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Reading the small print can benefit your business

Up until now, consumers and businesses haven’t had it easy. Switching broadband provider is infamously complicated and the processes differ depending on which provider they’re moving to, or from, or the bundle they’re currently signed up to.

To streamline this process, Ofcom recently announced the introduction of new regulations that make changing internet service providers a whole lot simpler – putting the onus on the new provider to handle the switchover and removing some of the ‘hassle’ from the customer.

These changes ought to be a positive step forward for the broadband industry, giving consumers more freedom to search out the best deals possible. However, with 6.5 million Brits claiming to be struggling with an unreliable broadband connection, only 15% of people that are planning to change their provider this year will do so as a direct result of the changes to Ofcom regulation.

The complicated contracts and impenetrable small print that are currently employed, has led consumers to believe that changing their broadband provider is a lot more hassle than it’s worth.

At Relish, we were interested to understand the lengths that people were willing to go to avoid this perceived hassle and asked 2,000 people what they would rather do than change provider. Based on the research, we created a list of the top 10 things Brits would rather do than change their broadband provider, illustrating some interesting attitudes.

It also highlighted that as Londoners, we’re still suffering with some of the worst broadband speeds in Europe, (especially around the start up hub of East London). As a result, we are almost twice as likely to take drastic measures than change our broadband provider.

Top 10 things people would rather do than change their broadband provider were:

1.         Go on a diet

2.         Pay increased broadband fees

3.         Give up chocolate

4.         Take to social media to complain

5.         Suffer in silence and put up with poor service

6.         Have a drastic haircut

7.         End a relationship with a partner

8.         Give a presentation at work

9.         Stay late at work

10.       Carry out online tasks while at work

The study was intentionally light-hearted, but the findings tell a more serious story.

Consumer trust in the broadband and telecoms industry is at an all-time low. So much so that even with new regulation in place that makes it easier for us to change the services we’re not happy with, the intentionally convoluted small print that we sign up to confuse us and make us hesitant to search out a better offer.

But that’s not all. Once again, most broadband providers are hiking the price of their monthly line rental this year, charging an additional £1 each month for a service that customers rarely, if ever, use. Many providers also lure customers in with ‘free contracts’, but some of these deals have a usage cap on data which is a lot lower than the average monthly data consumption. If you go over the usage cap twice in any six month period some providers automatically move you onto an unlimited service which is a lot more expensive. Others charge you increased rates per gigabyte which may double or even triple your monthly bill. All of this is well buried in website small print and not explained at the point of purchase.

The complicated contracts and advertising practices employed by most broadband providers disguise the true cost of our broadband, and many people are led to believe that they’re getting a much better deal than they actually are.

We recently found that a staggering 60% of people in the UK do not know the cost of their total broadband package each month, as the pricing structure of deals and discounts confuse them and hide hidden charges.

As a result, there is now little-to-no faith in the broadband industry as a whole – not just in its ability to deliver a reliable connection, but also in its ability to put customers first and treat them as a priority. It’s clear that the trust is gone, and once this happens, it’s incredibly difficult to rebuild.

When setting up or running a business in the capital, these small costs add up. Big businesses have a habit of using their size and influence to their advantage, hiding costs within the small print of contracts. If you think about it, when was the last time you read all the terms and conditions for a service you used? Have you ever read all of the terms and conditions? Perhaps not.

Avoiding some of the classic small-print pitfalls can be easily avoided and can potentially save businesses time and money, by simply ensuring that you read and understand what you’re committing to before you sign on the dotted line.

It’s also important as a decision maker, that you’re aware of how regulatory changes might impact your business and how you can take advantage of these changes to benefit your business.

The introduction of new Ofcom regulation might be a drop in the ocean when it comes to changing the perception of the broadband industry and restoring consumer and business faith. As we become increasingly reliant on the internet to run our businesses and personal lives, we’re hoping this is just the first step to make the industry more transparent and ensure that customers and businesses alike are clearer on their financial commitments.