7 Tricks to look out for before you sign a new broadband or telecoms contractPosted on 25 May 2021 by Beaming Support
When your business internet service and telephone provider no longer supports you as well as you’d like (here are the signs to look out for) and it’s time to find a new supplier, you’ll want to make sure that your next ISP not only provides you with fast and reliable internet and phone connectivity, but also supports your business with great service and has your best interests in mind.
Generally, switching to a new business ISP is far easier than you might imagine, but while you’re going through the process of comparing different providers there are some red flags to look out for. We’ve compiled this list based on some of the hurdles we’ve seen new clients have to clear before being able to move their services to us; tricky clauses that mean they end up stuck in contracts longer than they’d like, paying over-the-odds or for services they don’t need. Hopefully, by making you aware of these unscrupulous tactics, we can help you eliminate any company unlikely to offer the support you need, or which may even be out to scam you.
Only a small proportion of ISPs would use these unscrupulous tactics, but it’s wise to be aware of them as you start the search for a new internet service provider for your business.
Here are the unscrupulous practices to look out for when you’re choosing your new ISP for business
1. Very long contracts
It’s not unusual for business service contracts to last longer than consumer ones, but be wary if your prospective provider suggests an extra long (3 years +) contract. Network and telephone technology can change quickly, and by entering into a very lengthy contract you may end up stuck with outdated equipment or technology. For example the UK network that underpins ISDN phones lines and FTTC superfast broadband will be switched off in 2025, so providers should not be trying to sell you contracts that run past this date. Extra-long contracts also come with the risk that if service doesn’t meet your expectations, you’ll be unable to switch to another provider without incurring early-termination charges.
2. Auto renewals.
When your contract does come to an end, will it auto-renew for another year (or more) if you’re not quick off the mark to cancel the service (should you wish to)? Look for a provider that will move you to a monthly rolling agreement once the initial duration of your contract has passed.
3. Contracts that renew when you make small changes.
This can be hidden away in the small print so be sure to ask, but some companies stipulate that making even small changes – adding a new telephone handset or user license, for example – will renew your contract for another year or more. Again, this means you may be stuck with a provider that doesn’t provide the service or value you need for longer than you’d like.
4. Prices that are too good to be true.
When you’re collecting quotes, be wary of any that come out markedly lower than others. It’s great to get good value but if one ISP is able to provide the same service at a much cheaper price than any other, they may be cutting corners somewhere and that usually reflects in the service you receive as a customer. This could mean you’ll share bandwidth with many others, resulting in slower speeds; it might be reflected in unreliable, unstable connectivity if the provider doesn’t invest in good quality equipment; or it may mean that trained technicians are thin on the ground, meaning issues are not resolved promptly or satisfactorily.
5. “Hidden” costs.
Again, these should be detailed in your contract but may not be overly obvious. Perhaps the upfront cost to sign up for a service looks like a good deal, but will you pay an excessive monthly fee for “extras” such as on-hold messaging? Similarly, some providers will try to lure you in with a special low monthly price for the first six months, for example, only for the “offer” to end and prices to increase significantly. A good business internet service provider understands the importance of transparent pricing and will give you plenty of advance warning if pricing is to change for any reason.
6. Renting equipment you’ll never own.
In some circumstances it makes sense to lease equipment such as routers, telephone handsets or a PBX, but will you end up paying too much over the course of your contract? And if you never own the equipment, could the provider remove it at a moment’s notice if you were to cancel your contract, leaving you in the lurch? The vast majority of providers wouldn’t risk their reputation in this way, but it’s something to bear in mind.
Ofcom deem this an “extreme and unacceptable form of mis-selling” where a provider attempts to take over your services without your knowledge or consent. Slippery tactics may be used (usually during a cold call) to extract information form you that can then be used to take over your phone and/or internet service. Needless to say, companies that practice slamming are unlikely to provide a service with your business’s best interests at heart. If you receive a letter you weren’t expecting from your existing provider to say that your services will be stopped, or from a new provider you are unaware of that states they’ll be taking over your service, it’s not too late to dispute it. Ofcom has further advice on this here.
With this knowledge, you can feel confident that you’ll know how to separate the reputable providers from the less scrupulous ones when you come to change your business ISP. We’d like to reiterate that it is very rare to come across these practices, and once you’ve found a trustworthy provider, switching your services over really is a very simple process.
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