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Raw Deal: Internet users face price rise

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Broadband customers unable to reach their provider during the lockdown could be hit with price hikes as large as 80% when their minimum contract comes to an end.

Consumer champion Which? found more than half of people had encountered difficulties contacting their supplier in the last month – making it difficult to make changes to their contract, or report issues with their service.

Even those able to contact a provider to arrange a switch have faced problems due to restrictions surrounding engineer visits.

Typical problems include long call waiting times and some customers have reported being repeatedly cut off.

One in seven broadband customers said that they were unable to switch providers during lockdown when their contract ended.

Broadband contracts tend to have a minimum term of 12 or 18 months but after this, large price increases often kick in for customers who don’t contact their current provider or take up a new contract with a different firm.

Until recently, Openreach – the network that supplies the majority of the UK’s broadband connections – had said it would only be able to organise in-home engineer appointments for vulnerable people.

It has now announced the start of a phased return to home visits, but will only carry them out if the job is quick, and low risk.

Adam French, from Which? said: “End of contract notifications allow customers to know when their contract is coming to an end and when they are likely to face a price increase.

“It’s important there is then a straightforward way to make changes to their contracts that doesn’t leave them worse off if there are delays when contacting their provider.”