long on the day of the switch. If you’d like to find out more our guide to switching providers goes into further detail.

Of those who haven’t attempted to negotiate a new price, 27% said they didn’t think it would work, 25% weren’t aware they could, and 21% don’t feel confident about it.

If you’re considering this approach it’s encouraging to note that 82% of over 55s who did haggle with their ISP were successful in reducing the cost.

How can I get the best broadband deal?

Switch regularly…

The best deals are reserved for new customers. If you’re willing to switch providers at the end of each contract you can take advantage of the best broadband deal at the time.

...or negotiate a better deal

Can’t or don’t want to switch? Call your provider and tell them you’re thinking of moving to a cheaper package. In most cases they will offer you something to stay.

Note the contract end date

Make a note of the final month of your broadband contract and contact the ISP shortly before the deal ends. Remember that early cancellation will mean paying a fee, so don’t jump the gun. If you’re unhappy with the service submit a complaint, in some cases they may let you leave without penalty.

Cheap is not always best

The best package for you may not necessarily be the cheapest. Low cost services may have a data usage cap or other limitations which can make them unsuitable for many people, and may even end up costing you extra. In general, unlimited broadband is the best choice for most. Other points to consider are inclusive phone calls (good value if you use the phone, but a waste otherwise) and TV and mobile phone bundles that could offer a saving over separate providers.