A Guide to Broadband Deals and the Requirement to Change Broadband Providers – PART 1

Broadband is the new generation high speed internet access to the Internet and when you decide to take up a subscription for a broadband contract go into it with your eyes wide open so that you know what you are getting into and do not have to regret your decision at a later date. Changing broadband providers can be quite a hassle as the one you have already subscribed to wouldn’t like to lose a customer; they try to make you stay offering better deals, while the new one you are considering is all eager that you become their customer. They are also wary of you in that they run a credit check and also expect you to sign up for a minimum contract period.

Look what happened when TalkTalk announced its ‘free broadband’ offer. Thousands of people grabbed the opportunity to subscribe and the numbers were so vast that the company could not cope with offering connections that people had to wait months for access to the Internet. What you need to understand is that if you are unhappy with services from your present provider you must go in for a change of providers. You should know how to deal with your present provider as well as what you should do when you make the change. At the end of everything it is a British telecommunications engineer who has to make the switch you have requested and the click is that he looks after the needs of the service providers and not the customers, so there again you have a problem. Now you can see why a change of broadband providers is such a painful process.

The idea is never to jump at a deal that is new, because like you others too will be jumping into the new deal and the more in this case will never be the merrier, it will only create more hassles. It would be a better idea if you look at companies that are not so big, but offer you great customer service and helpline 24×7. Go through all the deals offered by all providers and don’t just settle for what cheapest package, choose one that will suit your requirements. There are so many levels are involved in your switching providers making the switch a path of thorns.

What You Will Have to Pay
If you are a newbie to broadband Internet connectivity, you will have to pay of the installation, and the modem that will cost 120 pounds and 40 pounds respectively. There are packages that offer installation and modem free if you subscribe for a long-term contract, however if you want to change providers within that period, you will be liable to pay cancellation charges.

What is The Mac Code of Conduct?
In order that Internet broadband users are enabled to switch service providers without having to lose their broadband connectivity Ofcom, BT and the Internet Service Provider industry have drawn up a code of conduct known as the MAC code of Conduct where MAC is the acronym for Migration Authorisation Code.

This code is a 1-15 digit or letter code that is made to recognize your broadband connectivity. A BT wholesale system will create the MAC code for your present provider and give it to you. You in turn will hand the code over to the new provider and this will be passed on to an engineer in BT. The engineer will identify your broadband connection and make arrangements for the changeover to your new provider. The MAC code of conduct has been made compulsory to all ISPs since the 14trh of February 2007 and all providers have to necessarily stick to the rules and regulations specified in the code.

The Main Principles Governing the MAC code

  •  The provider is expected to issue a MAC code to a customer if requested and it has to be provided within five working days since the date of request irrespective of any pending issues. Though MAC does not cot anything for the first time, but cancellation fees could probably still be applicable when requested again and again. The MAC is valid for a period of 30 days from the date of issue and becomes invalidated after that.
  • One the MAC has been handed over to the prospective provider, the new provider must be able to switch connections within a period of 30 days. The new service provider will also have to provide the customer with the exact date when they will offer their services to the customer.

The main objective of MAC is to try and bring down the number of complaints and also to lower the cost incurred by BT, the ISPs and the consumer, so that the switch from one provider to the other will not be so difficult. The alterations in the norms will make things easier for lots of people who want to switch providers, but that does not mean that all circumstances that customers face can be altered. An example of this is that the LLU from one provider to the LLU of another provider is still something for which a solution has yet to be found. Obviously the changes in rules does not imply that all problems will be resolved, however it is a start to set things right.

When planning a switch in providers compare products, read about the new provider and look up forums.

Even before planning to change providers what you need to do is to get to know the market. Your place of residence is a vital factor in deciding what broadband you can avail of. There is a broadband comparison tool into which you can enter your postal code so as to know what is available in your place. There are many tools, but look for one that is simple and easy to use.

You can even log on to online forums once you have more or less made your decision and see what users have to say about the particular provider you are planning to change over to and also what they have to say about your present provider. Only keep in mind that most people visiting forums like this are like you looking for a change. Usually I there are many people who talk badly of a specific provider, there a chances that you too may have the same experience, though it may be otherwise too. So think twice about switching to such providers.

Reading what customers have to say about a provider you are planning to change over to is another mechanism that can give you information about the new provider. There are customer reviews that give you scores that are evaluated on areas like customer service, broadband speed, reliability, tech support and billing. Before changing providers it is extremely important that you read the small print of the broadband deal.

You should be informed about whether you are bound by any obligations by signing a contract with the provider, because practically all providers have some sort of agreement that you will stick with them for a minimum period; usually 12-18 months. Some do not specify a minimum period. Be careful, because even if on paper you are bound by a contract period, you will be liable to pay cancellation fee as per their ‘cancellation policy’ if you change providers within a matter of twelve months. If you have no obligations over time period then you can conveniently leave the existing provider and opt for another.

Get to know the Cancellation Policy
Generally as per the cancellation policy, a customer requesting a change of service providers will have to pay the earlier provider the complete payment of the monthly payment that remains to be paid for the contract period, which could turn out to be a pretty hefty amount. In some cases the cancellation policy will be a percentage of what a customer pays every month calculated over a certain period of time, while still others have fixed an amount as fees for cancellation. When you are planning to switch providers ensure that you are aware of this policy.

Calculate Cost of Cancellation
If there is a term for your subscription, then changing providers will involve a cancellation fee and if you calculate the cost of cancellation against what you stand to gain when you switch providers for a better package and better more freebies, you may find that paying the fee would be a better option.

Look for Hidden Charges
Many service providers charge certain amounts that can be read in your contract policy. For example they may charge you for shifting the connection to a different location or a payment for upgrading speed etc. You will even be asked to pay a monthly maintenance fee or even the cost of utilizing their hardware. There are people who state that ‘free broadband’ is not really free and there are charges that you will necessarily have to pay; they feel that nothing can ever be given totally free. When signing contracts you must have a good idea of the hidden charges as this could probably create a hole in your pocket. Knowing what the hidden charges are will also help you in taking a decision about whether your plans to change providers are worth your while.

Have there been any Breaches on the part of the Provider?
Often people want to change providers because they are not receiving the promised service. Go through the contract policy to see what are the services promised and there is a possibility that they have not kept their word as far as providing the services are concerned. One of the common breaches is the time taken to get connected to the service which directly involves the speed, the other is customer support. If the provider proves difficult when you ask for a switch, you can tell them that because they have not conformed to the service agreement you are not liable to pay penalty or cancellation charges.

Enquire about where you can get MAC
Enquire about how and where you can get hold of the MAC, because there is no point running hither and thither when the time comes, not knowing who to contact to obtain the MAC from your present service provider. It would be in your interest to find out before hand what number you will be required to call to avail of the MAC even if you have no plans of switching service providers immediately. This will stand you in good stead when the need arises.

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